Christmas 2013 (Part 2)

Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without the annual Potter Donut Day. This year, we out-did ourselves with 6 batches of dough, 130+ donuts/donut holes, 7 different glazes (introducing two new favorites... EggNog and Chocolate Peanut Butter), 13 different toppings and 7 cute donut decorators...


For the first year ever, Nani entrusted Gracie and Brielle with creating donut plates for her friends and neighbors. A task usually reserved for those who don't pile on multiple toppings and sprinkles. Also known as, the adults.

Brielle made sure each donut was topped perfectly -- not too much, not too little -- and that the glaze/topping combinations were more for the adult pallet. Like Orange glazed donuts topped with Almond slivers, Maple glazed donuts topped with Bacon, and another favorite of hers, Chocolate glazed donuts with Pecans and a Caramel drizzle (which she called the "Turtle" donut).

It still amazes me how quickly Christmas morning comes and is gone, after a whole month of anticipation and preparation. Chris and I have made a point to keep Christmas mornings just to our own cute family, and every year seems to be better than the next.

At our house, each person is assigned another person and we are responsible for their gift and their stocking. We came up with this system when the "Santa" cover was blown. It's become the perfect solution to keep the fun and excitement in Christmas. This year, I had Chris, Brielle had me and Chris had Brielle. I told Chris that he was going to have to work really hard to top the Taylor Swift tickets I gave her last year. And he did...

...by giving her an iPad Mini. Nice. We're going to have to stop with the competitiveness, otherwise, Christmas is going to get super expensive in the future.

I was spoiled this year. I don't know why, or what I did to deserve it, but Chris helped Brielle pick out the perfect gift...

A genuine leather, Michael Kors handbag, that is the perfect size, with the perfect amount of pockets, which keeps everything perfectly organized and fits perfectly on my arm. Love. It.

Chris has been talking about wanting a Bulldog for over a year now. And that's exactly what I got him. A Bulldog......... hand gun safe. Ha!

Our Christmas was wonderful! We spent it eating way too much good food, having fun with family and friends, and most importantly, spending time together. We hope everyone we love had just as good a Christmas as we did!


Christmas 2013 (Part 1)

I dreaded putting up my Christmas decor this year. Not because I was dreading Christmas, but because I was dreading my holiday decor. I felt like it was all dated, and quite frankly, I was bored with it. But it's not like you can just start over, you know? I spent years building up my supply of coordinating tree ornaments, displays, etc. I'd need a good chunk of change before I could just chuck out the old and buy all brand new!

With limited funds, I threw myself into "Project Tree Transformation" which required multiple cans of spray paint, spray glue (love that stuff), lots and lots and lots of glitter and a few ideas. It turned out better than I had imagined.

All the white snowflakes you see were ornaments I already had, but were gold. I sprayed them white, sprayed with glue and then sprinkled with glitter to make them sparkle. I painted a dozen red ornaments a pale blue, sprayed with glue and the sprinkled with clear glitter, mostly to give them some texture.

My favorite parts of this tree...

are first the pine cones. These were a process. I had to first hot glue ornament hangers to the top. I then sprayed the bottom with the spray glue and dipped in glitter. Once dried, I then lightly sprayed the pine cone with white spray paint to give it the look of snow.

My second favorite thing is the white pom-pom's that I find at the craft store. I purchased several yards and used it as garland. I felt like the pom-pom's, along with the pine cones and glittery snow flakes give the tree some whimsy and some elegance, but an outdoorsy rustic feeling, too.

The numbered boxes placed throughout the tree is our version of an Advent Calendar this year. I did this in an effort to bring some fun back to Christmas, since you know... my daughter knows "the truth." Just trying to keep things fun! I purchased a Lego Friends Advent Calendar, but instead of Brielle opening each little window, I placed each piece in a box along with a chocolate truffle (her favorite treat). By now, we're almost done creating her little Lego Friends Holiday Scene.

Once the tree was done, however, I realized that everything else now didn't match my tree! Our stockings, my TV cabinet decorations... nothing! So of course, I started another project...

We'll have to do without stockings this year. I refuse to buy some, but just don't have the time to make them. If you follow my Pinterest board, you already know what I have in mind for next year. I can't wait... but will have to put it off until next year.

I also found some time to put together a Christmas Card for family and friends this year. It's certainly not the traditional card, like the ones I'm receiving in he mail right now (which I love, by the way. You're families are all so cute!). It contains NO pictures of our family, but it sums up what we've been doing this year and all the adventures we've had. If you didn't receive one in the mail, don't worry, because here it is...

Click on it to enlarge and you'll be able to read the fine print. We really do hope that all our friends and family have a wonderful Christmas holiday! Eat lots, be merry and enjoy the time with your family. That's exactly what we'll be doing!


13th Anniversary | 2013 MLS Cup

In my previous post, you'll find a statement that reads along the lines of "no more road trips for this family... flying from now on... will never drive that long/far again" yada yada yada. Apparently, that only applies to certain locations and events. 'Cause we turned around and did it again 3 weeks later.

With Chris and I having our anniversary in December, it often gets overlooked and rarely celebrated. Sure, we do the "Happy Anniversary" thing, maybe do lunch, dinner or a movie, but quickly move on to all the other chaos that happens around  the Holidays. It is what it is, but I don't think I couldn't have waited any longer to marry that man.

Lucky #13

Around the beginning of November, it was becoming obvious that our favorite Major League Soccer team was heading for the championship. Depending on the outcome of the Eastern Conference, Real Salt Lake would face either the Houston Dynamo's in Salt Lake City, or Sporting KC in Kansas City. And the championship game would take place on December 7th -- the weekend of our 13th wedding anniversary. Kansas City won the rights to host the cup, and we were going to do everything we could to get there.

So much drama trying to get to Kansas City. First, flight prices triples overnight. Then, Kansas City leaked a pre-sale code and the tickets we paid $175 a piece for were voided. Hotel was the only thing confirmed and it looked as though we may not go. Then, RSL released 200 tickets online to their season ticket holders and somehow - somehow - I was one of the lucky few who got tickets. It was meant to be, I tell you.

Because flights become ridiculously expensive, we decided if we were going to go, we needed to drive. Chris's brother and his wife made the trip with us, which gave us 4 drivers, to go though 5 states, with about 15 hours in the car (one way)... so we thought. Wyoming chose to leave I-80 a complete sheet of ice, adding 3 extra hours of driving.

Kansas City BBQ

Besides the game, we had one other agenda item to get to. Barbeque Ribs. We couldn't travel through the BBQ capital of the US and not stop for some ribs. Many people recommended Arthur Bryant's and it did NOT disappoint. Best BBQ I've ever had.

Yes, Chris and I shared that giant plate of yummy BBQ goodness and fresh cut fries. And who needs fry sauce or ketchup when you have the best baked beans every made, in a sauce so good you just dip your fries in it? No one. No one needs ketchup for their fries at Arthur Bryant's. They just a side of baked beans.

Attempt to Keep Warm

Good thing we ate as much food as we did, cause we needed something to keep us a little bit warmer that day. 18 degrees, mid-day in Kansas City. Makes for not-so-perfect soccer weather, if you ask me. Multiple layers were required.

For 2 hours, we just sat in our seats, in the frigid cold, waiting for the game to begin. Doing whatever we could to stay warm. 6 is the number of heat warmers I had stuffed into shoes, gloves and pockets in an effort to make me even the slightest bit warmer. 

That's not snow... it's ICE. Ice on a soccer field?
Sis-in-Law Brandee

But once the game started, I (almost) forgot how cold I was. The game was that exciting and that intense. It was by far the best game I've ever been to. I even made my very first ESPN debut. You can see my bright blue coat (Sporting K colors, I know, but it's the warmest coat I own) and my white glove raised high in the air when RSL scored the first goal of the game.

And then we drove home in a blizzard. 4 extra hours added to the trip home. 

It was all worth it in the end, even though RSL just missed pulling out a win. We missed bringing home the championship cup, we spent 37 hours in the car in just 3 days, but I'd do it all over again in a heart beat. I got to celebrate my 13th year with the love of my life in the funnest way possible. 

What I will not do again is drive through Wyoming. Ever. You don't plow your roads, your wind tries desperately to push cars off the (icy) roads (and almost succeeded many times), and a whole day after returning, I'm still feeling the effects of eating your version of "Mexican" food.


First (and last) Big Family Road Trip

My work sends me on trips roughly 5 times per year, with all but one being out of state. Because of this, my family has had the privilege of tagging along to some places that normally we would never go. It's been a lot of fun showing Brielle around these big cities. She is at what I consider the best age to travel with. She's open to seeing/exploring just about anything, and we don't necessarily have to find "kid attractions/rides." She'll visit museums and take tours, and doesn't ask you to carry her when her legs get tired. It's awesome, really.

My travel schedule is published years in advance so we can look ahead and identify which trips they'll accompany me on. Last year, we saw that my November meetings would be held in San Fransisco. And San Fransisco is just a few short hours from Sacramento. And Sacramento is where is our very best friends now live, since they ditched us for a job that required them to leave Utah (no offense Sadie).

After some discussion, we decided that it would be best to drive ourselves, since flights and renting a car to get us to Sacramento would be highly expensive. We realized that the drive was 12+ hours, but we'd never done a family road trip before and with a new car that gets fairly decent gas mileage, we though "why the heck not?"

Sacramento - Visit with the Pierce Family
It was weird. Being at a house that was in fact theirs, but not the house we remember them living in. But it was also as if they'd never left. Don't you find with good friends, you just pick up exactly where you left off?

We spent two days just chilling with their family, letting them show us around Sacramento and taking us to their favorite restaurants. Brielle and Lindsey enjoyed quality time playing with their American Girl dolls and we even squeezed in a traditional Cheesy Holiday Party (something both families sorely miss since living so far apart).

We spent some time at Folsom Lake, with the lake half empty, just letting the kids explore, run around and have fun.

Since Lindsey's 8th and most special birthday was approaching soon, and we wouldn't be around to celebrate, we celebrated early. The girls helped me make Red Velvet Cupcakes (Lindsey's choice) which we enjoyed with our Cheesy Holiday Party.

San Fransisco - Meetings for Me, Fun for Them
Even though it's fun to have Chris and Brielle along on these trips, it's still all business for me. I don't get to spend the amount of time I'd like to with them, but that's the trade off.

Brielle and Chris paid a visit to Alcetraz. Brielle didn't say much about, but thought it was pretty cool and of course, brought back a souvenir. My little souvenir junky.

They spent plenty of time at Fisherman's Wharf, eating seafood, shopping and just walking around.

They drove across the Golden Gate Bridge.

And ate at Bubba Gumps - one of my personal favorites that I missed out on. This photo was texted to me. Rude, don't you think?

We visited the Ghiradella store (twice) for giant ice cream sundaes. Amazing! The Salted Caramel Sundae? To die for.

And of course, watched as the Sea Lions battled each other, pushed each other, and barked at each other. But mostly we just watched them sleep and be lazy.

I will say that my sweet girl gets a dose of reality each time we step outside Utah. The homeless are certainly more creative (and crude) with their signs in San Fransisco. 9 of 10 people smoke in San Fran, us being the 1 who didn't. That seemed to bother her the most. But really, walking behind a smoker is like smoking a cigarette yourself. Why don't they get that?

Driving home from San Fransisco was our biggest challenge. 13 hours, plus losing an hour in the time change made for 3 grumpy individuals. Even with music, movies on the iPad, homework to do, it just wasn't enough to help us enjoy the ride. We hated it. We're clearly the jet-setting type. This trip confirmed to us that we are not, at all, the road-tripping type.


Brag Post

Report card is in. Brielle clearly is smarter than she thinks (we're working on her confidence levels) and is obviously an excellent student. But I already knew all that...

Halloween - Movie Snack Ensemble

I have a new-found respect for my mother, who made most of our Halloween costumes growing up. Up until this point, I've purchase pre-made costumes for Brielle. But this year, Brielle wanted something different... something unique and creative, and something she could do with her friends. This resulted in 3 different costumes, for 3 cute girls, with the task being placed upon me.

We searched online and in the end, got super excited about a "Movie Snack's" ensemble -- Popcorn, Candy & a Drink.

Each costume presented its own set of challenges (Brielle's being the most difficult) but they turned out fantastic! Don't you think?

POPCORN: This costume required the right size box. If you use a box that is really tall, you end up trying to cut a hole for the head where the top folds over, and that doesn't work well. We found a box that was wide and long, but only about 10 inches tall. Like this...


By doing this, you can close the "top" using packing tape, stand it tall, then cut out the bottom panel, a hole on top for the head opening, and holes on the sides for arm openings.

We then covered the box in white crafting paper (that comes in rolls in the painting/art section of the craft store). The red stripes were made using red duct tape. The popcorn was made using yellow and white tissue paper, glued to the top of the box (around the head opening) using a glue gun. And finally, we embellished the front of the box with the "Popcorn" sign, which were just wooden letters painted blue.

TWIZZLERS: I got lucky with the Twizzlers costume and found giant plush pillows on Amazon.com. These pillows came in lots of different popular candies, including Reese's, Whoppers, M&M's, etc. I removed the stuffing, then cut & stitched openings for arms, head and feet. Because the pillows were about 28 inches tall by 18 inches wide, this costume worked best for a smaller child.

SODA CUP: This was my most challenging costume, so listen up... You'll appreciate my words of wisdom to avoid having to purchase 2 vinyl labels and 8 cans of spray paint (as opposed to 1 label and 4 cans).

Let's start with the easy. I purchased a garbage can with lid at Walmart, and had my husband cut off the entire bottom, as well as cut a hole in the lid for her head. The straw was made using the cardboard roll from the inside of a roll of wrapping paper. I then covered the roll in the same white paper used on the popcorn box, and using the left over red duct tape, made a spiral red stripe.

PRIME YOUR GARBAGE CAN. Do not skip this step. I know that on the red spray can, it says that the paint will adhere to plastic, but I assure you, it will not. Prime the lid - prime the can. You can purchase primer in a spray can to make it easier. Since the primer is white, your lid is done after priming. Once the primer dries on the can, spray it red. 

Because I skipped the priming step, my first vinyl coke label peeled of all the paint, requiring me to prime and paint again, and buy another vinyl coke label. And still, because I didn't first prime, the 2nd label also tried to peel off. Therefore, if you look closely in the picture, you'll notice that I didn't peel off the plastic cover on the 2nd label. PRIME people.

I found the vinyl coke label from several different vendors. There are plenty of people who make them on ebay and it literally cost less than $8.00. Because my first one peeled off with the paint, I took to facebook and found someone who does that sort of thing locally (also only $8.00).

Hot glue the lid to the can, tape the straw to the lid - and you have a coke cup. You'll also notice I didn't cut arm holes. Because the garbage can is big, I thought it would be uncomfortable. Instead, we left on the handles and attached her candy bag to the back side handle. All she had to do was say "Trick or Treat" and turn around.

There you have it. Their costumes were a hit with every house they visited, and they didn't run into any other children with the same costume. Will I ever spend the time or money to make costumes again? Right now the answer is absolutely not. Maybe as next Halloween gets closer, I'll forget about this years experience and say yes. Who knows. But seriously, look at their faces. Cutest faces -- and costumes -- ever.


Grand Targhee / Jackson Hole

Chris has a project he'll be working on in Jackson Hole during the month of October. It will be sad to have him gone during my birthday month, but hey... I'm used to it. It's also the start of the Deer hunt.

He needed to get a contract signed so we headed up to Jackson for a quick trip and made a few stops along the way.  I had never been to Idaho Falls and we all needed a chance to stretch our legs.  We parked at the Idaho Falls Temple (which Brielle didn't think was appropriate on a Sunday???) and walked around for a while.

We stayed up at the Grand Targhee Resort that night (as it was $100 cheaper than staying in Jackson) and I'm glad we did. This was the only time we'd get to see the Grand Tetons, since the weather the next day was cloudy, rainy and wet.

There was a mountain biking tournament at the resort that weekend, so naturally, the resort was crawling with outdoorsy types -- you know, long hair, beards, and dressed like they'd just walked out of REI. It's a good thing we drove a Subaru or they may have asked the conservative Mormon family to leave.

Anyway, we decided to take a walk up the mountain to take a look at the bike trails that were used in the race earlier that day. And if there was any doubt that putting Brielle in the Acceleration program (CrossFit) at Logan Hospital did any good....


...it was squashed when Brielle not only ran the entire way up the mountain, but was the only one who made it up to the top.

This was Brielle's first trip to Jackson and I can't even recall the last time I vacationed here.  We didn't stay very long, but while Chris spent several hours meeting with clients, Brielle and I spent a lot of time wandering, looking at shops, buying souveniers and enjoying sweet treats.


My daughter is destined to be a hoarder, I'm afraid.  A trait she certainly didn't get from me.  If she had an endless supply of funds at her disposal, she'd buy up every little random trinket she could find.

Of course, when I told her that she'd have to spend her own money on those types of things, she quickly decided it wasn't worth it. Nevertheless, our several hours of girl was a lot of fun.

Just before leaving on this spontaneous trip, I had just returned from two work trips.  Leaving again wasn't something I really wanted to do.  But I'm quickly learning that these trips -- the spontaneous ones -- also seem to be the most fun.


Meet the Team

Being an Real Salt Lake Season Ticket Holder has its perks. For one, you don't miss a home match. LOVE RSL! Second, they give you stuff, like 25% off merchandise and a scarf to wear to the games. But one thing we really looked forward to was the "Meet the Team" night.

Players were grouped in 3's and spread out around Rio Tinto Stadium, giving Season Ticket Holders the chance to meet the players in person and grab an autograph.  As you can imagine, lines for certain popular players filled up fast and Chris and I soon realized that if we were going to get to as many players as possible, we needed to split up.

It worked out well. Chris would hit a line with Brielle while I went to another line.  By the time they were done, I was almost to the front of my line, so Brielle would jump in with me and Chris would take off to find another line. The things we do for our kids...

One thing that was a little disappointing (but understandable) is that they didn't allow for pictures with the players. Only autographs. I told Chris that Brielle needed to wear her jersey, that way, when they sign in, you could get a picture with the player.  Chris decided NOT to play rule breaker, but I though I was being quite clever. So, as it was, we got a picture of our favorite players and Brielle's arm.  Awesome.

I'll tell you what -- Kyle Beckerman, team captain, made Brielle's day.  He looked at her and said "I remember you! You've grown!"  Guess what... we've never met Kyle Beckerman.  But she was, I'm not kidding, giddy and blushing.  As was I.  He is really good looking in person.

She was a little less shy meeting Goal Keeper Nick Rimando and made him laugh when she told him that she'd seen a video of his cute daughter playing soccer on Instagram.

Super fun night. Attending these games have become our families favorite activity, and having the players be so gracious to meet with so many people was really exciting! We didn't get all the signatures of all the players, but we've already secured our tickets for 2014.


Back to School / 2nd Annual Mud Run

Well -- It happened.  Brielle started Middle School and is doing really well!  She handled the beginning of school much better than I did (I was a complete mess).  School has been in session for roughly a month now and Brielle is working hard to get a handle on the homework load (holy hell - there's a lot), has finally figured out her schedule and she seems to be back on a routine.  Jumping back several weeks, here are a few pics from the first days of school.

I quickly learned that decorating your locker was a very big deal.  Did you know they make carpet for lockers? Ya, neither did I.  I'd be very interested to know if her locker is still this clean? I highly doubt it.  She did not inherit her mother's organization gene...

First day of school -- waiting for the bus -- most beautiful smile I've ever seen.

We made a trip to the doctors office the very next week, only to find out that her arm still needed to be in cast. Thank goodness he gave her a brace she could take on and off rather than a new cast.  Wrapping her cast in Saran Wrap just to shower was becoming obnoxious and the smell -- oh the smell -- that cast had to go. Goodbye blue sparkle cast! Hello removable, washable, non-smelly cast.

Also that weekend was the 2nd annual Bunc-Ho's Mud Run at the American West Heritage Center.  It wasn't just for us, obviously.  Just the second time we'd participated.

Two things I learned this year...

  1. No matter how much duct tape you use to secure your shoes to your feet, it won't.
  2. Second, don't choose such a lop-sided tube. You'll immediately fall off, causing yourself to go down the water slide on the hard ground, resulting in you picking up way to much speed which will end with you barreling at high speeds into the hay bales at the bottom. And a bruised tail bone.


For My Critics

I remember the day. It was March 8th - a Friday - and I had taken off work to take Brielle and a friend skiing up at the Beav. We even celebrated Chris's birthday while up there, even though he wasn't with us.

We got home and while I was giving Brielle instructions on what she could do to help put away the ski gear, my iPad suddenly ended up on the floor of my garage. Screen, completely shattered. There was a little screaming, lots of tears, and I ended up in my bedroom trying to figure out what to do next. You see, this whole situation could have been avoided had Brielle just done what I had asked.

There needed to be a consequence.

Long story short, we came up with a plan. $150 dollars is what it cost to repair the screen and $150 is what she would owe me, by way of forgoing her weekly allowance for 3 months ($10 per week) and a $30 transfer from her savings account to my checking account.

Only a few people told me that what I was doing would teach her a valuable lesson, but most offered words of criticism.  "You are way too hard on her!" was something I heard a lot. "It was just an accident, it's totally lame that you are punishing her for that!" and "You are such a mean mom!" were also statements I heard frequently. I received so much criticism that I almost abandoned this punishment altogether!

But I didn't --- and I couldn't be happier with my choice.

To my Critics, my daughter learned valuable lessons (plural) as a result of this punishment. For one, she learned that bad things can happen when you don't listen. Rarely, if ever, do I have to remind her of this. Brielle will also own up to most of her mistakes (she is still a child after all). She will admit to knowing better, and take responsibility. If she continues with this mentality, she will be a better person that most adults I know.

Finally, she's learned the value of a dollar. $150 is a lot of money, especially to a kid. After working so hard for it, she had nothing to show for it, and this was probably the hardest lesson of them all to learn. Just the other day, shopping for school clothes, she didn't ask for much (which is not normal). She rarely asks me to buy things for her, not even when her birthday approached. And when she wants something for herself, she spends a great deal of time thinking about whether or not it's worth the cost that she will have to pay.

To those who think I'm the worst mom ever... the joke is on you. Because I am the "tough" mom (definition of which could be argued), my child is on track to grow up withOUT a sense of entitlement and WITH an attitude of responsibility and hard work. Qualities that seem hard to come by these days. 

Oh, and one more thing... if I wanted your opinion, I would have asked.


Letter To My Daughter

Brielle is about to start Middle School and I think I'm more nervous about it than she is! I feel as though we're at the stage where these kids are trying to figure out where they belong, who their friends are, how to fit in and so on. But mostly, I'm a little bit scared for her because I know how tender her heart is and how sensitive she can be to what goes on within her friendship circles.

I'm also clearly the mom to an "only child" (that term, of which, I hate, but that's another post for another time). With these milestones, I tend to freak out a bit. It's my first, last and only time I get to participate in these experiences with my child. I have no other previous experience to draw from, nor with this be my "learning curve" for getting it right the next time. This is it - I will either be successful or a complete failure.

Talk about pressure... right?

So, as with every other milestone in my child's life, I felt that this one deserved some special attention. Something to mark the passing from being a little kid with pigtails, to a young lady with class schedules, locker combinations and iPhone's. But it also had to be something to prepare her for the experiences (and challenges) that lie ahead of her.

I stumbled upon this necklace on Etsy...


I immediately purchased it and had an idea of what I wanted to do for her, but still needed to put some thought into how I would present it. After weeks of pondering, I wrote her a letter, taking snipits from President Gordon B. Hinkley's "Be" talk to the youth, along with some of my own words of advice and encouragement.

I seriously debated on whether or not I wanted to post something so personal on my blog, but in the end, I chose to share for my own remembrance, as well as hers.

Dear Miss Brielle,

It’s hard to believe that summer is almost over and that school is about to start again! But this year, instead of sending my sweet little girl off to elementary, I’m sending a beautiful young lady off to middle school.  *** Middle School !!! ***

But before you start this new adventure, full of new experiences, new friends & new challenges, I wanted to give you something. A special gift that will help remind you of a few very important things. 

The golden yellow stone attached to this necklace is called the “Citrine” (sit-treen) stone. The Citrine stone is considered to be a joyful stone with a very bright energy. Funny thing . . . that is exactly how I feel about you! From the moment you were born, you have brought so much joy to our family. You have a bright energy about you that lights up my life and our home. I truly believe that this bright energy is what makes you so special, and is what draws so many people to you. Everyone can’t help but love you!

This necklace also includes a little “Bee” charm. Sadly, there are some mean and ugly things in this world, and as you continue to grow, those things will become more visible to you. Making good choices will become harder, friends will start to change and you’ll begin to feel the pressure to fit in. This Bee is a little reminder on how to “be” to remain close to the Spirit and to stay on the path of righteousness.

“Bee” Smart. Your education is so important and should be a top priority. You need all the education you can get, both temporally and spiritually.  Heavenly Father wants you to train your mind and hands to be an influence of good in the world. Work hard and always do your very best at school.. If you put forth your very best effort, you will bring honor to yourself and show honor to your Heavenly Father. Don’t be foolish in class, bluff or cheat –- you’ll only be cheating yourself. Always be smart.

“Bee” Kind.  I ran into one of your classmates moms at the store one day and you know what she told me? She said that they had been praying for their daughter to find a good friend, because she was shy and sad at school. She told me that you were the answer to that prayer, all because you choose to be kind.  Kindness is a way of making our own lives, and the lives of others, meaningful. President Thomas S. Monson taught to always “have the courage to make certain everyone is included and feels loved and valued.” Always speak, think and act with kindness.

“Bee” Clean.  Staying close to the Holy Spirit will give you the will power to avoid things that aren’t good for your body or your mind. Choose your friends carefully, because those friends can influence your choices for good . . . and even for bad. There will come a time when friends want you to listen to bad music, say hurtful things to others or maybe even look at inappropriate things. Your body is a temple which should remain clean and pure. If something feels wrong, it is and that is the Spirit telling you so. Don’t waste your time on things that can be destructive to your mind and heart.

“Bee” Grateful. Two of the most important words your mouth can say are “Thank You.” Be grateful for the wonderful blessings that you’ve been given. Be grateful for the opportunities that you have. Thank your teachers for their efforts to teach and help you, thank your friends for their friendship and thank your parents and family for providing for and supporting you. Express appreciation and gratitude to anyone who does something for you. And most importantly, thank your Heavenly Father. Thank Him for the atonement, for His example and for His teachings. Never forget to say Thank You.

“Bee” Prayerful.  You have a Heavenly Father who loves you and knows your needs. Look to Him for understanding and for guidance. You need His help, and you will recognize this more and more as you grow. As His child, you have the opportunity to communicate with Him, and He does hear and answer your prayers. Prayer will help you become closer to God, receive comfort when troubled or scared, and give you the power to know right from wrong. Prayer is a great blessing that can provide inspiration in the lives of all of God’s children. Pray daily.

The final thing that I want you to remember. . . . . . . . “Bee” Yourself.  You are amazing just as you are - - beautiful inside and out! Whether you wear this necklace around your neck, hang it in your locker or place it in your bedroom, I hope that it will serve as a reminder of these things.

You are a daughter of Heavenly Father, who loves you. No matter where you are or what you are doing, remember to be smart, clean, kind, grateful and prayerful. If you do, you will continue to be successful and have the confidence to face all the wonderful things that lie ahead for you. 

Always remember the joy that you give to those around you and never let your bright energy fade. I love you and your dad loves you! We support you in all that you do and are SO very excited to see what the future holds for you! 

Love . . .
Your Mama
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What a special moment I had when Brielle when she read this letter out loud and placed the necklace around her neck! Tears were shed, both by me AND her. If she remembers only one thing from that moment, I hope she remembers how much I love her.