Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I am not ashamed, Part II (alternately titled: my path out of the Mormon Church)

Kenny just revealed a part of his story to the world, so I suppose it's my turn: Kenny and I are no longer Mormon.  I mean, I will always be partly Mormon- that was the culture of my youth, my parents and siblings are all still Mormon, and many of my favorite parts of me come out of Mormonism. But we have zero involvement with our ward, aside from occasional friendly missionary visits, and we no longer have any semblance of a testimony that the Mormon gospel is the one universal, eternal truth. 

For those who aren't Mormon, you can probably stop reading here. It's hard to properly convey the significance of all this, and I'll probably seem overly dramatic. Mormonism isn't just a religion, it's a culture, it's a tribe, it's a way of life. I don't know of anything I can equate leaving it to. Plus, the nature of the religion is that one family member's beliefs can have deep effects on their family- we're a unit, all together, so it isn't as simple as everyone just finding what works best for them. While I don't think I can say this has been the hardest thing I've ever done, it has definitely been the scariest.

As I watched General Conference this last weekend, I realized that there really isn't much left for me in the Mormon gospel, or I'm not in the right place to receive it. Any attempts to go through the motions feel like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, and leave me feeling exhausted and lonely. Even the general conference talks geared to those who struggle with doubts leave me wishing I could sit and talk with these men, who I truly do believe are well-intentioned, and explain to them how I arrived here, and see if any of them can tell me how to will myself to believe something if my heart thinks it is wrong.
While I have been completely honest about my "retiring" from Mormonism with my family and those I interact with regularly (perhaps TOO open and honest), the broader world doesn’t know unless they are extremely perceptive (yes, I post a lot of pro-gay-rights and feminist things on Facebook  but I did back when my testimony was still strong, too). Most of my public silence (not a natural state for me) was out of respect to my husband and the time he needed to take to come out publicly as well. But that cat is out of the bag (which is a bit of a relief) so I’m finally ready to declare to the world that this is who I am now- and in truth “me” now doesn’t look all that different from “me” as a Relief Society Secretary. I just get to wear tank tops and shorts again (it's hard to even joke about that, lest anyone think that this decision was arrived at lightly, but I can't pretend I haven't enjoyed a few of the side-effects of this difficult journey).

Without a doubt, the hardest part of this whole journey has been knowing how much it hurts people I love. For my own sake, I'm doing fine- in truth, it's been a positive change for me. But oh, how it kills me to know that my inability to force myself to believe something can cause so much pain to others. Ugh. But it is what it is, and I have to choose my path based on what is right for me and my family. I don't think just going through the motions would benefit anyone.
We haven't resigned our membership, and probably won't unless something big happens. We've tried to stay in touch with our ward here, but our weak attempts have been met with an even weaker response. 

Anyways, I’ve been thinking about what to say, how to sum up where I am and how I got here and here is what I have. It's long. I'm sorry. These aren't simple things:
My testimony started to crumble January of 2012, and by April or June, was completely washed away. We have not been to an LDS church since July and attend a local Unitarian Universalist congregation regularly. This post is very long, very personal, and not intended to hurt anyone or to even change anyone’s opinion. Honesty and transparency rank pretty high in my priorities, so it feels disingenuous to pretend our lives are the same as they have always been.
My story is very similar to many others right now. The church is currently hemorrhaging- it is losing massive numbers of members of the Google generation. When wikipedia can answer questions that church manuals leave out, and FAIR and FARMS (the two main LDS apologetic groups) can’t offer answers that satisfy, you see this massive “falling away”. You can definitely hear it in the last few General Conferences- the GAs are definitely aware of the many struggling members, and I sincerely hope they find a way to stop it, because I know not all “faith transitions” have ended as happily as mine.
Let me shoot down the typical conclusions: we did not look for this to happen- as a matter of fact, it’s been one of the harder and least convenient things I’ve ever done. It did not start by us not attending our meetings, not reading our scriptures, not praying, or being led away by any sort of temptation. We followed the rules. No one at church offended us. We didn’t get sucked in by anti-Mormon propaganda. Our ward in Houston- where we were living at the time of the initial “falling away”- was like a family to us. There is no hidden massive sin in either of us that chased the Spirit away. I may have fallen into the trap of "intellectualism" but to be fair, intellectualism seems to be the thing that gave me my testimony to begin with.
I will admit I have a great fear that people will try to turn our story into a cautionary tail- “she started working out of the home and traveling away from her family”, “she started down the slippery slopes of feminism” or “they got wrapped up in LGBTQ issues and politics”. I suppose I don’t mind being a cautionary tale if they give the full ending of the story: that we are happy. I would never have guessed such a story would end that way.
Ugh, I hate knowing that the “me” of 3 years ago would read that and disregard my current happiness as superficial, temporary, or otherwise lacking. I know a few folks are just waiting for the other boot to drop, for something to shake things up and show us we can’t stand on our own and need the church. And who am I to say that it 100% won’t happen, but I can’t fathom what such an event would be. I simply can’t express in a way the “old me” would have believed that it is indeed possible to be “inactive” and still live lives that are just as happy and fulfilling. I guess I travel in new circles now, but I’ve been amazed by how many “former” latter day saints I know that are happy, raising good kids, and have moved on.
Our marriage is stronger than ever. I’ve been happier post-Mormonism and like myself more now than in any other period of my life. My children are still being raised to understand actions and consequences, to know compassion, to have worthy goals. We still believe in the virtues that Mormonism taught us, and there are many positive things we will take from Mormonism and never let go of. I have no regrets about my Mormon past- some of my favorite things about myself came very clearly from it. And I’m not ruling out going back some day, though I doubt it will ever be the same as it once was. For the time, being out of the church is more positive for us and our children than being in it. Maybe someday that will change. I still love the church, and think it is a great truth, I just don’t think it’s my truth anymore. And unfortunately, it is not a religion that readily accepts doubters (I believe I could get more out of the temple now that the cognitive dissonance is gone than I ever would have before; unfortunately, I would be unworthy to enter based on testimony alone).
I can’t speak for Kenny (his former testimony was very different from mine), but I don’t think I was wrong or faking it as a strong, faithful Latter-day Saint for 27 years. When I said "I know the church is true", I meant it. When the chapter on spiritual gifts came up in lessons, I always felt that my gift was to know the church was true, to not doubt it. I watched my sisters experiment with their beliefs as teens but maybe because I got to learn from their wanderings, I never felt tempted myself. I was rock-solid in my belief and happy to sing it from the roof tops. And I do have a rebellious streak in me, I won't pretend I don't. But the testimony I had wasn't faked.
I was an “academic” Mormon  I read the whole quad cover-to-cover in high school, I knew my scripture mastery, I loved discussing/explaining Mormonism to Mormons and non-Mormons alike, and enjoyed LDS apologetics at a surface level. Which isn’t to say I didn’t question- but I would always research things that didn’t make sense and come away stronger. 
I will say I stuck to church-correlated materials, which may have been my error. To be frank and probably sound a bit egotistical, I was so bored by the correlated materials (the scriptures, the lesson manuals, church magazines…) and knew them inside and out so well (this isn’t because I’m some genius but rather because, let’s face it, Mormonism is a religion that is all about repetition in learning) that I figured why should I dig deeper into other “deeper” church sources if it would just be even more of the same .
So if more complete/deeper church histories were out there that might have inoculated me in my youth, I did not see them (maybe if they had been included in sunday school from time to time, rather than dropped on me like a bomb when I came across them at 27 years old, I could have slowly built up an immunity). I was in my Seminary Council in high school, attended BYU, taught Relief Society and Sunday School, and regularly answered the questions during lessons that no one else would answer (either out of boredom or because they really didn’t know), so I don’t think I was foolish in thinking I knew “the full story”. In fact, I was a bit disappointed after going through the temple, not because it was weird, but because I had hoped for weirder… or at least, more depth. I was so eager to add to what I had studied and re-studied and taught and preached. But the principals of the temple were the same as what I had learned since my youth (and I’m not saying consistency is a bad thing, though boredom can be), all that was added was symbolism that alternated between too transparent and too opaque; either way, it never really spoke to me. I couldn’t turn off my analytical brain that spent the whole endowment ceremony wondering why God has bad grammar, why the producer chose that angle, and why there is only one female in the whole creation story, and she only has a couple speaking lines. And don’t get me started on the masonry thing. But all that was secondary- if I believed in the priesthood authority of the Modern Prophets, then I could deal with the rest.
And yes, the church’s stance on gender roles and homosexuality really bothers me, but that isn’t the key problem. Yes, the building of a huge high-end mall in SLC with church funds gets under my skin (more as a symbol of how the church uses its money), but that isn’t what drove me away. And yes, I didn’t enjoy Mormon Sundays- 3 hours of church and the pressure of keeping kids in an unnatural state of “reverence”, but that isn’t the problem either. And yes, it is very difficult to sit through Relief Society sometimes as a feminist, liberal, working mom (with zero interest in canning) but that was bearable, and I did really love my ward sisters there. I’ll freely admit I did not enjoy wearing garments, but that was not a deciding factor. Yes, I strongly disagree with the approach our culture takes to tackling issues like modesty, pornography, and self worth, but that’s not a deal-breaker.
The church is either true or it isn’t, and if it is, then you make the rest fit. I’ll say that again: you may hear many of these complaints and think that I let the little things bring me away from a greater truth, but rather, these little things are whats left over when the Greater Truth is gone, they are what makes it not worth hanging around when the foundation is gone. Little things about the church have always bugged me but did not make me doubt the truth of the gospel for a second. All of the inconveniences and quirks, I could deal with- after all, a mortal organization will have flaws-if I just believed the claims the church makes about exclusive priesthood authority and access to universal truths. And I did, so I made the rest fit. Now I don’t, so there is no reason to fight so hard to make it all fit.
I never did have a strong spiritual witness of the truth of the LDS gospel- when I practiced on the promise in Moroni 10, my witness was always a “it is what you make of it”. So while I’m displaying my inordinate pride in my former testimony, please know that I recognize it was not spiritually founded; it was flawed all along. It was based in logical exercise: if this, then that. If Joseph Smith did everything he said he did (and logically, I thought he must have, because of the evidences I had been exposed to), then the rest just followed. I was the foolish man who built his house upon the sand.
About a year ago, I realized my testimony was very weak in a few areas. I wanted to make the temple a more meaningful, positive experience for me. I wanted to understand better who Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were and why they did some of the things they did. I wanted to allay my concerns about what it means to support the priesthood even when your own convictions (and in some cases, spiritual promptings) contradict them (like in the case of prop 8). I listened to many MANY podcasts, read some biographies (by LDS historians), I dove deeply into scripture study and prayer, I talked to local leadership, I fasted… and every step of the way, my questions were answered with more questions. Plus I had to fight the feeling of betrayal and perhaps my own hurt pride when I realized I really had such a small knowledge of church history and how we came to be the organization we are (really, is the idea of Joseph Smith looking into a hat with a peepstone to translate the BoM all that much less palatable than the Urim and Thummim story we’re taught? Either takes a leap of faith, so why weren’t we taught the whole picture?). I really truly don’t want to get into the elements of church doctrine or church history that pushed me past a point of no return- I’ll be happy to discuss in a less public forum but my goal is not to be a missionary for apostasy.
The most surprising part is that no internal red flags went off. I’ve been told by a dozen people to read the story of Korihor (don’t get me started on how telling someone- whose only spiritual resource has always been logic- that they are “just like an anti-Christ” is probably not that productive) , to read Alma 32… and though I’ve read that all many many times, the part that stuck this time was verse 32: “Therefore, if a seed groweth it is good, but if it groweth not, behold it is not good, therefore it is cast away.” I had nourished my seed, with a broken heart and real intent, for 27 years. I don’t think I could have put more into it. I’d gone through every motion (well, I may have worn flip-flops- only the fancier ones- to church, and I did watch R-rated movies if I felt they were uplifting) and shelved every doubt. And my seed had grown and helped me become who I am- but then I hit a wall and the seed just wouldn’t grow any more. Or maybe it was just bearing unexpected- and undesired fruit? I don’t know, I get lost in the metaphor.
I came home from church each week- or worse yet, the temple- feeling mentally exhausted and confused. Reading the scriptures would leave me irritable because there are so many questions unanswered, so many little inconsistencies, so many pieces of historical and cultural context that don’t wrap well into the idea that the scriptures contain eternal truths that all mesh together and are meant for our day. (The God of the Old Testament really isn’t a very nice guy. Jesus in the New Testament is actually 4 different different Jesuses, depending on which gospel you are in and what the goal and audience of the writer is; the Book of Mormon leaves out some really important fundamentals of our religion [temple ordinances, eternal nature of families, priesthood principals... and where the heck are women? There are only three named unique-to-the-BoM women in the whole book!]) Prayer was still a solace, in that I’d get warm fuzzies and feel like I was loved and doing the right things, but I found no LDS-church-faith-inspiring answers there.
So, just over a year ago, I announced to my husband that I just didn’t believe it anymore. Throughout our marriage, we didn’t discuss religion much- or when we did, I did most the talking. I couldn’t really tell you much about my husband’s testimony because it was very personal and introspective to him- not something he could share easily. In retrospect, this has less to do with how he approaches spirituality and more because his own feelings weren’t clear to himself; I was the more dominant one in the relationship when it came to mormonism. He’s always been a “worthy priesthood holder” but, like in many LDS families, the wife was at the spiritual helm.
I expected him to be shocked and saddened by my confession, but his first reaction was calm. When I asked why he wasn’t freaking out, he responded “because you seem more at peace right now than any other time we’ve talked about religion”.
We had a lot of thinking to do: would we be a part-member couple? (Answer: time would show that we were fortunately on the same path.) Could we raise kids outside of mormonism without screwing them up? (Answer: it may actually be easier this way, just less familiar.) Can I tell my family without breaking my mother’s heart? (Answer: probably not, much to my dismay.) What about my lifestyle will this change? (Answer: not much.)
It didn’t take long for us to realize that Kenny had many of the same questions I did; he was just much better at turning off the cognitive dissonance in his brain. We both have different key issues behind our decisions- Kenny will say his deciding factor was his lack of testimony in the Book of Mormon; for me, it’s most definitely about the Mormon claims to exclusive, eternal authority and truth. We continued attending church and getting nothing out of it beyond social interaction, but when we moved and even the social interaction element was weak, we found it was a good time to invest our energies in something with more positive returns for our family.
I'll admit, I relieved in some ways that our children will be raised outside of the church. At first I was worried about keeping my kids from having the great youth experiences I had, but the more I thought about it, the more I realize that there is so much of that experience I DO NOT want for my kids. So we enter uncharted territory, trying as parents to pass along the good and leave behind the parts we don't feel are beneficial.

We’ve been attending a Unitarian Universalist church here each Sunday. UUs are interesting, in that they are a non-creedal church: they don’t really believe in anything specific other than love and service, but come together to “seek truths, celebrate differences, act on Unitarian Universalist principles, inspire the best in each of us, and serve the world.” It’s warm and fluffy and vague, and exactly what we need right now. We are challenged each week to think deeply and change our perspectives and actions and better the world. We leave church feeling enlightened and wanting to be better people, and not worrying about fitting our beliefs into a specific mold. It helps that the childcare is fantastic, and the nursery worker is paid so we don’t have to feel bad for handing her our two-year-old for 2 hours each week.
I do still have beliefs. I’m not “falling for anything because I don’t stand for something”. I do still believe in God- or at least, a god, or something divine either within us or without- but he’s not anthropomorphic and probably doesn’t speak with an American accent. To be honest, I no longer feel much need to define my view of divinity. It just... is.
My belief in Christ has changed- that relationship has morphed into something akin to my relationship with the Bishop of Digne- I don't think about whether or not he's historical or fictional or somewhere in between, I just get whatever good I can out of his story. I still read scriptures, but my canon has expanded to include Kahlil Gibran and the Dalai Lama.
I believe if you put good into the world, you get good out of it. Fortunately, I was raised to do the right thing not just because some moral authority told me to, but because it’s how to live the happiest, most productive and rewarding life (even the God I believed in in my youth didn’t give commandments just for fun- he did it because he wanted us to be happy and they were a clear easy guide for how to be). Family is still my highest priority; and integrity, charity and compassion are my highest virtues. I still have a long way to go, but I’m making as much progress now as I was before- perhaps more because I’m not spending energy trying to “fix” my worldview to fit into a mold that didn’t work for me anyway.
So there you have it. What I thought would never happen has happened. And it turns out to not be the end of the world.
I do have a blog that I’ve written as I’ve gone through this. It goes into more specifics. If anyone is interested, let me know and I’ll send you a link.
He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
-Micah 6:8 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Cutie four-eyes

For the last year or so, I've been noticing Camille's eye often go crossed (in medical terms, it's call strabismus). I myself have a bit of a cross-eyed/double-vision problem when my eyes are tired, so I probably tend to be overly aware of such things. But it was getting to the point she was cross-eyed half the time or so, and it got worse in the evenings or at the dinner table. We had to wait for the insurance dust to settle since I recently changed jobs, but at last we got her into a pediatric ophthalmologist.
some cross-eyed Iron Man action.
The diagnosis is Accomodative Esotropia, plus she is farsighted (about +3.5). Basically, her eyes are trying too hard. There is a very small chance she will outgrow the farsightedness, but if we keep her in glasses all the time, she will most likely outgrow the strabismus. If the glasses don't work, surgery is a last resort. Regardless, she'll be in glasses for at least the next 10 years or so. I'll admit, I'm probably more bummed than is reasonable.

I mean, she's definitely still adorable, but it's a different kind of adorable. Glasses are now the first thing people will notice about her. Her bright eyes look all distorted behind the frames. Plus the practical side of it: keeping a kid in glasses can be expensive, we'll need to make sure they don't get lost, we'll have to teach her how to clean them, how to dress (always take your glasses off before pulling on shirts), and how to handle hard things like swimming and sleepovers as she gets older.
It doesn't help that I HATE being a glasses-wearer, so I need to be careful about not projecting that onto Camille. So far she seems to like them fine.
Sorry I'm being a bit of a downer; I do recognize how lucky we are to have vision coverage, and access to doctors and technology to help keep it from getting worse. And that we noticed it early on, and is treatable. It could be so so so much worse. I get that. I'm just... adjusting still. Apparently I wrapped up quite a bit in how Camille looks and is perceived.
I will say, she's been a champ. We've had ZERO problems getting her to keep them on- from the very start she's been awesome. The frames are a tad wide for her face, but from the sounds of it we'll go through a lot of glasses (even if we don't lose or break them, little heads and little eyes grow quickly). She is still such a cutie and likes to show off her glasses- which is just as well since EVERY person we run into comments on them.
In other news, we figured out that the "cradle cap" on her scalp was in fact excema, and was keeping her hair from really growing in on top. Hopefully now the top can catch up to the sides.

On a side note, if any parents of toddlers in glasses have any insight, it's all appreciated at this point. I didn't have glasses til I was 12 (and am nearsighted, not farsighted).

Sunday, February 17, 2013

And now for something new

Quick note: If you're reading this because it was linked to on facebook, and you feel inclined to comment, please comment on the blog rather than on facebook, since I'm on a "facebook fast" right now and won't be able to see anything you say there.

So, first, the big news: I start a new job tomorrow. I'll be working for Search Discovery with their new Tag Management System product, Satellite. In the past, I've always been a consultant, helping big companies figure out the technology behind tracking what users are doing on their websites, how they got there, and how we can make the website better based on that. Check out this post I did for work to see how/why we track and how it actually should make internet users happy.

The majority of my job was helping clients implement JavaScript on their pages to do this tracking- which is a "niche" enough skill that the demand is high for consultants and I never needed to worry about finding jobs (I have a long story behind how I lucked into the job/industry I'm in, but let me just say: I'm very lucky and very blessed). So, Satellite, the product I'm going to work for/with, aims to make that implementation process easier. Also, if any college-aged-ish folks are wondering what industry to get into, let me tell you: Digital Measurement is THE place to be. Seriously.

"But, wait!" you may say, "I thought you LOVED your old job! Didn't you just move to Atlanta for that job?" You're right, I did. The 20 months or so I spent at Keystone were amazing and I love every person there like family, and I learned and grew so much and had some amazing opportunities. That company is going through some major changes though and it felt like time to learn/do something new. We're VERY excited about this new change and what it means for our whole family.
Fortunately, my new job is also here in Altanta, in midtown, meaning I'm going to have a doozy of a commute. Which is why we bought our new Prius, making us a two-car family again for the first time in 3 years. We love our new car and LOVE how little gas it uses!

In other news:
Kenny shaved his beard (he has since also gotten a haircut):

Camille also got her hair cut (for the first time). It's still going to be an uphill battle. When it's cute, it's REALLY cute. When it's not done just right it's.... ummm.... well, she is my child, for sure.

We took the kids to the circus on Friday (my one day between jobs) and had a blast. School goes well for Daniel, Camille is talking up a storm, and Kenny and I continue to have a lot of fun with Legos in our free time:)

As always, more pics on smugmug

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

2012 in review

2012 is gone! Poof! No more!

It was a fantastic year for us, even if my blog doesn't show it (sorry for the lack of attention lately). But my resolution is to write something every day- on one of my many currently-ignored blogs, or a journal, or attempting short stories/fiction.... I just need to get used to writing more. So hopefully that means the blog(s) will get more love.
Camille has undies here, you just can't see them. This was her first day in big girl undies.
So, 2012:
We sold our Houston home and moved to Woodstock, GA (just NW of Atlanta) in June (we're renting a home here). We still love it here.

We love our gym nearby, the church we go to, our neighborhood, the seasons, the rolling hills... if I had to say there is a downside it's that we still haven't found a social niche and we're very far away from family and friends.

Camille turned 2 in October. She has these big bright blue eyes (which get cross-eyed pretty often) and her hair has come in curly/wavy- if I style it, I can get ringlets all around. She was potty-trained in September and does a great job- now diaper and pull-up free for 3 months+! She talks ever-so-much more than Daniel ever did at this age and picks up a few new words a day. She's adorable, and she knows it:).

She definitely has strong opinions but she is easy to snap out of a bad mood as well. She will hug/kiss/cuddle anyone willing. She eats a lot of honeycomb (the cereal) and is a bit of a neat freak- she will not tolerate food mess on her hands or face, she loves to organize our shoe pile, and she WILL NOT SLEEP without Bambi under her right arm, Manatee under her left, and brobee above her head just-so.

Both kids play on our iphones pretty nonstop... I'm pretty sure Camille's first word was "phone?".

Daniel turned 4 (!) in April. He now goes to pre-k (it's free in Georgia thanks to the state lottery) and loves it. We had our first-ever parent/teacher conference and he got glowing reviews (aside from his need to learn some classmate's names... 4 months into the year).

This kid talks non-stop, and wiggles non-stop. To be honest, the physical clinginess is killing me. Aside from that though, he's a good kid. He's a wonderful big brother, he loves to compliment others (usually within a few minutes of meeting someone he'll tell them they have pretty hair or a nice shirt), he loves to share... really he has a heart of gold. But oh, the wiggles... I can barely handle it anymore;).

We play a lot of video games together and for someone who can't count above 13 without skipping numbers, he's quite the pro at Fable II.

Kenny turned 28 in May, and ran his first marathon in October. He loves being a stay-at-home dad and is pretty much the best dad ever. No really. I can't express enough how much I admire him- his patience and involvement with the kids makes me wish more dads had the chance to stay home with their kids (though I think Kenny is pretty uniquely wonderful;)).

I (Jenn) have had a crazy year- in a good way. So many changes. I feel a bit like this year was my
"coming of age" year- I guess I'm a late bloomer. I'm not at all who I thought I would be as an adult- religiously, geographically, occupationally, physically, politically... pretty much everything turned out differently than I would have predicted. But I also would never have predicted I would be this happy.
I was promoted to direct a team of 8 at work (well, the number varies) and it has been a really amazing and challenging experience. I do really enjoy it though and can see myself seeking out more management positions in the future. I'm still doing some pretty neat work with some really big companies (we mostly work with Fortune 500) and work with some of the most awesome folks in my industry.
I got a Kindle a few months back and now read a book every other day or so. I've also rekindled my interest in the harp (turns out it's much more interesting if I find pieces I can sing along with). I travel every other month or so for work and while I miss my family, I'll admit it's nice to not be clung to for a few days every now and then. Because when I'm at home, this is my life:

We had a few trips and a few visitors over the year- we went to my family reunion in Birch Bay, Washington in July and truly had a blast. We also traveled to Utah in September and got to introduce the kids to their great-grandpa Kenny (my husband's namesake, obviously). He passed away only a few weeks later, so we were thrilled to have been able to see him.

My parents came for thanksgiving and we had a blast, the kids still talk about them a lot. Then this last week our best friend from BYU, Ben, came and visited for a whole week. The kids love their "Uncle Ben", and Kenny and I were happy to get some good gaming time in:).

Christmas brought a lot of books and legos for the adults, a bike for Daniel, and princess barbies for Camille (who loves to organize THEIR shoe pile, too).

All in all, a wonderful year. Can't wait to see what 2013 has in store.

Note: The well-done professional-ish photos were taken by my sister Lori- the full album can be seen at her website.
The rest of our family photos from the year can be seen at my smugmug album.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Daniel's Priorites

Daniel's bedtime prayer last night:

"Heavenly Father, please bless that I will write my name all by myself; please bless that I will beat daddy at the breaking ice game and not make the ice fall down; thankful for my toys, thankful mommy plays DeBlob with me... *burp*... scuse me... Amen."

Thought that was worth sharing.

Again, I don't have time for an original blog post, but my sister-in-law does a fantastic job of putting together a Family Newsletter based on snippets we send her, so I will copy the snippets we send, so my in-laws aren't the only ones who hear what's up for us currently. Sorry, in-laws, for being repetitive:
  • Kenny continues to train for his marathon on October 28th. He is running a minimum of 6 miles a day, but usually more.
  • Daniel has started preschool and likes it a lot.

  • Daniel continues to take swimming lessons on the weekend at the gym and loves it.
  • Daniel has taken a special liking to one of the care takers at the child care center in the gym, Ashley. Kenny asked Ashley if she would be interested in baby-sitting Daniel and Camille, and she had been hoping we would ask. Kenny and Jenni got to go out for their first date while in Georgia. They said it was to celebrate their 6th anniversary (even though it was a week late). They went to a fancy French restaurant and then to go see The Bourne Legacy.

  • Jenni surprised Kenny with some home-made Mario fridge magnets for their anniversary. She had a lot of fun making them. Kenny surprised Jenni with a not-home-made sapphire necklace.
  • Jenni has been promoted to a management position as the Director of Implementation Services. She enjoys helping out her colleagues in their tasks.
  • Jenni got a Vitamix blender for her birthday. She enjoys making lots of smoothies and blending in spinach/kale to help make the treats a little healthier.
  • Camille is starting to say lots of words such as: light, nose, mom, dad, leg, ball, dog, car, truck, Daniel.
  • Kenny has been missing his regular game group that he had in Houston and has not been able to find enough interested and committed people to start another one. He did however find a gaming store very near his new home that hosts Magic tournaments. Kenny is now using that to feed his gaming needs. Every Thursday night, Kenny gets to go play in a Magic tournament. He was worried that after about 10 years of being out of the game he wouldn't do so well, but quite to the contrary, in his first tournament he placed 2nd out of 24 people. In his third tournament he placed first out of 30 people. He is now king of the nerds. (I added that part)
  • Jenni is enjoying practicing and singing in church choir every week.
  • Daniel earned his first Lego set ever.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Quick catch-up

I've been daunted about restarting the blog, it has been so long and SO much has happened (oh, by the way, we sold our Houston house and live in Atlanta now).

But I just wrote an email to a friend updating her on the last few months, and figured the least I could do was copy and paste that:

Things are going great. We LOVE Atlanta. And I just got a promotion to a mentoring/management roll that I think will be a good fit. We've gotten a gym membership and I've been doing boot-camp style team workouts that have completely been kicking my butt, plus we got a vitamix and I've been sneaking spinache into my smoothies (and kenny is training for his first marathon) so we're feeling healthier (and tireder).
Camille is starting to talk, saying things like "dog" and "duck" and "car". We're thinking of starting potty training with her soon, since she is showing a lot of the signs of readiness. Daniel starts pre-k (it's free in Georgia) on Monday- woohoo!

We attended a family reunion (with my 2 parents, 4 siblings, 4 siblings-in-law, and 13.5 nieces/nephews) a few weeks ago in Washington and had such a wonderful time- honestly, I can't think of how it could have been better.
I have about 7 months worth of pictures to post, but I'll go ahead and just post the recent family pictures my sister Lori took (as taken from her Elby Photography website):

So many more at the album, go check it out!

And the family reunion pics:

My cute parents:
With all of their grandkids!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

December 2011

Oh my, so much to catch up on, and December was a crazy crazy month. This post may be a tad dry, but since this blog serves as the family journal as well, I feel I need to detail some of the fun that was had.
First, I had a week-long business trip to NYC- what was the last of my regular trips. I may still travel for work but not this every-other-week thing anymore. It was a fun trip- a friend took me to a bar at the top of a building, just to see the view. It's cold enough that the bar keeps thick red hooded bathrobes and everyone wears one to stay warm- kind of freaky and cult-ish. But it was fun, and the view was incredible.

I was home from that trip for a few days, then my sister Becky arrived from Portland to watch the kids while Kenny and I went to Utah for my company's Christmas Party. Becky hadn't seen Daniel since he was 15 months old, and had never even met Camille, but Kenny and I both couldn't think of someone we'd trust our kids to more. She brought her youngest, Tyler, who is just a few months older than Daniel. They hit it off pretty well, even if it was hard for Daniel to have someone in his space playing with his toys (he needs more practice at that). Much fun was had, though:

Kenny and I missed Daniel's Preschool Christmas Program, much to my dismay. But Aunt Becky went and video taped it, just so I could see Daniel have a bit of a breakdown in front of the whole audience. Poor kid, apparently musical performance does not come naturally to him (yet).
Meanwhile, Kenny and I had an absolute blast in Utah. My company went all out. Most of us work remotely so we don't see each other very often. We got to stay in nice hotels (sans kids), go inner tubing at Soldier's Hollow, and go snowmobiling near Heber, not to mention much karaoke-ing. It was so so so much fun, and it once again showed me that I'm working for the right company (not just because they spoil us so, but also because we got to discuss where the company was headed and what we've accomplished this year). Though while snowmobiling, I may have taken a corner a bit fast and gone off course and hit a tree. It could have been much much worse, I'm very lucky. Kenny had been in front of me and took a few minutes to figure out I wasn't following him anymore. A coworker was behind me, though, and helped me get out of the deep snow once we were sure I hadn't broken my leg (and that I wasn't going to pass out).
Unfortunately, my camera fell out of the snowmobile's "trunk", so I lost all my pictures from the trip (not to mention my beloved camera). And my leg had a nasty bruise for a week afterwords:

Also, semi-unfortunately, my cellphone stopped working, so we had no choice but to buy new iphones. Oh, boo ;)
When we got back home, my oldest brother Chris and his family were in town from Denver. Camille and I went by ourselves to NASA to spend the day with them (Daniel was sick so he missed out). We see them so rarely, it was so nice to spend time with them. They have delightful daughters and Camille seemed to take a shine to them all.
Then, Christmas! And such a delightful Christmas. Really, it was perfect, minus a few minor germs we had floating around. Camille got a pink wagon she loves to sit and be pulled in, Daniel got Cars 2 and a few fun race tracks, Kenny got some board game expansions, and I got a new wool coat and some books/DVDs. But mostly, we got a lot of time together. My company gave me the week between Christmas and New Years as some additional paid time off, so we had a full week. And what do we do? Nothing much at all, and it was delightful.
The downside was that I caught MRSA ("the superbug"- drug-resistant staph infection). It started off as what looked like a spider bite and ended up with my entire forearm red, swollen, and throbbing. In summary: it hurts a lot, looks AWFUL, and needs treatment. Bleh.
In happier news, New Year's Eve, our Best Man Ben (he will always be that to me) came out to visit from North Carolina for a few days. We went folfing and played games and had a lot of fun. We miss him so much.

Camille is now walking like a pro, but here are some of those first steps from december:

Many more pics up at our December Album.