About one year ago, I stopped going to church.

There’s a million reasons why, and if I were to give you the reasons you would either nod your head in agreement or you would give me the standard church answers every Mormon learns within the first year or two of membership.

That is perhaps my greatest issue with the LDS church, it has become more about the culture and stereotypes rather than the doctrine.

Charleston - Kiawah, South Carolina

I do not have any real problem with the LDS church, in fact I have the utmost respect and gratitude for it coming into my life when it did. I needed a strict set of rules and guidelines to live my life by when Cody came into my life over 14 years ago and being a Mormon made me who I am today. I learned more about people, acceptance, open-mindedness, Christianity, guilt, revenge, kindness, and empathy from being involved in church and the LDS community than I would have learned anywhere else — however it was never easy for me. I very much played a part, the part I figured I was supposed to play, and I played it well.

I never felt like I fit in at church or within any church groups. I went because I was supposed to, rarely because I wanted to. While I loved learning and the comfort that came from church meetings, I always felt out of place. I much preferred going to the temple, it was far more personal — rather than a giant judgement show of who was the most holy. Never feeling as though I belonged for over a decade was incredibly difficult. While the teachings of the LDS church have always been fairly easy for me to understand, the culture is one I may never fully comprehend.

I’m not saying I’ll never go back or that I don’t believe in anything anymore.

One of the greatest testimonies I gained for myself was the knowledge that God knows me. Individually. And He likes me. He likes me just as much as He likes anyone else and even if I’m not “all in” at the moment He still loves me. That’s the thing about the LDS religion, you cannot be a passive Mormon. You’re either all in or you’re out. There is no ‘Mormon Light’ nor is there such a thing as a part-time Mormon which makes things incredibly difficult for outliers like myself. I have known there is a God from the moment I first hit my knees to pray at 18 years old, the rest of the details are just a little fuzzy right now.

What I’ve come to realize is I’m not alone in stepping away from church, there seems to be a mass-exodus of people my age leaving the LDS faith and it all seems to be for different reasons. Almost anyone within church will say it is a sign of the sinful times ahead and I’m sure someone will bring it up the eternal consequences of my current choices with me soon enough. My reasoning in “coming out” is to say to the others who are struggling with this same issue that you are not alone, and this is really hard.

Many of the people who have taken a step back were raised in the LDS faith and it is all they have ever really known.

From the outside nothing has really changed aside from a few more free hours on Sundays each week. I’m still me. I’m happy (I daresay I’m even happier), I’m healthy, I’m doing really well. I’m still a nice person and I still pray. I keep waiting for something terrible to happen as retribution, and maybe it will someday, but terrible things happened when I went to church, surely terrible things will happen when I don’t go to church.

The guilt is the hardest part. Being able to automatically guilt myself with a response to every justification I make in regards to my decision to stop attending. I would hope it’s a universal religion thing, not just a Mormon church thing, and I’ll never know because I’ve never left a church before. This article has been one of the most interesting I’ve read in regards to the health effects of being involved (and leaving) organized religion.

I don’t know what’s next, I don’t know what will happen, but I know I’m not alone and know I feel better getting this out there.

So that's how it's going to be, Wednesday. Challenge accepted. ????

When Vivi isn’t meowing at me (her preferred form of communication over the last several months) she has squeaked out a few Vivi-isms.

“My favorite shape is a heart. Daddy’s favorite shape is a square, LIKE HIS HEAD.”



Try. Just try to pick one thing about this photo. (Taken last weekend by @justshireen) #PartyHardVivi


“My nickname is Sticks, you can call me Sticks.”


“Dad? Why do you have lady legs?”



This won't be the last time, either.


*Playing in her room, stands up, walks over to the cat, squats in his face and farts on him*


“Santa puts his hat on and hos, hos, hos, errywhere!”


“I’m going to go play with bodies (Barbies), in the body (Barbie) house.”



batman and rainbow dash


*Upon replacing her beloved fruit snacks with dried fruit nuggets*
“Vivi, do you want one of your new fruit snacks?”
“No, I’d rather have tomatoes.”


*Getting ready to leave for Click Retreat*
“Why can’t I go on your boatcation?”
“Because this boatcation is only for grownups.”
“But you got to go on my boatcation. I let dad come too.”


“Vivi! When’s your birthday?”
“May the fourth be with you.”


*Cody catches Wink in a game of tag*
“Vivi! I caught a cat! What should we do with it?!”


*Vivi coming out of the bathroom*
“Everything go okay in there, Vivi?”
*Holds up her hand and uses it as a puppet*
Hand puppet: “NAILED IT.”


"SHHH! I'M DOING MY NERDS!" (Translation: Vivi is calming her nerves.) ????????

“SHHH! I’M DOING MY NERDS!” (Translation: “I’m calming my nerves.”)


Vivi: “We don’t go to outer space anymore.”
Cody: “Why not?”
Vivi: “Because we don’t have any helmets.”



I’ve paid $6 to park my car for an hour. I’ve paid $6 to get on an airplane faster. I’ve paid $6 for a substandard burrito and I’ve even paid $6 for a bottle of water. As I look around my house there are very few things still around that I paid $6 for, because while $6 may seem like a lot for some things, $6 will rarely buy you quality or permanence.

I have amassed a collection of Post-It notes from Cody, every once in a while he’ll paper the house with them while I’m asleep. They don’t say anything particularly profound, but I keep every last one, and tuck them away where I can hold them, see his handwriting and know that for however many minutes he was thinking about me and what I’d be doing in a day to find his little notes.

Love Notes and Valentines
Cody isn’t quite as sentimental, but for the last four years he has left a Valentine’s card from me hanging on the fridge. Perhaps it’s because he would have felt guilty throwing away a $6 piece of paper or perhaps he agrees it’s the most accurate card in the world. Whatever the reason, the card has stayed on the side of the fridge where we can both see it. Even when things got really hard last Valentine’s, the card stayed. Even as more and more artwork came home from school, the card stayed.

As far as I’m concerned the card isn’t going anywhere and it will be a centerpiece at our 50th wedding anniversary.

He’s spent money on flowers, I’ve spent money on candy, we’ve both spent money on fancy Valentine’s dinners but none of those things can be hung on the fridge or held in your hand three years later. Suddenly six dollars doesn’t seem like so much money, does it?

There is a line at the end of The Fault In Our Stars that reads “While she was not loved widely, she was loved deeply.” I am loved deeply, I always have been but I have always fought back against Cody’s love because I never truly felt as though I deserved it.

I thought I was in love when I met him, I thought I was in love on our wedding day, I even thought I was in love when I gave him this card four years ago—and I was in love, but it was always guarded. For the last several months I have been all in, it’s scary and thrilling and quite possibly the best feeling in the entire world. I know why we made it through last year, and it is because Cody never, ever gave up on me. Not even for a second. He knew that the girl who was so excited to give him a glittery $6 ketchup card was somewhere inside and he fought like hell to get her back.

hallmark ketchup card

With text messages and email being commonplace now, it’s rare that we have simple, tangible, evidence of sentimentality anymore. If all the computers and phones went away, what words would your loved ones have to literally hold on to? My kids aren’t going to have access to my flirty text messages with their dad in 30 years, but they will someday find a box filled with little love notes, cards and sticky notes between their mom and dad. Greeting cards and love letters, as archaic and outdated as they may seem, still have a very important part in our history as humans. Don’t let them die out in your own relationship because $6 seems like too much money for a piece of paper at the time.

How will you #PutYourHeartToPaper this year?

A special thanks to Hallmark for sponsoring this post.

Cody once worked with a guy that removed his wedding ring depending on the type of customer he was serving. Cody and I both thought it was pretty smarmy and gross (and we still do) but we didn’t know much about marriage as we were wee babes ourselves.

After our own vows and rings were exchanged, I can remember going to a wedding reception when Cody forgot his ring. I flew into a crying fit in the parking lot “HOW WILL ANYONE KNOW WE’RE MARRIED! PEOPLE WILL THINK WE’RE JUST ENGAGED! HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME?”


You could say I was passionate about rings.

Over the years a number of different things made wearing rings difficult: basketball, gaining weight, having babies, going to the gym, and swimming. There were even times we would go on vacation and both opt to leave our rings behind “just in case.” By this point, we knew we were married and it didn’t really matter if he was marked with a gold band or not (one thing I’ve learned over the last 14 years is people don’t often care if someone is wearing a ring or not. Keep it classy, society.) So while our rings hold enormous sentimentality and symbolism, neither of us will forget we’re married without them.

Back in 2009, when I went through Lupron hell, I was lost. Gone. Completely messed up in every area of my life. I felt completely abandoned by Cody, and own brain as well. When Cody and I decided to stay together, I had this intense need to drown out the emotional pain I felt from the previous six months and in some way show Cody how dedicated I was to making our marriage work.

So I got his name tattooed on my butt.


I did get a tattoo. One that has even deeper meaning to me than a ring. Rings can be lost, stolen, left behind and removed when the situation desires. Tattoos are kind of there forever. I didn’t tell Cody I was getting them, and later I sent him a picture and a statement that said “I’m sorry, but I had to do this for me.” (He was totally anti-tattoo at the time, not only for religious reasons, but he is also terrified of needles.) A week later he came out to see me at my parents house and he asked me about getting them, I told him that the obnoxious stinging and buzzing was a welcome sensation compared to all the other things I had been feeling recently. Later that night, he pulled me aside and took off his shirt to reveal the exact same tattoos on his own shoulders.

We matched.

We went together.

If you were to put us in a group of a million other people, you would know we go together. That is an intensely intimate and comforting feeling, something no ring will ever be able to encompass or represent.

Someone the other night commented on the fact that I wasn’t wearing a wedding ring in an Instagram photo, it made her think that my marriage was in trouble and we were most certainly headed towards the end. But what you can’t see in the photo are my shoulders, my shoulders that match Cody’s. The tattoos that have us linked forever no matter what happens. They’re not flashy or showy, but they are deeply meaningful. Not only for what they represent, but for the season of life in which we both got them.

So that’s why you won’t always see me with a wedding ring, while I may wear my heart on my sleeve, I wear the love for my husband in ink on my shoulders.


(But what do they MEEEAAANNN? You ask, well. If you ever saw Ghost, Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore said ‘ditto’ instead of  ‘I love you.’ Loce is our ditto.)

For the first time in our almost 14 years of marriage I have finally allowed myself to be completely and hopelessly in love with Cody. I’m so in love with him I struggle to find words adequate enough to encompass how I feel about him. When I talk about him I generally end up in tears because through everything, he never ever gave up on me. I have hated myself for so long, and in hating myself I tried to convince Cody to hate me so I could be even more justified in my own self loathing. Up until recently I never let myself believe that he truly did love me, he was only with me out of obligation and circumstance.

I was always guarded with him, not on purpose, but more from life experience. If you don’t open up yourself up completely, you can’t be hurt as badly.

I am full on belly up with all my soft spots exposed to this man for the first time in my life. My heart is absolutely exposed to him with no defenses in place aside from trust. It’s that feeling you get when you first lean back in a climbing harness, wondering if it will catch you or not. Up until now I’ve always played it safe, keeping at least one hand and two feet on the wall at all times. Now I’m completely reclined, with complete faith in his ability to carry me.

We should have ended. I see so many other relationships end and I wonder how ours made it (although I know how ours made it and it’s because of Cody.) Several people have written to him or me asking how we survived, desperate for some sliver of hope in their own relationship. The only response I can even give is that he never gave up on me.

In letting him love me I have learned to love myself. I don’t second guess if I’m worth loving anymore. I have known love, but the love I have learned from Cody has me absolutely overtaken. It’s scary, and yet it’s not.

I wish everyone could experience this level of intimacy and absolute connection with another human, all the pain that has led me to this point has been worth it. I hate that I hurt Cody so badly in the process, but will forever be grateful that while I was falling apart, he knew the girl he fell in love with was still inside and he never gave up on her.

He has her now. More wholly and completely than he has ever had her in his entire life.

This mug encompasses almost everything I feel right now.

I can say with absolute certainty that at this moment, I am happy in places I never thought I could be.

I am in no way perfect, but I am loved deeply — and that is enough to get me through anything.


We all ended up with various stages of the flu over Christmas, all of us except Addie. I take this as proof that she has officially outgrown that kid thing where they lick weird and random stuff. Vivi on the other hand, stand close to her for too long and she will for sure lick you.


I’ve been stuck in a bit of a funk, the fourth annual Midwestern winter funk.

A friend’s dad has been struggling with depression and anxiety for a long time, and earlier in the month he tried to take his own life. Her dad and I are very similar in how we experience our depression, and I wonder if there will come a time when I’m just too tired to fight back against my depression. Like if my emotional strength is similar to my immune system and over time it will just grow weaker until it betrays me and takes me out.

If that’s the case, is this the happiest I’ll ever be?

Don’t think about it too hard if you do deal with depression because it will make you really depressed. (Which is why I stopped thinking about it and focused more time and energy on petting my cats.)

Who else is excited for a shiny fresh new year? I’m okay to see 2014 change over, even if it changes over to three more months of cold gloom.

At least it won’t be 2014 anymore!


Thanksgiving 2004.

day one.


One Year. Hated Cupcakes.

the moosh.

Barbie the Island Princess and her little cake too.

four year old wish.

my five year old. on her birthday.

six candles

7th Birthday

Friday - Disney Cruise

Addie's 9th Birthday Party


10th Birthday-1

Ten is a real kick in the face.

Happy birthday my love.

Spiders, cake, and princesses sum up your current existence perfectly.

I decided to go headfirst into this whole Santa thing, and you know what? I’m SO GLAD I DID. Last year Hallmark sent me a pack of Northpole Magic Mail but I didn’t do it for whatever overwhelming reason. Tonight I pulled it out as a test, I gave the wish list to Addie and asked her to fill it out for the entire family.

“Vivi! What do you want Santa to bring you?”


“What else?”


Addie took that as her cue to fill up the other 27 lines with her requests. She squeezed in a few for Cody, the cats and me at the end as well.

The thing about this paper, you have to put it somewhere cold and a magic message shows up. I wasn’t quite sure how to convince Addie her letter to Santa had to go in the freezer, but I took a deep breath and said “Hey, you know how everyone travels through fireplaces in Harry Potter? Well, Santa is trying out something new this year, he’s using freezers to get his mail this year. So when you’re done you have to put your letter in the freezer and sing “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” while knocking on the door.”

She totally did it.

She opened the door immediately and was bummed the letter hadn’t disappeared. I made her wait another minute then open the door.

“It’s still here! It’s not gone!”

“Well, freezer mail is kind of new, there’s probably still some bugs to work out. Does it look any different?”


christmas card.

In that moment of squealing  joy I’m so glad I didn’t break the news to her, she still wholeheartedly believes. She’s not doing it for me or for Vivi’s benefit, the kid *believes.* Cody looked at me from across the table with a “Uh-huh, who was right on that one?” look.

He was totally right.

The message disappears completely after being outside the freezer for a minute or two, so the rest of the evening was spent with our two little girls putting their letter in and out of the freezer, out of their minds with excitement.

If you have little kids you need to get some of this stuff, and you can totally use my freezer mail story because it’s brilliant. We have last year’s version, which means I’m going to be getting this year’s version so I’m all caught up for next year. $7.95, seriously.

While I’m all high on Christmas spirit, decorating our tree the other night with Vivi was the absolute best. She’s old enough now that she doesn’t just throw the ornaments at the tree hoping they’ll stick. The John Elway ornament I bought Cody our first month together always goes on first, front and center. Addie has amassed quite the collection of ornaments over the last 10 years (she chose Elsa this year, normally our tradition is to go into Hallmark the day after Thanksgiving and pick out our annual ornaments but when I saw the pre-order option back in July, I jumped on that.) Vivi chose Olaf this year and if you come over she’ll probably make you give him a warm hug.

Christmas Photo Attempt 2013

Vivi puts our nativity to bed every night and each day Addie explains how many days until Christmas (and her birthday) are remaining.

I’m excited for this year, and I have Cody and your comments to thank for that. So thank you, sometimes we think our comments go unnoticed on the blogs we read, but I assure you every one gets read and they really do matter. It may sound stupid, but Addie still believes in Santa because people spoke up and told me I was wrong.