Families don't get more beautiful than this one! I grew up with Kirsten (perhaps you notice the resemblance between her and Tina, since they're sisters), and I was actually present on her first ever date with Austin. They met as missionaries in the South, fell in love later on in Salt Lake, and now have two of the cutest boys you'll ever encounter, with one more boy on the way! In the decade and a half I've known Kirsten, I've never seen her in anything but a smiling mood. I just love her. She and Austin are wonderful parents to their adorable and fun little boys.
When we got up the canyon, we struggled to find parking. Albion summers are so beautiful that the ranger told me they often get 3,300 visitors a day with only 45 parking spots! We ended up in a different spot than planned, but it actually worked out wonderfully. Why? Because we stumbled upon the remnants of someone's feather pillow fight. You can imagine how excited a two-year-old and one-year-old boy were to play in a field of feathers. It felt pretty magical!
I had the chance to ask Kirsten and Austin a couple of questions to better capture life for them at this time, to understand what means the most to them, and where they find beauty in this world. The questions are interspersed throughout their photos, and I loved their answers.
1) What brings you the most joy in life right now?
"Oddly enough, where we find the most joy are the same places where we have discovered unexpected beauty. Whether it's in a new song that hits our hearts in that certain way, or getting caught up in the view of the mountains. Perhaps one of our favorites is the silly ways in which our children respond to and interact with the world around them. They are interested in just about everything they see. Bugs, opening and closing drawers, pulling everything off the shelves, kicking around here outside, running full speed into puddles of water--it is hard for them not to be happy. We love the simple things and find the most joy in being able to be a part of them. Children are the most real individuals you will ever meet because they don't know how to be anything except for themselves. So as you can imagine, living in a world that is constantly changing, it'snice to know that you can always count on the little ones to bring a sense of familiarity."
2) Where have you found beauty where you didn't necessarily expect to find it?
"About a month ago we traveled to Torrey, UT just outside of Capitol Reef National Park. This isn't exactly the most philosophical answer, but we thought the diversity of the dark green grasses, shrubs and small trees, pouring out of the deep red rock was unexpectedly beautiful. Not that we didn't expect it to be beautiful when we visited--it was just that it was far more pretty than we would have imagined. For the more philosophical answer, ever since I was a child, I was taught what a family ought to look like. Yet, here now, as a mother, I have come to find that having a family is unexpectedly beautiful, and is not fully known until it is experienced. Like visiting Torrey, I didn't realize what beauty I would find until I experienced it firsthand, and once I did, the impressions sank deep, and the grandeur of the land is forever etched in my memories. Having a family of my own has forever etched the simple beauty of the loving relationships we have with each other deep within my heart."
3) What trial have you and Austin or your family encountered and overcome together?
"One of the hardest challenges we have faced as parents was being told that both our children were born with hearing impairments. I think it is easy to live in denial, easy to pretend our children do not have the challenges they have, and attempt to brush them aside. But the fears creep. We worry about their education, their experiences in sports, or their future families. We worry about our other children yet to be born, the fact that all of them may be born with hearing impairments. We worry about many things, yet, our sweet little boys show us we have nothing to fear. They are so small, but their lives are so vibrant, so confident and full of life. Their inner strength shines through like a bright light, and we cannot help but be strengthened by their combined quiet confidence. We love them deeply and know that their physical impairments will have no hold on their abilities to live fully and abundantly in this beautiful world."