"A (wo)man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of (her)his life in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of beautiful God has implanted in the human soul."- Goethe

Friday, April 26, 2013


Sometimes our little Pep-squeak goes through a magical transformation. There's no telling when such a moment will strike. It could be at the dinner table, while we're reading books, or (more often than not) when she's riding in the back seat while I'm driving.

In a split second, the beautiful, intelligent daughter that I am so proud of turns into a ferocious woman-eating dinosaur burninating the countryside and peasants. Naturally, us peasants need to scream and run for our lives, if possible. What better way to bring out the inner thunder lizard than a visit to see actual dinosaurs:

The Thanksgiving Point Museum of Ancient Life is so child-friendly that ours had a conniption fit the moment we even suggested it was soon time to leave. (Not fun in the moment, but a good sign that we picked a great place to spend some time learning together.) Any suggestions for a toddler-friendly venue?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Coming Home

Kirk's little (read: 6'7" teddy bear) brother recently got back from spending two years in Ukraine, and there has been nothing but a slew of family festivities since then. Among the festivities, I was finally able to take some pictures of this guy after not being able to for years:

It is so good to have the whole family back together again, and our little Pep-squeak got to meet her uncle face-to-face for the first time in her short little life. They are already great buds.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Accentuating the Lovely

As part of my commitment to myself to create more intentional gifts, I focus on the packaging (but only for those who I think will appreciate the gesture...baby steps, folks.) My mom loves me so much that she wouldn't even care if I wrapped her present up in a black banana peel (gross!), but I thought she would be the one person to savor the pretty little things:

I know it's silly, but I truly get happiness from creating something beautiful, even if it is as dorky as a wrapped book. The simple things, my friends, carry a surprising amount of joy. What have you done lately to accentuate the lovely and simple things in your life?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Winter Escapades: The Monastery

Another grand adventure to have in the winter is a taking a trip to the nearest monastery, which for us is a good hour-and-a-half drive one way:

I love and appreciate these gentle monks immensely for dedicating their lives to goodness and God. Kirk and I have visited several times together to savor the environment (and the regularly scheduled chants!), and we plan on continuing to make such a trip a regular occurrence with our little family. The solace and divinity is nearly palpable.

The people are kind and beautiful, but it's the place that lights my soul on fire. The place itself encourages pondering, deep breaths, holiness and reevaluating ambitions and priorities.

Do you have a place you find yourself returning to for inspiration and rejuvenation? If so, what positive thoughts does your special place project?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Winter Escapades: The Leonardo

Another thing to do during wintry days is to visit an art or science museum, or a combination of the two, like The Leonardo in downtown Salt Lake City:

Oh my goodness! This museum was toddler-friendly and a fascinating mix of science and art. I would totally go back again, but I have to say that my favorite museum is still the Springville Museum of Art. It will always have a tender place in my heart.

Do you have a favorite museum to visit? If so, what is it and why?

Monday, April 15, 2013


I started a lit club this year, and for one of our reads, we dove into Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping:

Love this. Favorite discussion topics for this novel include:
  • water: baptism, rebirth, circle of life
  • ghost children
  • gorgeous Shakespearean language
  • different styles of housekeeping and mothering
  • transience and home
  • Fingerbone
  • incredible characterization
This book is short but requires time to pick through because it's packed. The time invested in savoring the language is worth it.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Winter Escapades: The Zoo

Who would have thought the zoo, of all places, would be open in the winter? We seriously saw only 5 other patrons the entire time we were there:

So, on top of having free reign of the place and getting one-on-one interaction with the animals, it turns out admission to the zoo is cheaper in the winter months, who knew? (Just an FYI, the place is under construction until 2014, so take that into consideration if you're considering a trip there.)

Would you ever go to the zoo during the winter?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Beautiful Surprise

Check out the lovely painting my sister made for my birthday:

Birds are totally my favorite, and out of all the birds, I'm especially drawn to barn owls. If I had to pick a spirit animal, it would be a barn owl. What's yours?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Thoughts from My Heart

I recently had the opportunity to participate in a poetry reading, and prepared this new poem for the occasion:

Teaching My Daughter How To Breathe
By Laura Nielson Baxter

As I now understand,
it’s not so much the steady rise and fall
we’ve come to see it as,
but rather, a fall and a rise.

This is what I am learning:

     Didn't our world begin with a Fall?
     Will it not end in precise risen glory?

     The moon doesn't wax and wane,
     she wanes and waxes, ending
     with glorious light before starting anew.

     A victorious overture, a fresh restoration.

     As I hold you in the dark and marvel
     at your tiny fingers
     I find myself
     counting your breaths and repeating simply
     We: are alive.
     You: are alive.
     I: am alive.

     Deep in my chest, it feels right
     that life is our mother, who counts our breaths
     in the same way, taking note
     of our sometimes ragged exhales
     but knowing the majesty the next inhale brings.

     She breathes along with us to calm our hearts.
     That's what mothers do.

     God's miracle for us is breath.
     His love is our Fall and Rise.

This is what I pray to him:
Let my contribution be clean.
Let my breath ameliorate.
Let my life end on an inhale.

It can be tricky to include vulnerability in my poetry, but it was refreshing this time to open up and speak candidly from my heart. However, it still took a lot of effort. Do you have any tips or tricks about quickly tapping in to that vulnerable and sensitive side? 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Pretty Packaging

'Tis the season in my family for birthdays, and this year I wanted to make gift-giving more intentional, so I wrapped this for my little bro:

I searched for hours for the perfect gift, and finally found it: a wildlife identification book that includes all types of flora and fauna. And, just in case you were wondering where I got the feathers for the package, don't worry about the parakeet, I just scavenge feathers that are dropped and don't pull them out from his pretty tail. No birds were harmed in the wrapping of this package.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Winter Escapades: The Aviary

We also tried out the aviary, which we were surprised to discover is open all year long. It was great because we were pretty much the only ones there and didn't have to fight any crowds for the best views and warm tropical bird house when our fingers got too cold:

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Winter Escapades: Feeding the Ducks

We had to change our vacation to a staycation last minute, but we didn't let the wintry weather get us down. In fact, we went out and about and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves because we pretty much had the town to ourselves.

We started out with a trip to feed our favorite ducks. Usually they aren't very hungry, but apparently in the winter, they don't get very much charity because we didn't bring enough bread to feed the hoards that appeared from nowhere: