Controversy, My Old Friend...How I've Missed You

I’ve been spending many of my idle moments thinking about a controversial subject, and I’m about to say something that may earn me a lot of criticism from many people:

I believe “being gay” is a choice.

Now, before the torches and pitchforks come out or the ACLU calls, let me clarify my position.  I fully believe that there is a difference between “being gay” and “experiencing homosexual impulses.”  I believe one can experience homosexual impulses and not be gay.  One cannot choose what impulses they experience, but one can choose how one acts upon those impulses.

That being said, I believe that people are born with a predisposition to experience homosexual impulses (aaaand, here come the torches and pitchforks from the OTHER side…).  I believe it’s similar to having a predisposition for alcoholism, or sugar addiction, or weight gain.  Anyone who has watched The Biggest Loser or has conquered addictions or seen loved ones conquer addictions know that genetic predispositions don’t have to control lives!  It’s all about the CHOICES.

So it is with homosexuality.  There is someone in my life to whom I am very close who has experienced same-gender attraction.  He has made conscious choices to avoid giving in to the impulses he has experienced, most likely, for his entire life.  I would not for a second classify him as “gay.”  He experiences same-gender attraction, yes, but he does not engage in same-gender relationships.  In fact, he will most likely be getting married to a woman in the next couple of years and will have a loving, fulfilling relationship with her.

In a different thread, I was born with the predisposition to be attracted to males. Does this mean I HAD to form a lasting relationship with a man?  No.  Sometimes I think there would be many advantages to being in a relationship with a woman (for instance, it would be really nice to have a second set of knockers for nursing the babies…just sayin’) rather than a man.  I could have chosen that route, but I didn’t.  For someone to say that their choices are completely determined by their genetics undermines our ability as humans and as children of God to use reason and agency.

Now, any choice made by my friend or myself isn’t necessarily the solution that will work for everyone.  However, it’s not my place to judge what choices anyone else makes because it is impossible for me to fully understand the situations of others.  The only Person qualified to make those judgments has much more power, compassion, and knowledge than I do.  All I can do is try my best to be kind to all of God’s children, regardless of their sexual orientation or choices. 

I’ve also spent a lot of time thinking about the issue of gay marriage.  I know the leaders of the Church have encouraged us as members to support constitutional amendments that define marriage as being between one man and one woman, but I don’t think I would be a good member of the Church if I didn’t think and pray and figure out what Heavenly Father would want me to do.  I trust that the leadership of the Church receives revelation from God, but I also know that I can receive personal revelation for myself.  That being said, I do know that marriage is sacred and should be between one man and one woman, and this knowledge comes not only from statements from the Church but also from my own personal experiences and dialogue with Heavenly Father.

Now, on the other hand, I believe that every person in this country, regardless of sexual orientation, has the right to be happy with whomever they choose.  It is none of my business whom my neighbor chooses to spend his/her life with—that choice does not infringe on any of my rights, so I have no right to deny him/her that choice.  Advocates of same-sex marriage say that marriage is a civil right; and I agree.

How can one person have two opposing views?  How can I be for the preservation of traditional marriage and for same-sex marriage?  Now you understand why I’ve spent so much time thinking about these subjects.  I’ve felt a lot of turmoil and confusion.  I’ve alternated between feeling like a bigot and a bad Mormon.  I’ve read and thought about countless solutions that would put my mind at ease, but I know it’s only going to get uglier.  The Church has said that they would not prevent legislation from passing that would allow same-sex couples to enter into civil unions, so that’s one possibility.  Of course, then we’re faced with the issue of two things being “separate but equal”, which, let’s face it, was a huge bust when it was tried before.  I’ve read people suggesting that since our country is such an advocate of “separation of church and state” that we take it one step further and completely separate the civil and religious aspects of marriage—in other words, require all people, regardless of the orientation of the marriage, to have a civil ceremony performed separate from any religious ceremony.  There are so many countries around the world that already do that (The United Kingdom, for example), and even though it would be more of a hassle for people who would desire a religious ceremony (a sealing in the temple for Church members, for example) I think it would be a viable solution.  The country would only recognize the civil unions performed of both heterosexual and homosexual couples (which would eliminate the “separate but equal” problem, since they would literally be the exact same thing), and churches could continue to perform marriages only for those whom they deem appropriate (allowing the Church and other denominations to preserve their definition of marriage being between a man and a woman).  I’m sure this isn’t a perfect solution, but knowing that there IS a potential solution puts my mind at ease.

Ultimately, the most important thing for me to do is simply have faith that everything will turn out fair in the end.  I know it sounds like a cop-out, but this concept brings me peace.  There is so much turmoil and strife in the world right now, and it’s only going to get worse as time goes on.  My knowledge that Heavenly Father loves me, and that He loves all of His children regardless of the choices they make, helps me remember that this life is but a small moment in the timeline of my life, and all I can do is be the best person I can be.  Everything else will figure itself out.


4th of July

Every year, Cole's family gets together for the 4th, and this year was no different. Our numbers were a little sparse, but we had a ton of fun! Gammy and Bumpy busted out the kiddie pools and the waterslide for the kids to enjoy, we had a fabulous dinner, and spectacular fireworks! None of us was willing to fork over the large amount of cash needed for aerial fireworks, but we benefited from the extravagance of others--we were literally surrounded by awesome displays of aerial fireworks (I think we counted 12 different places around us). The kids had a lot of fun wielding sparklers and rating the various fireworks for their coolness factor. Lucas wasn't really sure what to think about all of the fireworks, and he ended up falling asleep halfway through the show so I got some killer snuggles. :)

Cole's brother, Adam, brought out his whips from Hungary and put on a little show--he's WAY cooler than Indiana Jones! We all got up to try our hand at whipping, but none of us were nearly as awesome as Adam is. I was a little apprehensive to try it--I figured I'd probably hit myself in the face before I ever cracked the whip. But, after a littler coercion from Cole, I gave it a try:

(The sound isn't great, but if you listen closely, you can hear the whip crack all three times that I tried it. For a good laugh, look at my face every time--it's pretty comical.)

Needless to say, I was pretty proud of myself.

Another reason I was proud of myself? The patriotic dessert I made:

Red, white, and blue funfetti cake balls
They turned out quite delicious, if I do say so myself.


What I Made Monday

My ward had a Relief Society craft night last Tuesday, and I signed up to make a few things.

Now, I'm not really a crafty person by nature. But, if someone provides me with the materials and the instructions, I'm totally a fan! So, this craft night was right up my alley. My mom and sister came with me, which turned out to be a really good thing because I would have been crafting at the church until midnight if they weren't there to help me. That's what I get for signing up for too many projects.

First up: family blocks. I was also supposed to sand the blocks and rub stain on/off, but that was a little outside of my skill level. :) I still might sand the blocks a little bit to give them a more worn look.

Even though these will be outdated as soon as we have another child, I figure I can turn the ones that don't apply to face backward...or get new vinyl letters cut for them.
 Next: cutesy wall hanging. I can't really take credit for this one, because my mom made the entire thing. I still really like it, though, and it'll bring some life to my kitchen.

Last, my personal favorite: Bless This Home With the Music of Laughter blocks. Perfect for sitting on my piano. 

I'm super excited to have more cute things for decorating my house!


Fun-Filled Weekend-Palooza

Ok, so you know why I'm a terrible blogger? We go out and do a bunch of fun stuff, but do I ever take any pictures? No. I'm too busy being busy or having fun to actually take pictures...which, I guess, is the point of doing fun things, but it sure makes for boring blog posts. So, I apologize in advance that this post will contain only borrowed pictures to break up the monotony of my commentary. Moving right along...

As was previously mentioned, June 30 was Cole's and my 5-year anniversary. We don't usually make a big deal out of our anniversaries, but since this one marked FIVE WHOLE YEARS, we decided to do something a little bigger than usual. The boys got to spend the night at Grandma and Papa's house, and we stayed overnight at the Anniversary Inn, something we haven't done since we got married. Before we checked into our room, however, we spent Thursday afternoon getting pampered here:

Image from here
We indulged in a couple's massage and pedicures, and let me tell you, it was totally worth it. It was so nice to relax, forget all of our worries, and let others take care of us for a few hours. Cole was a little bit apprehensive at first, but he emphatically decided that we should make it a yearly tradition.

After our pampering at the spa, we headed over to the Anniversary Inn. After much deliberation I chose the Tuscany room for our stay, and we were not disappointed. The room looked like something right out of old Italy, which was right up my alley (FYI, Italy would be my absolute DREAM vacation). There was even a fountain in the room, which I insisted we keep on all night to maintain the ambience.

Check out more pictures of our awesome room here
Unfortunately, the sound of running water kept Cole up during the night running to the bathroom. Oops.

Sanctuary was running a promotion with their couple's massages that included a $100 gift card to Fleming's Steak House on which we decided to capitalize, so we got all dressed up and headed there for dinner.

Image from here
The food was absolutely fabulous! We ate until we were stuffed, and the chef sent us out a little box of truffles in honor of our anniversary. We were only a little dismayed when we realized that the meal for the two of us used up our ENTIRE $100 gift card (and then some)--but, since it was a special occasion, we figured it was ok (incidentally, I can't BELIEVE people frequently spend so much money just for food!)

We headed back to our hotel room and enjoyed one kid-free night of sleep--possibly the best part of the whole outing. The next morning we scarfed down the wonderful breakfast provided by the Anniversary Inn, checked out, and headed to pick up the boys. It was a fun couple of days, but we had to get ready for our next adventure: camping with the fam.

We spent Friday-Monday camping at Payson Lakes (I'm convinced there's no prettier place on earth) with almost my entire extended family.

Image from here.
We spent all Saturday at the lake, enjoying the sun and the downtime. I spent most of the time under the awning and away from the sun, since my lily-white skin burns if I even THINK about the sun. Even so, I managed to get a pretty uncomfortable burn on my shoulders because I didn't move my chair as the sun moved throughout the day...even though I had sunscreen on. My aunt and uncle brought several home-made kayaks (which were totally awesome) so we all took turns on the lake riding around in them. Kyle absolutely loved it, and would go out with just about anyone. Overall, Kyle really loved the lake; he even got in, fully-clothed, on Friday night, even though the water couldn't have been any warmer than 60 degrees. Lucas, on the other hand, was not really a fan. We put him in his little floatie, but he freaked as soon as the cold water touched his legs. He enjoyed crawling around in the dirt and eating every snack he could get his hands on, though.

We spent time playing games together and laughing around the fire and having an all-around good time. My mom is the ultimate s'mores lady--she brought up 6 different kinds of marshmallows to toast (FYI, toasted coconut marshmallows make THE best s'mores, no contest). She also brought Reese's PB cups in addition to Hershey's bars to put in the s'mores, which I heard was pretty scrumptious. The weather was beautiful and the company was great. It was the perfect way to end our 5-day weekend.


Lucas' Birthday Party and Cars 2

Ok...so my friend Danielle called all her blogger friends out for not blogging enough...guilty as charged--especially since I promised to blog about all of the stuff we've been up to. My bad.
So anyway, on Saturday, June 25, we had Lucas' first birthday party. I'm not really one to have a big fancy shin-dig for several reasons:

1) I'm lazy
2) I lack the creativity to plan and execute a cutely-themed party
3) Lucas is too young to care anyway

so we kept it pretty simple. We went to McDonald's for lunch and took my family to see Cars 2. For those of you keeping track, yes, we went to McDonald's twice in one week. Hey, the kid likes chicken nuggets; what can I say?

We all really enjoyed the movie, even if I did have to stand the whole time bouncing Lucas (FYI, I wasn't the only parent bouncing a baby/toddler in the alcoves, so I didn't feel too bad).

After the movie, we headed to my parent's house to have cake and open presents.

This was the extent of our party decorations: a sign...
and some streamers that Cole and Kyle piled on top of Lucas. Note that Lucas' romper says "lil' cake monster." This proved to be extremely accurate.
Even though our decorating skills left much to be desired, I made a pretty awesome cake and cupcakes. I got the recipe from here and they turned out pretty awesome, if I do say so myself. :)

Lucas' 4-inch personal birthday cake
The inside of Lucas' cake
The cupcakes
and...the cupcakes' insides
We got Lucas strapped into the high chair and let him at his birthday cake. Unlike his older brother, who had a tantrum of epic proportions (as seen here), Lucas double-fisted his cake and made short work of it.

Lucas' first look at his cake...wondering if we're actually going to let him tear into it
Stuffing face
All that was left after Lucas was finished
After we enjoyed our cupcakes, we scrubbed Lucas down and started in on the presents. Lucas wasn't super excited about tearing the paper off. Luckily, he has an older brother who would open presents for a living if he could, so Kyle offered his services.

You can tell from Lucas' expression how excited he was about opening presents.
One of the toys Mommy and Daddy got for Lucas: a shape-sorter house (we love IKEA).
Truck from Uncle Chris and Aunt Brittany--it makes truck sounds and shakes!
Little People zoo (also from Mommy and Daddy)
Present from Grandma Great--he can sit and ride on it...
or stand and push it around.
Kyle "sharing" Lucas' wooden train and tracks (also from Mommy and Daddy, courtesy of IKEA)
Lucas sure is one spoiled boy! In addition to all of the stuff in the pictures, he got summer pajamas from Grandma & Papa and Uncle Chris & Aunt Brittany, two pairs of shoes from Grandma & Papa, two outfits from Mommy and Daddy, and this little winner from Grandma & Papa (I wish we would have gotten pictures or video--this was easily his favorite present of them all).

We're so grateful for all of the family that loves Lucas so much!


Fish, Penguins, and Chicken Nuggets

I'm going to forgo Wordless Wednesday this week because I have approximately a billion posts to write about our super busy couple of weeks. However, to prevent information overload and to heighten anticipation, I'll only blog about one event per day, m'kay?

So, to start: Lucas' first birthday was Thursday, June 23. Cole decided to take off work so we could do something fun for the day just as a family. We decided to take our very first trip to The Living Planet Aquarium in Sandy.

A friendly tortoise that swam by while we were looking in his tank
We had a lot of fun! Lucas was, actually, fairly unresponsive to the fish (he had fallen asleep in the car, so I think he was pretty groggy), but Kyle had a blast! His favorites were the penguins and the jellyfish that "changed colors" (they don't actually change colors, but the light in their tank does). Cole really enjoyed the section they had of South American insects and reptiles--it reminded him of being in Brazil (and eww, gross, they had some of the nastiest cockroaches!). I was amazed and slightly disgusted at the sight of the octopus--watching it move was surreal. I also really enjoyed watching Kyle try to pet the stingray. :)

He couldn't really reach all the way into the water to pet them as they swam by, but one of the stingrays kind of "climbed" up the side of the pool (that's the only way I can describe it) and he was able to pet one. He may or may not have shrieked the first time. We all took a turn petting the stingrays--even Lucas got a hand on one (he was less than impressed). FYI, stingrays are a lot more slimy than they appear.

Kyle was so excited. He kept saying, "This is AWESOME!"

This was Lucas' face pretty much the whole time. He did like hanging out in the sling, though.

Kyle standing by a penguin--his favorite part of the aquarium
After we'd had our fill of fish, we headed over to McDonalds for lunch--Lucas loves him some chicken nuggets! Lucas even got to play on the playplace for a little while...my baby's getting all grown up! It was a great way to spend Lucas' birthday.
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