Wednesday, April 28, 2010

{Ladybug, Ladybug...}

Finally found that ladybug Squirrel and I went hunting for last week...

Isn't she lovely?


Monday, April 26, 2010

{Best Weekend Ever!}

This is literally how we spent all of Saturday--just lounging out in the courtyard, the Mister smoking some ribs, laying on a blanket in the perfect weather, getting some crocheting done, and the kids playing around.

Hope your weekend was beautiful too!

Friday, April 23, 2010


A few tidbits...
Remember when I was expressing the "worse mischief" my little trouble makers were finding? Well, I think I have a winner...and it isn't the one I would have expected...


{Look at me, Mom! This is FUN!}

{Oh...okay, I'll just clean this up for you...}'s a good thing he's so awfully cute...and not allergic to peanuts...

In other news, a quick bit of gratitude. 
I tell the Mister often that one of the best gifts he gave me when we married was his sweet family. Granted, his dad likes to take pictures of me drooling in my sleep (he really has quite an impressive collection! [which is also due to the fact that I drool IMPRESSIVELY in my sleep]), but ultimately I am so grateful to be counted among them. I especially find myself in awe of so many of the women in his family--I have learned so much from all of them, including my fellow sisters/daughters-in-law, and love to feel the Spirit they carry. I count my blessings every time I hear those "Mother-in-Law Horror Stories" that so many women seem to carry proudly like battle wounds, because I've never had one to tell. In fact, I often find myself defending Mothers-in-Law the world over, because if mine is so wonderful. 

In addition to the Mister's awesome immediate family though, one of the best surprises I received as part of this gift was of Aunt Ellen. I believe I first met her at our wedding, and the Mister himself had only met her a few times before then. Since that time she has been around much more often and her amazing presence is such a source of joy for us. I LOVE seeing Aunt Ellen. Her laughter is contagious and she is positively full to BURSTING with life. She is also incredibly thoughtful....which leads me to a (sort-of) tangent. 

I manage a housing complex for college girls. This means that I am the replacement mother for 120 18-22 year old girls. This means that I am on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for everything from something as small as not knowing where to get a stamp to as large as strange men breaking in. (Thankfully, the latter has not happened on my watch!) Last semester, I think I had a bit of a honeymoon period; while I had some major crises, they were few, and the day-to-day drama that so many managers experience was almost non-existent. I can tell that this semester will be different, as I have already been faced with many challenges--challenges that outsiders might think are "insignificant," but which to girls in their first "real-world" experience are huge obstacles. I have been VERY tired, spending late nights mediating, and stressed from more time than I like on the phone, consulting other managers and talking to worried parents. 

Imagine my surprise when I received a package this week, containing this: 

It arrived from Aunt Ellen. In the few short days it has been here, this book has already given peace to my soul, been used to share advice to my girls, and brought the Spirit back into heated discussions. It was such a simple gift, and yet I am certain that she was led by the Spirit to send it my way. I am so grateful for this timely gift, but more for the love she showed and the example she gives--the reminder to listen to and ACT on the Spirit. As Elder Uchtdorf writes, "In the end, the number of prayers we say may contribute to our happiness, but the number of prayers we answer may be of greater importance." 

So thank you, Ellen, for answering a prayer from across the miles. Not just mine, but I imagine also that some of the very thoughts in this book have been answer to the prayers of young girls in need of their precise comfort. You are wonderful, and I am grateful for the gift of YOU! 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

{Happy Earth Day!}

We planted some flowers today to celebrate earth day (as well as some herbs in some used yogurt cups). Hope your Earth Day is happy! 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

{Bird Feeding...or Squirrel Feeding...}

Squirrel and I made a "bird feeder" a few days ago. I put it in quotation marks because the Mister would have it so. He often finds my attempts to live in the country somewhat laughable, because even though I loved my outdoor play as a kid and my time spent enjoying sunsets on the roof of my home, I don't have all that much experience outside of the city...and even less experience outside of the barren desert.

Anyway, here's what we did:

We took some Cheerios...

...and strung them on some twine:

{We were, of course, dressed as fairies...or at least one of us was...}

Then covered the Cheerios in peanut butter and nuts and seeds...

And then we hung it up for the birds to eat....

And this is where the Mister laughed at me--he says that bird feeders need to be hung in trees. Silly woman, you can't just put food for birds anywhere...

I figured that since birds can FLY, they could just as well FLY over to the stairs by our window so we could watch them eat the food we had so KINDLY offered them. 

Turns out, that instead, the squirrels come and eat peanut butter and seed covered Cheerios off the stairs. Just as time I guess we'll hang it in a tree...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

{Bug Hunt}

"I think that I may warrant you one worm for every three sods you turn up, if you look well in among the roots of the grass."

Today Squirrel and I went on a bug hunt. She saw a lady bug while she played out in the grass, and came running in to tell me with such explosive excitement that I knew we must attempt to find more. Unfortunately, that lady bug must have left all her children (and cousins, aunts, uncles, and siblings home)...and she must have flown away to them, because we could find no more. We then set off in search of any bugs we could find. I think the weather being back and forth as it has been, that most have not decided to emerge fully yet. We searched a bit in vain, but kept coming up empty handed.

So, we did the one thing that always turns up critters--we dug in the mulchy mud for worms. We found them quickly, and though Squirrel was at first utterly horrified, I did manage to get her to touch one and even inquire whether they have eyes. (To which I answered no...but they?)

Monday, April 19, 2010

"We can never have enough of Nature."

Is it weird I've been thinking of going back to school for a degree in Forestry?


I've been reading this book, by Richard Louv:

It's a fascinating look at the deficit so many of our children face when it comes to Nature. I have been enjoying it immensely, and largely because it backs up so much of what my spirit has been telling me--that Nature is good for the soul--and good for so much more. 

Here are a few tidbits that Louv shares in his book, statistics from studies that have been performed across the world in a variety of ways:

*Children who are exposed to more natural play report lower levels of stress, depression, anxiety, and are often calmer in school settings. (This is spectral--the kids with the least exposure to Nature have the highest levels of stress/depression/anxiety, and even in rural settings, those with the most free range and space in Nature have the least.) 

*Children who have access to play in Nature have twice as many friends as those whose access to Natural play is restricted by traffic.

*Children who play in Nature are generally more creative, and are better problem solvers. 

*Children who have more Nature near their homes rate themselves higher in scales of self-worth.

All these things are backed up by quantitative data, and the anecdotal evidence is strong as well.

Richard Louv is the co-founder of the Children and Nature Network, and while visiting their site, I came across this:

April has been deemed Child and Nature Awareness Month. Lucky me, the weather has been cooperating and we've been enjoying nature quite a bit already! 

So, even though April is almost over, join me in celebrating what Nature can do for our kiddos. 
Here are some fun resources I have found and have been using recently with the beautiful weather:

Don't forget, Earth Day is Thursday, April 22nd! I haven't quite decided how we'll celebrate yet, so if you have fun plans, please share! 

Saturday, April 17, 2010

{He's HOME!}

"After completing his experiments [...] he returned home contented."

The Mister is HOME!

Good grief I love this man so much. I love that when he spots us from across the courtyard I can see his pace quicken as he hurries to grab us all up. I love that he gives each of us his undevoted attention as though nothing else exists in the world for those moments. I love that after nearly seven years (whoa!) of marriage I still get butterflies when I see him and that he still looks at me like I am the young college cheerleader of our dating days. (Even though my hips tell the story of the years and the births, his face never does.) I love that he misses me like I miss him and that our children are as madly in love with him as I am.

You know what else I love? I LOVE that I think he loves me best. And I think that's the way it should be--because if we always love each other best, then every other piece of love between us and around us will always fall into place after it.

Sorry for all the mush...maybe I'll have a go at some profundity next week....

Friday, April 16, 2010

{Perfect Day}

"If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal,--that is your success."

Today was remarkable. Perhaps it is the weather. Perhaps it is the fact that for the last 6 days The Mister has been away and I am getting giddy at the thought he comes home tomorrow (and that I have survived!). Perhaps it was simply my singular children. But today I realized that the fog is lifted and I am here.

After Little Bird was born, I was so incredibly happy and serene. I had this tremendous sense of my womanhood and power and femininity. Life seemed miraculous. And then as the weeks ticked on, and going back to work drew near, even if it was "just for four weeks" as I kept reminding myself, a heavy emptiness started to move in. I told myself it would pass soon. Once the school year was over, I would be a stay at home mom and I would return to the miraculous life I had lived a few weeks before. Instead, through summer this hollow inside of me seemed slowly to expand. I told myself it was simply the oppressive Phoenix summers; soon the weather would turn and so would my mood. In heat like that, no one wants to get out of bed, or do their hair, or play with their children, or cook, or...or... Of course, things would get better when the school year started...or when the autumn breezes finally hit...or near the holidays. I would be happy, I would feel, I would stop snapping at my children whom I love so dearly.

But all these things came and went, and the hole kept getting bigger, until finally I started to believe that this was simply who I had become--tired (so tired), short-tempered, lonely in the midst of love, empty...sad.

Thankfully, there was little part of me that fought to get through the cracks in the wall of this Kierra 2.0. That little part always sparked and sometimes ignited with joy, even if the flame was short lived. The little part ate away at the back of my brain and finally sent me to my doctor.

For many months, I was ashamed to talk to anyone about the fact that I thought I had post-partum depression. I worried it meant I loved my son less than I had loved my daughter. I worried it meant I wasn't praying hard enough, or I didn't have enough faith. I worried I was "broken."

Now I am ashamed I didn't do something about it sooner. For months, it cost me the joy I feel every day. There are memories I know I lost in that fog, moments I can't get back.

Today I realized that I had been silently worried about something else the last few months. I had been worried that the happiness I had again, this return to the old me, was not me, but the medicine. Even though it felt like me, even though logically, I understood the brain function and chemistry behind this, even though I didn't feel embarrassed about my diagnosis, I had been worried I was somehow "faking." But lying there in the park with my children, in the midst of so much (so much!) inexplicable joy made me realize that I am here, wholly present and fully myself. I am a woman who, though imperfect in infinite ways, finds happiness daily. I have made it through a whirlwind of change--in place, in lifestyle, in habits--over these several months. I have worked to find balance, to simplify, to pay more attention to what matters and less attention to what doesn't. I am a woman who has survived 6 days of single mom-hood without blowing a fuse, bursting into tears, or locking myself in my closet to sleep (things that occurred regularly in just a half-day a few months ago). I am daily a better mother, wife, woman. There are many more steps to take before I am all I want to be and all the Lord would have me be, but I am the one walking that path. Medication or no, it is me in here.

So, my brain is a little out of whack...anyone who knows me could have told you this years ago! So, I take a little pill at night before I go to bed. I'm not an asthmatic, I'm not a diabetic, or arthritic, I have a heart and a liver, and marrow that fill their God-given purposes without incident.  This is simply the card I was dealt, and today I let it go. Inside this imperfect flesh, which carries this particular weakness, is an eternal, sunny spirit. A spirit existing in fullness, and I am not afraid to admit that life smells like flowers and looks like starry nights and beauty is immortal...

{Ok...a positively terrible picture, technically speaking...but THIS, this exuberant expression, this explosive joy, was our day today, from start to finish. And besides, I am completely and utterly and madly in love with those little vampire teeth! Aren't you?}

Thursday, April 15, 2010

{And then it was dead again...}

{The view from my window upon waking up on the day following our glorious outing...what you can't see are the 40MPH winds.}

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

{Glorious to Behold}

"It is glorious to behold this ribbon of water sparkling in the sun, the bare face of the pond full of glee and youth, as if it spoke the joy of the fishes within it, and of the sands on its shore--such is the contrast between winter and spring. Walden was dead and is alive again."

Just enjoying this glorious weather--took a drive to the edge of Teton National Forest and basked in the beauty and bounty of the oncoming Spring.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


"Some are 'industrious' and appear to love labour for its own sake, or perhaps because it keeps them out of worse mischief."

I really love being a mom. I never thought, in my younger years, that I would, but it's the best job I've ever had. People who know Squirrel know that she is exceptionally busy. Almost from the time she was born, she has been getting into things, and "busy" is indeed the number one adjective that people use to describe her when they watch her. (By the way, I know "busy" is just a euphemism for "insane" because I live with her.) Because of her need to constantly be doing anything, I try to plan activities with her, primarily to keep her out of "worse mischief." I've had a few friends comment to me about how we do so much fun stuff, but believe me, it is entirely self-preservation, and even now there are days I am doubtful I will survive this child with my own sanity in tact.

Thankfully, Little Bird seemed to be born with quite the opposite demeanor: calm, observant, compliant. Until he started learning to follow in his big sister's footsteps...

This past week or two has been chaotic. The Mister was faced with finals at the same time I was handling checkouts and inspections in the dormitories. What this has meant is that my perpetually tutu-ed Squirrel and her pants-less brother have been finding more opportunity for "worse mischief;" here's a sampling from a day this week:

First, Little Bird practiced his new Squirrel-taught trick of moving the chairs to gain access to the counter tops:

And then we found Squirrel behind the fridge devouring a bell pepper she found in the veggie drawer. (Honestly, do normal kids even EAT bell peppers? Much less, do normal kids find and scarf whole bell peppers in dark corners? All while wearing a tutu?)

And in the two minutes we were away cleaning up a separate mess made by Squirrel (of which I did not get a picture), Little Bird managed this:

Seems I need to dig a little deeper for some "industrious" ideas for these two, as they are obviously so good at finding worse mischief...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

{Egg Hunt}

"She was gone a-hunting."


{Our Easter Photo Attempt in a Nutshell...}

Friday, April 2, 2010

{Baking the day away...}

"In cold weather, it was no small amusement to bake..."

I don't know why I haven't done this before. I think I always assumed that Squirrel was too young to bake cookies with, but she had it down in seconds flat! She loved rolling out the dough, pushing in the cutters and helping to carefully place them on the pan. She especially loved the icing and sprinkles, which she devoured in great fistfuls whenever I turned my back.

We used the "Best Rolled Sugar Cookie Recipe", and it really was a fantastic recipe. The cookies it turned out were sheer perfection. We rolled it out when it was very cold, almost solid, so that we could make thick cookies that were easy to cut and transfer.

Here's the recipe:
Best Rolled Sugar Cookies

1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 cups all-purpose white flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt.

1. Cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla.
2. When mixed, add dry ingredients and beat until even.
3. Cover and chill in refrigerator for at least an hour (or overnight).
4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out dough on floured surface to 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut shapes and place about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 6 to 8 minutes. (Some of ours took a little longer--up to ten minutes depending on thickness.)

And, here's the photos!

Pushing those cookie cutters in is hard work! 

No small amusement indeed--baking was just what we needed when the Spring we thought was coming turned into an April Fool's Day blizzard!