Agency. This is a word that's been on my mind a lot lately. There have been several experiences that have made me think about it off and on.

First off, mentally, today was a difficult day.

I'm starting to dread Sunday's more and more because Kennedy is really difficult at church. She generally doesn't throw too many tantrums but she is extremely busy and after 2:00 when it's time for another nap, her patience wears very thin. She is constantly moving. She won't sit down and relax, she has to explore every crevice of the building which means I have to follow her and keep her out of things she shouldn't be in. Today she tried to make off with the attendance folder of the previous wards' primary class that had been slipped under a door.

Yes, I know this is normal for kids her age. I'm not trying to make it seem like she's worst than most. But whether she is or not, it's still very hard on me. I feel like church has no purpose anymore. We take time to get dressed up and look our best so we can wander the halls and rearrange furniture and nod to people I know as they pass me chasing her down the hall with a handful of food scraps she found on the floor. I don't get to sit and listen and chances to feel the spirit are very slim. It's been wearing on me and I'm starting to notice a difference in my attitude towards church and even my scripture study has been taking a hit because of it. I hate feeling this way and I hate not wanting to go to church. I need spiritual nourishment in my life so it's been hard to handle. She won't stop being an issue for 5 more months.

I felt really bad today when I found myself thinking that if it wasn't for teaching Sunday School, I probably wouldn't even go anymore. How bad is that?? It's not because my testimony is lacking or because I have a beef with God, I just don't feel like it's worth it to go chase her around when I can do that at home. However, I realized the danger in this type of thinking and quickly gave my brain a mental smack down because all it takes is the idea to stop going to church before I actually carry out the action, and I don't want to do that. I don't ever want to downplay the importance of attending church.

Anyway, I realized that it is up to me to keep this going and that I need to have faith that it will all be ok. No one is going to make me go but me. I need to suck it up and go because it's the right thing to do. The choice is mine. The Lord gave us agency for a reason.

Agency. There's that word again.

We all have choices to make here on earth. That is our God-given right. We can choose what kind of bread to buy, who to be friends with, what to wear, what religion we wish to follow, and we can even choose to break into a theatre and murder a dozen innocent people. We can choose how to feel about people, situations, or experiences. Agency is a gift but it can also be dangerous. It's up to us to make the right choices and choose the good over the bad. Sometimes making choices is easy and sometimes it's very difficult.

I think agency is most difficult (and difficult to understand) when our choices involve others. Cory and I had to make the choice together to have children. Now that Kennedy is here, our choices affect her life as well. It's also difficult when it comes to choosing who to marry. The hard part is, both people have to make the choice to get married. It has to be right for both of them.

I've been thinking about a past experience I had with this exact issue this past week and how much I learned from it. It's been a while since I've dug up this chapter in my life but due to a similar situation with a friend, it's brought back a lot of memories.

Cory wasn't the only guy I wanted to marry, nor is he the only guy I was "supposed" to marry. Countless general authorities have counseled that there isn't one person out there for everyone. There is no such thing as a soul mate. There isn't just one person, but there is one kind of person. We meet certain people for a reason and each person touches our life for a purpose. I never understood how this was possible until I had this experience with this guy.

We met at Utah State and dated for a while and discussed marriage. I know I loved him to an extent. It wasn't even close to how much I love Cory now, but I know it could have been had it been right. I prayed fervently about marrying him and it always felt right to me. He didn't always have the same feeling. I don't know what was really going on in his mind, but he kept telling me that sometimes he felt good about it and sometimes he didn't, That seriously confused me. If it always felt right to me, why didn't it always feel right to him? Weren't we made for each other? I could picture our life together and it made me so happy. Why couldn't he see that?

I made up excuse after excuse for why he wasn't getting the same revelation I was. But no matter what I told myself at the time, the true lesson I was learning was agency. I had made the choice to marry him and to me that choice was a good one. I know we could have worked out well together. But he chose something different. He exercised his agency and chose to keep looking and date other people. I was very confused and angry because I felt like I had been lied to. I felt good about him, so why was I now crying myself to sleep and feeling intense pain as a result of our breaking up? How did my good feeling turn into something so terrible? Why would the Lord tell me something was right and then have it not work out?

It's for the same reason the pioneers had to keep moving from city to city. They'd be guided to one place, thinking they would have refuge, and because of the choices and agency of others, they were driven out. I know many became angry with God and were beginning to doubt that the revelations of Zion were true. Why would He tell them to take all their belongings to one area just to be violently chased off?

Agency. Agency is the answer. We can choose to follow promptings or ignore them. We can choose to find the good in experiences or the bad. We can choose to be angry when things don't go well. We can choose to doubt our faith when there are things we don't understand. We can choose to keep going and trust in the Lord or abandon all belief. It took me a long time to realize that the reason I was now single and hurting was because the guy I had loved had used his agency and chose a different path. Had he chosen to marry me, I know things would have worked out and we would have been happy. But he didn't. Looking back now, I'm very grateful that didn't happen. Cory is the best thing to happen to me and I can't imagine my life without him. Although at the time it was the most painful and difficult thing I had gone through, I had also learned many valuable and important lessons through that experience that I don't think I would have learned otherwise.

Many of the pioneers chose to keep moving around and kept having faith. Think of all the experiences they had and the things they learned as a result! It's really quite amazing.

So how does this all tie in? What is my point? My point is we each have to make our own choices for what's best for us. Often times those choices impact others in profound ways. Sure, I could choose to stay home every Sunday. But what am I teaching Kennedy? What will she learn from my choices? What will I gain from sitting at home? What will I miss out on? How will I feel? What are the long term affects? I could have chosen to sever my relationship with God because of a failed relationship. But I didn't. I chose to learn from it. I chose to keep going and found Cory.

We hear all the time that we can't control how people treat us or what they do, but we can choose how it affects us. We can choose how to react to people and our environment. I believe this is a skill that takes a lifetime to master, but every step is worth taking. No one can make anything happen in our lives but us. Sure, there will be things we can't control. But we can control how we react and what we will learn from it. It hard. Especially when we want to make those choices for others or when loved ones make choices we don't agree with. But, we all have our agency and we each have things to learn from the choices we make. That's why we're here. That's the point of this life, to decide which side we're going to choose. Will our agency lead us closer to the Lord or away from Him? How will we handle this great responsibility? How will we react when things go wrong or don't work out how we thought they should? Which Master are we serving? Who's side will we be standing on when the Savior comes again the great battle commences? What will we do with the choices that face us each day? No one knows but us. We must use our agency. The choice is ours. I just hope I can learn to keep making the right ones that bring the most happiness to myself and those I love. 

I choose my Savior and Redeemer.

I choose to go to church even though it's hard.

I choose to raise Kennedy righteously.

I choose to learn from my experiences.

I choose to trust the Lord.

I choose to fight with the Lord.

I choose my destiny.


13 Month Monster

I didn't realize until later today that Kennedy is 13 months old. Yay!

All I have to say about her right now is she is one busy little bee. She's a two-foot tall tornado and everywhere she touches down she leaves a path of destruction. I'll find my shoes in the bathtub, her toys in the hamper, and all kinds of things in the most random places. Anything within reach is fair game and she's into everything all the time. She's getting into trouble more and more, too. She likes to hide between the treadmill and the wall where I can't reach her and tease me but she also can't get out by herself. And today she came running into the room as fast as she could holding a big pair of scissors, blades up. I have no idea where she found them and I keep thanking Heavenly Father that she didn't trip with them because she was holding them right by her neck. It scared me to death. But when she's not getting into trouble she's tons of fun and we love her so much! Tonight she sat on the couch and watched the opening ceremonies with me (pictured below) and really got into them. She was laughing and clapping and bouncing around. She's the cutest ever.

Camping at Washington Lake

My parents are big on camping in the summer. They always take off and tell us where they're going so we can join them if we have time and want to. Our participation has been pretty slim so when my mom said they were camping at Washington Lake Campground in the Uintahs, we decided to go for a night. I was pretty excited to go because we haven't been for a while and I thought Kennedy would have a lot of fun. We had a great time! We froze at first during the night, but we pulled Kennedy in bed with us and we all were able to sleep mostly. She was DEAD!! All the running around she did really wore her out. It wore me out as well. Chasing her around for two days, keeping her from eating rocks, twigs, and foreign objects, was exhausting. But we had a good time and know what to plan for next time. Kennedy seriously loved it. She's very observant and didn't want to miss a thing.


I've never purchased any race day photos taken by the professional photographers until the Dirty Dash. That was kind of required since you can't exactly carry a camera in the mud. Lacie and I were at the 10k alone the other day so we didn't have anyone to take our "finish line" photos. I thought, "Maybe if the professional ones are REALLY good I'll buy one." I was hoping for one with Lacie and I at the finish but they singled us out :(. I guess we should have been holding hands or something haha. Anyway, here is the one I purchased. It's the best finish line picture of myself I've ever seen so that should tell you how bad I've always looked.
If you care to see the rest that were not worth buying you can go here: More Pictures
But I'm betting the only one that does is Lacie ;)


Deseret News 10k

A few weeks ago I talked my friend Lacie into running the Deseret News 10k with me. It's the morning of the 24th and the last two miles are on the parade route, so you get cheered on by people waiting for the parade. She'd never done a 10k and I totally expected her to say no. But what I love about Lacie is, she isn't like most people and she thought it sounded fun and worth trying! Yay!! We supported each other through text message for the weeks leading up to the race as we prepared for our goals since we live an hour away from each other. I think we both felt ready, but still nervous that we wouldn't reach our goals and wind up disappointed.

Since I live pretty close to the course, she came up the night of the 23rd and stayed at our house. We were both more excited for the sleepover and dinner out than anything :)

We first picked up our packets here:
Went to dinner here:
Ate a shameful amount of these:

And this...
And went home with one of these:
But man, it was worth it!

After retiring to bed at 9:00, we woke up at 4:30 a.m. with Cory (who went to work) and she and I drove up to the U to the starting line. The usual pre-race jitters set in and we were anxious to just get going.

The first four miles for me were a breeze and I was going faster than my goal pace. But then (Dun, dun, dun)...it happened. I got a side ache!!! Ever since I've increased my speed the last little while I've been getting these debilitating side aches that are so bad I can hardly breathe. I don't know how to stop them either. I've done all kinds of research and nothing I try works :( Maybe I just need to let my body get used to going faster. Anyway, I said a little prayer because I DID NOT want to walk and kept going.

Luckily it stayed just below the horrible level of pain and I made it through it but not without frustration and requiring I slow my pace down a bit. My goal was to come in under an hour and I succeeded despite that wretched problem. I keep wondering how much faster I could have gone without the pain but I need to not let myself get angry about things I can't change. Due to the side ache, as soon as I stopped running I instantly felt like I was going to throw up and there was nothing I could do about it. I started trying to get out of the crowd but a little boy with scissors came and crouched down to cut off my timing chip and I wanted to scream, "Move!! I'm going to throw up on you!" But I just stood there trying to choke it down. Who throws up after a 10k?! Thank heavens, it went away. That's never happened to me before. It was a little scary.

After getting some water, I headed back on the parade route to find Lacie. Her goal was to beat an hour and a half and it didn't take long for me to find her. I was so ecstatic that she was doing so well!!! So I jumped back on the course and finished it with her. She came in FIFTEEN WHOLE MINUTES UNDER her goal. HECK YEAH!!! I was so stinking proud of her!!! Way to beat down your first 10k, Darlin'!! So, we obviously left the race feeling pretty dang proud of ourselves and loving that we did so well. There will be many more races together in the future I'm sure. I'm lucky to have a supportive and positive friend like her. (Yay, shout out! :))

So you may be asking yourself, "Where was Kennedy in all this?"

She had an exciting 12 hours or so as well. She had her first sleepover at Grandma's!! I was nervous. Not for her safety but for my Mom's. Kennedy has never slept without us before so I was scared to death that she'd cry all night and my mom wouldn't get any sleep and refuse to take her again. Thank heavens, that didn't happen. Again, I worried over something that I didn't need to.

Cory went up there after work and saw her and put her to bed (I was sad to not kiss her goodnight for the first time :( but other than that I was impressed with how well I handled missing her) and she slept pretty well. My mom told me she had one freak out moment at 2 a.m. where she screamed and cried and didn't want my mom to hold her. We think she wanted me. That breaks my heart. But, she fell asleep again and woke up at 7:00. SUPERB! So we'll have to try another childless night again and actually get to sleep in this time instead of get up 3.5 hours earlier than normal. Ugh...

So, to sum up, it was an awesome race. We had tons of fun and other than the blasted side ache, there were no regrets. Pretty darn successful, right?


Parade and Fireworks

I am always amazed and also slightly humiliated when I break Kennedy's schedule or habits, much to my anxiety and worry, only to find out it really wasn't a big deal at all and that the schedule or habit that I've been obsessing over really wasn't that important. As a first time mother, I think this is common. It's hard to know what's right or wrong for your child because there are so many different parenting styles out there.

I've always been so adamant about Kennedy getting to bed on time or getting her naps in. She's always been a fabulous sleeper and I don't want to risk ruining that. But, as a consequence, I've missed out on a lot of fun opportunities and events because I was worried she wouldn't sleep or that she would be grumpy. As I've braved new adventures more and more, I've discovered it's really not that essential every day or night. Missing a nap once in a while (every Sunday for sure, thanks 1:00 church) or getting to bed late sometimes is perfectly ok.

Last night was one such lesson. We missed the Eagelwood fireworks primarily because we didn't think they were worth keeping Kennedy up that late. We also wanted to see if we could even see them from the new deck, so that was the selling point in not going. Had our families been around and gone, we may have tried it. But yesterday was the Bountiful Parade and Mueller Park fireworks. I thought Kennedy would LOVE the parade and I love the fireworks and I wanted to be brave and try it out. So we did. I told me myself not to stress about anything or freak out if she did because there was no way of knowing how this would turn out until we tried. I needed to man up and just go have fun no matter what. And boy am I glad we did!!!

As predicted, she loved the parade. She was so cranky in the car on our way there but as soon as we were around people she had a great time. The parade was really good, too. She'd clap to the music and wave at people and smile and point at floats. I even heard her say "wow!" to a few things. It was freaking adorable! I had so much fun with her!! We sat in front of the Wight House and when their float went by, a girl by us ran a small box out to one of the guys on the float and then he proceeded to get down on one knee and propose to his girlfriend in the middle of the parade, on the float, in front of everyone at the Wight House. It was so cute!! I even teared up because she was so excited and they looked so happy. She said yes and she couldn't stop kissing him haha. It was awesome.

My main purpose for going was to see the strippling warriors. And it was so worth it. For anyone that doesn't know, a stake put together a reenactment of the 2,000 strippling warriors from the Book of Mormon. 2,000 men, ages 12-24 marched in the parade holding sticks and flags, dressed as they may have been back then. I heard they were setting a Guinness world record for the biggest group of people dressed for combat but not going to battle, or something like that. IT WAS AMAZING!!! Even now just thinking about it makes me cry. They marched while pounding their sticks on the ground. Then they stopped and pounded their sticks in unison, held them up in the air, and then yelled "we will not doubt!" together. I don't think there were very many people who didn't feel touched in one way or another. I thought of the actual warriors who went into battle, the same age and countenances as these young men, and felt the spirit so strongly. Their army spanned the length of about two blocks, I'd say, and everyone stood for them and cheered as they went by. Many cried. They were led by a man dressed as Helaman. They had to each make their own sticks and many had fastened their own personal title of liberty to the top. What an amazing experience. How hard would it have been to be Helaman and lead those young men into battle not knowing if they would survive? And because they were so valiant, they did!! It was so incredible. Whoever put it together was very inspired and it was a huge statement of the Book of Mormon and its importance. I'm glad I didn't miss it.

After the parade we decided to try and head up to the fireworks and check it out. We got a killer spot right by the entrance so we didn't have to walk very far and we could leave pretty fast. Kennedy went hog wild out on the blanket and we found out she's a runner. Every second she got she would take off to someone else's blanket and try and get as far away as possible and laugh. She caused quite a scene around us actually. I think she was deliriously tired because she reminded me of a drunk person; funny to watch but you know they're going to crash hard at any moment. A little boy behind us thought she was so cute that he gave her one of his glow sticks. It was so sweet! I wanted to hug him.

At about the time we were losing patience with chasing her all around, the fireworks started. Kennedy has never been afraid of any noises. She chases the vacuum around, she doesn't mind loud movies, and I'll even jump in a room and scare her on purpose and she never gets upset. The fireworks were no exception. She sat down in my lap and and watched them and kept saying "whoa!" at the cool ones. After a little bit she got restless and kept moving around to get comfortable to fall asleep but she never succeeded. As soon as we put her in the car she was gone though. The fireworks were fun but a little slower than in years past. I still loved them though. Mueller Park is my favorite because you get to sit really close to where they light them off so it's extra loud and fun. We had a great time and Kennedy went right to bed when we got home and she hasn't been awful so far today. I hope that continues.

I really wanted to put these pictures in order but I don't have the patience to download them off my phone right now so just pretend they are :) oh and ps, earlier yesterday Kennedy face-planted into our little floor fan and cut her chin up :( it was so sad! She's ok now, I just thought I'd explain the mess on her face.


Hiking Above Alta

The great thing about having a blog is that any time we do any kind of fun activity, no matter how uninteresting, I get to tell the world about it!

Our goal for this summer was to make it really great. We had ambitions for camping, climbing, swimming, hiking, going places... you know, summer stuff. We hardly got to do that last year so we wanted to make up for it. It's now July and we've hardly done anything. How does that happen? In order to remedy the situation, instead of just sitting around and saying "we need to do such and such one of these days," we actually went out and did it today.

We went up Little Cottonwood Canyon above Alta and decided to hike Catherine Pass. Neither of us had any idea where it went or what it was really, we just wanted to hike. How's that for responsible outdoorsiness? Let's just pick a path and follow it! We found the trail head, loaded up with our packs and Kennedy, and hit the ground running... for about 10 yards. I ran a long, challenging route yesterday and was a bit achy in my joints and Cory doesn't exercise so when the hike started getting steep, and didn't stop, we began to get a little tired and slow down a bit. Our enthusiasm drained after about half a mile. Cory turned around and said, "We can't see the car anymore, it would be ok to turn around now. We hiked." He was partially kidding. But we decided to brave the trail knowing coming down would be less difficult, at least for our cardiovascular systems.

The hike was so beautiful! The Cottonwood Canyons have always been my favorite. They are so gorgeous!! The wildflowers were everywhere and the weather was perfect. It was so worth it!

 Kennedy was a giant hit on the trail because apparently the only people who hike in the middle of the day on Wednesday's are lesbians and old people, so she was a rare thing to see. One older lady even asked us to stop so she could take her picture. We figured as long as we were posing for someone we don't know, we might as well get a family photo at a spot of no significance.
The hike ends on top of the peak at a lake. I didn't catch it's name because I was very hungry at this point and only had food on my mind. So let's call it Catherine Lake... that seems pretty reasonable. It was so pretty and you could see over into Brighton. The trail kept going another couple miles into Brighton if one wished to be like Bear Grylls but we figured our efforts were sufficient. Besides, it was TIME FOR FOOD!!

We sat down and made lunch. I didn't admit this to Cory until later, but I had a good time packing the lunches this morning. I liked keeping the sandwiches dry and safe from squishage and packing pudding cups and Cheeto's and plenty of napkins because apparently we're 5. It was a fantastic lunch, if I do say so myself. I'm going to be one of those mom's who puts love notes in their kids lunchbox and a surprise each day, I can feel it. It's my destiny. Anyway, we had 5 pieces of lunch meat left so we basically had cheese, tomato, and avocado sandwiches with a hint of turkey. I'm not real sure why I'm telling you this.... Let's refocus....

While we ate we had some little furry visitors who weren't too shy about stealing our food. Kennedy loved them and tried chasing them a couple times but she soon learned they're too fast and it's better to be lazy and watch them run while eating crackers. I even let her play in the dirt in her white pants. Yeah, I should have planned better. But she looked cute, regardless of her crazy hair!

 I won't mention the places that pretzel she's holding touched before she ate it. Good thing dirt doesn't kill us :)
After a while of sitting we got cold and decided to head back. I swear we made it back down in 5 minutes compared to how long it seemed to take going up. But we loved hiking and Kennedy liked it for a while until it crept into nap time. Miraculously she made it all the way home without falling asleep. It may have been  because I wouldn't leave her alone...
All in all, a great day!