The Special

We recently watched the Lego Movie with our kids. (Spoiler alert for those who live under a rock and haven’t seen this movie yet…)

It’s a really fun show about construction worker who is thought to the prophesied “Special”, someone who would end up being “The most important, most talented, most interesting, and most extraordinary person in the universe.”

The end of the movie takes a turn when we discover that the lego characters are really stand-ins for a boy and his father. While the lego hero states that everyone at some point is the Special, we see how the dad is the boy’s Special.

And that is a profound truth to remember. To my young children, I am the Special (as is their mom). Regardless of who I am or what my job is or is not, or how many noteworthy things I’ve accomplished. In a child’s eyes no one is more talented or interesting or important than their mother and their father.

What am I doing with that responsibility? Do I do things that abuse that? It makes me think twice about what my response is when they ask to play with them, or read with them, or do anything with them. Right now in their life pretty much anything is better if it’s done with me and/or Mom. I think there are things I can and should do to be worthy of and maintain that trust and love even when they grow up and realize that I’m perhaps not the most talented or special person in the world, and that I do have oh-so-many faults of my own.

I’ve been told that it is at this age that they will develop their initial thoughts of what God is like, based on me.

Something to think about…

 

T I M E

So, like many other kids out there, my kids love to watch TV shows and play video games.

A lot.

Especially my son.

If he could, he would do nothing but play video games. He’s not particular so much about which device he’s playing on; he loves the computer, the wii, and my phone equally.

We limit how much TV and video games the kids can do, and try to make sure they get in plenty of playing, running, etc. But even so, I’ve been worrying about how much they enjoy video games and TV.

Now, I enjoy a good game and fun shows as well. And I can (and do occasionally) spend more time wasting time than I should. I don’t spend a lot of time playing games, I have other things that I enjoy, and other obligations I have to fulfill. I want to make sure that my children find a sense of balance (not that I’m the model here, but I like to think I’ve made some progress).

The other day I felt particularly concerned that my kids were getting too much into their video games and losing interest in other things. And the thought came to me; at this point in their life (very young), there is something that has a much stronger pull and interest for them than any video game or TV show.

They like to play with their Dad.

They can be completely engrossed in a game, but at any time I can start tickling them and they’ll forget the game and run around the room in delight. They’ll stand a couple feet from me, eyes filled with delight, begging me to please not tickle them. They’ll jump on me, wrestle with me, throw pillows at me, try to tickle me back (they’ve come unsettlingly close to being successful on that score).

They like to do the things they see their Mom and Dad do. They like to do things with us. They like us to explain things to them.

So I think a lot of it is up to me, isn’t it? And I’m going to bet that if I put in the time now, then they will continue to enjoy doing things with me as they (and I) get older. And you know, it isn’t really work to play with them, spend time with them. Sure, there are other things that I often have to do instead. And sometimes there are other things that I would rather do instead. But if family is what I want, then one of my priorities is to stop fiddling with my own toys and play with my kids.

As cheesy as it may sound, it really is about…

time.

Lessons Learned From Dating

I recently ran across an interesting blog article about dating which has some good ideas to it. I particularly enjoyed this person’s comments. They reminded me of my own dating experiences. As this week is a celebration of the Proclamation on the Family, I thought I’d pontificate on the topic a little.

I’ve always wanted to have a family. I’ve always wanted to be a dad. I honestly don’t remember not wanting a family. This has always been an important goal for me.

I’ve also always been fairly socially backwards. I’m a geek. In my early twenties I was enjoying life pretty well. I was home from my mission attending BYU. I enjoyed sitting in my bat cave of a bedroom (living at home) and playing on my computer. Or working on model trains. Or playing legos.

…you get the idea.

There was one problem that kept coming up. I was lonely. I wasn’t that much of a loner–I had my group of friends and we got together and did fun things. I wasn’t entirely introverted, to my knowledge.

But I was still lonely. I knew I wanted to get married. I wanted to cuddle with someone. I wanted to experience physical relationships (there, I said it). I wanted to have kids and show them how to build model trains and play legos with them. I knew that where I was currently at (single, going to college) was a transitional period to help me get to where I both needed and wanted to be eventually.

I didn’t want to date.

I didn’t mind dating per-se, but I quickly found out that it was a lot of work. And frankly, for me it was rather hard work. I attended the local singles ward (congregation) and had plenty of friends, but…

Well, some guys are handsome. Some are really big and buff even if they aren’t handsome. Some guys naturally know how to talk to women. Some guys naturally know how to talk. I didn’t fit into any of those categories. Even on the talking front.

That sounds funny, but honestly, I often struggled with just talking, and never more than when I was trying to strike up and/or keep up a conversation with a woman who I thought I’d like to date. I was pretty darn good at quoting movies (still am), but most people don’t really count that as talking.

Now people that knew me then would say, “Oh, you weren’t that bad.” Those that knew me well say, “Yeah, that’s about right.” Whether that description really is accurate, it is how I viewed myself, particularly at that time.

In any case, it was hard for me to get a date. First off, I quickly found that everyone’s schedule filled up really fast. If I didn’t have a social engagement of some kind set up by Monday, then everyone was already doing something else. And I really didn’t want to think about what that seemed to imply.

If someone accepted my typically awkward invite, then I had to figure out what in the world we were going to do together for four whole hours. Movie and a date worked for a while, but then I was sure I couldn’t or shouldn’t keep doing that, so then I was trying to figure out other fun things, and for some reason, I never could think of something that I thought was interesting/fun and that I thought my date would enjoy. There never seemed to be enjoyable date activities on the weekend in my college town…

Suffice it to say that I often would only make a token effort to get a date (or no effort at all), and just spend the weekend in my room (which was still fun, although lonely). I still had fun dates and met some nice women, but on the whole I found the whole experience to be stressful and occasionally depressing.

Looking back, I can see how… downright silly I was, and how much I was over-thinking things, and making life a lot more difficult for myself than I really needed to. But at the time I really couldn’t see that.

I did try to make an effort. Sometimes. But it would be so much more convenient if she would just magically appear in my life and sweep me off my feet. Sadly, I rather wished for this kind of a scenario to happen… a lot…

Now, there’s nothing wrong with a woman sweeping a man off his feet. But in my case I think God knew that there were some things I really needed to learn regardless of who, when, or how I found my bride-to-be. Like how to talk.

It took work on my part. And I mean work. Conscious effort. A lot of it. I had at least a couple rather serious “We love you son, but you really need to be more social” talks from my parents. I had lots of sisters with no shortage of advice (using the term loosely–“You’re not going on a date wearing that”).

Now those are all things that I could (and to some extent did) get offended at. Why are you getting after me? I am trying. The woman I marry will love me for who I am, why do I need to act like I’m someone else? No, I’m not going to wear that, it’s really not my style.

I had to realize that the advice I was being given was being given with good intentions (even if the delivery was sometimes lacking). They weren’t getting after me, they were trying to help me get to where I myself was trying to get to. Yes, of course the woman of my dreams will love me for who I am. And of course I should not try to be someone else. The other side of that, however, is simply that I do need to try to be my best self, and whether single or married, I should be putting forth an effort to improve myself in various ways (This is a rather major theme in the LDS faith). And dressing up a little bit for a date is not a bad idea.

I had to keep at it. When I said it took a lot of work I meant it. Not a lot of work for two weeks or 4 months. I was single for a good number of years. And I had to keep on trying to meet new people, put myself out there. Talk. Get out of my comfort zone. Do it again. And again. And again. And again.

Over time, I like to think I got better at it. I got to where what used to be outside of my comfort zone wasn’t really outside of my comfort zone anymore. In fact, dating began to be more fun and less of a chore. I met a lot of people and had a number of (sometimes very) different experiences. Some of those experiences weren’t good, but most of them were. Sometimes I dated someone for a long time, often it was only a date or two.

I actually got to the point where I didn’t mind being single that much. And I think that was important. I even enjoyed it. I enjoyed being where I was at. And that didn’t mean I wasn’t trying to find a special someone–in fact, it was the opposite. I knew where I wanted to go and I was working on getting there rather than spending my time bemoaning the fact that I wasn’t there yet.

Surprisingly enough, continued steps toward your goals tends to get you there. There’s one more thing that I learned, at least about my search for my future bride. I had often heard people talking about their internal and/or eternal struggles trying to figure out if this particular person was “the one.” Just to add some context, in the LDS temple, couples are married for time and all eternity, so yeah, it is kind of a big deal.

I was fully expecting to have similar struggles, but it wasn’t like that at all. Instead, dating Rosanne was like meeting my long lost friend. “Hey, there you are! I’ve been looking for you.” She was and is my best friend. She does love me for who I am (I knew I was in love when I was tempted to quote something during Sunday School but restrained myself,  and she turned to me and quoted the very line I was thinking of). But we both work to improve ourselves and help each other be the best that we can.

Was it a lot of work for me? Yes it was. Again, this is my own experience I’m talking about. For many people, social skills are not the bane of their existence.

Did I have to actually listen to my parents’ advice and counsel? Yep. They were the ones constantly steering me towards trying to enjoy where I was at and not get too worked up or melodramatic. Without consciously acting on that advice, I do not think I would have been the kind of person that my wife (or anyone) would want to spend their life with.

Was it worth it? Every second.

Do we cuddle? You bet. And the other stuff too. And it’s awesome. And worth waiting and working for. But more than that–we enjoy doing lots of things together. We enjoy games, working on projects, going places, reading books, watching movies.

Is our marriage and family complete peace and bliss? Of course it isn’t. It’s still work, and lots of it. And patience, and lots of it.

But I’m not lonely.

And I play legos with my kids.

The Richest Man

We took our family on a trip with my parents recently to visit my sister and her family and attend the baptism of their oldest child. It was a very enjoyable visit and I was really glad to get to spend some time with them and my parents.

While we were there, my dad got up and bore his testimony (that Sunday was a fast and testimony meeting). He talked about how the fruits of the gospel have become much more apparent to him as he has gotten older, and one of the ways in which that is so was in his family. He talked about keeping a photo of his family on his desk at work and often thinking to himself, “I am the richest man I know,” because of the treasure of family that was his–children and grandchildren.

I am so grateful for the parents that I have. They have worked and struggled and prayed and taught and showed a good example to me and my siblings all of my life. I love them, and I love the relationship that I have with them. They taught us to love and live the gospel. They taught us to work hard and be self-sufficient as much as possible. They taught us to serve others and accept service when we need to. They taught us to study hard and get good educations. They taught us to be together as family and to enjoy each other’s company.

My dad’s comments made me think about the picture I have in my office dad

 

This was a Father’s Day gift from my wife last year, and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. To me it is a reminder of the great treasure that my family is. Anytime I’m having a hard time at work (for whatever reason), I can look up and see my kids, cheering me on.

And that’s what they do. They love me. Despite my shortcomings and regular idiocy, they still love me. They love to be with me, to do things with me, to watch me, to have me explain things to them, play games with them, talk to them, anything. Everything.

Looking at this always give me a sense of joy and encouragement. I have three kids who love me with their whole hearts and are rooting for me. Happy for me. Loving me.

Being a dad is truly a treasure.

Opposing Same-sex Marriage

So I support traditional marriage. Why do I oppose same-sex marriage? What’s the big deal? And if I’m supposed to love my neighbor, including homosexuals, then how is it OK to tell them how to live?

In 1997, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a statement concerning the family and its importance to God’s plan. This statement concludes with this warning:

“WE WARN that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.

WE CALL UPON responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.”

So, on one hand, the leaders of my Church feel that this is an important enough issue (preserving the family) that we should be actively engaged in it. And I do believe in the leaders of my Church.1

On top of that, so far it seems apparent that same-sex marriage is contributing to the erosion of the family. I believe that same-sex marriage decreases the focus of marriage from the family to simply “two people in love.” And yes, I’ve heard the arguments about old or infertile people marrying, and in my opinion, those kinds of unions can (and do) exist without changing the definition of marriage. Marriage by definition is still focused on family (including children) as the ideal. Once we decide that it’s really just any two people that want to extend a commitment to each other, well, that’s changing the definition.

This brings up another interesting trick that’s being played on those who support the traditional family, and that is simply the idea that it’s up to us to prove that same-sex marriage is bad for society. If traditional marriage is the status quo, then why isn’t the burden of proof on those who desire same-sex marriage to prove that what they want will not harm society?

So far what I’m seeing is a continuing erosion of morality, family, and religion. And same-sex marriage is pushing those bounds even further. What’s more, it doesn’t seem to be stopping with same-sex marriage. Our country has been here before. Initially the idea was that civil unions would be the answer and that would be fine. Now it isn’t anymore, and we have to have same-sex marriage. And even as that is being pushed, calls are being made to further erode the idea of marriage, and/or to simply do away with it altogether (at least from a legal stand point).

I’m sorry, but to me, this is not progress. This is not how our nation, communities, and homes can be healed (and what is the definition of home without a family, anyway?). We need families. We need morality, and we need religion. I believe these things are fundamental in a society that believes in responsibility, work, and serving others. Those are the ideals that can build  (and repair) our society. And I firmly believe that family is the best place to learn those things. I also believe that religion is an important support for the family in this regard.

This is why I oppose same-sex marriage.

This does mean that I (and those who support traditional marriage) are indeed “telling people how to live.” We are forcing our ideals upon others. What a horrible, evil thing to do!

But…

Isn’t that exactly what law is supposed to do? Isn’t that exactly why we have governments? Not to dictate every moment of our lives, but to establish order. To debate and decide upon rules, regulations and ideals that will help us to live together as a society (Where the line should exist between “dictating every moment” and “establishing order” is a different topic). In forming such laws and regulations, we should discuss our ideas and beliefs. And yes, our morals will definitely affect that. And they should.

So if the chance to vote on same-sex marriage comes up, then I will vote against it. If I have an opportunity to discuss it with others, I will take it. That is true for lots of things both moral and otherwise. That does not mean that I hate homosexuals. It does mean that marriage and family are very important to me and that I feel the need to do what I can to protect and strengthen them.


Footnotes
  1. Of course this makes me one of the mindless “sheeple” who just does whatever my Church leaders tell me to. In my Church, we are expected to follow the prophets, but more importantly to gain our own independent witness of the things we are told to do. Essentially, we are to seek confirmation from God that what they are telling us is correct. See Elder Oaks talk, Two Lines of Communication. Another answer to this is simply, “Yes, I am trying to follow a Shepherd.” []

Evelyn

So baby #3 arrived the other day. I’m still surprised at how small they are (Mommy is very glad they aren’t any bigger, thank you very much…).

She is a beautiful baby, and had her eyes open and looking around at everyone. Other than a very long labor, everything went pretty well (and long labors are par for the course, unfortunately…).

Here’s my private post with lots more pictures: http://jergal.blogspot.com/2011/06/evelyn-joy-robertson.html

2009 Top of Utah Marathon

tou2009marathonYeah…

One wasn’t enough… had to do more. It’s kind of funny, actually. The thrill of finishing the marathon really makes you forget the pain of training for it in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy running, but it is quite the time commitment, and I was rather eager for the marathon to be done and out of the way a couple weeks ago. Now that it’s done I’m thinking “That was so awesome! When can I do another one?”

The thing that was really neat about this one was running it with my family. I had three siblings (one brother and two sisters) run this with me, and that made it so much more enjoyable! My brother and I ran ahead of the girls at about mile 4 or 5, but the two of us stayed together for the entire marathon. It was really neat. Both of us feel like we helped the other to run a little faster at different times, and we enjoyed talking with each other (for the first half at least–the second half we didn’t talk so much).

This course was pretty nice–overall I like the Ogden better, I think, but I actually didn’t mind the last part of this track being on the streets as much as I thought it would. The nice thing about Ogden is that when you get into the city the route goes onto a river trail, and so you don’t run on a street until the very end–like the last half or three-quarters of a mile. However, the problem with the river trail is that there is a whole lot of little ups and downs that really wore me out. In this one we spent a lot more time in the town on the street, with accompanying smell of oil and tar, but the ups and downs were not nearly so severe.

My final time on this was 3:45:37, so I can be proud of the fact that I am 8 seconds faster than I was in May (Boston, here I come!). I actually am pretty pleased with that time–I didn’t use the mp3 player, and I didn’t train nearly as well. I did have the Ogden under my belt, so I had a better idea of what I was getting myself into.

Some highlights:

  • I rather like the Boston qualifying strategy offered by another marathoner, who was explaining that the older you are, the longer the qualifying time is. His strategy was as follows: “As long as I keep this pace; eventually I will qualify”
  • The sign that read: “I thought you said 2.62 miles!”
  • Oranges!
  • The stars as we reached the starting point–they were amazing (the fact that it was still pitch-black was not a highlight).
  • Having all four of us finishing the marathon.

The little things

I had a rather neat experience yesterday. We had a ton of yardwork that we wanted to accomplish, but Ada was being very clingy and wouldn’t let Rosanne put her down, so Rosanne kept Ada happy while I fixed the sprinklers and started working on the back corner of the yard (we are trying to get that cleaned out and all the vines removed–this upcoming Saturday we’ll be removing the stumps).

By dinner time, I saw that there was no way I was going to get it done before dark working alone, but I was sure if Rosanne were helping we could finish it. so I said a quick prayer that Ada would calm down enough so that Rosanne would be able to help. I was impressed that Ada would not calm down, but that Rosanne and I needed to learn how to deal with that.

Nuts.

Oh well, I thought, I’ll just get as much done as I can on my own and finish it up later. A couple minutes later Rosanne came down saying that Janelle had just called, and wanted to play with Ada, so she was on her way over. She showed up in a few minutes, Rosanne was able to come out, and between the two of us we were able to get the job completed.

Now, God didn’t have to do that. I don’t think it really mattered, but it was just a reminder to me that He is concerned about us and He is very involved in our lives. I love seeing the little insignificant things that He does for us, not because it is so important on a grand scale, but because we are His children and He loves us (which is not such a little thing after all).

Family Update

Here’s a quick update of what’s going on with my family:

Jeremy: I’m being kept pretty busy with work, but so far it has been (mostly) enjoyable. Our boss is wanting us to be able to work from home at least a couple days/week, so hopefully that will pan out.

 I’m also trying to work on my own website, jersdesk.com. I’ve got several ideas that I want to do with it, mostly a picture gallery for Rosanne and me.

I had a LAN party the other day (Every so often I have some friends over and we play computer games together). This one was fairly well atteneded, and I think everyone had fun. James and Becca came (Becca even played for a while!). Unfortunately, their computer seemed to break down–the ‘on’ button was stuck and so they couldn’t turn on their computer. I looked online to see how to take the front cover off, and stumbled across a forum where someone else had the same problem with the same computer. The solution? Hit the front of the computer (but no too hard). James tried it and it worked.

Also, John just showed me a site about API’s that have been released from familysearch.org, that allow other programs to saerch their ancestral data, add capabilities to PAF, etc. and I want to do something with that. John and I each have some genealogy programming ideas, and we haven’t decided yet if we’re going to try and work together on something or each do what we want to do. I would be interested to know what others would like to see as far as a genealogy program (besides “something that will do it for me”).

Rosanne: Rosanne is kept very busy with her work and taking care of Ada. She does a very good job with that, as well as taking care of the house. She is the office manager, shipping manager, and on-call support (tech and otherwise) for mightyauthors.com. Fortunately (for us), the business is still rather small. As it grows, other people are supposed to be hired to take care of most of these assignments, leaving Rosanne to be mostly a seceretary.

She’s also been crocheting a baby blanket–ever since Ada was given one and she enjoyed it so much. Rosanne figured we’d better have another one on hand for when the current one gets worn out.

 Ada: Ada is just getting over either a bad cold or a mild case of RSV (we hope the former, but suspect the latter). Either way, she seems to be getting better, which we are very grateful for. She’s stil teething, so life has been a little more interesting than usual for us. Rosanne has been amazing at taking care of her and being patient with Ada’s progressivly getting up earlier… and earlier…

Despite that Ada is still largely a fun happy baby. She obviously enjoys being with Mom and/or Dad the most, and will smile and giggle at our antics. But she is also OK with playing with her toys by herself, though one of us usually needs to at least be in the same roon–if we leave for a few minutes and she notices… we’ll just say that life is a little less happy for a while.