Monday, December 31, 2012

Yuletide Greetings


This is the Third Annual The Weed Electronic Christmas Holiday Card!!!

You'll note that it's the 31st of December. As always, this is a purely strategic move! It's to make sure you're not so saturated with Christmas cards that by the time you see this you no longer have the energy to even read it. I want you to be able to enjoy this Weed update with fresh eyes and an open heart. Because I'm a giver. 

You're welcome! 

(The lateness certainly has nothing to do with the fact that I can barely pay enough attention to what's happening around me to successfully complete a round of Rummikub without messing the entire game up by putting down a non-sequenced set of numbers, let alone get a Christmas card out on time. You're so silly for thinking that has anything to do with it! Hahahahadon'tjudgeme.)

Ahem. Without further ado, let's get this brag-fest family update started, shall we?


Tessa, age 2



Our Little Miss T had a fantastic year this year. She has learned to say words, and she has learned to walk really really good! She might walk better than most two-year-olds, but it's really hard to tell because there isn't an Olympic event for toddler walking, so we're not sure how to gauge her ability with perfect accuracy. But that's okay because she gave us something different to share with you. Tessa is now fascinated with knives! We learned about this fascination when I came into the kitchen one afternoon and she was standing on a chair by the sink holding the largest butcher knife known to man and smiling coyly at me. So as not to scare her, I calmly approached her and said "what do you have there, T?" and she grinned and handed me the hefty blade, and I sighed with relief when she neither accidentally cut off her own face, nor gouged out my good eye with her new toy. We responded to this development by placing the knives on the highest shelf in the kitchen. Because we're good parents.

As you might guess, days later we came in to see her standing on the counter holding the same knife and smiling like she'd found a great treasure.  Clearly this girl has a love for knives and an uncanny ability to acquire them. It's a lot like being an Olympic gymnast. Except with knives and climbing counters and stuff.

Her greatest feat with knife procurement though was when we found her randomly running around the kitchen with a brand-new razor sharp Cutco knife. Not sure if you are familiar with these things, but they are sharp enough to cut through bone, so she was basically running around gleefully with a death-stick that could easily remove entire limbs off her sisters. We risked losing digits getting it from her. We were absolutely baffled by this and had no idea where it came from. Eventually, though, we realized that it was a gift for Lolly which we'd placed under the tree (not knowing what it was). Tessa wasn't interested in presents. She hasn't opened another one before or since--the only gift that called out to her was the knife, and she knew exactly which one it was. We're pretty sure this is a sign of genius. Because nothing says "I have a high IQ" like being able to find sharp metal wrapped in paper left on the ground by incredibly observant parents. Go Tessa!

Next, we have our little Viva le France, age 4.



Viva loves all things fashion and accessories. She also loves animals. (Sidenote: Viva has been in tears several times this year because we will not buy her a real chihuahua for her to carry around in her purse. She has recently decided that instead of a chihuahua she would like a "crinkle" dog (aka a pug). We read up on pugs and learned that they are couch potatoes who don't like to exercise and that they are social, loyal pets. Obviously, with those qualifications the pug is a perfect dog for the Weed household! Our landlords won't allow us to have pets though, so we'll have to wait to initiate Pug Weed into the family until we can buy a place of our own. For now, Felix and Alex, our parakeets, will remain the only Weed pets.) Anyway, we recently discovered that one of the main reasons Viva wants a dog is because she wants to "dress it up." We have caught her many times at her craft table fashioning dog clothes out of paper, tape, and staples. Perfect for warmth in the winter months! If you are interested in having Viva make your pet an outfit, please post your dog's picture and measurements in the comments and she will decide if your pet inspires her or not.




Anna, age 6, has found new meaning in life by expressing her deep-felt emotions through dramatic phrasing.  And also crying. There are.... so many examples of this new dramatic gift that we're hard pressed to choose just a couple. Here's one: Viva was sitting at her craft table trying to make a check book cover out of paper and tape. When Lolly noticed what she was making, she remembered that there happened to be an old check book cover that belonged to her grandfather in the office. (Remember how Lolly is kind of a hoarder?) She gave it to Viva, and Viva was thrilled. When Anna came home from school and learned that Lolly had given that precious family heirloom to Viva instead of her she came running into the office in tears. "Viva gets all of the special things from our grandparents," she said to Lolly. "When it's all said and done, I will have nothing. Nothing but an empty heart!" She refrained from throwing herself to the floor as she said this, but we're not sure why.

Here's another classic: Lolly has been the first counselor in the Primary presidency (the children's organization in the Mormon church) for two years. She was recently released from that calling where she had previously been very involved with the girls, and interacted with them at church every week. We had to tell Anna ahead of time so she wouldn't create a scene at church. This ended up being a wise move. When we told her what was happening, she was immediately moved to tears. "Your time in Primary has passed away!" she gasped, cupping her head in her hands. "I thought you'd be there forever but I guess my dreams have ended. I never thought my dreams would end..." by this point she was full-on weeping.  "It's too horrible to even think about!" Cue: hysterics. (Um, does it mean we're bad parents if we laughed while trying to comfort her?) Pretty much what this means is that when she's a teenager we're totally screwed.


Josh (age 32) and Lolly (age 34)

Well, what is there to say? Truth be told, Lolly and I have had a pretty unremarkable year. Just the same ol' same ol' for us! You know how it goes. Things were so commonplace--so boring and mundane--that there isn't really that much to share. I did write a couple of things, so that was nice, but other than that, things were so standard that there's not a lot worth mentioning. Well, I guess Lolly did finally clear our stainless steal appliances in the kitchen. And I switched out my old toothbrush. Go hygiene! Just livn' the dream. Ya know?

All right. Let's close this sucker out with some family photos. These are of the entire Weed clan minus my brother Chad who is on a mission in Tennessee.

Bottom row: My sister Maquel, her husband Nate Welch, Me, Lolly, Tessa Viva
Middle: My dad, Stew, my mom, Shellie, and Anna
Back row: My sister Jenni holding Parley, her husband Justin Pratt holding Alice, and my brother Chris (who is SINGLE, ladies!!!! Hit me up with an email if interested!!!)
(Photos taken by Tami Baumgartner)


Bonus stair shot!!!

All right, I think that pretty well wraps things up. On a serious note, I'm really, really grateful for the many wonderful things that have happened to my family in 2012. We were healthy, blessed abundantly, and richly benefited by our relationships with family and friends. Each of you reading this is a part of that for me, and I appreciate you stopping by. Genuinely. I hope you have an incredible 2013. I plan to make mine the best year of my life, and I mean that in all sincerity. I hope you do the same. 

Until next year... 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

My article in the Deseret News + FFAQ Response--The "right" and "wrong" way to react

Okay folks, first things first. Here is an article I wrote for the Deseret News about why I love the LDS Church's new website about homosexuality. I enjoyed writing it because it let me get retrospective about the last six months in a way that was interesting to me. Also, not surprisingly, I'm a longstanding fan of the Deseret News so it was fun to write an article for them.



Aaaand FFAQ time.

First, let me explain FFAQ for anyone that's new here...

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sick Girls

Last night my house became a vomitorium. (The fake definition. Not the real one which innocuously means a type of passageway.)

As I helped Anna throw up into a bowl, instead of being repulsed or annoyed or bothered, I found myself grateful. I'm so grateful that, unlike 20 sets of parents in Connecticut, I can wake up in the night and help my little girl when she's sick.

I spent a lot of my day yesterday envisioning Anna at school...

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Hopeful Step--A post by Lolly


I feel like most Mormons want to be good people. They want to be Christ-like, kind, and compassionate. Lately I’ve been speculating that when you see a good LDS person behaving in a completely inappropriate and insensitive way it is often due to ignorance (or at least I hope that is the case!)

This past weekend, I had several conversations with different LDS people. The first was with a friend in my ward. She told me that reading Josh’s coming out post helped her to see the issue of same sex attraction with a new understanding. She said that she trusted Josh and so she believed him when he said that people do not chose to be homosexual but they can chose what they do with those feelings. She said that before reading his post, if her son had come to her and said he was a homosexual, she might have thought it was her fault or that he was doing it to spite her.

The next conversation was with a woman we met while visiting Josh’s parent’s ward in Portland. She and her husband approached us and told us that they were grateful for Josh’s coming out post. She said that she had read it shortly after she had had her firstborn son. She expressed the relief that she felt when she realized that it was okay to love her son, no matter what. That if he ended up experiencing homosexual feelings, she could still love him.

Now, this reasoning—that homosexuality is not a choice, that it is nobody’s “fault,” and that loving a child who is homosexual is not a betrayal of God and religion—might seem clear to some, but for a lot of religious people these conclusions are not obvious. Because this is the case, those of us who have experience with this issue need to share our voice with love in appropriate ways. This weekend, I was so grateful to be able to participate in an event that I felt accomplished this goal.


Photo attribution here

Josh and I were invited to participate in a panel for the leadership of the Beaverton, Oregon Stake. They also asked Josh’s parents to participate along with two other gay LDS men, Jordan Jantz and Jon Hastings.

I almost started crying before the meeting even started. It was amazing that this meeting was Stake sponsored and presided over by a Stake President (who was an amazing man, by the way.) The meeting was for bishops, priesthood leadership, and the youth leaders. As the room filled to capacity with the leaders of this Stake, I was filled with so much hope. It was amazing to see the leaders of a Stake congregating with the sole purpose of learning more about homosexuality. There was no sweeping of the issue under a rug. There was no “this is inappropriate to talk about.” There was only a desire to educate through the Spirit so that the leaders might be properly prepared to assist the homosexual members of their congregations in appropriate ways. 

As the meeting began with a presentation by the Stake President, I was so grateful and excited to hear him share information in such a loving, kind, and accurate way. He talked of ministering to the one, and walking with those who need love. My heart was truly touched. He shared effective methods of assisting homosexual members (like simply loving and listening) and ineffective methods (such as suggesting that reading scriptures and praying hard enough—or increased righteousness—will be effective in eradicating homosexual feelings.)He also shared the Church’s new website, www.mormonsandgays.org, and spotlighted some of the videos there.

Then the meeting was opened up to the panel. The Stake President said he wanted most of the meeting to be open for the leaders to ask questions, even if the questions were uncomfortable to ask. There were so many wonderful questions asked by these great leaders who were there to genuinely serve. I was
impressed by the nature of every question. Here are some examples of questions that were asked:
  • ·      Our tendency is to try and ‘fix’ a problem. How can I help an individual with SSA without trying to ‘fix’ it?
  • ·      I’ve heard some people say that the term ‘SSA’ is offensive to them. What term do you prefer and why?
  • ·      I’ve heard some people say some insulting and mean things in church in regards to homosexuality. How can we help the culture of the church become more educated in regards to this issue?
  • ·      What does therapy look like for a gay LDS individual?

The entire meeting was amazing for me. I saw many individuals crying as we discussed these important issues. People want to understand, and want to help. I saw hearts that were open and learning. We were taught through the Spirit. I was so grateful for the opportunity to participate. I wish every Stake in the entire Church would have meetings similar to this one, but hey, I’m chalking this one up to major progress!  Way to go Beaverton, Oregon Stake!!


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Breaking News + Check in

Did you hear the news?

The church just released a website about homosexuality. I've been hearing about this site for months (basically since Lolly and I exploded on the scene last summer and became a part of the "conversation") and I am really, really excited to see that the day has arrived. It's a really good website. I think it adds so very much to the shifts in perception that are happening around this issue.

First, here are some relevant links:

This is an article from the Deseret News.

And this is the press release made by the church.

And then... drumroll please...

The actual website: mormonsandgays.org

Take a moment and look at that url. Notice anything interesting? Then do what I did: sigh in relief, nod your head and say "things are changing!"

Anyway, I've gotta say, I really, really love the things that are happening around this issue. I feel like there is such a culmination--so many voices converging saying the same things--that love is the most important message, and that understanding and empathy are so important. This may sound cheesy, but I'm so grateful to be a gay member of the church at this point in history. I feel like a small part of something really big. And I'm so glad.

And on that note, we need to do a check-in, don't we?

Rules: You cannot say "good" or "fine." Check in spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Set a goal and report on the previous week's goal. This is for fun, and is not meant to supplement or replace contact with a mental health professional.

GO.

Oh wait, don't go. One more change I'm going to make. I will try hard to enforce this, but please make it easy on me by trying hard to follow this rule. I recently realized I had forgotten an important thing. In groups where check-ins occur, there is no "cross-talk." In other words, check-in is a time to share how and where you are, without feedback (either positive or negative) from others. This allows the person checking in to feel safe sharing anything, knowing they are heard simply by having shared. Now, one of the things I've been touched by in past check-ins is some of the positive feedback people have gotten. However, feedback defeats, in some ways, the purpose of a check-in. It needs to be a place where people can say what they need to say, make their report, know they were "heard" and not worry about starting debates or lengthy discussions by sharing their personal stuff.

So, here's the deal. We need to function under the assumption that someone does not want feedback. Thus, please don't comment on other people's check-ins--even if the person sounds vulnerable or in need of help, and even if your feedback is incredibly positive (which in almost every case in the past it has been). If the person checking in leaves contact information or has a profile, feel free to find their profile and contact them directly. (That would be the equivalent to finding someone after group and being like "hey, I was really moved during your check-in. Did you want to talk about it?") But any comments in response to a check-in are "cross talk." They detract from that person's moment of sharing. The past feedback has been so incredibly positive, that it didn't even occur to me until recently that I had accidentally created this problem, but now that I have realized it, I am going to enforce this new rule.

So, no cross talk. Or in other words, no commenting on other people's check-ins. (If you are checking in and wanting feedback, feel free to leave an email address that people can contact you at for a private, post-check-in conversation.)

All right, here goes mine:

Physically: I feel very encouraged. Myfitnesspal really is my new best friend and I feel completely in control of my eating. I ran a lot this week which I really enjoy, and had a good weightlifting workout this morning, so I'm feeling very healthy. And motivated. And good content.

Emotionally: I feel much better today than I did last weekend. Last weekend I felt needy and isolated and crappy. I reached out to a couple of friends of mine (or, rather, they reached out to me) and I was able to do this really weird thing where I actually talked about how I'm feeling (this is novel, I know), and that has helped me feel much better about things. Vulnerability: so uncomfortable, yet so necessary. I'm learning this more and more.

Spiritually: Really, really energized. I had an incredible interview with my bishop the other night to renew my recommend. We talked for a couple of hours (bless his soul, and his family for letting him be away for that long). It was an incredibly good talk, and really helped me get my head on straight (no pun intended--seriously) about a few things. Our discussion was totally and completely inspired.

Goal from last week: 5,000 words. Achieved.

Goal for this week: 5,000 words. Again.

All right guys. Please check out that website. Then check in and let us all know how you're doing. Thank you guys for being such an awesome community of awesomeness. You are the best blog-readers on earth. No jokesies.

(PS--I am actually not really interested in having a discussion about the website because I don't want to ruin the warm fuzzies I feel about it. On this one, let's all just rejoice in the good things that are happening and call it good. ;-) Any divisive commentary about it will be removed. Because I'm tyrannical like that. Bwahahahahaha!!!!)


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Bible Story (of Horror)

This evening as we waited for Lolly to finish her maternal duties and get dinner on the table (whilst barefoot, wearing an apron, and humming the hymns of the pioneers, of course):

Anna: Dad, what's that one story about a lady who talks to a king in the scriptures? Not Esther. But another lady?

Me: Do you mean King Solomon? Solomon was approached by a lady...

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Old Year Resolutions

It's December first.

That means there's one month left in 2012. (Are you so impressed right now with my math skills and calendaring talent? Cuz, whoa, I should probably be an executive secretary or a physicist or something. 12 minus 11 is ONE y'all. ONE.)



What this means is that each and every one of us has a list of things that we wanted to accomplish this year that we haven't looked at since, oh, say February. If we were really diligent, then March.

At the gym the other morning my friend Konrad came up with this new, great plan: we're going to focus on our Old Year Resolutions this month.

I invite you all to do the same.

Look back at your journal, and dust off that entry from January first. What were your hopes for this year? What were your aspirations? Which goals have you accomplished, and which ones can you still focus on this last month to bring closer to completion?

Don't be discouraged by how much might not have happened.

Take a moment to celebrate the progress, any progress, you made in any goal. Be grateful for the chance you had to work on it, and pat yourself on the back for all you have been able to do so far this year.

Then look at one or two of the ones that you didn't quite get to. Are there a couple that you could rework and fit into this last month? Is there anything that is close to achievement that, with some great focus, you can finish by 2013?

Now, make a short list--one or two or maybe three.

Then, and this is how we have decided to work it so that we actually get our stuff done, but feel free to skip this part if you're too afraid: we decided on a really uncomfortable, realistic consequence if we don't accomplish our Old Year Resolutions.

One of mine goals, for example, is fitness. I adjusted my goal to make it reasonable for a month, and then came up with my punishment: If I don't reach my weight loss goal in the month of December, then I will be violently dragged willingly play a game of church basketball.

You have no idea how much that punishment terrifies me, and therefore motivates me to NOT MISS MY OLD YEAR RESOLUTION. 

Here's an old post that might show why, just a bit: The Day I Realized I'm Exactly Like Jimmer Fredette. (Is it lame that as I reread this post I was laughing out loud at my own writing? Probably. Old Year Resolution: don't laugh at your own blog posts ever again. It's just sad.)

Anyway, I'd love to see any Old Year Resolutions you come up with. And I'd especially like to hear about your clever, motivational punishments. I bet you guys will come up with some awesome stuff.

Let's make the most of the rest of 2012! I'm off to go on a run so that I do not have to be subjected to church ball.