Home | Posts RSS | Comments RSS | Login

Santa Pictures 2013

17 December 2013
We have finally moved into our new home and we love it and it's amazing, but no pictures yet. So instead, enjoy these Christmas pictures. As always, these are done by Fotofly. Man, we love those Fotofly Photo Folks.

2011
2012

2013

2013-2480-7

2013-2480-9

This one is my favorite. The man in the photograph is my grandfather, who passed away in September. He was a professional Santa for many years and a fantastic one. Sparrow actually has no idea that this photo of his Papa Dan. He thinks it's just a picture of Santa Claus. Sparrow and my grandpa had a very cute relationship - Grandpa would always say "You are my special boy." Sparrow was the first great-grandchild, and I'm glad he got to know his Papa for 5 years.

2013-2480-1

Hawk got to wear the Santa suit this year.

2013-2480-15

Here we are together. Happy Christmas!

Twenty Seven

06 November 2013
It is my birthday! November 6! 6 November! I love my birthday because it rhymes. 11/6/86. It just has a rhythm to it. Hawk and my anniversary has the same thing goin' on. I'm weird with dates. It's a quirk. Which brings me to the point of this post!

27 Awesome Things About Me!

In an effort to cheer myself up after this wretched week's beginning (note: still no house, pharmacy lost a very important prescription I need, I had to drop another class), I am going to wax poetic about my own awesomeness. Hey, at least I'm telling you up front so you can skip to the next blog in your feed. Here we go:

  1. I'm a Scorpio
  2. A Scorpio born in the year of the Tiger, which means I am EXTRA passionate and...
  3. Born under the FIRE sign (Chinese astrology) which means I am also EXTRA FIERY AND TIGERLIKE.
  4. I died when I was born. But I got better.
  5. Up till I turned 17, I was convinced I would die before I turned 16. I was a morbid child.
  6. I was an AWESOME morbid child.
  7. I read obscenely fast. I finished the last Harry Potter in 3.5 hours.
  8. I have a good ear for music and can pick out the harmony to sing pretty well
  9. I taught myself to play the harmonica
  10. I chose on my own to go back to school and
  11. I am learning how important education is to me.
  12. I have an amazing internship that I love and would do for free every day forever.
  13. Although they cannot see well, my eyes are very pretty and I pride myself in having blue/green/gray/with yellow flecks and one brown dot colored eyes.
  14. I am full of snark.
  15. I got a perfect score on the English section of the ACT
  16. If you tell me your birthday I will NEVER forget it. I accidentally memorize dates.
  17. I have written 4 novels. They are terrible, but I wrote them.
  18. Those who I love, I love fiercely.
  19. I love my short, spiky hair. I will NEVER have long hair.
  20. I decided I wanted to learn to play the violin, so I did.
  21. I decided to track down my birth family, and I did.
  22. When I love something, I collect facts about that something until I know mostly everything. I can regale you with facts about wolves, horses, TV shows/movies, and books I love for hours on end.
  23. I have an undying devotion to Grumpy Cat.
  24. I kind of turned out to be the witty class clown... and I'm okay with that.
  25. I taught myself to knit by using the Internet, Diet Coke and swear words.
  26. I have a ridiculously awesome sense of smell.
  27. I am living a life I never would have imagined for myself. And I love it. I never thought I would get married. I never even thought I'd have a boyfriend. I knew, from the time I was tiny up till I was 19, that I would become a veterinarian and a writer and live alone on a farm with a horse and a dog but no family. And here I am - married, a mom, and not even close to the level of education I thought I'd have by now. And also 3 cats. And I am having a blast. I wouldn't change a thing - except I'd maybe be a real writer by now. That would be good.

Every year since 2005, as the clock turns from 11:59 on 5 Nov to 12:00 on 6 Nov, I play Blackout by Muse (one of my favorite bands.) It's a good way to honor the moment I become just a little bit older. It's a slow, contemplative song - and there are few things I love more than moments of deep contemplation on life, the universe, and everything. Enjoy.

Losing It

03 November 2013
Would that I had good news. If only I could post thousands of pictures about my glorious new home.

Alas, we are still in the Slanty Shanty. Our closing date has been moved back yet again. From September 20th, to October 24. Then October 30. Now it's November 5. Our loan has been approved. We have done the final walkthrough and our house is ready. I don't understand the hold up, but it's making all of us very sad.

With any luck, though, November 5 will really be the day. And then I will get the keys on my 27th birthday.

Twenty-seven!

It sounds so much older than 26. I'll be in my late twenties instead of my mid twenties. Scary. But 26 was a good year for me. I went back to school and aced two semesters. (Seriously, my grades were great. I showed myself that I still have some intelligence left in my dusty old brain.) We visited Disneyland. Bought a house (maybe.) Got a second car. Did 9,000,000 loads of laundry. Went off a medication I've been on since 2009. (Then went back on the medication, but at least I know it's definitely necessary and not just a habit.) Got the world's most amazing internship. Finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up! (Dude, that's a huge deal. I've been at a loss since I graduated high school nine years ago.)

What am I going to do with 27?

My biggest priority, I think, is going to be losing weight and getting healthier. I have a lot of work to do there. I've been obese for 19 years and I don't know what it means to be healthy (or thin. I recognize they are not necessarily the same, but I treat them like they are in my little head.) I realize I'm not going to start running marathons over night. But I am going to continue revamping my diet. Hawk has lost almost 30 lbs since July by following the Paleo method of eating. I'm going to be trying to follow either Paleo or Slow-Carb; I haven't decided which.

I need to do this. I don't want to enter my 30s at the same weight I am now. It'll take me the next 3 years to get down to my goal weight if I do it the healthy way. Of course I am always, always tempted to go back to bulimia. It's so much easier and so much faster. But I'm already messed up enough. I don't need to mess up my body worse with disordered eating. Again. And anyway, my body has been protesting lately. It wants to be healthy. My knees hurt all the time and I know losing weight will help. I want to be strong and I want to be able to chase Sparrow without passing out. I want to be able to walk up the stairs (195 of them) on campus without having an asthma attack at the top.

I think that will be my main goal this year. Other smaller goals will be: finish Suzuki Book 1 for violin, start editing one of my novels to submit for publication, do more laundry and be awesome at it, rock at school some more. Figure out how to become what I want to be when I grow up - an editor at a publishing company.

So, friends in the Internet, everyone cross your fingers that we will actually be able to leave the Slanty Shanty this week. Our Hickory House awaits us and we are pining desperately for it. Let this be the week - the week I get a house for my 27th birthday.

What a month - Victory in Seasons of Courage

13 October 2013
Life has been... difficult. I feel like I had a much easier time adjusting to school back in January than I've had this time around. That said, I'm also much busier than I was in January (to my glee and dismay.)

I'm only taking 12 credits this semester, but they are tough classes. I'm in a Spanish class that's killing me. I'm not sure how I'm managing to stay afloat (answer: not very well). That's 4 credits. I'm in a religion class that's not as fun as I'd hoped. And I'm in a Transatlantic Literary History class (6 credits), which I absolutely adore, except that I feel like we're only glossing over stuff I'd really like to know more about. I also have an internship that is the best thing ever. It's ten hours a week of pure awesome and after 8 years of constant indecision I finally know what I want to be when I grow up. Kinda. Mostly. I'm not sure how much I'm allowed to say about it, since I signed a fancy non-disclosure agreement. So, yeah.

In addition to the school craziness, two weeks ago my grandfather passed away. It was relatively unexpected and emotionally agonizing. I mean, I get it: having a family member die is no picnic. It's hard on everyone. But I have this awesome guilt complex where I A) felt guilty for mourning him because I didn't know him super well B) felt guilty for trying not to mourn him C) felt guilty for not getting to know him better D) felt guilty for not finding him sooner E) felt mad at my family and how I didn't get to grow up with him F) felt guilty for feeling mad and G) mourned for Sparrow and his loss, because he adored his great grandpa.

Aaaaand, we found out this week that our house is almost done. This is awesome and SUPER EXCITING but also super stressful as I now have less than two weeks to pack my entire house. "But Kris," you say, "why didn't you start packing when you started building the home?" Well, because then I'd have packed my entire house back in May. Also, because they kept pushing back our closing date, it started to feel like we would never move and so I put off packing until things were solid. They are only just barely solid. So I am looking forward to October 24 but I also don't have time for this crap. Just sayin.

I know this post is all run down. I feel very run down. I'm trying to keep a positive attitude but I am very overwhelmed. Last week I wanted to quit everything but most especially school and my internship. That is not okay. School brings me such joy (or it did) and the fact that it's hurting me this semester is like my brain betraying me. This probably makes no sense. I hate feeling overwhelmed and stressed. I'm almost caught up on everything I missed from the week of the funeral, but I still feel like I don't have a good handle on time management. I ended up dropping Sparrow and my violin lessons for both September and Octber and I hate that. I just need more time.

In good news, I had an awesome experience. So, every year the BYU Alumni Association sponsors an essay contest. First prize is $1500 and even the honorable mention is $300. The theme this year resonated with me and so I decided to enter. I submitted the essay the day before my grandfather went to the hospital and found out I won the honorable mention as we were leaving the cemetery. So it was like Grandpa approved of my essay. I was able to get special seating at the homecoming opening devotional and was invited to a swanky, fancy luncheon afterwards. It was SO FANCY. I had to wear a dress and it was exhausting to pretend to be an adult the whole time. But I lived. President Cecil Samuelson and Elder John Groberg presented me with my prize of $300 and an awesome clock which is engraved with my name on it. It was a really neat experience. The girl who won first place did a fantastic job. Actually, everyone did. I was told they had a record number of entries this year (150) and 6 of us won. After reading the essays of the other winners, I'm not sure I really deserved to win. But I'll take it anyway.

And here is my essay:

Victory in Seasons of Courage

On a cold morning in January 2013, I set foot on the campus of Brigham Young University and immediately burst into tears. I was terrified. The time had come for a new season of courage.

Eight years earlier, I had been accepted into BYU as a new student. I was seventeen years old and utterly petrified of college: of the people, the professors, the work, the impending sense of “if I don’t choose the right path NOW, my life is going to be a disaster.” Drowned in a sea of anxieties, I dropped out. I married, had a baby, and spent my time wishing that I had been able to accomplish the work I had set out to do at BYU.

My son was now five years old, and in the middle of his own first season of courage; he had been accepted into a special needs kindergarten and was working hard to learn skills that developmentally “normal” children take for granted. One day he came home from school, exhausted, and asked me: “Did you ever have to go to school and learn so much that your head wants to go ‘kaboom!’?” I answered him truthfully: that I had once had the chance, but I was too scared of how hard it looked, so I quit. My son studied me as if seeing me in a new light. “Mommy,” he said slowly, “if you are scared to try, you won’t get anything done.”

If you’ve never been schooled by a five year old, it’s a sobering experience. I told him I would try if he would, and I once again turned in my application to Brigham Young University.

George H. Brimhall was a man familiar with the necessity of courage. He was raised in a poor family with nine siblings to care for. Determined to make a better life for himself, he read everything he could get his hands on, and never stopped learning. Through perseverance and hard work (and moments, I’m sure, when his head wanted to “go kaboom”), he became president of Brigham Young University, and maintained the position for seventeen years. By all accounts, he is one of the main reasons BYU is such a successful school today.

Brimhall was familiar with adversity. His family struggled; his first wife had been struck with childbed fever and had to be institutionalized. He had excruciating chest pains, poor health, and was plagued with “useless anxiety,” as he called it. Initially, he wanted to turn down the offer of the presidency, gently suggesting that there were others more qualified than him to head the school. However, instead of backing down, Brimhall eventually recognized that he was entering into a season of courage. He could choose to step down and submit to the beatings that life was throwing his way, or he could step up to the plate and fight back. He later wrote: “If we dodge the hard things in life, the great things will dodge us.”

Each of us here at BYU is in the midst of our own season of courage. It takes courage to choose to attend school rather than lie on the couch. How many of us would rather be taking a nap than taking a test? How many would rather hang out with friends than hang out in a chemistry lab? “It takes courage to resist the bribery of self-interest,” Brimhall said. Even if you don’t feel particularly brave, by fighting your own apathy, you are being courageous.

For some, this particular season of courage may seem like an endless winter. For others, their courage may only be needed to persevere through a mild summer. Regardless of the length of the season we are facing, we must never give up. As Brimhall counseled: “No one should let loose of that which they know to be good in an hour of discouragement. That is the time to hold fast. The clinging on amid the storm is indicative of a strong character, while the letting loose would be an index to the reverse.”

Like George H. Brimhall, I am plagued with my own useless anxieties, but I also recognize that this season of courage will prepare me for great things. I can set an example for those around me, including my courageous son. I am here to fight my own failings, so that I may score in the game of life. Let us all hold fast, clinging on amid the storm, that we may be victorious in our season of courage.

End essay. So clearly, I am in my own season of courage right now. I will step up and fight back, but dude. It's harder than I thought.

Theme Song

02 September 2013
Sparrow had a beautiful week at school! He got highest marks for behavior each day - phew! (He had a hard time behaving in preschool, but I guess the combination of age and medication has helped him immensely!) We're not sure if he will continue taking the bus in the morning or not because it comes 90 minutes before school starts and it only takes us 15 minutes to drive him. But Hawk's car is very old and driving Sparrow to school might hurt it, so ... we'll see.

I start school tomorrow and I'm excited! I remember how freaked out I was when I started in January and I won't lie, I have some nervousness goin' here (and I'll miss my old professors and my old pals) but I think this semester is going to rock. If I can survive 17 credits, Sparrow, and building a house all at the same time, that is.

Last semester I listened to this song by Owl City almost every day on the way to school. It became my theme song for Winter 2013. I don't know yet what my theme song for Fall 2013 will be, but I'll definitely be listening to Shooting Star on my commute at 7 a.m. tomorrow morning!

Shooting Star
by Owl City

Close your tired eyes relax and then
Count from one to ten and open them
All these heavy thoughts will try to weigh you down
But not this time

Way up in the air you're finally free
And you can stay up there right next to me
All this gravity will try to pull you down
But not this time

When the sun goes down and the lights burn out
Then it's time for you to shine
Brighter than a shooting star
So shine no matter where you are

Fill the darkest night with a brilliant light
'Cause its time for you to shine
Brighter than a shooting star
So shine no matter where you are... tonight

Gaze into my eyes when the fire starts
And fan the flame so hot it melts our hearts
Oh, the pouring rain will try to put it out
But not this time

Let your colors burn and brightly burst
Into a million sparks that all disperse
And illuminate a world that will try to bring you down
But not this time

Shine no matter where you are tonight.

Big day

25 August 2013
My baby is starting kindergarten tomorrow.

2000307_37

I can't even believe it.

2000307_262

I have looked forward to this day for 5 years. Now it's here and I ... don't think I'm ready. I'm not ready to have a kindergartener. I'm not ready to have a child in real school. This is terrifying.

2000307_22

He can handle it. He's brilliant and he's sociable and he's ready. But I will miss him.

2000307_43

This is the beginning, isn't it? Where I start learning how to let him go by degrees. First step kindergarten, next step college.

2000307_240

He's going to have a blast. And starting next week, I'll be able to come home and compare my school day with his. I may not be ready for Sparrow to be in kindergarten, but I'm sure ready for my Fall semester to start up!

2000307_249

My passion is learning.

22 August 2013
Last week I entered a contest. The question was "what is your passion and why?" and the prize was this amazing desk that would look beautiful in my new house. Plus be so convenient as I currently have no place to do homework and neither does Sparrow. So I wrote this essay for the contest...and I won! I am so excited! Thanks Camera Shy!

Narrowing down my passions to just one thing was more difficult than I thought it would be. I mean, after Pinterest, cute pictures of kittens, and British television, what else could I possibly be passionate about?

I am a full time student at Brigham Young University. (I get this little shiver of glee every time I get to tell someone that.) I'm a student! My road to student hood is long and convoluted. I graduated with my Associate's Degree when I was 17. The stress from completing two years of college during my senior year of high school burned me out and I ended up dropping out of school later that year. It was the biggest mistake I have ever made.

Don't get me wrong - I did some amazing things while I wasn't in school. I married my amazing husband, gave birth to a beautiful and brilliant little boy and opted to stay home with him until he was ready to start kindergarten. To keep my mind sharp, I read everything I could get my hands on and I started taking violin lessons. But it wasn't enough for me. I felt like I was losing brain cells daily (and trust me - I need every single one that I have left!)

In January, my time finally arrived. Sparrow, my son, was accepted into a preschool that allowed me just enough time to get a full 12 credits from BYU into my schedule. I was very nervous to start school again - it's been 8 years since I was any sort of real student, would I remember how to do it all? Would I survive my autistic 5 year old and 12 credits worth of homework and being in charge of making dinner, too?

Starting school has been the most incredible experience for me. For the first time in 8 years, I feel like I am doing something awesome just for me. Raising Toby has been rewarding too, but it was a joint venture with my husband. School is something I get to experience. Every day I arrive on campus and I breathe in the scent of books, learning, and collegiate stress. I watch the little freshmen scurry off to their classes and smile at the opportunities they have ahead of them - playing the dating games, living with roommates, bonding over chocolate and boys and exams. I go to my classes and I sit there in awe as my professors share their knowledge. I try to soak up as much of it as I can. And while I'm learning about Spanish, I'm learning about myself. I'm learning that I love languages, that the sound of Spanish is beautiful and that I want to share it with my son. While I'm in my religion courses I marvel at the incredible world I live in and I want to share it with my husband. In my linguistics class I wonder at how our language came to be and why it is used the way it is and I want to share it with anyone who will listen!

My passion is learning. You don't have to be a student to learn. You don't have to have attended 4 years of higher education. You can keep learning throughout your life, just by making time for it. Consider a topic you're interested in, go to the library and pick up a book on it. Do a Google search and start a blog teaching your topic (they say that teaching others helps you cement your knowledge further.) Anyone can learn, and anyone can learn anything they want. Isn't that amazing?! To know that even though you may never be the world's most advanced expert in ornithology, you have all this knowledge in your head for you to enjoy and to share with whoever cares to listen. How cool is that?

I haven't chosen a major yet. I tell my husband that I want to be a professional student, but our bank account doesn't think that's very funny. I'll have to decide my path soon, but it's comforting for me to know that if I ever have the desire to learn about math (shudder), I finally realize that I have methods of learning at my constant disposal, even though I may not be in school forever.

My favorite thing about being a student is the example I am setting for my son. My husband has a great job, although he's not a college graduate. But me being a college student has already impacted Sparrow - he tells everyone that "Mommy goes to school just like me!" (He asks me all the time if I get to play with toys like he gets to, or what I had for snack time.) It melts my heart when he says "When I turn 18, I am going to BYU just like my mommy." Because I am a student, because I have found my true passion for learning, I am a better person. I feel like the things I teach my son have more impact on him. I feel closer to my husband, who has supported me through the semester and even finals week without hiding from the Stress Monster I turned into. I feel like I am more myself, now that I am exercising my brain and learning and growing daily.

I love school. I love learning. I love Pinterest and Downton Abbey and I wish I could somehow major in those. But until I figure out how to do that, I'm going to keep on taking as many classes as I can fit into my schedule, and I'm going to keep jumping for joy whenever Sparrow says "Mom, you rock at school!"

Curly wurly

12 August 2013
We got not one, not two, but five comments about Sparrow's curly hair today.

IMG_0915

Just when I was thinking about chopping it all off again.

New homes, new kittens, new news!

06 August 2013
Well, this summer has been kind of nutty. Sparrow and I dropped out of school for the summer term so we could spend more time together. And I'm glad we did. I needed a break (though now I am starting to get really bored) and I think I will appreciate fall semester much more having taken one.

Our house was FINALLY started! Our builders said they would start digging the hole for it way back in the beginning of June. They lied. Our foundation was dug out on July 25th. Now, August 6th, we have a foundation AND a basement! Personally, I think it's because I went in and yelled at them on July 21. We had some drama with our landlords putting our current place up for sale and it's been frustrating, but since they've priced this home $30K MORE than the next cheapest home in our subdivision (which happens to be slightly bigger and nicer on the inside than this place anyway) I am not worried any more.

IMG_0857
July 25

IMG_0890
August 1

In other news, we adopted a new family member!

IMG_0861

IMG_0855
Meet Haiku!

Haiku is 12 weeks old and one of the most cuddly kittens I have ever met. She loves being held and can't stand to be alone. She meows and cries if we leave her alone, even just if we are upstairs and she's not. She's pretty ridiculous. Sparrow loves her and she's fit into the family very well.

Speaking of family, this week I got to get pictures done with my siblings. These are the first pictures we've had taken in 2+ years since my brother has been off on his mission.

IMG_0900
Ah, siblings. Some things never change.

And I got to go hang out with my sisters at Lagoon last week. Which was epic and awesome. I'm grateful that I live so close to my family. I don't know how I would bug them enough otherwise!

IMG_0891

That beautiful boy

12 July 2013
This boy has captured my heart forever.

7658_72

We've been going through some rough days lately. Sparrow has discovered that he likes mouthing off to Hawk and me, and that's never good. Poor Sparrow. He knows how to be good, he just can't make his ADHD/PDDNOS brain obey him.

7658_189

Sparrow started violin lessons back in May. He's so ridiculously musical and always has been that I figured it was time we got him in SOMETHING. And it works well, because I am also learning the violin, so he can learn right alongside me. His sense of pitch is crazy - always SPOT ON. I love that. And I love that he's so smart. (I also kind of hate that too because I can't get away with much any more. He's starting to be able to spell, so I can't even spell out words for Hawk thinking that Sparrow won't be able to figure out what we're talking about!)

7658_176
I love the concentration on his face here.

Sparrow's a good kid. I'm still intimidated by this parenting thing, and boy is he a hard kid to parent. But I think, with God helping me and Hawk's support and LOTS of Diet Coke and patience, I'll be able to teach him what he needs to know before he heads out into the big scary world. You know, in 13 years or so.

In the meantime, I'll enjoy moments like this one:

7658_61

Family squishes!

These pictures were all taken at Camera Shy, a fantastic and reasonably priced photography studio located in Lehi, Utah. If you're in the area (or near West Jordan! They're opening a new location!) I cannot recommend these guys enough. Their pictures are great, they are phenomenal with the kiddos, and their print quality is some of the best I've ever seen. Check them out - you won't regret it!

Especially if you visit them during Easter. They have baby bunnies.

5905_111

Pictures from the Brigham City Utah temple.

08 July 2013
IMG_4546

Last month we had the opportunity to visit Brigham City, Utah. It's a small town located in Northern Utah (about 2.5 hours away from where we live.) While we were there we decided to visit the temple. It's relatively new - it was finished in September/October 2012 and we had kept an eye on its progress as it was being built.

P1020854

2010

P1060436

2011

IMG_4557

2013

It's a beautiful little temple. Someday I want to take Hawk on an overnight trip so we can visit the Brigham City and the Logan temples, which neither of us have been able to visit before. So if anyone wants to watch Sparrow one weekend...come on over!

IMG_4542

IMG_4544

IMG_4585

A trip to Bryce Canyon

25 June 2013
Our big news for the month of June is that my wonderful little brother, Tony, has returned from his 2 year mission to Paraguay. We are so proud of him for serving. He is a great young man and we are excited to have him home with us again. His homecoming at the airport was the first one I have ever attended and made me look forward to the day when my other brother, Daniel, arrives home from his mission in Australia.

My favorite picture from the airport is this one. Sparrow just couldn't wait to get to uncle Tony. My dad had to pull Sparrow away so Tony and my mom could have a little time to themselves.

IMG_4670

Last week, Sparrow and I went with my mom and Tony to Bryce Canyon for a few days. It was right before a final for me, and I didn't do as well on the final as I'd hoped, but it was great to spend the time with my brother and get reacquainted with him.

IMG_0534

Bryce is a beautiful place. It's filled with formations of rocks called "hoodoos" which are quite the sight to behold. Sparrow loves the hoodoos. We visited Bryce Canyon two years ago and it was one of his favorite words for 6 months. Drove Hawk and me crazy with Sparrow hoodooing all over the place.

IMG_0506

One of the first things we did upon arrival was go ATVing. My mom had Tony drive, seeing as he's used to crazy driving from being in Paraguay. (Ha ha. But seriously. My dad has lived in this country for 22 years and he still drives like he's in Mexico.)

IMG_0474

Sparrow was so cute. He was so excited to go on the ATV and even more excited to be with his uncle Tony. He has missed his uncle and kept saying "I love you Tony!" and playing with him the whole time we were there. Even though Tony left when Sparrow was only 3, it's clear Sparrow remembered him (I was worried he might not.)

IMG_0500

On the trail, with Tony behind the wheel, Sparrow and I sat in the back of the ATV like this:

IMG_0503

My shirt used to be white...

IMG_0485

IMG_0524

We went to a rodeo while down south. It was Sparrow's first time at a rodeo and he loved it. I enjoyed it too - I've always loved horses and there were some beautiful ones there. The bull riding was scary. One cowboy was kicked in the arm by his bull and almost trampled on the head. Yikes.

IMG_0511

We did some hiking, of course. Last time we were in Bryce, it was 6 weeks post major abdominal surgery for me. My mom had us do this same trail, which is about 3.5 miles and at the end it is extremely steep. While we were in the bottom of the canyon, it started thundering and lightning-ing. My mom chose that moment to inform me that Bryce is #1 in Utah for lightning strike deaths. We RAN through that canyon with Sparrow riding on my mom's back the whole way. It was painful for everyone.

This time was much nicer. The trail was still difficult, but we survived and Sparrow handled it so well. We had a couple of people comment on what a good hiker he was. (The secret is bribing him with cookies.)

IMG_0510

My mom tried to channel her inner mountain goat.

IMG_0509

When it was time to leave, Sparrow was sad.

IMG_0525

But we'll visit Bryce Canyon again soon. Hawk still hasn't been there, and it's one of those places that you should definitely try and visit. (If you're already out here, that is. I can't see making a special trip just to visit Bryce Canyon.)

Goodbye Google Reader

09 June 2013
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

If you've never used Google Reader, consider yourself lucky. Google Reader was the first RSS feed reader that I understood, and thus I was a loyal fan of it. No more did I have to bookmark every blog I loved, and go through an ominously looonnggggg Bookmarks folder every day to read all the blogs I read. No. Google Reader brought me instantaneous blog updates, from all the blogs I loved, any of the blogs I loved, all on one beautifully organized page. It was bliss.

Then they smashed my hopes and dreams a few months ago by announcing that they are closing it down. NO MORE BLOGS FOR YOU, LOSER. I wish I had never found them, because every other service I found just didn't compare.

After the announcement, I immediately started looking for a new Feed Reader. My husband stalwartly stuck with Google Reader out of loyalty, but I jumped from the sinking ship to brave the waters below.

Alas, I landed on Feedly. Which is the Feed Reader equivalent of a great white shark. It looks good, and it's supposedly done by someone who worked with Google Reader before, but once you get into the system you realize that it kind of sucks. I found Feedly to be wildly unintuitive and for someone who wants to put no effort into her blog reading, that was not good. I started avoiding reading my favorite blogs for weeks at a time, just because this reader drove me so nuts.

Last week my friend Cocoa at Chocolate on my Cranium wrote about Bloglovin', a Feed Reader she's found. I checked it out because nothing could be worse than Feedly, and to my surprise and joy - Bloglovin' ROCKS. Bloglovin' saved me from the Feedly shark. I think I actually like it better than Google, at this point. Very intuitive and easy to use, very clean and well designed, and lots of options for reading now/later/Thursday/keep it new/etc/have it emailed to you, etc.

So now I am a bloglovin' convert, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is also in mourning over the loss of Google Reader. Just keep swimmin', my Reader loving amigos.

(And if you like Feedly, we can still be friends. It just wasn't for me at all. Shudder.)

LDS / Mormon Boy Bedroom Decor

06 June 2013
I've posted about this before, but I thought I would add some updated pictures of Sparrow's bedroom. We've lived here for a year now and this is still my favorite room in the house (and, possibly, my favorite decorating thing I've ever done in my life!)

The room in question is for this boy right here:

IMG_4169

My very most favoritest boy in the whole world. Also my favorite 5 year old ever.

IMG_4179

The little side wall there is decorated with art I found on the Internet for free. The small pictures are from the Friend magazine. Now, let's go into his room...

IMG_4185

This poster is directly across from his door. It is a poster with all the temples in the world as of April 2012. It has ones that have been announced and ones that are under construction on it too (those are my favorite; they show a little picture of missionaries with a golden shovel.) Underneath the poster are his bookshelves, which are IKEA Bekvam spice racks painted brown.

IMG_4181

Now if you'll please turn to your left you will see Sparrow's bed, which is an IKEA Kura bed. I painted the shelves dark brown and then I used scrapbook paper to disguise the ugly blue panels. It was really simple (though time consuming) - just take your scrapbook paper of choice, cut it to fit, and Mod-Podge it onto the bed. The best thing about this is that I can update it whenever I want. The worst thing is that sometimes Sparrow does mess with it and it rips. We've had a Serious Talk about not messing with his bed though, and I bought lots of extra paper to replace ripped panels in case we have another Serious Incident.

IMG_1156

The pictures of the Book of Mormon prophets are from this Etsy shop. The seller is really great to work with and I can't recommend her enough. I actually love her girl pictures more than the boy ones, but I don't have a girl (darn it!) We have another 3 prophet pictures that we don't have room for on the wall, so sometimes we switch out the pictures.

IMG_1155

IMG_4183

This is my pride and joy of the bedroom. I love it so much. I bought a 6' National Geographic map from eBay ($12), then ordered vinyl lettering from a store in our mall (but you could get it anywhere, in any color and in any font.) That cost $20. Then I bought some crown molding from Home Depot ($5), cut the corners at an angle, painted it the same brown as his bed/shelves and nailed it to the wall over the map borders. It seriously looks just like a picture frame. I can't believe how amazing this thing turned out. In this picture I wonder if I should have painted the frame black to match the other two frames, but the frame matches the bed, so it works out I guess.

I had the two bordering pictures taken last year at Fotofly. Sparrow is wearing his daddy's missionary nametag in them. Someday he will have his own Elder Sparrow nametag, but that won't be for another 15 years :)

IMG_4182

This is a shadowbox I made of Sparrow's newborn things. I used the same scrapbook paper as the bed to tie it together. The frame is a shadowbox I got at Jo-Ann's for $15. It was white, so I spray painted it black to match the room. Way easy. The items in his shadowbox are my favorite of his preemie outfits, his hospital bracelet, the nametag that went on his incubator, and a Valentine a sweet nurse made to put on his incubator since he was in the NICU through Valentine's Day. Of course we had to include a preemie diaper just to remind us how small he was (4 lbs 3 oz.) And the two pictures are the ones the hospital gave me while I was waiting to meet him (since I didn't get to see him in person till he was 3 days old.)

IMG_4184

This is the view of the right side of the room. The small pictures are of Christ with children, and one of Sparrow looking up at the temple. That one was taken at our sealing last year.

Moroni 4 copy

I think it's important to have pictures of Christ in our homes to remind us of Him, and I think it's important to have pictures of the temple in our homes to remind us about the covenants that we have made (or will make someday.) I love that the temple picture here isn't just something bought from the store - it is a real, personal picture. Sparrow remembers it being taken. He is involved in it. It's not just something to look at, it's a memory. I would encourage anyone to take their child to the temple and make it a fun (but reverent and sacred) experience and get some pictures to put up around your house. That way your child associates good memories with the temple.

I bought the growth chart at a craft fair last year. I love it because it can move with us wherever we go. And it is neutral so I can use it wherever we go!

The thing I love about this room the most? It's not age specific. If I had done his bedroom in forest animals like I originally planned, he'd have been over his obsession with them in 6 months. He's not going to grow out of the decor like he would if I decorated his room in Star Wars (though I dearly love Star Wars.) This decor will last till he's 8 or 10, then really, I just update the Book of Mormon prophet pictures to different, adult-er church pictures, and take out the temples of the world poster, and bam - slightly new look, same theme, everything else still fits.

And that is your tour of my favorite room ever. It cost me less than $100 to make. It is the only thing I will miss about this house when we move, and I hope I can figure out how to incorporate some of this design into Sparrow's new (much smaller) bedroom. If you have any questions please ask. I love this room and like to talk about it!

And because I like house tours, you've made it this far, so I might as well show you the only existing photograph of my clean bedroom. Check out the lack of laundry piles! That lasted for all of 3 seconds. Ta-da!

IMG_4178