Friday, April 24, 2015

Beegy the Soccer Star

Following in his older brothers’ footsteps, Creegan has chosen soccer for his inauguration into team sports. Last night was his first official game, and he didn’t do too shabby considering his team doesn’t yet have an official coach and there has only been one practice session that was more of a free-for-all than anything. The only guidance we gave him is, “Don’t touch the ball with your hands! Just kick it!” This proved sufficient enough for Beegy to get several good kicks in during the game. I was a bit worried because Beegy has been copping an attitude lately, and when he first started to play, he seemed more interested in showing his disdain for humankind than trying to knock a ball into a net. But once he got a taste of kicking the ball around, he was way into it and smiling almost the entire time. As you’ll see in one of the below photos, he would give us a thumbs up after almost every single play. The bad news is, he played only during the third quarter. He sat out during the first quarter, was missing in action (well, in the bathroom) when they started the second quarter, and then overlooked for the fourth quarter. Not that he seemed to care, snacking on goldfish crackers and all.

Here are some photos from last night’s game. I’m throwing in one of Peter and one of Eddie because, you know, they were there and lookin’ cute too. So was I, but I was the one taking the pictures so … yeah, too bad for you.

Creegan got to do the kick-off (or whatever it's called) for the third quarter. 

The end!

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Latter Days of Being LDS

I’m in the final few days of being LDS. Sort of. Technically, I’ll remain LDS until I either get excommunicated or I have my name removed from the records of the LDS Church (which I have no immediate plans to do). But, by noon on Sunday, I’ll be an official member of Community of Christ. And in many LDS minds, I suppose that means I’m ipso facto no longer a member of the LDS Church, official LDS Church record to the contrary notwithstanding. Whatever. I think the LDS Church is pretty loosey-goosey with their membership accounting, including as many people as they can so as to boost their numbers. Since I assume they’ll continue to count me so long as they consider it advantageous to do so, I’ll continue to do the same. I have no moral qualms with that. As I’ve noted previously, I’m not joining Community of Christ because I want to leave the LDS Church. It’s just that leaving the LDS Church—regardless of how official or formalized my departure becomes in the long run—is incidental to my heeding God’s call in my life today.

Last Sunday (the 12th) was a busy day for us. We started with our normal church services in the morning, then had to rush across the valley to attend the baby blessing of my nephew James’ four-month-old daughter, Coraline. It’s been years since I’ve seen James. He’s noticeably older, and it’s kind of strange. But he was really sweet about seeing me, which touched me. Coraline is incredibly cute, even more so in person than she is in her many Facebook photos. I was happy to attend the blessing, and was grateful we made it on time. When we arrived, I ran in first while Melanie helped Beegy change his shirt. Melanie was only a minute behind me, but she walked in at the same moment Coraline was being led to the front of the chapel, followed by the multitude of men who would participate in her blessing. (I didn’t participate because I hadn’t been invited to, but I would’ve participated both happily and without hesitation had I been asked. It’s worth noting that my lack of participation had nothing to do with Community of Christ.) We barely made it, in other words. After the baby blessing, the relevant priesthood holders blessed and passed the sacrament (i.e. communion). I partook without any hesitation. I recognize the validity of the ordinance and saw no reason not to partake. I appreciated the quiet that attends the LDS sacrament. At Community of Christ, they usually play music during communion, which I’m not accustomed to. I find it more difficult to get into a prayerful, contemplative state. So, that was a perk to being back in an LDS worship service. Following the sacrament, it was open mic for the bearing of testimonies. It’s been a few months since I’ve been at an LDS testimony meeting, and it’s funny how the further removed you get, the more things stand out to you. There were nice things said, of course, but testimony meetings are always a bit of a mixed bag. More than ever, the dogmatism that underlies much of what is said was absolutely deafening (metaphorically speaking). I suppose it’s not unlike growing up and discovering only by exposure to other families that your own family has some bizarre quirks and habits and ways of thinking that you never knew were so darn bizarre. Mormons sound increasingly nutty to me and out of harmony with their own theology and scriptures. I don’t know how to say that in a way that doesn’t make me seem incredibly arrogant, but it’s an honest observation. I don’t think you have to be nuts to be Mormon, mind you. As I’ve noted previously, I retain the nuanced theological beliefs I held as a Mormon, beliefs I developed from studying and thinking about Mormon scripture and teachings. (I wonder how long I’ll feel it necessary to include such caveats and disclaimers whenever I discuss the LDS Church.)

After the LDS worship service ended, Melanie and I had only a short time before we had to be back at Community of Christ for “Pizza with the Prophet.” I think that’s just the local name that was given to the event, which consisted of watching a live webcast of Community of Christ President Stephen M. Veazey followed (in our local congregation, at least) by pizza. I enjoyed the webcast. There were some beautiful messages in it. With perhaps a couple of very minor exceptions, this was my first real exposure to the President of Community of Christ. I don’t have much more to say about it other than that I liked what was shared. There is a very different mentality toward church leaders in Community of Christ than in the LDS Church. I can imagine LDS friends and family asking if I felt a witness that President Veazey is a prophet of God, wanting to compare their church president to mine. If I were asked that by an LDS person, I wouldn’t even be comfortable with the question. It’s too loaded with LDS assumptions and biases. Community of Christ does consider Stephen Veazey a “prophet-president,” but they have different expectations of how the whole prophet thing is supposed to work. They emphasize being a “prophetic people” as a whole, with the church collectively deciphering the will of God. Stephen Veazey has a special role in that, a special obligation to seek for and present counsel to the church that is then considered and either accepted or rejected. This is much more in line with what I see in the Doctrine and Covenants and is how I’ve personally regarded the church president’s role in the LDS Church for a very long time. But despite its matching the process outlined in canonized scripture, incredibly few LDS people see the role of the church president in this manner. So, keeping in mind that I’m working from a different set of assumptions, I am content to say that I recognized divine truths in Stephen Veazey’s message. Those who are interested can decide for themselves by watching this portion of the webcast (which I do recommend):

Last night, I had the privilege of meeting with a very good friend at a coffee shop. I consider him a good friend although I’ve only been in his physical presence a few times since first getting to know him back in late 2012 or early 2013. He participates in some of the same Facebook groups that I do, and I consider him a kindred spirit. The things he says match my own experiences and thoughts so closely, I usually feel as though I could have written his comments myself. He has said the same thing of me … which basically proves my point. He is LDS, and he wanted to hear a bit about my spiritual journey and of how it has led me into Community of Christ. I shared with him some of the more significant aspects of that journey, including some that I have kept mostly to myself, and he marveled at the elements common to both my story and his own most profound spiritual experiences. He’s a good man—an earnest seeker with tenacious faith and an inquisitive mind, the very recipe that has led many people to find themselves at odd with the LDS mainstream despite loving Mormonism and having a resilient testimony of its value and truth. I have a great fondness for this man. He plans to be at the baptism, and I’m grateful for that.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Spring Break 2015

Spring break is drawing to a close, which is very sad. It’s passed all too quickly, but it’s been fun. For the first time, I’m not the one who’s getting a break from school, but Eddie, Peter, and Melanie did. We splurged appropriately. Here’s how things have gone this week.

Monday was a pretty chill day. We spent a lot of time at home, in part because Melanie had to study for a test she was taking the next day. (I guess the day was slightly less chill for her.) In the afternoon, we went as a family to the Castle Creek Inn, a castle-looking bed and breakfast not too far away. We didn’t go into the hotel, but we moseyed around their backyard, which features a koi pond, a running stream, lots of greenery, and some cute benches on which to sit. We got some cute photos, including these:

Peter is showing off some flower petals he has scooped up from the ground, but I love that Eddie and Beegy are caught in play behind him.

Eddie is also quite a fan of chai lattes, it turns out.  Just don't tell Grandma and Grandpa!

Beegy poses with his patented "pissy pants" glare.

On Tuesday, Melanie took her Praxis test in the morning. The test will help her reactive her teaching license and also allow her to level up as a teacher, not unlike when Mario gets a mushroom on Super Mario Bros. With the test out of the way, Melanie was more than ready for her official birthday celebrations to kick in. She had celebrated some on her actual birthday, but this was the night of our official birthday date. We started off with Ruth’s Diner for dinner. It was delicious, including dessert: banana walnut bread pudding with caramel pecan bourbon sauce. After dinner, we took to Kingsbury Hall at the University of Utah for the traveling Broadway rendition of Once. It was a more liberal adaptation of the movie than I had expected, and I felt it almost moved too briskly. Still, I love the music, so it was a very enjoyable performance overall. I snapped some crappy photos on my cell phone while waiting for the show to begin. They had the stage open, set up to look like a bar, and those from the audience who had purchased the appropriate tickets were able to go up on stage before the play started and actually get drinks from the bar and whatnot. That’s why the stage is so crowded in the following photos:

We had promised the kids we would go to McDonald’s for breakfast on one of the days of Spring Break, so that’s how we started Wednesday. We then planned to drive to Hill Air Force Base, but when we got on the freeway, it was raining pretty hard. We had to drive slowly, and we couldn’t see that well. Melanie and I both felt anxious about it, and we quickly changed our plan. We got off downtown and headed up to the Utah State Capitol Building. By this time, it was barely drizzling if anything. But we had fun. The boys liked roaming around and taking photos. They snapped several, including none that you’ll see here (I know, I’m terrible):

"Anarachy in Utah!"

After the capitol, we stopped at Hatch Family Chocolates and let the boys each choose a treat. I tried an Aztec Spice caramel that was quite yummy but surprisingly hot. We actually hung out at the chocolate shop for quite a while. By the time we left, we needed to eat a real meal again. We headed to Blue Iguana, which is about as cheap but delicious a restaurant as you can eat at. Having just eaten a piece of chocolate, I felt less inclined to get what I almost always get, which is cheese enchiladas in a chocolate mole. Instead, I got a combination platter I’ve never gotten before. It came with a cheese enchilada (in standard enchilada sauce), a chili relleno, a beef flauta, and rice and beans. A pretty great combo, except that the cheese enchilada with enchilada sauce is so bland compared to the mole. I know because Melanie got the mole version and let me try a bite. So darn yummy. But I was happy with my food nonetheless. Here are some of the photos we snapped while at Blue Iguana:

Beegy enjoyed dipping his chips in his drinks.

Photo credit goes to Peter.

My combo meal.  Are you jeals to the hells, or what?

Melanie's superior enchiladas.

I know a lot of people think a lemon makes their Diet Coke taste better, but I've never been able to successfully suck the Diet Coke through the lemon wedge without spilling it all over myself.

Peter proudly presents his corn dog finger.

On Thursday, things went haywire. I woke up to the sound of Peter puking. Peter is the most susceptible to illness in our family, but also usually the quickest to get over it. We didn’t know how seriously to take this, because there have been times in the past where he pukes in the morning and then a couple of hours later is fine and dandy and nobody else ever gets sick from it. But, on this particular occasion, Peter was also experiencing … backdoor problems, let’s say … and that was very unusual. We prepared for the worst, just in case. Sadly, that meant canceling the various plans we had had for the day, including bowling with Melanie’s side of the family as a belated birthday party for her. Very disappointing. And wouldn’t you know it, Peter was fine and dandy by the early afternoon. But by that point, there was no use trying to reinstate our plans for the day and so the day just kind of vanished on us. We pretty much just stayed home. The good news is, nobody else got sick from Peter this time around, either.

Friday was a busy day. After a relatively calm morning, we went to pick up a soccer jersey for Creegan. Yup! He’ll be playing soccer starting next week! We got the jersey from a rec center that the kids wanted to spend some time exploring, so that ate up a tiny chunk of time. After we left there, we headed to Target. In March, we started giving our kids a monthly allowance, and they were ready to spend their April cash forthwith. We also needed to pick up a birthday present for a kid from Peter’s class, whose birthday party was today. Looking at toys and trying to decide how to spend your allowance can take a massive amount of time, so we were at Target for quite a while. After leaving Target, we picked up a pizza and had a pizza picnic lunch at a nearby park. It was very nice, although I actually got quite chilly when I was in the shade. The weather has been a bit fickle lately.

And that brings us to today. As noted, Peter attended a birthday party. It took place at the main aquarium that the Salt Lake Valley has to offer, which is pretty cool. Aside from that, today is a day of chores and running around—grocery shopping, cleaning the house, Melanie’s acupuncture appointment. Nothing too exciting.

Tomorrow will be the final day of Spring Break. It’s going to be a busy one as well. We’ve got double church duty—and maybe even triple church duty, depending on how you look at it. In the morning, we’ll have our regular church services. Immediately afterward, we’ll be attending the baby blessing of my nephew’s daughter. Then, not long thereafter, we have an event back at our church. It’ll be a bit tiring, but it’s all positive stuff that I’m looking forward to.

The end!

Monday, April 06, 2015

Easter 2015

It was a lovely Easter. I will mostly let photographs speak for themselves.

This pig was subsequently named Marshmallow. Shortly thereafter, Eddie changed its name to Buttercup.

Peter named his bunny Snickers.


It was our first Easter with Community of Christ. At 10 AM, we had brunch, followed at 11 AM by a worship service. We then had an Easter egg hunt for the kids, as these next several photographs show.

In the afternoon, we went to my parents’ for a belated birthday celebration for Melanie.

My sister JoAnna made this lovely cake, in Melanie’s favorite color.  Thanks, JoAnna!

Happy Easter!!!