What a difference a year makes

Last week was rough. Though I’m grateful Mile High Mamas continues to be a popular Colorado resource, it’s disheartening to be constantly reminded of what I’m missing. I’ve been working on a Denver summer activity guide and I’m mourning the loss of all my favorite adventures. The event and travel invitations have been flooding in and though we’re visiting Colorado this summer, I’ve had to pass on most opportunities. A friend asked if I miss being the “IT” girl with all-things family and tourism at my fingertips. I definitely do but also don’t feel like that is the path I’m supposed to take here in Utah so it’s frustrating not surging forward like my usual ambitious self.  Plus, I was sick sick sick for a few days and I was in a certifiable funk.

Jamie and I started a healthier regimen and things have really started clicking for me this week as I’ve resolved there are so many things in my life that are out of my control but since our move, I’m finally getting back into a routine of working out and eating better. In just five days, I feel the difference. I’ve never disliked being here…almost immediately I fell in love with this charming valley but there is still so much rebuilding–with our home, personally and my career–that needs to take place.

I’ve been missing my friends so sent a text to my local snowshoeing group to see if anyone would be interested in doing the Dirty Dash 5K with me in June. I had a blast doing the Mudderella and Diva Dash in Colorado and figured it would be swell to train for something, even if I’m still trying to figure out how to do that with two injured knees. At first, I only heard from the women who were out of town that weekend and I started to give up but slowly but surely, the registrations started coming in. And coming.  We’ve had 15 women sign up to be on my team, many of which are going waaaaay out of their comfort zone to do it.

My favorite response was from my friend Julie G. To put this in perspective, as I was building our snowshoeing/outdoorsy mom network here, I asked her if she liked to hike. “If you have any mom’s nights out that involve movies and food, I’m your gal,” she responded.  I was obviously surprised to see her sign up and she later posted, “I’m not sure if I’m excited or terrified. My daughter just reminded me that I don’t run and I don’t get dirty.”

It’s gonna be epic.

My Facebook memory from a year ago today was the very beginning of what would be a hellacious multi-month ordeal in selling our house. 

I sent it to Jamie and he responded: “It made me feel yucky inside to see that.”

We may have a long way to go but I can’t discount how far we’ve come.

 

 

Off to the Races!

When Bode turns 11 in July, he will officially enter Boy Scouts which means one thing: he only has one more Pinewood Derby in Cub Scouts. Now to give you perspective, Bode comes from the Mercedes of Pinewood Derby families. Grandpa Duane was renowned throughout Colorado for helping Jamie and his brother Chris build the bestest and the fastest (they even won regionals!) so Jamie has been on the same quest.

For Bode’s first car they did a good job, frequently winning heats but did not come out on top. Last year, they upped their game and his car won every single heat and he somehow only placed second, a big disappointment because he actually beat the winning car in a head-to-head. C’est la vie. That was my attitude at least. I’m sure Jamie would have demanded a race-off it wasn’t a church event.

This was Bode’s last chance for redemption so he and Jamie worked hard building his car. It was a busy evening. Bode had a soccer game (which he missed due to all our conflicts) and while Jamie took the car for the weigh-in, I had the privilege of accompanying Bode to “Maturation Night” at the school. He was only slightly mortified to have his mom attend a talk on puberty and I was slightly more mortified (definitely a lot of testosterone and father-son bonding in the room). Thankfully, the talk ended on a high note when each boy received his very own deodorant because one of the biggest takeaways was BOYS STINK. Literally.

We then raced over to the church for the Pinewood Derby. Check-in and weigh-off was chaotic but our ward did a fantastic job with the actual event with a high-tech computer program that recorded, tabulated and displayed each time on a big screen. Each boy received a “Pit Pass” lanyard where they were granted special access to the race area. Each car would race off against two others with six races total. The winner would have the lowest accumulative time.

Pre-race jitters

It’s tough to know just how fast your car is going to be. “I just hope the wheels stay on,” Jamie muttered but they did more than that. Bode’s black beauty easily won his first heat…and every subsequent one after that.

The Top 3

There was no doubt he had the fastest car in the Pack.  Of course, we thought that last year and he placed second overall but we were relived when he took home the title of Fastest Car. I think I may have seen tears in Jamie’s eyes that the family legacy would continue through Bode. His buddy won “Best in Show for his hilarious Banana-shaped car. When Jamie posted about the victory on Facebook our friend and former Bishop asked “Should the congratulations go to Jamie or Bode?” Jamie’s funny response: “I can honestly say that he did more on this car than in past years. But as a good video on building pinewood derby cards once said. ‘Scout, if you feel like this car isn’t really yours, take comfort that someday you’ll have a son of your own.’” The future pressure is on, Bode.

Confessions of a (Horrible) Cat and Fish Sitter

My friend Jana was looking for someone to check in on her cat and fish over Spring Break so I volunteered my middle schooler Hadley. She loves animals and her career aspiration in first grade was to run a Cat Hotel until she later learned it’s not cool to be the crazy cat lady until you’re over 50 years old.

I figured she’d be better equipped to take care of animals since she got off to a rocky start babysitting humans when my friend Sarah asked her:

“Hey, Hadley. Do you babysit?”

“I’m not really good with kids.”

As a former publicist, I was appalled at her pitch.  She later told me she was caught off-guard and meant to say I’m not comfortable taking care of babies. She repented of her trespass by volunteering to watch Sarah’s kids for free while she attended a church event. Hadley limped through the door several hours later.

“How was it?”

“Exhausting. I spent the entire night running around after three boys. How do you do this EVERYDAY?”

And suddenly, the heavens opened and the herald angels sang the Hallelujah shout to the tune of “PAYBACK” for all those sleepless, colicky nights.

As it turns out, she enjoys babysitting (or at least the money she makes) so how much better would a gig be for beasts you don’t have to chase?

Hadley’s responsibilities were simple. Replenish Kitty’s food and water every day, clean the kitty litter box and feed the fish. Jana hadn’t formed an attachment to Fishy and went as far as to say she wouldn’t be sad if he didn’t survive, which made us wonder if we were hired to be fish sitters or assasins. Jana told us we probably wouldn’t even see Kitty who accesses the house via a cat door after partying all night with her feline friends and sleeps all day. Easiest cat-sitting gig ever.

Or was it?

Day 1: Hadley opens garage door, goes about her responsibilities with Kitty. Starts to feed Fishy. He is dead.

Or is he?

We text Jana to ask if we should give him a watery burial. She responds, “He sometimes just looks dead and doesn’t move for a while.”

Cool fish.

Day 2: Fishy appears dead in a different position so we figure he’s still alive in his own way. No sign of Kitty but food has been eaten so we’re in business.

Day 3:  Fishy is moving. It’s an Easter resurrection miracle.

Days 4 and 5: Hadley stays at Grandma’s so I take over duties. All seems in order.

Day 6: Hadley continues her responsibilities. Goes to enter mudroom via the garage but the door is locked, which means we can’t access the house and that I was the person who inadvertently locked it the day before. Panic sets in but fortunately, Kitty’s food and water are in the garage so we can take care of her. Tragically, Fishy will go from resurrection to famine within three days. The irony is not lost on me.

Day 7: When we arrive THE GARAGE DOOR IS ALREADY OPEN. “We closed it when we left yesterday, I’m 100% sure of it,” Hadley wails.

We hesitantly make our way through the garage to the mudroom door, which mysteriously opens. Even though it’s been less than 24 hours since our last visit, Fishy appears really dead this time and is floating on his side at the bottom of the bowl. We feed him anyway because he’s a master manipulator and as we’re attempting to leave the house, we realize the doorknob will not budge and we’re locked inside with a fish who could come to life at any moment.

It takes a few panicked minutes until we position the doorknob just right and we make our escape…but not before I put something in the door jam for the next time we get locked out. Or in. Really, the whole thing is confusing.

I hesitantly text Jana that we were able to get back in the house.

“Oh, our friend needed to grab something today,” she responds. “He probably left the garage door open! I also remembered that mudroom door is sometimes hard to open, so you have to twist the knob really hard.”

Hallelujah shout Take 2.

Day 8: Fishy confirmed dead and Kitty is alive. Allegedly. We didn’t see her all week but she ate all her food. It was probably for the best because we saw Fishy every day and look what happened to him.

Day 9: Jana’s family returns home. Hallelujah shout Take 3 as we are relieved of our pet sitting duties.

When I was relaying the tale of our memorable Spring Break to my son Bode, I joked, “Don’t you want to be a pet sitter?”

“I think I could have done a better job than you and Hadley,” he retorted.

The [low] bar has been set.

P.S. Did I mentioned we’re available for hire?

Maximum Interlodge at Alta Ski Area

My family was first invited to Alta Ski Area when we lived in Colorado. Though we tried to visit during Spring Break last year, we couldn’t coordinate our schedule so just opted to visit after our move. It would take several months of back-and-forth to determine a time because the kids had six weeks of ski lessons at Sundance through our recreation program. 

We finally decided staying overnight on the weekend just wasn’t possible until late in the season so opted to drive to Alta on a Sunday night, sleep at Goldminer’s Daughter and hit the slopes on Monday (the kids had a day off). There was snow in the forecast but we weren’t too worried. Were we not, after all, skiing?

Our hour-long drive was seamless. We unloaded, checked in and ate a delicious gourmet dinner at Top of the Lodge Restaurant as the wind and snow howled the only visibility the distant light of the snowcats grooming the 36 inches of snow from the latest storm…and more was expected the next day. The kids were nervous; they’ve never skied conditions like this.

Tales were flying from real-life storm chasers of epic powder and the previous day’s “interlodge” where people were required by law to stay indoors as avalanche crews blasted the hanging faces of Little Cottonwood Canyon. I wasn’t sure if we’d get snowed in but one thing was for sure: those kiddos would never forget their first time attempting Alta’s legendary powder.

We spent an uncomfortable night in our room, groggily waking up to even more snow. We made our way to breakfast, still uncertain how the day would unfold. As we were indulging in delicious pancakes with cinnamon cream cheese, it was then that we learned Alta had declared “interlodge” and Little Cottonwood Canyon was closed–no one could come or go.

The day was still not lost. There was a chance the resort would reopen and we would have all that glorious powder to ourselves.

Until we learned it got even worse: UDOT declared “Maximum Interlodge,” so not only were we quarantined indoors but we could not go near any doors or windows due to extreme avalanche danger.

Guests in other lodges were led the basement and huddled together for several hours to wait it out. Fortunately, Goldminer’s Daughter’s recreation room didn’t have any windows so we had fun ping pong and pool tournament sand mother-daughter weight room showdowns. There’s nothing like forced bonding but we had a blast!

We had bought some lunch and were trying to select a movie “The Shining,” maybe? :-) , having resigned ourselves to staying in our cramped quarters another night when, miracle of miracles, the canyon briefly opened for downhill traffic.

We quickly packed up and joined the legions of skiers trying to catch shuttles to make it back to the airport. Jamie left us to grab the car and after 30 minutes of waiting, I finally went to find him…and our car…stuck under a few feet of snow!

Jamie and an Alta staffer pushed us out while I drove and that was only the beginning of our adventures. The conditions and whiteout were among the scariest I’ve ever experienced (and that’s really saying something when you’re raised in Canada). Jamie did a great job driving and was tempted to turn back a few times but without a safe place, we were forced to resume our perilous drive. It was one craaaaazy experience.

UDOT posted this video of an avalanche near our lodge that same day.

Just a taste of the extensive avalanche results we saw from control work this am 1/23/17 LCC

A post shared by udot avalanche (@udotavy) on


We were later told that Alta regularly experiences “interlodge” but “maximum” is much more rare. What are the odds that during our family’s first visit together, that is exactly what happened?

Don’t answer that.

Finally, an update!

I’ve had way too many balls in the air lately and unfortunately, this blog has been sacrificed. Spring Break kicks off for us early-April and I’ve been hankering to travel but we have two different sets of people coming to stay with us so I guess we’ll be staycationing. I’m trying to be OK with that by reminding myself we haven’t really had time to explore because we moved here in October.

The House

After our initial unpacking frenzy, we took most of the winter off on house organization but we’re at it again. Jamie has been busy planning and itemizing the thousands of dollars it will take to put in our yard and sprinkler system (OUCH!) I spent last week reorganizing our basement to accommodate our visitors (a family of seven + an unfinished basement = tricky).  We’ve gotten used to a lot of the headaches with downsizing but Jamie and I both confessed we won’t truly love this house until we’re able to finish the basement. It’s tough to entertain in our small upstairs space and the kids don’t have a place to bring their friends. I’m hoping once we have a yard that consists of more than just mud, it will alleviate some of our frustrations.

I’ve had a really busy couple of months for Mile High Mamas launching our summer camp guide and some other advertising campaigns. I’m ready to pursue something new here and applied for a couple of jobs but just can’t find anything yet that is a good fit. A friend and I have been collaborating on a new community but she is so busy with other projects that I’m DONE waiting and ready to move on. The problem is, I don’t know what that looks like. So, my life of limbo continues. It’s driving me NUTS because I’ve never lacked in direction (especially when we need the extra income) but I here I am, waiting.

The weather has been strange this winter. Non-stop snow in December and January. Rain in February. Balmy temps in March and it’s currently raining with snow in the higher climes. Normally, I’d be OVER the snow and ready for spring but living in the mountains, we have a delightful non-season called MUD SEASON, followed by summer. I haven’t been able to hike because the trails are too mucky so I’m OK with one last blast of winter.

The Kids

Hadley’s last six weeks have kicked our butt. In some ways, I expected drastic changes with entering a new middle school but it’s been so much harder and more agonizing than I could have imagined. She’s doing a lot better than she was a few weeks ago but I’m well aware of the roller-coaster we are on. One bright spot has been she has fallen in love with volleyball. She has played at the YMCA the last couple of years but enrolling her in our rec program was a godsend. She has a coach who played college volleyball and she has flourished under her instruction. While she was playing with Hadley a couple of weeks ago, she observed that she has “good hands” and asked if she’d ever considered playing setter.

That was it for Hadley. She has become full-blown obsessed with setting and is constantly playing in our house (we have the cracked wall to prove it).  I couldn’t be more thrilled because I come from a long line of setters. Unfortunately, the season ends today and I’m trying to figure out how to keep her passion going…and distract her from the toxicity that is middle school.

Bode’s winter has been all about skiing.  Between his Nordic ski lessons, five weeks of downhill lessons at Sundance Ski Area, two family weekends skiing Alta Ski Area and fifth graders get five free passes for Park City Ski Area, this boy of mine has had 30+ ski days this year. He takes after me with skiing–he doesn’t care about speed and wants to have good technique but he was constantly slowing us down. Those days are no more.  My friend Julie and I pulled Bode and her son Porter out of school a few weeks ago and we honestly had the most fun day ever. When you ski with 10-year-old boys, expect to do a lot of terrain parks and Snowbugs (tree skiing at Park City).

Powder Monkey is our favorite Snowbug ever…except for the fact that I can’t keep up with Bode as his little skis race through the trees.

Who am I kidding? He’s getting so good I was begging him to slow down at the end of another ski day at Park City last week.  It had more to do with my injured knee than old age but I see the writing on the wall. I was so dang proud that he wanted to attempt double-black-diamond McConkie’s Bowl. He has become such a solid skier he’s not afraid to try really challenging terrain.

“Mom, just to warn you: I may think some really bad thoughts skiing McConkie’s Bowl.”

You and me both, Kid.

Welcome to the tween years.

 

Resurfacing

Has it really been a couple of weeks since I last posted? Ambruary was a sore disappointment with a lot of stress and rain but thankfully we had a brief return to winter last week with a glorious dump of snow.

Even though I usually dread March’s warmer temps and melting snow, it’s been a refreshing break from winter’s doldrums. So, if I can’t have an entire month of snow every day, I’ll take this.

We’re in the trenches of parenthood here and are dealing with some pretty tough trials that I hope and pray are temporary but we’re also bracing ourselves for the need for long-term solutions. Though I’d never want to get back to the sleepless, colicky, potty training years, they seem a lot easier for me than the onslaught of the teenager years. My heart hurts for what our middle school girls are up against in the world of cell phones and social media. And the thing is, Hadley doesn’t even have a cell phone or social media and yet she’s still caught up in the toxicity of girl drama.

Mind you, life hasn’t all been bad. I’m still in limbo with work projects and that’s been frustrating but I’ve had lots of ski and snowshoe days with friends. Bode played hooky with his buddy Porter to ski Park City this week, Hadley is wrapping up a fun season of volleyball, we went winter camping at Heber Valley Camp with Jamie’s family, Hadley is going on a YW overnight retreat this weekend, Bode, Jamie and I are skiing Alta on Saturday and Bode finished 2.5 months of cross-country skiing lessons. That boy has boasted almost 30 days of Nordic and downhill skiing. He’s an official convert to mountain living!

So, even though Ambruary was not one for the record books, here’s for hoping March is much kinder to us all.

 

Hap Hap Happenings

Our busy winter season is sadly winding down and I’ve been trying to hold on for as long as possible. Here are are few of our happenings:

  • All of our glorious snow is almost gone. In Ambruary. In the mountains, spring is replaced by a not-so glorious mud season before ushering summer. I’d mentally prepared myself for this in April in May but not in February. Winter, come back!
  • Jamie speaks my love language. For Valentine’s Day and our anniversary the following day, he took me hiking and to the Blue Boar Inn, a fine-dining restaurant in Midway. We also had our family’s traditional fondue on Valentine’s Day. Jamie and I vowed not to get each other gifts to save money and for once, we actually stuck to that resolution (as opposed to Christmas when we said the same thing and yet somehow ended up buying each other the exact same gifts–A Magic Bullet blender and the Jason Bourne movie). However, we did get each other cards where we wrote several things we love about each other but as it turns out, all cards are not equal and he bought one of those huuuuuge over-sized ones. That guy wins at everything, including love. 
  • Bode is winding down his third month of Nordic ski lessons at Soldier Hollow. With the dwindling snow totals, it makes parting less sorrowful but I have truly loved volunteering with his class twice a week. I learned to skate ski and once I get my knee problems fixed, I can’t wait to do it again. He is in an awkward intermediate school and will be bumped up to middle school next year so I thought his days of class holiday parties were over until he came home from his Halloween party and told me how lame it was. So, I took over for Christmas and Valentine’s Day. I thought I was soooo over volunteering but I’ve enjoyed holding onto his final, fleeting moments of childhood. If no one is going to step up to help, I’d rather just do it than have nothing at all.
  • Hadley is a teenager with all the boy drama that involves. Not that she tells us anything but we have this glorious thing called text messaging where her love life (or lack thereof) unfolds in all the glories of unrequited teenage angst. She and Jamie have been swapping a virus for weeks. She was finally feeling better but then had a lot of late nights for her science fair project (an ode to–what else–pumpkins and nitrogen in the soil). She didn’t have to do a project because she’s not in Honors Science but as the top student in her class, she was the only one who chose to do a project. Did I mention she made the HONOR ROLL? However, her rundown body caught up with her and I told her she could sleep in as late as she wanted on Saturday but she did much more than that. She came home from school on Friday and took a nap, refusing to wake up for her volleyball team party she had been looking forward to and slept straight through the night, cranking out a whopping 17 hours of sleep. Just like her father–an overachiever.
  • The cat. Still fat.
  • I’ve been keeping busy. I went to a SkiUtah networking event a few weeks ago where I made some great contacts as we skied Sundance (the best kind of networking). My friend Sheri and I have vowed to try to ski together at Park City every week until the end of the season and we had a blast on the mountain last week. A few of us hiked to Stewart Falls a few weeks ago and got some fascinating avalanche training with beacons and probes.  I’ve been on a couple of hikes at Wasatch Mountain State Park but I need to either have the snow stick around forever so I can snowshoe it or just melt. Having snow that isn’t deep enough for snowshoes but not optimal for hiking is jacking up my knees. For the first time in my life, I’m feeling limited and it’s a constant source of frustration. I’m still fortunate to be able to do the things I love but I’m in pain when I do it.

    Park City Snowmamas

    WOW! Trail

    Sundance

    Stewart Falls

  • I feel like I’m in such limbo with work but there isn’t a lot to be done at this point because other people I’m relying on are engaged elsewhere. The kids are going to the acclaimed Keystone Science School this summer (thanks to a campaign I’m doing for Mile High Mamas) so Jamie and I will have five glorious days to ourselves in Colorado’s backcountry after dropping them off. I’ve been researching a lot of options but one is finalized: we’ll be staying at The Broadmoor after we pick them up, the perfect reward after several days of roughing it.
And the great finale of our happenings (crammed into one big paragraph):
Tomorrow is my birthday and we’re skiing Alta. We have new friends coming over tonight to play games, and our house is slowly coming together. We’ve taken a hiatus over the winter with projects but come spring, we’ll be delving in full-throttle organizing the garage, setting up shelves and putting in our yard. Jamie and I confessed we won’t truly love this house until we can finish the basement, something we can’t afford to do. (And I try not to focus on the fact that everything was done at our Colorado home and we were in a good place financially). My parents sent me some birthday money and I bought a cute mirror for our front entrance. By downsizing from a two-story house to a ranch with only one great room, a constant struggle is the kids don’t have anywhere to put their backpacks and schoolwork so our living room constantly looks like a bomb exploded. Our mudroom/laundry room is super small and inconvenient so we’ve debated moving our washer/dryer to the basement and building lockers/storage closets for all their c-r-a-p but again, that takes money. So, a temporary fix is I bought a beautiful console for the living from an upscale furniture consignment store in Park City and it has helped alleviate the mess. For now.

It has been six months some we left our beloved Colorado. In some ways, it feels like we’ve been here forever and in other ways, I wonder when we’ll finally feel settled. I read a quote this week that really hit home.

Sometimes it’s hard to watch other people “succeeding” when you feel like you keep getting knocked on your face. I get that. It’s hard to watch friends and family and peers storm “ahead” when you feel like you’re indefinitely stuck at ground zero. But from a life that’s been chopped down at the knees more than once, let me tell you… ground zero is a sacred space to be. Don’t wish it away in yearning for the mountain top. There is so much this space will give you…if you let it. Stop looking 10 miles ahead, and spend a moment or two taking in the totality of where you currently are. The juxtaposition of beauty and ashes is REAL, take it from me. But many of us miss this completely in our mad dash attempt to be anywhere but “here.” And I get that. Because pain is real, hurt is significant, fear is debilitating. Even so, trust me when I say, don’t pass over dollars to pick up dimes. What you have the potential to find in the rubble of your life, if you’ll just stop and LOOK, is beyond your wildest imaginings and will serve to propel you on to spaces and places you currently don’t have the capacity to foresee. Pinkie swear. Hang in there, beautiful you. God is on your side. -Natalie Norton

Duly noted and a much-needed reminder: we can do this.

The Anti-Ladies’ Man

For as long as I can remember, Bode has been really nervous around girls. Watch kissing on TV? Forget it. Tease him about the hotties in his class? That kid turns the color of hot tamales.

As we were working on his valentines for his class party (that I’m somehow in charge of), I saw him scribbling on some of the messages.

“Bode, what are you doing?”

“Don’t worry, Mom. I’m crossing out all the valentines that say ‘you’re cute.’”

Smooooooth. It reminded me of one of my favorite Bode stories EVER and believe me, there are a lot of them. When Bode was 6, we met Hadley at Camp Chief Ouray. Because I was partnering with them for an article, we were granted special access to attend the final festivities on the last night. Camp tradition is to hold a final dance, followed by the Closing Campfire Ceremony with games, skits, songs and traditions including the awarding of the Spirit Stick to commemorate the most spirited cabin. I was the most excited about the dance.

Because isn’t it every kid’s dream to have her mother at her very first one?

Crazy costumed counselors

Even my Bode had some action of his own. He was hanging out with me on the rock when a tween hottie asked him to dance. Stunned into silence, he turned bright red before literally crawling away on the rock. But she didn’t give up. Fifteen minutes later, she was back and oh-so sweetly repeated her offer. He looked at me to save him.

“Go dance with her.”

He shook his crimson head, steam coming out of his ears. Why did a girl want to dance with him?

“That’s fine if you don’t want to dance but you need to at least say something and politely decline.” It was one of those teachable moments in which I wanted to bust out laughing.

“I don’t want to dance right now,” he mumbled. At least I think that’s what he said before I apologetically thanked the sweet girl and bookmarked the moment for future blackmail.

Some things never change.

My Husband: The Romantic

To be fair, Jamie can be a romantic, thoughtful guy and there was full disclosure before we got married that he hates to do dishes. In fact, his friend Carolyn was so disgusted with his kitchen that she would regularly clean it for him. I also happen to be OCD about the sink and hate to have dishes in there. As much as I’d love to have the kids unload the dishwasher, I have it in my mentally-ill mind that they can’t do it fast enough and if the dishwasher sits unloaded for hours on end, that means dishes will pile up.

So, I do the unloading in the hopes that throughout the day, my family will actually put their dishes in the dishwasher vs. dumping them in the sink. Despite my best efforts, it doesn’t happen and I’ve learned to live with it during the day. But after dinner, I always insist that we clean the kitchen and run the dishwasher. And I refuse to go to bed, even if we have a party until late, with dirty dishes in the sink.

It’s too bad my OCD doesn’t extend to the rest of the house.

The other night, we were watching my favorite show on TV, NBC’s This is Us. There was a scene when the doctor who delivered the main character’s triplets was walking through his home. His wife of 50+ years had passed away 14 months ago but there were memories of her everywhere. Her prescription bottles. Her clothes. Her perfumes.

It was dually heart-warming and sad. I turned to Jamie:

“When I die, will you keep a shrine up for me?”

“Of course! It will be a pile of dirty dishes.”

Family updates

There were so many things about last year that were a blur. I feel like we’re finally starting to come up for air and I’m hopeful life will start clicking in 2017. We recently had Bode’s parent-teacher meeting and it made me want to remember it all.  Where we’re thriving. Where we’re struggling. Because life is a compendium of it all.

Bode. We moved into our house late-September when the neighborhood posse started burrowing down for the winter. There’s allegedly a very active group of boys who run around together on their bikes and I’m hoping he will get thrown into the mix once the snow thaws. As we sat down with Bode’s teacher, she told us how he’s the smartest kid in class and she wishes every kid was just like him. Obedient. Helpful. Friendly. Surpassing goals they had set together. Many of the kids go to him to check their schoolwork before they go to the teacher, which he loves.

“But how is he socially?” I asked. I worry that he hasn’t found a bestie at school or church because usually, he easily makes connections. His teacher acknowledged that he’s doing a lot better than the beginning of the year and is well-liked by everyone. The sports of choice for the boys during recess are football and baseball, neither of which he plays. So he floats between groups. Sometimes he plays sports. Sometimes he does four square or plays on the playground. Sometimes he referees, thereby proving he is an old man in a 10-year-old’s body! He seems content but will get thrown into an entirely new mix next year when the sixth graders get bumped up to middle school.

Bode and I have had a blast during our bi-weekly Nordic ski lessons (OK, he’s in lessons, I just tag along for the free skiing) but it’s been a fun, bonding experience for us. He has started piano and in the spring, we’ll probably enroll him in the crummy rec soccer league again because we can’t afford competitive but it will at least give him another season to be the superstar.

Hadley. She continues to exceed our expectations. Don’t get me wrong: she’s a frustrating tween who speaks an entirely different language. But while other parents are agonizing over their teens’ newfound desire to be aloof and independent, it’s just par for the course because Hadley has always been that way. She wants her space; friends, schoolwork and crushes have consumed her existence. She still doesn’t have a phone but we set her up with Google Voice on her iPod and she texts her friend Allie constantly.

She’s got almost straight As (where the heck did THAT come from?) and declares math is one of her favorite subjects (ditto on the incredulity after years of tutors). She refused to do Nordic skiing with Bode, which made me sad because I actually think she would thrive on the local team here but at her request, she’s playing volleyball and has really come into her own. I haven’t wanted to pressure her (volleyball was my great love in high school) but something has finally clicked and she’s caught a glimpse at how good she is…and can be with the proper training. Her coach has pulled her aside to emphasize her potential and offered to work extra with her anytime. I’m currently looking into enrolling her in BYU’s volleyball camp this summer.

She spends hours getting ready in the mornings so the bathroom upstairs is a constant eyesore. Our next big project (after putting in the front and backyard) will be saving up for another bathroom…after the gazillion other expenses we have. When we were snowed in (interlodged) at Alta, she and I actually had some great bonding time with mother-daughter ping pong and pool tournaments and setup several challenges in the weight room. It was a reminder that yes, she’s hormonal and complicated but there’s still a really delightful kid in there who’s turning into a really great young woman.

Jamie. Worked all day in the basement in Colorado. Works all day in the basement in Utah. Obsessed with BYU sports. Not too many changes for our hard-working guy.

Me. Still swimming, swimming, swimming despite the fact that I hate getting my face wet. I’m super thankful to be in a great ward where I’m making great friends and adventure buddies.  I’m building out some cool projects and have been networking like crazy. I’m hoping things start coming together in a profitable (remember all the expenses?) and promising way.

Stay tuned!