(I wrote this yesterday.)

Hello, world.

I am sitting here with one of my besties, Zina Petersen, in her sister’s beach house in Jacksonville Florida. Zina invited me to fly out as she housesits for her sister so that we can have our own wonderful little writing retreat, and writing this blog post was the very first thing on my list of “things I will write.”

Landing here in Jacksonville was surreal. I looked out the window as the plane descended and there were entire swaths of forest that had been leveled by Irma’s gales, but then other areas that were still completely upright. It was strange to see such clear evidence of calamity–and this in an area that wasn’t “as bad.” On my run this morning there were toppled trees and an uprooted stop sign, and lots of the old elms had their branches and old Spanish mosses blown off in piles around them. And other areas were just fine.

A stop sign that was felled by a hurricane.

Cheesy metaphor alert: my life feels like this.

2016 was so, so tough. 2017 has been convalescent, but I still feel like I’m in the wake of a hurricane. I haven’t known what to write here because so many things happened that I didn’t know how to explain or describe. Things that were both hard and beautiful.

I guess I should start with the basics.

Less than three months after my mom died my dad started dating an old family friend and as Lolly and I were on a trip to California to give a fireside and visit the town my mom grew up in, my dad texted and said he was engaged.

This was really hard. It still is hard, actually. I wrote a bunch of paragraphs describing why, but they got too raw–the feelings of hurt and trauma too fresh–and I have saved them for another day. Today, I will focus on the beautiful.

My dad, in December, got married to a wonderful woman whom we all love. Her name was Laura Magallanes (now, of course, it’s Laura Weed which is funny because it’s so similar to Lolly’s actual name, which is Laurel Weed). She is a divorcee of several years, an old family friend, and the mother of four children.

Dad and Laura with Viva, Tessa, and Anna who’s holding Lexie J.

Laura is a kind, gentle soul. She is very loving and generous, and she is wonderful with my kids, and the kids of my siblings. She has been very patient as we all have transitioned to the idea of integrating a step-mother into our lives so soon after losing our mom. They have now been married almost nine months, and they just moved from Utah to the Portland area, and so we’re very excited to have them so close. Laura is a very low-drama, low key kind of person, and I’m so glad I have a step-mother whose presence is soothing and warm as opposed to the many other possible traits a step-parent could have!

Dad and Laura

I was nervous to meet my step-siblings. My own siblings had known and interacted them over the years (our families have known each other for over two decades, and Laura even helped pay for my church mission back in the day) but I’d never really interacted with any of them until the day of the wedding. To my great relief and great joy, their sense of humor dovetails with ours almost identically. The first things we were saying were things like “aw, good to see ya, sis!” which was such a weird thing to say to a perfect stranger and have it, in legally binding ways, be true. My step-sibs are Monica, Joey, Nate, and Jewell. They are super chill and fun and I really, really like them a lot. I’m happy to call them sibs.

Okay, other pieces of news I should share:

1. As you may remember, my Dad was diagnosed with MS several weeks after burying my mom. At that point, people were trying to comfort me by saying maybe things wouldn’t be so bad, and as you can see from this post I was NOT HAVING IT. BUT, it turns out that maybe they were right because Dad’s doctor has examined the MRI and all of the evidence and seems to think, somehow, that he doesn’t actually have MS after all. Whaaaaaat???? I, truth be told, am totally baffled by this, and I have very low trust in good news about medical things right now so part of me feels pretty hesitant to bank on this as being all the news, or only good news. But I am also really grateful that this seems to be true!

2. Lolly is done with all of her coursework for her Master’s degree in marriage and family therapy, and she started her internship yesterday and says she LOVES seeing clients. This makes me so, so, so happy, and I can’t wait until she and I (and our friend Ben, who is going to be done with his internship at the same time) can open a practice together. By the way, Lolly is absolutely KILLING IT and getting all A’s and it is awesome and I’m so proud of her, and glad that she and I are starting to find more balance in work and child-rearing.

3. I’m not sure how to describe this but I’m getting deeper and deeper in my seriousness as a writer, and it’s starting to pay off. More to come on that front later I suppose.

4. In that vein, as I mentioned above, Zina and I are here at our retreat, lounging together on couches, writing, having both eaten breakfast (and written our morning sonnet, because, yes, we’re writer nerds okay? We cannot help it, nor can we help that tomorrow we will be having a sonnet-writing race between us. I can think of very few things nerdier than writing sonnets, except for doing so as a competition. (That reminds me of this post from a long time ago which I recently re-read and it made me laugh. You’re welcome.)) Goal: if I finish first, I will yell “touchdown” and do a dance like I just won the Super Bowl. Because of course I will.)

5. I am addicted to Instagram Stories. And you should definitely follow me there.

Seriously, I do many a day. If you don’t know what this is, let me tell you. Instagram is a site where you post pictures, which is all well and good, and Lolly and I are documenting our weight loss journey there (we have put on so pounds okay? But we are striving towards regaining our health). But the thing I am addicted to is its stories feature (which it kinda stole from Snapchat, but I think Insta does it better.) So, basically, what you get are these funny little snapshots into people’s lives, and it is the exact thing I have always wanted because I get to share quirky, funny little posts that are sometimes enjoyable and sometimes serious and sometimes really really stupid ridiculous and fun!

So, if you have enjoyed my blog over the years and miss the days when I slaved away over daily posts (HA! as if I ever got that consistent! LOLZ!!!), then you should follow us on Instagram immediately and start watching our stories. I post. Lolly posts. I do a morning story almost every day with really horrible hair in which I make up a spontaneous jingle.


So, join in on the fun. (You can set up an account easily and for free and follow only me if you want–what you will be looking for once you get set up is the picture of me and Lolly’s faces at the top in a ball. When you click on it, it will play our stories. Some have sound, some don’t, so don’t forget to turn up the volume.)

To find us, follow this link Instagram.com/the_weed

Or just download the app, and/or sign into your own account and search for our handle: the_weed.

YOU WON’T REGRET IT. (Unless you do. In which case, sorry about that.)

6. The other thing I’m addicted to lately? Genealogy. (Like, family history getting-to-know-from-whence-I-come genealogy, not take random names to the temple genealogy, just to be clear.)

In light of this, I would really, really love to see how I’m related to you. (If you have lines that extend into colonial America, Ireland, Sweden, Germany or England we are very likely linked somehow, cuz, turns out, WE ARE ALL ONE BIG HAPPY FAMILY IN THIS COUNTRY. For reals. It constantly blows my mind.

Anyway, if you are interested to see how you might be related to your local Weed (and my favorite is when I find people I’m related to through multiple non-connected lines, which does happen from time to time) go ahead and sign up for family search at familysearch.org, look up your closest deceased relatives, or any you know of, and see if they are already in family search, then link yourself to them as best you can. THEN the fun stuff can happen.

At that point, log only relativefinder.org (which will have you log in through family search again) and  join my group and we can see how you and I are related (as well as how you are related to anyone else who is in the group, like Lolly for example. (Spoiler alert: Lolly and I are 8th cousins. AND IT’S NOT WEIRD SO STOP SNICKERING.)

So, the group name on family search is: Friends of Josh Weed
And the password is: weed
And here’s a link to get there: https://www.relativefinder.org/#/groups/6067/join

Let’s see how we’re connected, y’all!

In conclusion, I just wrote my first blog post in over half-a-year and THIS WRITING RETREAT IS ALREADY PAYING OFF LIKE GANGBUSTERS.

Also, the beach here is gorgeous and the sand is like powdered sugar and the palms are majestic and the water is like tepid bathwater (and compared to the freezing oceans of the Pacific Northwest, tepid bathwater ocean water is amazing) and tonight we are building a fire on the beach because today is the Fall Equinox and we are combining water, fire, earth and air in of honor the transitions we experience in the elements of our own lives as they echo those of the earth in its orbit or some such other really hippie, nerdy, writery, sonnet-writing thing like that because that’s how we do, Zina and me. That’s how we do. Don’t hate.