Don’t we all look like a rowdy bunch of pioneers? Well that’s because this picture is actually from when Lala and I went on “Trek”, a Pioneer-themed reenactment The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints puts on for their youth on a regular basis to help them learn about what their forefathers went through. It was grueling, and awesome. The kids you see in the picture were our “adoptive family” for the duration of the three day Trek. We learned to love them dearly, and I think about them often.
In case you can’t tell, Lala and I are the two on the far right.
So, now you can see, that’s me. My family calls me Papa, as I’m married to the matriarch and that makes me the patriarch of our little clan, despite some unusual age differences between me and the “next generation”. I’m thirty two years old as of writing this, and have been married to Lala for 14 wonderful years. We met playing Dungeons & Dragons via e-mail, and Lala came to Australia to meet me. Given that I was eighteen years old when we made the decision of where to live, it only made sense that we come back to Washington State of the USA, Lala’s home, to get married, as she already had kids and I did not. (I was going to write obviously, but nowadays…)
When we got married, I became an instant grandpa to a one-year old boy, who is currently known as Vanity. You might think this made for a crazy weird family makeup, and you’re probably right, but for years we really only saw “the kids”and Vanity infrequently, mostly at holiday events and the like. We kept to ourselves and geeked out on D&D, WoW, and EVE Online. We worked in an apartment complex in Tacoma, and liked it that way. Grouchy came to live with us during the last years of his youth, so we got to deal with all the crazy things kids do when they become teenagers and their brains disconnect from their common sense. Kids came home to stay, then moved out on their own, and our first grand-daughter (who is actually Monkey 2, and our 3rd oldest, I’ll get to that) was born.
Then one day we found religion. It didn’t literally happen in one day, though that would be some story! I’ll share the details another time for those of you who might be interested, but suffice to say our way of life changed significantly after we discovered that Jesus was in fact real, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the only place to be. As our lives spun around like whirlwinds, we made lots of changes, and more of our family followed us into our newfound religion. Given that I was nominally atheistic before joining the Church, I had a lot of changing to do!
Spirituality is, now, one of the most important parts of my life.
Grouchy found Sleepy, and they had Monkey 4 (honest, I’ll get there!), then Perfection found Handyman and inherited Monkey’s 1 and 3 (I told you I’d get to it) and our family seemed to be booming. It was before Banana was born that a dream made its way into Handyman’s sleep, of our family all living on one property, combining our resources and being the better off for it. Lala and I had often talked about how “if we won the lottery” we’d love a house with a wing for each of the kids and their families. It turns out, living with your family is actually kind of like winning the lottery without the one in a bazillionth chance! Selling our separate homes and ridding ourselves of those separate bills and mortgages, we were relatively swiftly able to find a property suitable for our family (albeit not the mansion of our original musings) that would in actual fact cost us significantly less per month than we were paying for our separate residences.
Fast forward to now and here I am, patriarch of a clan of 14, living on around 6 acres of land in Washington State, trying to make life with my eclectic family work, and prepare for the vagaries of life with a blend of modern and older methods. We face our challenges, and sometimes we even get on one another’s nerves (not me, of course) but we’re a family, and we work it out.