Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas in 2015!





2015. Let me ‘splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up. 



I had the privilege of playing the Bishop in the beloved Once I Was a Beehive! I love the friendships that came out of this amazing experience. The producers also sent me to Las Vegas to introduce the film and do Q&As. To see so many friends come out in support reminded me that a part of my heart will always be there. And no, being in a movie hasn't landed me any stalkers. I don't even have my own table at Burger Supreme! (That's my barometer for knowing I've "made it.") 

Other highlights: Working at Food for Health, serving in the bishopric, finding grey chest-hairs. 


Katie turned 40 and we had a party, with amazing performances and tributes!

I got to be the emcee...and give the final tribute. 

Our friend, Patrick, who composed an amazing, original birthday song for Katie.

Katie's sister, Rachel, giving us "Katie's Hairstyles Through the Years."

Jonelle, paying a lovely, moving tribute like only she could. 

Katie and Lisa, improv-ing what their Provo-based talk show would look like. 
It's a crime that this show doesn't exist. 

The Craig kids, performing their dance interpretation of Men in Black. 

Eric D. Snider, performing one of Katie's favorite songs from his vast library of hits.


Other Katie highlights: Year 12 of homeschooling, serving as Primary President, had a BYU Freshman Roommates reunion. It was adorable, you guys. 



Also, Katie and I celebrated our 20-year anniversary! 


This 5-minute video represents those 20 years. How do you condense 20 years into 5 minutes? You make a hard and fast rule that any clips must involve dancing or dance-like manuevering. 


Other highlights: Katie and I also went back to our roots – where we first met – performing improv! A couple of times a month we perform at Comedy Sportz! 

 

We also starred in this Doritos commercial, which did NOT get selected for the Super Bowl [sad trombone sound], but thank you all for the support, anyway. We loved making it. 





Abbie is 18. Graduated high school and started college at BYU, moved onto campus, and got a lead part in a main stage production at BYU! She also sent us this video of her and her roommate, Sariah. 



video

Garren is 16. Driving, dating, and working at Comedy Sportz! He sort of makes me feel embarrassed that I ever thought I was cool at 16, because he is absolutely nailing it. 


Connor is 14. I'm telling you right now, this was his highlight this year. You can read about it here. Constantly creating - either in his mind, on a sketch pad, or with tools. I'm jealous of his creativity.


Roxanna is 12. She is officially a Beehive. She loves the cello, her baking skills are off the chart, and she is a smiley soul. (Pictured here with Grandma Fillmore.)


Tanner is 10. The Force Awakens blew his mind; and him venturing out into the Pacific with his little sister on a paddle board blew mine. 


Becca is 7. Loves the violin and has fully recovered from a traumatic head injury this summer. I still don't love talking about it.  

 
 

Lucy is 4. She makes up the best songs and is at my favorite age - where they say whatever comes to their mind and assume all their observations are completely accurate. 


Hillary is 2. She is speaking in full sentences. Her favorite one seems to be when you urgently ask her to do something and she answers, "Hold on a minute." 



Biggest Adventure This Year: We made a trip to southern California, where I lived growing up. 

What it looks like traveling in our van. With Garren driving. 

When I made all of us pull over in the Joshua Tree National Forest 
so my sons and I could re-enact the cover of U2's album. 

Santa Monica Pier

Hollywood's famous Pink's Hot Dogs. Also, if you look closely, you'll see the cutest thing ever captured on film. 
20-month old Hillary pulling Becca's face close to her for the shot. Can you stand it?!

That's the Hollywood Sign behind us. Objects in photo are closer than they appear. 

Touching the temple! The L.A. Temple, to be exact. 

At the beach. I loved this day. 

Stopping at my parents' house for a quick selfie. Don't they look amazing?! 

Visiting Katie's parents, on a mission in California - almond and pistachio farms. Delicious. 
The fields were ripe and ready to harvest! HAHAHA! I'm funny. 

Sailing and seal watching!

This is my cousin Lisa. I hadn't seen her since I was probably 10. We got to catch up on the last 34 years! 
I adore her and her husband, Mark. They are generous and kind, and I love claiming them as family!



Other highlights:

Stake Pioneer Trek at Martin's Cove.

Inspired by our incredible friend, Matti. 

First Portugal Lisbon North mission reunion in 20 years! 
We waited too long to take the picture, most people had left. 
Great to visit with some incredible friends. 

Halloween: Craig Wax Museum

Thanksgiving dinner. 

When I look back on the details of 2015, I am able to immediately recognize how much would not have happened without the influence, love, and help of so many. I feel my Heavenly Father's love manifested by the people He places in my life. I am blessed to have extraordinary family and friends play an immeasurable role in the good that surrounds me. I love this time of year. I am grateful for the Savior, Jesus Christ, and all that is available through Him. Merry Christmas! Thank you for being my friends! 


Sunday, August 30, 2015

A Moment in Time, Part 2


Katie and I recently celebrated our 20-year anniversary. We were married August 17, 1995. It was a Thursday. 1:00 p.m. Salt Lake City. It was hot, and it was inconvenient for almost everyone. And it was the best day ever in the history of days. Truly. I polled *everyone. (*Katie and myself.)

As part of our celebration, I made a video for Katie – narrowing down 20 years to 4.5 minutes. This was achieved because my brother, Dehn, who is a master with film production, suggested I just select a theme, and whatever footage doesn’t fit with that theme doesn’t get in the video. No matter how cute. That made it easier for me. I chose the theme of dancing/performing. Here it is:


On the night of the 17th, when I got home from work, our kids had set up dinner for Katie and I. They had turned the kitchen into a restaurant. Abbie had prepared the food. Garren and Connor were our waiters. Roxanna, Tanner, Becca and Lucy provided the music. Hillary was the loud drunk at the next table who insisted on wandering over and sampling our food. Especially dessert.

We loved it.

Katie and I had gotten engaged at The Underground, a restaurant in Provo that no longer exists. So the kids called this “restaurant” The Above Ground. They printed menus, with most of the meals being inside jokes. Example: “The Hot Pocket, with a side of Pepto.” (Jim Gaffigan reference.) Garren would say things like, “Are you celebrating anything special this evening? Oh! 20 years?! Well, at The Above Ground, all couples celebrating a 20-year anniversary eat free.”









When Katie and I had been married only a few weeks, both still students at BYU, we were going to bed one late evening when she said, “I can’t wait until we are done with school. We are going to be so wealthy.” Surprised and excited, I said, “We are?!” She said, “Yes, of course. You’re so talented, it’s just inevitable.” She fell asleep, and I stayed up, so happy and flattered in her confidence of our imminent wealth, and plotting all the ways we would spend this abundance. Well ... It’s 20 years later, and I think I can safely say … the joke’s on Katie.

Kind of.

We are not, by any definition, frolicking in piles of cash. (I believe that's officially one of the barometers of wealth, correct?) But when I look at our children and this life we’ve created together. When I look at where we live. When I look at the people who have played such intricate roles in our life and influenced us for good. When I look at all that is still before us. And when I look at Katie and see that she still has that same confidence in me that she did 20 years ago – the same confidence in us – I would absolutely use the word "wealth" and “abundance” to describe this extraordinary ordinary life.


Friday, August 21, 2015

A Moment in Time, Part 1

This is us. The Ken and Katie Craig Family. This is a #familyselfie taken last Sunday, on the eve of mine and Katie’s 20th anniversary. We took it to capture a very precise moment. A moment that is fleeting. A moment that I wish were more...still.

It’s the last moments of having my family all under one roof. And I kind of love this moment.

Don’t get me wrong. I am super excited for my oldest, Abbie, who will move into her dorm room on Saturday, the 29th. (Go Cougars!) I believe in her, and I have all the confidence that she will take over the world and create the greatest happiness in her life. And I want her to do that. That’s what Katie and I had in mind 18 years ago.

But that ushers in a whole new era. The era where most of my very favorite people and best friends start to not live with me anymore. Yes, you’re correct, it will be 17 years before that era ends. And yes, I’ll be 60 years old by then, and yes, whenever I think about that, it makes me kind of want to take a nap. But yes, our family dynamic is permanently changing, and my feelings about it are all over the place.

Abbie speaking at her graduation. And Hillary offering moral support. 

Speaking of emotional moments, August has provided a bumper crop of them at the Craig house. The first being the fact that Abbie turned 18. Katie and I both spoke at a graduation ceremony we held for her in our backyard, and I - because I apparently like to fall apart in public - took the opportunity to read and give Abbie a letter I had written to her just two days after she was born. After I wrote it I had then put it away with the idea I would give it to her "some day." And that day turned out to be on her 18th birthday.

I won't post the entire letter, but here is an excerpt.

August 10, 1997

Dear Abbie,

I wanted to let you know some of the things that I felt prompted to bless you with when you were given a name and a blessing on August 10, 1997. I don’t know why. I guess I just figured that at some point in your life you may be a little curious as to my impressions of you when I only knew you for a couple of days. I mean besides the fact you were the cutest baby ever sent to this or any planet.

It’s funny. By the time you are old enough to read this, and maybe appreciate it, I will seem like a pretty old guy to you. But if you could see me now, writing this. I feel so young and naive and unsure of my abilities to be a good dad. To be a good parent. I haven’t learned enough about the whole thing to be wise or even knowledgeable. But I’m not scared. I love you so much, I think that will drown out the insignificant mistakes, and maybe even some big blunders.

I blessed you to be a light to those you come in contact with. Even though I have only known you for a short while, I sense your personality is one of this nature. One of the greatest gifts we can have in this life is charity. The way we treat others means everything. To be able to lift others by being yourself is a great accomplishment and it means having the Spirit with you.

I love you very much. I’m glad I’m your dad.

I never would have imagined fatherhood to be what it has been these last 18 years. I am a better person because I get to be Abbie's dad. She is a light to those who know her – including, and maybe especially, to her family. She loves goodness. I have always appreciated the way she assumes the best about me. It makes me want to be better.

I will miss her being present in our home everyday. I will miss her piano playing being in the background of Sunday afternoons. I will miss her telling detailed stories of daily events. I know Katie will miss her being her right-arm. But we are so, so excited for her. This is really her moment, too.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Real Mothers

I consider the education I seek, the degree I earned, the jobs I filled, the musical instruments I study, the hobbies I cultivate, the interests I pursue, the books I read, the very person I become; all these things have shaped me and informed and improved the mother I am.  - Katie Fillmore Craig


18 months ago our family had the privilege of being cast in a Google Fiber ad. The photographer for the shoot was Samantha Mitchell, originally out of L.A., but now living in Salt Lake. We loved her. A year later, out of the blue, she reached out to Katie.

“My friend, Alyson Aliano, is also a photographer. She's originally from New York, but she's living in L.A., and she’s working on a book called Real Mother. I told her about you. She’s going to be in Utah just before Thanksgiving. Could she come do a shoot with you?”

The inspiration for Real Mother came to Alyson after marrying her husband and becoming a stepmother to young twin girls. People continually asked her the same questions - "Aren’t you going to have children? Don’t you want to have your own children? You know, because you're not their real mom." This started her on a photo series exploring what it means to be a "real mom." You can see some of the original photos here and here. She is looking at getting it published into a book. And Katie is going to be in it!

Alyson showed up at our front door the day before Thanksgiving. Wednesday. The day the pies get baked. One of the smaller of our 8 children answered the door and let her in.

“Hi, I’m Alyson.”

“Hi, I’m Katie.” [Walking from the kitchen to the front door.]

“Did I catch you at a bad time?”

“Nope.”

“No, I mean...do you have cousins or friends over or something?”

“No.”

“I don’t understand.”

“These are all mine.”

Blank stare from Alyson.

“I have 8 children.”

Continued blank stare. [Alyson is apparently, literally gobsmacked.]

“Did Samantha not tell you I had 8 children?”

According to Katie, Alyson had a look on her face like she was doing long division in her head. It was taking a while to process the words floating in the air between the two of them. But when they did, Alyson finally said, "This is the biggest family I've ever photographed." Katie couldn't tell if this was a good or bad thing, because Alyson still looked perplexed. Like, Italian-Queens-New-Yorker kind of perplexed. But then she confirmed, with the same no-nonsense inflection, "This just made my whole year."

These two women, from com-mm-plll-eee-tely different worlds (I cannot spread that word out over enough syllables to illustrate my point) connected, sharing the experiences of motherhood. All while Katie and the kids made pies for Thanksgiving.


I was at work and absent for the whole thing. I’m kind of sad, but kind of feel like it wouldn’t have been the same experience if I’d been there. And I love the experience for what it was.


Alyson left a questionnaire for Katie to fill out. It was no small thing for Katie. It's several pages long. She soul-searched and wrote answers and re-wrote them and finally sent them off, assuming Alyson would realistically use one or two answers. Alyson’s response? “I’m using everything you wrote. You will be the biggest family in the book and your voice is unique. I’m using everything from everyone.”


I’ve been married to Katie almost 20 years, and in reading her responses to these questions, I learned new things about her. I want our children to have copies of her answers as part of their own personal history records. I’m so happy for this experience. The book isn’t out yet, and I don’t want to make this a “spoiler,” so I’ll just share one of Katie’s answers.


What is motherhood for you? What is it like? How would you define it?

Motherhood is everything I do all day and into the night. It is snuggling my nursing baby’s sweaty head. It is staying up later than I had planned to listen to my 17 year-old tell me about someone at work. It is hearing “Mom!” and knowing whether it means my 3 year-old is ready to have her bum wiped or my 13 year-old finally got the LEDs on his arc reactor to work. It is cleaning up barf and urine and poo. It is answering the worst question (“What’s for dinner?”) and already knowing who’s excited and who’s in mourning. It is trying to react appropriately to missing socks and lost library books and big messes because I know I am always being watched. Motherhood is singing and crying and scolding and kissing. It is learning what a broken finger looks like and what pneumonia sounds like. It is spending a day making cookies with my 11 year-old and making a covered wagon with my 6 year-old. It is watching light saber fights and puppet shows and magic tricks and first dates. It is driving to auditions and try-outs and recitals and games. It is leaking milk through your shirt and wearing spit up on your shoulder. Motherhood is being hugged and scowled at and cried for and sneezed on. It is crying with your 15 year-old who feels friendless and laughing with your 9 year-old who got a joke. It is getting kids to practice the cello or piano or times tables or the Preamble.  It is trying to reason with a toddler. It is midnight prayers for a fever to break. It is births and miscarriages. It is a front row seat to the best and the worst of your own and your kids' emotions.  Mothering is the most important thing I will ever do with my time and my life. To me, motherhood is the most important work in society. I am creating and teaching and shaping the next generation. It’s messy, sweaty, and bloody and I choose it every day because I love it.  - Katie Fillmore Craig


This photo was in response to Alyson asking, "What else do you all like to do together?" and Katie responding, "We're practicing the hand chimes for a Christmas program." And so they played for Alyson. 

*Photos by Alyson Aliano