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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.)

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

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My shirt used to be white...

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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.

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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.)

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My mom tried to channel her inner mountain goat.

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When it was time to leave, Sparrow was sad.

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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:

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

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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...

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 :)

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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.)

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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.

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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!

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