"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

Thursday, January 21, 2016

See ya, 2015

So long, 2015. Let's be honest, you were a doozy. Nevertheless, we had some good times too. The Word Of The Year was "DO," and do we did. Here's a little review of the ups and downs of 2015:

The very first day of the year, my brother's roof literally came crashing down from burst water pipes in his ceiling. He and his family stayed at our house for a month or so while his apartment was fixed. We all learned a lot about living with other people, and we enjoyed the company. Plus, I got to cook my first pheasant, compliments of my brother's hunting prowess.

I got to try out my snowshoes, and did some hiking, more hiking, more snowshoeing, and even more hiking!

Taking a leap and turning in a piece of artwork for the LDS International Art Competition was scary! I hadn't focused that hard on a finished piece of artwork in a long time, but it came together with a steady schedule and purpose. That was a lot of work, but I learned a lot about my art process along the way.

I had been really interested in beekeeping and took a class about it. I loved it! Bees are so amazing and I feel like we are kindred spirits. Oh tiny sisters, I love you! Unfortunately, we can't have bees in our current house, so it will need to wait until we have a different home.

I got back into rock climbing! It had been years since I last enjoyed it, but with a trusty friend to show me the ropes again, I took it up again and had some of my best lunch breaks!

For my birthday, we took a trip to Zion National Park with friends and went on some wicked cool hikes. We got to do some light bouldering and also visited the Valley of Fire, which will forever hold a special place in my heart. We stopped by a crazy cool ghost town and of course an old cemetery. We played games and talked without any children interrupting. Yes, it's a thing!

Not too soon after that, Kirk got laid off due to the dip in the oil market. Well, poop. While it was a major bummer, we looked for the silver lining and decided to move forward as a single income family with a stay-at-home parent. What a lucky kid we have! We had to make some major adjustments. It was a palette cleanser and turned out to be the catalyst for many life introspections and realignments in our lifestyle and the direction in which we want our family to go. All good things, but a painful route.

With a clear and free schedule, we were able to attend a wedding in San Diego last minute. The sunshine was just what we needed, the little kid got to go to the beach for the first time, and we got to see family that we hadn't seen in forever. Cousins, guys.

I got up the guts to submit my first piece of art to the Springville Museum of Art's Spring Salon. It was so much work too, but I am proud of the final product and loved the way the piece turned out.

Also, I got up the courage to get my own website up and running. There are a lot of moving parts and every time I would change something, I would discover 10 more things that I needed to do. Gah! So. Much. Work. But also, it's a labor of love that I'm super proud of! And, I got some business cards made, which helped me feel a lot more official. Being a business owner has been so rewarding and I can't believe I waited so long to get started. Once I got through all the worrying in my brain and got things done, it finally came together. I finally found my purpose and style, which was a major win!

I had my first art booth at the Beehive Bazaar last spring! For some reason, it was a super scary step for me to take but I was blown away by all the support from friends and family and was humbled that people liked my art enough to buy it. Thank you, friends! And, I got more comments on my booth than anything else. Kirk made it for me to display my wares. Isn't it amazing?

Our family took part in a fun run.

We were in charge of a large family reunion, and it was full of crazy fun times and crazy fun people. We hiked along a petroglyph ridge, visited our old stomping grounds in Nevada, spent time splashing in the pool, and swapped stories. We also got to spend some time with our little family visiting Zion again, and tricked our daughter into hiking with us there.

Pepper took some swim classes and turned into a little fish and may have proposed to her instructor.

I did some hiking, more hiking, even more hiking, and solo hiking.

Then, there was that one time I had a baby. He arrived a couple hours after one of my favorite woodsy hikes. He just needed a little encouragement but he came with a smile and a sense of humor. We took a couple weeks off of our regular lives while we adjusted and got to learn how we would be as a family of four. We spent those weeks exploring the wilderness, exploring more, and exploring even more.

We planted and cared for and harvested a garden and flower beds this year. We also got some unexpected blessings from our labors and dried, juiced, and froze some of the best food.

Again, we participated in the Beehive Bazaar. Kirk's booth construction was all the rage again, and I added more pieces to the booth. I loved making all the art!

We got to cheer Kirk on in his half marathon through the beautiful fall foliage. He practiced diligently and did a great job!

I submitted my first-ever art piece to the Springville Art Museum's Religious and Spiritual exhibit. Again, it was a ton of work but I love the way the piece turned out. (The post will be up soon!) Plus, I was able to see a vast difference between this piece and my first submission from earlier in the year. Progress, guys!

I read some books.

Pepper's preschool ended, and she said goodbye to her friends there and hello to a full-time life with a great stay-at-home dad. She started a dance class, though, and fell in love with performing on stage!

My brother got married! In a whirlwind of familial excitement we spent loads of time planning, prepping, doling out unsolicited advice, and participating in general merriment. I took photos of our family with all the new additions before we all went our separate ways and started our own roots.

I got in some delicious autumn hiking, more hiking, and even tried mountain yoga hiking!

We partook in some of our favorite holiday traditions during the fall and Christmas seasons. The last quarter of the year is always one of our favorites! We also started new traditions to make our family life more intentional and to encourage one-on-one time and great family times too.

We cheered Kirk on in another race and got to share in the sugary spoils.

I tried a new thing on Instagram where I posted a different art series every month. I did an alphabet bird series, an autumn leaf watercolor series, and a series of requested wildlife sketches. I love being able to share my art with others!

2015 was indeed a doozy. While we are still trying to figure things out, we are managing to make the best of it and enjoy our precious family time while we can. 2015 was a good lesson in reevaluating constantly, making purposeful decisions, and getting up the courage to do things (because waiting through all the thinking is oftentimes more painful and difficult than actually getting things done!) So, there you have a few of our highlights from last year.

After talking with a friend about how I didn't think 2015 was a really good year, and that I felt I hadn't accomplished much, I was encouraged to write about it. Once I started writing, it opened my eyes to the many positive things we experienced last year, even amid the challenges. It was a great exercise in positivity and looking back I was surprised at what we were able to accomplish during crazy times and despite a definite funk.

So, if you've made it this far, first, you're a dedicated soul (thank you!) and second, I'm passing the advice forward. You don't need to post it publicly, but I encourage you to reflect on your past year if you haven't done so already and write down some of the major events. Looking back on your photos and social media accounts might help you out. So what do you say?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Around Here

Around here we've been getting into our new year grove, eating lots of comforting soups, going on icy hikes, fighting off various wintertime illnesses, and putting the kids to bed early. (I love that it gets dark around 5:30 because then the kids fall asleep easier. It's much better than the 9:00 pm sundown we get to deal with in the summertime.)

This month, we are a playful family (one of our monthly family values, which you can read more about here), so we've been doing fun things together as a family every evening. We play games or make a treat together. We've already gone swimming twice this week. Brrr.

And as per usual, we've been doing lots of art and projects around the house. Here's a look at all the animal sketches I did for my December days of Wildlife illustration series:

By request, I turned the baby giraffe into a printable:

It is available for free in my shop if you'd like to have your very own version. Consider it a little thank you for coming by for a visit!

What are you doing these days? I'm loving the cozy and quiet evenings, and of course the snow!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Word of the Year 2016

There is a tradition I have taken part of for the last several years which has brought depth and meaning into my life throughout the whole year. I pick a word to focus on for an entire year and make it a part of myself. Some people call it their One Little Word or their 2016 Word, but I've been calling it my Word Of The Year (WOTY).

If you want to see how I came to this word or what I'm hoping to glean from it this year, you can read more in-depth here.

It's amazing to see how this practice works for many different people. If you're looking for word ideas or additional thoughts on how this practice could work for you too, some other people who I know enjoy this practice are:
Jen Schow
Ali Edwards
Elise Blaha-Cripe

Is this something you do too? Tell me and I'll add your link to the post!

Is this something you'd like to do but don't know how to start? Ask me your questions and I'll answer them!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Family Values

It can be tricky to step back from day-to-day living to ensure that my daily actions are intentional. I know what it tastes like to feel like surviving is the best I can offer, but I don't like to remain in that place. I want to thrive in life, not just survive! And I want that for my family too.

When we realized our family needed better focus, we decided to incorporate a monthly Family Values tradition. (We picked up this idea from a podcast about family, with excellent episodes touching on the topic here and here. Give it a good listen!) The way it works for us is we pick a value we would like our family to focus on every month. We have weekly family gatherings (FHE, yo!) where we explore different aspects of that value, share stories and scriptures showing the importance of that value, post fresh visual reminders throughout our home, and talk about how it relates to our family.

This is a fairly new practice for us so we're continually finding ways to fine-tune it. We have bitty kids who have a difficult time understanding abstract concepts and understand literal concepts much better. So, we keep it simple by saying things like, "We are a helping family" or "We are a learning family." Then we drive it home even more by talking about how each person in our family helps and learns in his or her own special way like "Dad is a helping guy and keeps our kitchen so clean" or "Mom is so great at helping when you need to practice the piano". We also try to incorporate at least one family activity each week that illustrates the concept in addition to finding appropriate moments during each day to talk about the family value for the month. It doesn't have to be elaborate, it just needs to be present.

Some themes we've focused on so far are helping, learning, together, and playful. When we started out, Kirk and I sat down and made a list of many characteristics we value. The list was comprised of values we were proud of or were our natural strengths, values we need to improve on, and essential values we need our children to understand. Our list was much longer than months in a year, so we combined and simplified our values to fit our family needs. Plus, there will be many more years to come. I'm not concerned about repeating the same ones every year as long as they remain relevant.

We thought about mapping out the months ahead of time, but find it's easier to have options to pick from and focus on what our family needs the most during that season. Usually it's something our family is currently struggling with (like our helping month, haha! Painful, but necessary!) but sometimes it's something the season naturally dictates (like our together month which occurred during the hectic holidays filled with countless family get togethers, performances, and traditions). Kirk and I also have ongoing discussions about what values we want to instill in our family before the start of each month, so we don't feel like we need to stick to the list and can make sure our focus is what the most needed and most relevant at that time.

We are not perfect with this, but I have noticed more meaningful actions and purpose as a family. Our daughter is starting to recognize the importance of these values and is proud of herself when she exhibits them or sees them in others. It's been good.

We are barely new to this depth of family intentionality, so I'd love to hear what you have done to make your family teaching moments count. What meaningful practices do you have in your family? Do you have any tips to share about focusing on monthly family values? Do share!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Kid Memory Books

I don't know about yours, but our kids are so nutty and amazing! I want to remember their growth and silliness but even more I want them to be able to look back on their moments of triumph as well as their challenges. I hope that when they reach adulthood I can hand them a small record of some of the highlights of their younger years.

Ever since our oldest kid was bitty, I've been jotting down notes about her journey in a simple notebook. I write about her preciousness, favorites, silly pronunciations, newly learned tricks, precocious behaviors, learning experiences, little person wisdom, and our family adventures together. Now, I've been able to do that for our little one too.

I don't dedicate time every single day or even every week, but I keep an ongoing list of important moments to write about. Whenever I have a quiet moment to write, I use the list as a memory jogger to write a short note for each moment.

The entries aren't dated but show up in semi-chronological order. I've chosen to write in short paragraph form to allow for quick mental transfer between experiences. I separate the entries into years so each new section starts with a birthday because the growth is more apparent when grouped into yearly chunks. Each entry is a tiny snippet and doesn't go into elaborate detail but it exists and it's satisfying to watch the book fill up over the years.

There are many ways I record memories and each serves its unique purpose. Writing in the kids' books is one of the methods I employ. It's a quick and efficient way for me to record the crucial moments that will eventually be handed to them in a compact form.

Do you think memory keeping is important? If so, why? What do you like to keep records of? What are your preferred memory-keeping methods? So many questions! I'd love to hear more!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Painted Paper Snowflakes How-To

We tried a new family craft together as a celebration of winter. Making paper snowflakes is something my mama taught me when I was little, and we used to add glitter details to make them shimmer. Making paper snowflakes is now something we do as a family but with a couple of watercolor aficionados in the house, we added paint. Here's how to do this easy craft with your kids:

Paint white paper with blue and teal and purple watercolors (you know, all those great icy colors!) in whatever patterns you want:

Once it's dry, fold and cut up snowflakes as per usual:

We like to hang ours from the ceiling or tape them to the windows. Do you like to make paper snowflakes too? What do you do with yours?