Tag Archives: Colin

14

Colin and I celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary.

The Magnum

This picture sums it up perfectly. The two of us, facing the world together with a smile. Or a smirk, as the case may be. (Our best attempt at Zoolander’s “Magnum.”)

I love this man. I love the life we share. It’s perfectly imperfect, full of mayhem and disappointments, dedication and love. And best of all, it’s full of laughter.

Happy anniversary, Colin. There’s no one I’d rather spend my days with than you.

 

Monster Hunters

While I was gone on my trip to Boston, and Colin was left to fend for himself with four little squirrely kids, he decided to distract them with creative play. Necessity is the mother of invention, they say, and the need to placate active little bodies led to the creation of a new game: Monster Hunters. Little hunters seek out the terrible, ferocious Daddy Monster, wherever he may be hiding. Here are the rules, in case you want to play:

1. Seekers find a safe “base” and count to 10 while the “monster” hides in a distant location.

Safe at the base

2. Brave seekers venture out slowly to hunt the monster, sometimes in packs, sometimes solo.

Brave seekers

Monster Hunter - Page 003

3. Once the monster is located he barges out of hiding and chases down the little seekers as they squeal in delight terror.

Monster Hunter - Page 004 Monster Hunter - Page 005 Monster chases

4. Repeat the process about 20 times over.

She Said/He Said: Jeannie’s Trip to Boston

Boston Skyline | Painted by Jared

Boston’s Salt and Pepper Shaker Bridge, hand painted by Jared

Colin’s brother, Jared, and his wife, Laura, just had their third girl by C-Section. Last year, when I had my surgery they came out to help me recover. When we learned they were expecting, we knew we wanted to return the favor. So Colin and I planned a time when I could go out there for a whole week which, of course, meant that he’d have to be home with our own children for that week while I was gone. Here is the She Said/He Said debriefing of that week…

{Jeannie’s Week}

Although, admittedly, it is a fair amount of effort to care for other people’s children, or cook in a kitchen that’s not your own, it was an enjoyable adventure. I got to read the entire way on the plane, uninterrupted. I saw some snow. And most importantly, I got to spend some quality time with my adorable nieces, playing games and listening to as well as telling stories (Evelyn, at 5, is a master storyteller and enjoys hearing a good tale as well), and hang out with Laura, picking her brain about interior design as I continue planning to reform the Pig House, and comparing favorite recipes. I missed my family terribly, but the week flew by and Colin sent me several texts and emails with funny kid antics. I was so glad to be there to help with Laura’s recovery. Jared and Laura are amazing and we’re biding our time for the day when they move back to the west coast, hopefully to Seattle.

{Colin’s Week}

Survival mode.

Talks & Lessons: Making Time for Service, Serving to Make Time

This was written by Colin and given as a Sacrament Meeting talk on December 9, 2012. I (Jeannie) spoke this day, as well. You can find my talk here.

I’ve been told that there are three stages of adulthood defined by the availability of three resources: time, energy, and money. In the first stage, the young adult stage, we have plenty of time and energy, but no money. In the second stage, money becomes more abundant at the expense of our time. Energy is also relatively available still. As we advance to the third stage, we hope to have both money and time available, but our energy seems to have disappeared. As I feel like I fit best into stage 2, I would like to focus this talk on making time for service. But not only on making time for service, but the counter-intuitive notion of serving to make time.

So how do we make time for service?

[The Spiritual Pattern of Small and Simple Things]

For those of you who missed Elder Bednar’s talk at the 2011 women’s conference, let me tell you about the Spiritual Pattern of Small and Simple Things. Elder Bednar invited the women to consider a small phrase in Doctrine and Covenants 52:14. “I will give unto you a pattern in all things, that ye may not be deceived; for Satan is abroad in the land, and he goeth forth deceiving the nations.” The phrase to consider is “a pattern in all things.”

Patterns make our lives simpler and more efficient by providing a way to pass on learning from one person to another as well as a way to apply previous knowledge to new problems. Patterns allow us to concisely explain complicated subjects by referring to recognizable pieces of the whole. Patterns help us to master our craft and become experts in our field. Consider attempting to recreate a wedding dress by just looking at a picture. There may be a small handful of people in the world who could perform such a feat, but most of us, even the very experienced, would fail without a pattern. And I would argue that those that can do it, only manage because they have mastered the patterns required. The same thing could be said for just about any other craft or field you could name: woodworking, engineering, building a business, various forms of art, even athletics. A great defensive lineman recognizes the offensive patterns as a football play unfolds and avoids being deceived by the opposing team.

From Elder Bednar’s talk:

Vital spiritual patterns are evident in the life of the Savior, in the scriptures, and in the teachings of living prophets and apostles. These spiritual patterns are now –and always have been– important aids to discernment and sources of direction and protection for faithful Latter-day Saints. And as we just learned, spiritual patterns are essential in avoiding the deception that is so pervasive in our world today.

A powerful pattern the Lord uses to advance His work and to tutor Heavenly Father’s children upon the earth is the theme for this Women’s Conference—“by small and simple things are great things brought to pass” (Alma 37:6).

In contrast to what we so often observe in the world, the Lord ministers “one by one” (3 Nephi 11:15). He enables us to learn “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little” (2 Nephi 28:30). And He accomplishes His work by bringing to pass great things through small and simple means.

I believe many, if not all, of the most satisfying and memorable accomplishments in our homes, in the Church, in our jobs and professions, and in our communities will be the product of this important spiritual pattern—of simple and small things. We should find great comfort in the fact that ordinary people who faithfully, diligently, and consistently do simple things that are right before God will bring forth extraordinary results.

You may recall the talk by Elder Ballard in the most recent conference. He talked about his father’s bees.

It is estimated that to produce just one pound of honey, the average hive of 20,000 to 60,000 bees must collectively visit millions of flowers and travel the equivalent of two times around the world. Over its short lifetime of just a few weeks to four months, a single honeybee’s contribution of honey to its hive is a mere one-twelfth of one teaspoon.

Though seemingly insignificant when compared to the total, each bee’s one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey is vital to the life of the hive. The bees depend on each other. Work that would be overwhelming for a few bees to do becomes lighter because all of the bees faithfully do their part.

The Savior taught that the first and great commandment is:
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. …
“And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
“On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:37, 39–40).
The Savior’s words are simple, yet their meaning is profound and deeply significant. We are to love God and to love and care for our neighbors as ourselves. Imagine what good we can do in the world if we all join together, united as followers of Christ, anxiously and busily responding to the needs of others and serving those around us—our families, our friends, our neighbors, our fellow citizens.

This is where the pattern of small and simple things begins to have an effect in our community and in our home. There will be times when large acts of service are required. These are important and have their place in the world in times of great need. However, small, regular acts of service performed by many people over many days can have a more profound spiritual effect on us and on those around us.

Elder Ballard continues:

These simple, daily acts of service may not seem like much in and of themselves, but when considered collectively they become just like the one-twelfth teaspoon of honey contributed by a single bee to the hive. There is power in our love for God and for His children, and when that love is tangibly manifest in millions of acts of Christian kindness, it will sweeten and nourish the world with the life-sustaining nectar of faith, hope, and charity.

It should be that simple. We should be able to give a few minutes of service each day. But why does it feel like I can’t even squeeze 5 minutes out of my day for service. I feel that the demands and desires of my life make it impossible to find time for service. And I’m not alone. Gallup’s Annual Lifestyle Poll shows that about half of Americans feel they generally do not have enough time to do the things they want to do in a day. I can assume, from this poll, that about half the people in this room feel the same way. My guess is most of you are stage 2 adults. The results of the poll don’t tell us that we have less objective time than earlier generations. In fact, with all the advances in household technology and work efficiency, we should have more time. What the poll shows is that we don’t perceive ourselves as time affluent. In our subjective perception of time, we are time-poor, or even experiencing a time famine.

[Serving to Make Time]

The solution to the problem is to change our perception of time. To show how the brain manipulates time, I will share a quote attributed to Albert Einstein as a layman’s explanation of relativity: “When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute and it’s longer than any hour.” Maybe you can relate directly to this quote, but if not we all have noticed times in our lives when time moves faster or slower depending on what we are doing or how we feel. So how do we manipulate our perception of time? A new psychological study suggests that if you feel time-poor, you should spend your time on others instead of yourself:

In the present experiments, we compared giving time to friends or strangers with wasting time, spending time on oneself, and even receiving “free” time. We found that giving time increases perceptions of having time—in both the present and the future—by increasing feelings of self-efficacy. This is welcome news in light of research showing the detrimental consequences of time pressure on happiness, stress levels, and prosocial behavior (deGraaf, 2003; Kasser & Sheldon, 2009). Although feeling starved for time generally leads individuals to prioritize spare hours for themselves, our results suggest that if people instead spent time on others, they might feel less time constrained and better able to complete their myriad tasks and responsibilities.

The authors ran a series of experiments to test people’s perception of time and found that people who spent time on others, either people they knew or even people they didn’t know, perceived that they had more time than people who spent it on themselves. And the conclusion of their study was very clear:

Our results demonstrate that the way time is spent can also affect time perception, and we identify a specific choice that individuals can make to lessen their experienced time pressure: Be effective by helping others. Decompressing in front of the television or getting a massage might be fun and relaxing, but activities like these are unlikely to increase feelings of self-efficacy. Indeed, people’s choice to spend additional leisure time on themselves may partly explain why the increase in leisure time in modern life has not increased people’s feelings of time affluence (Robinson & Godbey, 1999); our results indicate that spending time prosocially is more effective in relieving the pressure of time. When individuals feel time constrained, they should become more generous with their time—despite their inclination to be less so.

So if we can subjectively make time by spending time on others, how can we go about finding opportunities to provide service?

[Elder Ballard’s Challenge]

Elder Ballard issued the following challenge:

There is one simple daily practice that can make a difference for every member of the Church: … In your morning prayer each new day, ask Heavenly Father to guide you to recognize an opportunity to serve one of His precious children. Then go throughout the day with your heart full of faith and love, looking for someone to help. Stay focused, just like the honeybees focus on the flowers from which to gather nectar and pollen. If you do this, your spiritual sensitivities will be enlarged and you will discover opportunities to serve that you never before realized were possible.

If every person in this room is blessed with the opportunity to perform service for just 5 minutes a day, every day this week, I estimate that we will have performed 150 man-hours of service before our next sacrament meeting. Elder Ballard says to “stay focused.” Be like a honeybee focusing on the flowers.

[Helping in the Vineyard]

If your lifestyle doesn’t get you out of the house every day, there are many opportunities for service online through the church’s service website called “Helping in the Vineyard” which can be found at vineyard.lds.org. The church has tasked all of its departments with breaking projects into small bits and submitting them to the new website as available service projects.

You can spend as little as 5 minutes on an online service project. You can contribute music, videos, or photography. If you speak another language, you can translate documents. If you have software development skills, you can join the LDS Tech community and help develop the church’s databases and applications. Even if you are not skilled at any of these tasks, you can help by adding search words to images, indexing historical records, or doing other forms of research. You can even help students learn English through online conversation practice.

[Conclusion]

During the past few weeks, I took up Elder Ballard’s challenge to pray for service opportunities. The opportunities the Lord has blessed me with range from spending 2 seconds helping a stranger get her shopping cart unstuck to spending many hours configuring a new computer for a member of my extended family.

Heavenly Father will provide you with service opportunities if you ask for them, and if you keep focused, just like the honeybee. If we all stay focused on service, our small deeds will add up to great rewards for us and for those around us. In addition to the blessings to our community, we will feel the blessings of time-affluence. And even the stage-two adults will feel like they have extra time.

[References]

Ballard, 2012. Be Anxiously Engaged
Bednar, 2011. The Spiritual Pattern of Small and Simple Things
Mogilner, Chance, and Morton, 2011. Giving Time Gives You Time, Psychological Science, October 2012
Psyblog, 2012. A Counter-Intuitive Remedy to Feeling Short of Time

Grand Ridge Trail Run 5 Miler

Get ready to run!

I have caught the racing bug.

Colin decided that after his Tough Mudder experience he needed another motivator to keep him running. He found a local race that we could do together before Thanksgiving. He invited Tami and Joe to train and run the race, too. We all signed up for the challenge.

What we didn’t realize was how insane the course would be. “Five miles,” you say, “how hard can that be?” When the first mile is straight uphill and full of switchbacks, you’d think again.

The mountain kicked my butt. I foolhardily made the goal to run the whole race without walking. I did no such thing. But although Colin ran the entire 500 feet elevation gain, he also had moments of walking, so I don’t feel so bad. Thank goodness for the downhill portions of the race!

Trail-running is beautiful, though, and I thoroughly enjoyed the surroundings, even though it was quite chilly and a bit drizzly.

It was a great challenge. I’m so glad we did this, tough as it was to complete. We’re going to make it an annual pre-Thanksgiving tradition.

Any locals want to join in?

All Hallow’s Eve

Captured Moments by Crystal

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays of the year. You can tell by my past posts that I love any excuse to decorate and dress up in something creative.

Life might be hectic right now and we may be in transition, but that didn’t stop us from celebrating right. We put out our favorite decorations:

Played our spooky music playlist:

Everything from “The Nightmare Before Christmas” to several “Harry Potter Soundtrack” pieces from the various movies to a true gem that I found called “Classical Music from the Dark” (49 songs for $2.39 and all without words, as not to get too burned out since we listened to them all day long, over and over again). “Turn on the Halloween songs, please!” was the first thing out of Maddie’s mouth each morning. The kids could not get enough of Thriller, which you can see here, if you want to invest the time:

Little Zombies Dance to Thriller from Jeannie @ Live. Laugh. Learn on Vimeo.

We carved pumpkins picked at a local farm (though my heart ached for our Avila Valley Barn and sunny weather):

No real candles to place inside this year since they’re packed away in some box somewhere between our bedroom and the rented storage unit.

And, of course, there were the costumes:

There is no way we could top the two-headed monster costume Jake and Joey wore last year, but we gave it a shot. Jake was a UPS delivery guy and Joey his little package.

We upped the ante by creating a UPS truck that Colin and I were both supposed to wear but couldn’t because someone had to shepherd the boys around. I ended up being the lone “driver” for the evening. Colin conceived of, designed, and created the truck himself. It turned out even better than the picture shows. Nice work, Colin!

Warren and Maddie had their own gigs as an army guy and Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, respectively. They’ve never been on board with the family theme idea. All costumes were well-received.

We attended our church’s Trunk or Treat, with games and plenty of treats inside the cultural hall, and trick or treating out in the pouring rain among the cars. Warren went for it, Colin manned our car’s trunk, but I chickened out with the Maddie, Jake, and Joe. I kept them indoors and tried to convince them that eating the two mini chocolates they got before I herded them back inside was the height of the experience. I’m sure I’ll get used to events being soggy but this year was too soon.

On the actual Halloween day we took it easy since a) it was still raining hard and b) the kids were wiped out from returning home so late the night before. We went to the city-sponsored indoor trick or treating event at the town hall. Did they get as much loot as they would have hitting the streets? Probably not. But we were done in an hour and completely dry so don’t judge.

It was another great year of fun traditions. I love this silly, pointless holiday.

Happy Halloween, everyone! Enjoy pilfering your child(ren)’s candy!

Talks & Lessons: How the Lord Has Guided Our Path

This was written by Colin and given as a Sacrament Meeting talk on July 28th, 2012. It not only serves as a detailed explanation of our reasons for moving to the Seattle area, but also as a condensed form of our family’s history.

Those of you who know [the bishopric member who assigned me to give this talk] well, know that he has the talent of being able to speak about any subject for a long time. Those of you who know me well, know that I prefer to say things precisely the very first time, with zero elaboration. It will not be shocking to you at all, then, to know that he thought he was doing me a favor by allowing me to choose any subject I wanted and speak for 20 minutes. To him, that may be a favor. To me, it adds an extra struggle, during which I attempt to decide which subject I want to pretend to be an expert in for twenty long minutes.

I’ll tell you what I did. I decided to talk about something I am an expert in, and something I thought would be appropriate, given the timing of this talk. I would like to share the story of my family and see if I can help you visualize how the Lord has guided our path. However, if it looks like I am not going to fill the time, I’ll invite my family up so Jake and Joey can sign “The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock”, while we sing.

Jeannie and I have been married [to each other] twice. The first time we were married was before our first date. We even have grandchildren. It’s not as weird as it sounds, though, so let me explain. We were part of the Seattle Institute Chorale at the Seattle Institute of Religion, adjacent to the University of Washington, where we were both students. The Chorale was one of very few travelling groups associated with the church. It may have been the only one outside of the Wasatch front. As such, our choir director, Bro. Niles Salmond, took great care in ensuring that every member of the choir was included both socially and spiritually as part of the group. To do so, he would group us together into families. A mother and father were designated, and they had certain roles they had to fill, paying special attention to the unity of their children and family while preparing to go on tour, and while we were touring.

Jeannie was initially married to some other guy, but he soon got engaged for real, which disqualified him to be a tour husband and father. I was the late-comer and was chosen to fill the husband vacancy. We went on tour and we worked really well together. Our final night of tour was a Sunday fireside in Issaquah, WA, almost back to our starting point in Seattle. That night was a particularly spiritual experience for both of us. I can remember staying in my seat up on the stand after the performance, just soaking in the experience. Jeannie must have done the same thing, because we both ended up leaving the chapel together. We were almost the last ones out. When we were right in front of the exit, we paused to join the conversation our choir director was having with a member of the ward [church congregation] along with his young daughter. During the conversation, the young girl asked Jeannie and I if we were boyfriend and girlfriend. We looked at each other and smiled.

Interestingly, I wasn’t as thick at that moment as I have been at other times. I am usually pretty slow to pick up on these kinds of non-verbal cues. I believe the usual sluggish pace of a man’s brain during these kinds of interactions is probably due to some gene on the Y chromosome. Instead, in that fraction of a second, through Jeannie’s eyes, I saw serious thought going on. She was pondering what the girl had said and it seemed she wasn’t opposed to the idea. I wasn’t either. I attribute that superior-to-the-normal-male perception to the spirit.

If that wasn’t enough, my next action was truly inspired. And I mean the revelation kind of inspiration. We sat down together on the bus in the last empty row. As we sat there, quietly pondering our experiences over the previous two hours. I distinctly heard a voice tell me to hold her hand. And let me tell you, I didn’t inch my hand over slowly next to hers and wait for our fingers to brush together. Hoping she would be doing the same thing. [I see a few of you have done that before.] I immediately took her hand, and held it firmly. That has to be the fastest I have ever responded to a spiritual prompting. It was like when Laman and Lemuel were asked by their father to go back, once again, to Jerusalem with the purpose of inviting Ishmael, with all of his pretty daughters, to join them in the wilderness. They didn’t complain, they were probably on the camel even before Nephi heard the message. As I sat there, holding Jeannie’s hand and looking in her eyes, I knew that we would be married. But I didn’t tell her then. I was smart enough to wait at least a week. OK, it was 4 days, but who’s counting.

I was born a skeptic. We all know of some guy or girl who claimed to have revelation about their eternal companion. Only to have their supposed eternal companion get a very different message. Because I’m a skeptic, I worried about being that guy. But, again, my words and actions were guided. When I told Jeannie what I felt, it didn’t frighten her away. Even though we had barely been friends for a month. Even though we hadn’t even been on our first date. She felt the same peace and knowledge that I had felt. We were engaged 6 months later, and married before the next choir tour. We served as grandparents on tour for 3 more years before the next chapter of our life took us away.

I told you that story not only to introduce you to the beginnings of our family, but also to illustrate a point. The point is that some things are too important to leave to chance, and that is when our Heavenly Father steps in and guides us in the right direction. I still could have messed things up if I wanted to, or if I wasn’t spiritually prepared at the time. But, instead, I became a case study in how the Spirit uses the well-known pattern of commitment to move us forward. I was prepared spiritually. I had just spent four days in intense spiritual communion, and two hours at my peak spiritual operating capacity. I was also prepared mentally. The girl in the chapel had just planted an idea in my head. Hollywood would call this inception, psychologists would call it priming. The invitation came almost immediately: I was invited to hold Jeannie’s hand, and at the moment I did so, I was invited to consider the much bigger picture of eternity. The follow-up may not have been necessary, but it did occur. Again I was inspired, by the spirit, to share my broader views with Jeannie. She had been prepared also. She was not put off by my strange admission that I knew we were going to be married.

Before we got married, we were aware of the possibility that we could not have children of our own. The fact didn’t bug either of us too much. In fact, it led us to the discussion of adoption. We both agreed that it was an option we would look into when the time came. But, frankly, neither of us were in too big of a hurry. We liked each other so much, that neither of us wanted to change our family dynamic. A number of years went by and we had both applied to about 6 or 7 graduate schools in 3 cities that we thought we would enjoy. Jeannie was accepted to one school in Boston, one school in New York, and one school in Chicago. I was accepted into two schools in Chicago and none in the other cities. It was clear that we would be going to Chicago, even though it was probably the lowest on the list of the three. While we were there, we were again guided through the same model of commitment. We sat through a very spiritual presentation about adoption and LDS Family Services, presented by a friend of ours. We were inspired to move forward with adoption. In this case, the follow-up was necessary. We dragged our feet. We had lost our motivation and were not proceeding with the paperwork and other bureaucratic steps that needed to be completed. For this reason, I feel, we were sent to Chicago. The counselor at LDS Family Services was not one to let people drift through the process. He was on top of our case from the very beginning. One day he received an email about a young woman in Oregon who was looking for some specific traits in the adoptive parents for her unborn son. He asked us to write a letter, even though we hadn’t finished our other paperwork. Even though we weren’t, technically, ready to take that step. We wrote a letter, and the woman chose us to take Warren. From then, it was a flurry to get through the paperwork and bureaucracy before Warren was born so that we could be there to take him home from the hospital.

It happened again when we were finished with graduate school. I was blessed to find a good job in Goleta, even interviewing long-distance from Chicago. This is the part you are more familiar with, but maybe I can fill in some of the details. When we came out, we were about ready to start the process over with LDS Family Services. We did so, but there was a new option. Angels is a local organization that many of you are already aware of. It was founded the year we moved here by Meichelle Arntz of the Mesa Vista ward. It is a non-profit organization dedicated to provide bonding opportunities for infants and toddlers in the foster-care system. We knew about it, but were scared of falling in love with a child and having to send the child back to his or her birth family. It just seemed like it had very high emotional risk. After watching the Rays and the Jepsons have good experiences, however, we were moved to consider the option. We prayed about it, and felt secure going forward.

While we attended classes, the Angels staff were caring for a medically fragile baby girl while her respite care family was ill. As soon as we finished the classes, Meichelle called us up and asked if we would be willing to take this baby into our home. She explained the seriousness of her medical conditions and what it would likely mean for her and our future. Madeline’s medical conditions don’t seem so serious just looking at her. But I assure you she is alive today due to advanced medicine and science, and the care of angels, both seen and unseen.

When Maddie was about to turn 2, we were ready to go back to Angels and help another child. Jeannie told Meichelle that we would be ready when Maddie was 2, and that we would even take twins if they were available. I thought that was crazy talk. I mean, who would willingly choose twins. Especially with a 4-year-old and a medically-complex toddler. Not to worry, though. Twins are rare, and they had never had twins come through the system. What are the odds that twins would be available when we were ready to take another child. Obviously, Jeannie was a bit more open to spiritual guidance than I was at the time.

Jacob and Joseph joined our home on December 7th, 2010, two days after Maddie’s birthday. They were sealed to our family on March 30th of this year. These children were meant to be in our family. And Heavenly Father saw that it was important enough to guide us in the process. He prompted us to move to this town and paved the way for it to happen. He prepared us spiritually. He invited us to take some difficult life steps. And he followed up to make sure everything went according to plan.

Through the years, the complexity of our future has become clear to us. Both Jeannie and I have a mentally-disabled sibling. Jeannie is one of two children, and I am the oldest remaining child, and most established of 5. There is a very high possibility that we will be adding 2 adult dependents to our household within a very small number of years. On top of that, Madeline will certainly need more specialized medical attention, possibly including additional open-heart surgeries. Almost every year that we have lived here, we have gone through a process of:

  1. realizing that we can’t, logically, make it work
  2. deciding that the right thing to do would be to move
  3. lamenting that fact because we love this ward family
  4. praying about it
  5. receiving a revelation that we should stay a little bit longer, and
  6. celebrating because we get to stay.

This year it was different. We knew that it was time to ask again after Jake and Joey’s adoption was finalized. We went through the same process. We fasted. We went to the temple. The logical answer is to move. What’s more, the logic is even stronger in favor of moving because we are now concerned about Jeannie’s aging parents. This time, our prayer and supplication led us to decide that we would leave Goleta, at the latest when our lease was up in November of next year. We planned to find a location where we can afford to buy a home with property and prepare a second home for Jeannie’s parents.

Two days after our fast, the new CTO of my company was visiting the office and announced that they are opening a new office in the Seattle area. Once again the same pattern is emerging: His announcement was a priming event, the inception of an idea. We were already spiritually prepared due to fasting and much prayer. We hadn’t made the decision to move yet, but were actively debating the pros and cons of living in Goleta vs. anywhere else. I texted Jeannie during the meeting, and she thought I should talk to Larry, the CTO. Larry and I met for breakfast the next morning and he invited me to interview for the job. I scheduled a trip to Seattle a week later. Before I left, Jeannie and I finalized our discussion and came to the conclusion, again, that it was time to move. This time the spirit confirmed our decision. This was one of those moments where our hearts and minds did battle. We knew, now, with spiritual and logical knowledge what we were supposed to do. The Lord had even paved the way by showing us the possible opportunity to transfer within my company. But it was against the desires of our heart to leave Goleta.

We went forward, trusting the revelation we both received (separately, I might add). I went to the interview and was given every possible advantage one could hope for in a set of technical interviews. They offered me the position immediately, and I was ready to accept, having verified with Jeannie that morning that she was willing to go forward with it.

We were prepared and invited. We acted on the invitation, even though we are even still saddened to do so. And, oh how Heavenly Father has followed up. I called Dave Field to find out how we can get out of our lease. We still have a year left. He gave me his advice, which was very helpful, but not very promising. We prayed that our land-lady’s heart would be softened. I contacted her, and she decided to end the lease early herself.

We started looking for apartments that could fit our large family. I spent half a day calling about apartments between my new office and the place we will be looking to live permanently. Nobody had large enough apartments available. Finally, Jeannie sent me an email about an apartment that she “felt right” about. I called and they had one apartment coming available on the day we planned to move out of our house here. We could reserve it by getting them $200. However, they wouldn’t accept a credit card over the phone. I was worried that if I tried to put a check in the mail, someone else would reserve the apartment before us. I explored a few options to expedite a check, but none of them would have been sufficient on a Friday afternoon. My best option was to call our friends, who live 45 minutes away, when traffic is at its best, and ask them to brave rush hour and get them some money before the office closed. Another blessing was already in the works. Our good friend had taken the day off and they left their children with a babysitter and were spending the day in the temple, 10 miles away from the apartment. Without a second thought, they changed their dinner plans and drove to our new apartment to pay the deposit.

It is clear to me that Heavenly Father is again guiding us along a path that He has chosen. The pattern is clear. He has prepared us and invited us through revelation. He is following up, confirming our faith to stick with this decision by removing all obstacles from the path. I don’t know what He has planned for us to do once we get there, but we have enough faith to go.

Believe me when I say we are heartbroken to leave. Mostly I have been asked if I will miss the weather. Weather is not difficult for me to say goodbye to, but people are. And we have established many relationships with good people here. We must travel the path laid before us, but we will miss you, dear friends.

I bear my testimony that God continues to guide our path. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Tough Mudder

Colin meets the Tough Mudder

Joe talked Colin into participating in one of the most insane-sounding events around: the Tough Mudder. That’s 13 miles of army-like obstacles taken to the extreme. We’re talking ice water tanks, electrical wires, tubes, barbed wire and, of course, mud. All of it is meant to play on your fears and weed out the tough from the wuss.

Colin was up for the challenge. He trained hard in the month’s time he had to prepare, once we moved to Washington.

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The boys did a great job. Teamwork is the motto behind the event, which they took to heart. They worked together to complete the course, but not without injuries. Joe broke his nose and Colin bruised his rib. But they finished strong. Tough.

I couldn’t be there to witness the thing. Besides having four wiggly kids, they charged admission to be a spectator. So, Tami took these amazing pictures to capture the day.

Way to go Colin, Joe, Luke, and Aaron!

Fathers and Sons Camp Out

Nearly every year (except for the time we had wildfires on the hillside) our Stake (large church congregation) plans a camp out to commemorate the Restoration of the Priesthood. It’s an opportunity for fathers and sons (of varying ages) to come together for good food (they usually have tri-tip) and bonding by the campfire. Warren loves it and looks forward to it every year.

They head up to camp around 4:30PM on Friday and return home around 11:30AM the next day. Jake and Joey are too little still (Colin is thinking 3 might be a good age, as to ensure they wouldn’t dive head first into said campfire), so it was just Colin and Warren this time. They took their mountain bikes up for a morning outing.

Many good friends from our Ward (unit of the Stake church congregation) attended as well. Everyone had a good time, especially the little boys who collected feathers and broken clay pigeon pieces to bury as treasure.

They came home dirty and tired. Just as it should be after a good camp out.

Octopus in the Backyard

Having a real backyard with real grass was worth the jump in rent we had to pay when we moved into this house. The big kids are finally at the age where they can spend long amounts of time on their own outside. Sometimes Jake and Joe can even join them. And sometimes we make it a family affair, especially when a good game is involved.

Warren came home from school wanting to play “Octopus,” where someone stands near the middle and reaches out with long “tentacles” to grab the runners. Colin joined in and even played with a handicap by holding Maddie for half the time. Jake and Joe participated by rearranging the cones on the grass.

It morphed into more of a giant chase around the yard, but everyone was happy, so never mind the rules.

I love afternoons in the backyard.