Sum-Sum-Summer!

I have to believe our start to a great summer has to do with serenading the kids at the top of my lungs to Olaf’s “In Summer,” a first-day-of-summer-break tradition I hope they will carry on to torture their own children for many years to come.

In previous years, our summers have been jam-packed with adventures and this week has been particularly brutal with work and responsibilities. I’ve been working long hours and have been home very minimally in the evenings as I prepare for Young Women Girl’s Camp next week. Hadley begged me to play volleyball and when I told her I didn’t have time, she said “I wish you never went back to work!” Ouch. It was definitely a transition when I first started in January but the kids and I left at the same time in the morning and returned home around the same time so they were impacted very minimally. I, on the other hand, have had to be find creative ways to fit in all the household chores and Mile High Mamas projects while spending time with them. Finding a time to workout has been sacrificed and I desperately crave being active again. Summer adds even more complications.

So, here are our two-weeks-into-summer updates:

Social media fast. A couple of weeks ago, President Russell M. Nelson spoke at a worldwide fireside to our youth, during which time he challenged them (among other things) to go on a 7-day social media fast. I have felt waaaay too addicted to my phone so I deleted Instagram and Facebook. It helped me realize how much time I spent mindlessly scrolling through feeds. I felt so much better after the seven days that I have challenged myself to be on social media very minimally. Ideally, I’d love to spend more time journalling/blogging after the craziness of summer subsides.

EFY. Hadley’s besties from Colorado flew out for Especially for Youth, an awesome spiritually-charged week for the youth on campuses all over the country. Hadley and her friend, Maeve, stayed at BYU and it was fun having her on campus every day. In the beginning, she wasn’t having a great time “because we have really cute guys in our group but they won’t talk to us” but that changed by week’s end and she came home flying high. The $500 cost was definitely worth the investment into her spiritual health.

Camping. Bode went on two camping trips in a row: the first was a father-son camp-out and the second was an 11-Year-Old Scout camp-out to Strawberry Reservoir. He had a blast at both! At the end of June, our ward is having another camp-out so we’ll definitely get our fill this summer.

Outdoorsy. My dad generously gave the grandkids some money this summer to be dedicated to outdoorsy pursuits. Bode enrolled in a “Shredders” mountain biking club that has been kicking his butt (he has fun but calls it very “taxing”), while Hadley spent her money on a new lens for her camera. That may seem like a weird outdoorsy purchase but she looooves landscape photography so she has been spending a lot of time outside. A couple of weeks ago, she put her new lens to good use by staging an awkward end-to-middle-school photo shoot with Edyn, Allie and Zoie, the other three graduating eighth graders from our ward. It was such a fun, goofy night.

Pumpkins. Jamie has been enduring most of the back-breaking yard work (we’re now up to 51 tons of rock and lots of time in the skid steer) and pumpkin growing. Our backyard still has a long way to go but much of it will have to wait until we get more money and time. But for now, the big news is we’re almost ready to seed the backyard. We might even have GRASS by the end of the summer! If you knew the hundreds of hours we’ve spent on it all, you would see why the very prospect makes us want to weep. A half-acre lot sounded look a good idea…until it came time to landscape!

Hiking. In an effort to get back into shape, I sent out a text last week to see if anyone wanted to do a 5:45 a.m. weekly hike before work….and these crazies answered the charge! The week before, I joined my friends Dawnelle, Shauna and Sarah for some stand-up paddleboarding on Deer Creek Reservoir. Then, I ran several errands on my bike and marveled how so many treasures are within a few miles from our house. 

Citrus Pear. Mealtime has definitely suffered since I went back to work, especially with the long hours I’ve been working lately. Sweet Bode made a tasty pita pizza and salad dinner the other night but I was thrilled to do a Citrus Pear girl’s night out. It took me two hours to chop and prep 20 delicious small dinners for my family…for just $10 each. Chicken tikka masala. Creamy lemon chicken. Balsamic pot roast. Orange ginger pork loin. The recipes are divine and I’m thrilled to have a freezer full of meals that can be thrown in the crockpot. 

Unicorn. I’ve been vocal about Hadley’s hellish middle school years and it’s pretty shocking the about-face since school ended. She’s happy. She’s helpful. She’s actually delightful. She spent the week at EFY and this week, has been voluntarily getting up early three times a week for volleyball conditioning at the high school. Her friend is having some health struggles so I asked her to do something nice for her. When I came home from work, she had spent most of the day making unicorn cupcakes from scratch….the girl even made little candy straws that she filled with melted white chocolate. She had a few leftover cupcakes so she delivered them to some of her other friends.

WHA? WHO IS THIS KID?

The key to her happiness if finding healthy ways to deal with her stress…and creating. Middle school was all about the unhealthy ways. Here’s for praying she refills her reservoir this summer and that carries over into high school.

Business. No, not business, but rather, BUSY-NESS. I’m in charge of Young Women Girl’s Camp next week (stress and lots of it) and then we’ll start preps right away for Swiss Days over Labor Day. Jamie and I are in charge of the biggest booth (Swiss Tacos) for this beast-of-a-festival…300+ volunteers and thousands of customers. At work, I’m trying to pull together a PR/outreach plan for all of our college’s departments and centers. It has been very well-received by most…except for by the deans in our office. You know. My bosses. They’re all wonderful people but it has been a frustrating process to try to validate the value of promoting all the awesome things in our college. I’m the editor of our alumni magazine and it has been a really fun process to see things from the beginning to the end; usually I just send an article to an editor and see it in print. Our magazine is currently being designed and it has been fun to work through all the mock-ups and concepts.

Golf. Bode took a few golf classes through our rec center that he enjoyed last summer. When my friend Cami asked if Bode wanted to do the PGA Junior League with her son, I was all-in when I noticed it was offered nationwide and I could do a write-up for Mile High Mamas in trade for participating. It’s held at Wasatch Mountain State Park Golf Course, arguably one of the most gorgeous in Utah and only a few minutes from our house.

I do have one question, though.  Is sending your kid to PGA Junior League without his own clubs kinda like sending him to tennis without a racket?

I’m asking for an [idiot] parent. 

Fortunately, the golf course gave us some loaner clubs and if Bode ends up liking it, we’ll buy him some used clubs for his birthday.

Bode’s rec program last year did little more than putting and chipping. PGA Junior League is geared to beginner through intermediate players, and Bode is definitely one of the rookies in the group. On the first day, I was a bit worried to leave him after seeing the high calibre so many of the boys were already playing…but I was relieved to find him a couple of hours later riding the golf cart with his new friends in his “scramble” team…and despite his grandpa-style half-ditched swing, he and his partner ended up winning their little competition.

Tonight, they worked on skills and he came back professing that his golf swing “needs some work!” But he’s in the right place to learn the skills he needs for a lifetime of frustration a.k.a. playing golf.

Modern-day Fablehaven

Jamie grows two pumpkins every year. We usually keep one for our driveway and last year, we gave one away to our friend Clay who was celebrating the grand reopening of his business. While the pumpkin was in front of his store, Clay was approached by someone who wanted to put it on display in a very public place: at the entrance of his ranch. That someone was actually the son of a man who sold his tech company and made millions of dollars. He is the caretaker of his father’s 100-acre private estate that is the source of a lot of local wonder.

When Clay asked if this man could have the pumpkin, we said sure but with one caveat: “ONLY if we get a tour of the property.”

We finally got that tour a few weeks ago and it was M-A-G-I-C.

The kids love the book series Fablehaven, which is centered around a preserve for magical creatures with forests, groves, swamps and marshes. The preserve is protected by covenants that are ratified by all orders of whimsical life forms who dwell there in order to create a measure of security for the mortal caretakers.

This property is a modern-day Fablehaven. Longhorns. Yaks. Goats. Piglets. Peacocks. Ponies and horses. Sheep. Miniature brahman bulls and so many more exotic animals whose names I can’t remember. There was a river that ran through the property, six man-made ponds (some with canoes and paddleboats), putting greens with silly hula girl mannequins to scare off predators, tepees, waterfalls, rabbit island in the middle of one of the ponds that had an entire island of just rabbits and don’t forget the man cave with luxury vehicles. It was U-N-R-E-A-L. 

The night prior to our tour, we watched “We Bought a Zoo” and that day, we visited a family who lives it.

School’s Out for Summer

Summer 2018 is upon us! I’m usually ecstatic to delve into summer but this is the first time I’m not very excited about it. Though I have scheduled a fun summer for the kids with lots of activities and camps, I’m partially filled with dread that I’ll be working for the first time and am worried about how they’ll spend their downtime when I’m not around. Of course, Jamie is home but he has two modes: work and pumpkins; entertainment committee is not on his radar. When the kids were younger, I kept them busy in the summertime but with plenty of free time for imaginative play outside. Now that they’re teenagers, downtime means technology time.

Fortunately, my position is 3/4 time. I worked way too many hours during winter semester so will be scaling way back this summer and taking about four weeks off. But I’m stressing about how to manage everything with the kids home, how to get them to-and-from activities and just to stay on top of everything. The lack of structure that I used to love about our summers together is now causing me angst.

Here’s what’s going down at the Johnsons.

School. It was a doozy of a school year with two middle schoolers and I’m just relieved it’s over for Hadley. Despite roller-coaster grades the first few semesters, she somehow managed to crank out all As and Bs her final term while Bode made the Honor Roll all four terms. Though I wouldn’t say Bode loved middle school/sixth grade, he adapted seamlessly, made a core group of friends, says film was his favorite class (though he continues to really excel in math), is switching from flute to the sax for band and his year was gloriously drama-free. I could not have  two more opposite children if I tried.

RMMS Color Festival with Will, Hunter and Wally

Allie, Katelyn and Allie

Rock. Remember the 43 tons of rock that cost us thousands of dollars for our landscaping? It has been a month of back-breaking work and our joyous Memorial Day was spent distributing it…and running out. That’s another story for another day. At this rate, we’ll never seed our backyard.

Camping. Aunt Lisa invited Hadley to camp with their family at what has become my favorite Utah campground in Utah: Ledgefork. Just an hour from our house, it was gorgeously forested for optimal (albeit reluctant) hammock snuggles, adjacent to a river, had a nearby reservoir for kayaks and gorgeous hiking. I had a miserable sinus infection so Bode and I just joined them for the day before driving home, which was a total win-win. Enjoy all of the fun camping activities while sleeping in my own bed.

Track.  Once soccer and club volleyball ended, I signed both kids up for our rec track-and-field this spring in an effort to keep them active (and you can’t beat the $50 price tag) Neither of them particularly loved it but had fun with their friends. So I’m calling that a win. It’s safe to say Hadley does not have a future in javelin and Bode needs to grow another foot to be a contender in the high jump.

Pumpkins. Jamie is in the process of installing his high tunnel (greenhouse) that he got funded by a grant from the federal government. Midway is really challenging for growing pumpkins and we are located just north of Provo Canyon and Deer Creek Reservoir, which serves as a tunnel for high winds. Hopefully this will provide some protection for them and he’s pleased with how the season is going. If you’re curious to see how his season is unfolding, follow along at giantpumpkinman.com.

The Ranch. There is a really special 100-acre property in the Heber Valley that is mystery to most residents. A couple of weeks ago, we were granted access and this place was nothing short of magical and deserves a separate blog post unto itself. A glimpse:

Summer Fun.  Some things to look forward to this summer: Canada and the lake (family)! Trek (Hadley)! Young Women Girl’s Camp (Hadley and me)!  EFY (Hadley)! Sailing camp (Hadley and Bode)! Mountain biking camp (Bode)! BYU volleyball camp (Hadley)! PGA golfing (Bode)! Yellowstone (family)!

And work. Let’s not forget work for Jamie and me because someone needs to pay for all these activities, medical bills and life.

Adulting is hard; kid-ing is much better.

 

 

Day of the Mothers

Mother’s Day: It was the best of times and the worst of times but there was certainly a lot of awesomeness that included:

Bode and Hadley gave me new scriptures (which, to be honest, kind of makes me sad because I’ll need to start over with my well-worn scriptures and markings but they are literally falling apart).

Hadley painted me a beautiful picture.

Bode and Jamie built me a garden box.

The boys made me breakfast in bed, a longstanding tradition and Jamie gave me a hair massage (MY FAVORITE).

We went for a lovely walk in Wasatch Mountain State Park, fed the ducks, got attacked by them and marveled at the blossoms. What a perfect morning!

During Relief Society, the men prepared a lovely spread of food, after which we drove to Salt Lake City for a family dinner at Aunt Tammy’s. Though I miss my own family–especially on holidays–I’m so grateful to have Jamie’s nearby.

This is the last week ever of having two middle schoolers. My aunt made a comment how much Bode looks so much more grown-up these days and it’s so true. He has thankfully avoided the drama of middle school and has a great group of friends. Though he is as sweet as ever to me at home, he definitely plays it cool outside.

He is wrapping up his final year of playing the flute and potentially wants to try the sax last year. He was fine with me attending his band concert–because that is what parents do–but when he brought home a field trip release for a performance on the Heber Valley Railroad, he was pretty emphatic I not attend.

that is a tough pill to swallow for the overzealous mom who planned all the activities and field trips but apparently in middle school, that is no longer cool. When he saw me wallowing in self-pity the morning of his field trip, he consoled me, “I don’t think there will be any parents on the train but if there are, I’ll pay you $5,” to which I retorted, “I don’t want your money, I just want your guilt.”

Happy Mother’s Day, folks.

 

Happy 14th Birthday, Hadley

Oooogie,

Happy day, you’re 14 and the happiest of all is we have [hopefully] left unlucky #13 and the dreaded middle school behind us. Your high school future is bright and through the clouds, we have caught glimpses of just how bright you can shine!

No doubt you have wading through some difficult waters this year. You got a phone, had it taken away, and had some tough diagnoses (not to mention fracturing your shoulder last summer on the Aqua X Zone, followed by your snowboarding accident in January) and thousands of dollars in medical bills. But guess what: you’re still standing…albeit with a few less limbs like your dad but you’re still here.

There were also a lot of highlights. You flew out to meet us in Colorado last summer where you had a glorious time at your favorite place on earth: The Broadmoor. You competed in your final Kids Adventure Games and sadly, announced your retirement this year (though I have no doubt you will find other adventurous outlets). You came to life during two wonderful trips to California–to the Central Coast and then to San Diego– and again in St. George, the Coral Pink Sand Dunes and Zion National Park.

You rocked the surfboard at the lakehouse in Canada and I fully expect you’ll continue to hone your craft on the water while you leave your dear ‘ol mom in your dust. Speaking of which, I am leaps and bounds slower than you on the hiking trail thanks to my knee injury. Last summer, we took what started out as a casual stroll and made the mistake of putting you in charge…and you dragged us up a peak with a 2,000-foot elevation gain. As I was limping down, I commented, “Hiking and skiing are my favorite activities to do all together,” which caused you to scoff. “Together? You were like a mile behind me.”

You received your patriarchal blessing, a powerful, spiritual reminder of who you are who you can become. You have so many wonderful gifts and promises in your future and if we ever doubt any of them, let us be reminded of the very powerful (and accurate) observation in that blessing: “You have a mind of your own and don’t like to be told what to do.” Can we all say a resounding “AMEN?”

Your interest in photography has grown and one of your birthday presents is a new lens. You have always loved the outdoors but now you have a new reason to explore.Before we moved here, you used to lock yourself in your room for hours, drawing, painting, creating and dreaming. I was so happy when you reluctantly took art again this year. Your teacher submitted some of your creations to an art show and you took first place in your class and another drawing took first place in the whole school. You didn’t tell us about any of it (I had to find out from a friend) and this is when I throw my hands up in frustration because 13 is the worst age ever for recognizing your God-given talents and just how incredible you really are.

Some things to look forward to this summer: Canada and the lake! Trek! Young Women Girl’s Camp with ME as your leader!  EFY! Sailing camp! BYU volleyball camp! Yellowstone!

You had a doozy of a club volleyball season thanks to your medical challenges. You went from learning a new position (setter), to fighting through pain, getting benched, discouragement, being forgotten, and finally clawing your way to the starting lineup. It has been heart-wrenching to see you struggle but you have been my lesson to not measure success from academic and athletic accolades and that greatness comes in many forms.

A few weeks ago, we went camping in Goblin Valley State Park. There were some precipitous cliffs you explored the night we arrived. You almost made it to the top but you fell just short (while cautious Bode had given up long ago). The next morning before leaving, you asked if you could give it one more shot. You arrived at the road (or cliff)block from before, reattempted it a few times and failed…but did not give up. Instead, you looked for another way around it. I held my breath as you disappeared for a moment behind a rock and I almost started to panic…until I saw you pop up the other side and triumphantly climb to the top. You owned your fear that day.

Goblin Valley summit

“If we stopped being so afraid of pain we would find our power. If we stopped being so afraid of pain, we would become the parents our kids need. It’s not our job–nor our right–to protect them from pain. It’s our job to point them directly toward their struggle and say: ‘See that? That was made for you. Your joy is straight through your story. I see your fear and it’s big. But I can also also see your courage–and it’s bigger. You can do hard things.’” -Glennon Doyle

You are worthy and worth it. Don’t ever forget you are meant to climb, conquer and soar.

Love, Mom
The Woman on the Ground

P.S. For a stroll down memory lane, read letters for your 13th birthday12th11th10th, 9th 8th7th6th5th4th3rd2nd and your birth story.

Morro Rock

Magical Morro Bay

Midway Tree Lighting

Coral Pink Sand Dunes

Zion National Park

St. George Slot Canyon

Art show winner

La Jolla, CA

Goblin Valley

sdfaf

Valley of the Goblins

Though we are knee-deep in our 43 tons of rock with the goal to get the backyard grass seeded by early June, we booked an overnight camping trip at Goblin Valley State Park several months ago and despite what seemed like imperfect timing, it actually could not have been more perfect.

We’re limping across the eighth grade finish line (just two weeks to go!) We had just had one of our roughest weeks with Hadley (parents who whine about how difficult parenting their honor-roll teen who can be moody and disrespectful make me scoff; we’re deep in the trenches here with real struggles). But if there’s anything that brings me hope is pulling her out of her environment and into where she thrives–the outdoors! We were only able to book a one-night stay but that turned out to the be perfect amount. We woke up early on Saturday, drove a few hours south, had a full day of adventure, camped out, and made it back in time for 1 p.m. church.

San Rafael Swell Whenever I spend time in Southern Utah, I’m bombarded with memories of my many years as a Utah-based travel writer. What wonderful adventures I had backpacking and camping with Kristy, John, Dave, Ray, Telford, Karleen, Joseph and Jed. My photojournalist friend John traveled with me more than anyone. We had many moments together but none more memorable than getting stuck in Ding and Dang canyon; another story for another day.

The desert drive is desolate (despite Hadley’s “gazelle” sighting) until the San Rafael Reef appears in the horizon.  Early settlers used the word “reef” as a comparison to oceanic reefs and the difficulties of traversing through the 2,000-square miles of arches, deep canyons and rock towers.

Our family headed to Little Wild Horse Canyon, a gorgeous slot canyon in San Rafael Swell that is part of a larger loop back through Bell Canyon.  Little Wild Horse is the perfect introductory slot canyon that allowed us a few hours of adventure. Scaling the walls. Forging through water. Climbing boulders. Snaking through tight spaces. The weather was perfect and our souls were filled with exuberance to be exploring something so epic. I loved seeing my tween and tween become like little kids again!  We had planned to also explore nearby Crack Canyon but we emerged from Little Wild Horse around 3:30 p.m. so figured we would go check into our campsite and chill a while. The campground’s backdrop was massive gothic cathedrals, which Bode, Hadley and Jamie delighted in exploring while I rested my knee. We started a campfire (Jamie and his lighter fluid scare me), grilled up burgers, roasted potatoes and had delicious watermelon.

Goblin Valley

Before dusk, we drove to the main portion of Goblin Valley State Park. The crowds of the day had petered out so we were practically all alone in the maze of twisted, stunted “goblin” hoodoos.  The park is divided into “First, Second and Third Valleys” and the best way to explore is to have no plan at all. Jamie won Dad of the year by playing hide-and-seek with the kids  in the ultimate outdoor playground. I conjured up their imaginations as we saw shapes and forms in every hoodoo: goblins, Jaba, mushrooms, Fat Kitty, clouds, spaceships and whales.  I was initially sad I didn’t take a video of Jamie scaring Hadley in tag but this progression is downright hilarious: We ventured over to the Third Valley and gazed in awe at the cathedral buttresses’ commanding presence. As we hiked back near the Observation Point, we perched on an overlook as the ebbing sun set the valley on fire.  Jamie answered Bode’s questions about great places and events in history. Back at the campsite, we roasted s’mores, read from the Book of Abraham about the stars, how we have always existed as “intelligences” before we were spirits and the eternal nature of our souls.  Then, I went on to sleep horribly all night. I love everything about camping except for restrictive sleeping bags and pads (despite Jamie’s best efforts to buy the latest and greatest) and noisy neighbors. When the sun rose the next morning, I noticed Bode cuddled up near me with HIS SLEEPING PAD ON TOP OF HIM. We all need to be like Bode. We packed up early while Bode and Hadley set out on one last adventure. They had fallen just short of summitting the buttress behind our camp. Cautious Bode gave up after a while but Hadley emerged triumphant! Which is how we all felt after a much-needed weekend of adventure, laughter and healing.

A few life lessons from the trenches

Social media isn’t all bad, right? Here are a few gems I have come across on my social media feed that I love so much I want to document them. The first, from a popular writer; the other two from friends who are in the trenches and slowly digging their way out.  Life lessons for us all!

On Forging Through Trials 

If we stopped being so afraid of pain, we would find our power.

If we stopped being so afraid of pain, we would become the parents our kids need. It’s not our job — nor our right — to protect our kids from pain. It’s our job to point them directly toward their struggle and say: “See that? That was made for you. Your journey is straight through your story. I see your fear, and it’s big. But I also see your courage – and it’s bigger. You can do hard things.” -Glennon Doyle

On Parenting Teenagers

A few observations in parenting a teen/young adult that have helped me so far (many thanks to our coaches, teachers, and good advice from friends too):

* Love them regardless of their behavior towards you or others (shield with extra prayer when necessary). Forgive quickly. As you love, respect will naturally follow- don’t demand respect.

* Help them feel loved, valued, and worthy of love at a core level whenever you engage with them. Even if it’s in your silent prayers or by thinking “you are loved, valued, and worthy of love” when you think of them or are with them. Touch them whenever possible in a positive way- hug, back rub, kiss on the cheek, etc.

* If they don’t want to talk to you, serve them- clean their room, write them kind notes, make them their favorite food, give them a massage, take them to lunch etc. eventually they will and when they do, listen without judgment.

* Take time to notice what they are doing well and compliment them in front of others and even give thanks during family prayer.

* Establish expectations for family property (house, cars, etc) and how they are to be used and what behaviors are not allowed while using these things. If they don’t follow the rules they lose privilege to have access to the item, etc. until they agree to follow and try again.

* Recognize that if you try to control or force choices you will most always lose and the relationship (and trust) will suffer. Invite and suggest when appropriate, however, if they choose to do something different respect their choice and let them own their decision. “To take away someone’s agency is a moral crime.” The whole point of this life is to learn. Learning comes from experience.

* Invite your teen’s friends over often and meet their parents. Be clear about expectations when needed.

* Support their hobbies and passions 110%

* Every teen needs mentors outside the home to reinforce positive behaviors and encourage. Proactively seek mentors you admire for your teen. Be a mentor to other teens when asked if possible.

* Seek out parenting coaches, counselors, retreats, conferences etc if you need more support and ideas.

* Continue to have a social life of your own and keep dating your spouse.

* Once a child is 18 your main goal is to help them become independent- you may want to help them with career or education, but ultimately it needs to be their decision how that looks like for them. Be clear in what you will contribute or not and any expectations for rewards to be received (such as I’ll cover housing and food if you maintain 3.0 in college…or if you live at home and work, you will pay rent…)

* Enjoy them, learn from them and with them. 

-Kelly Anderson

On Finding Your Everyday Miracles

Do you ever feel like life is so hard, and no matter how hard you work, you can’t quite get “there”. I’ve been feeling this way the past few days, hardcore. It seems like I work my tail off, then some new thing happens, I move down a life level and begin working my tail off even harder.

This morning I was feeling it, and I posted about it a bit earlier. I decided to stop at McDonald’s for an Egg McMuffin as a little Friday morning break and to avoid the crush of cars driving to campus for women’s conference.

I pulled into the drive-thru and placed my order. Pulling up to the first window I smiled at the same lady who takes my card when I hit this McDonald’s about twice per month for a breakfast grab. She’s older and has clearly lived a pretty hard life. I don’t think we would agree on much, politics, religion, lifestyle-wise. Without saying “hello” or “your total is” she took my card and looked at me and said, “I repotted my lilac tree.” I paused, because what an odd thing to say. I love gardening, but she doesn’t know that. I love lilacs, but she doesn’t know that. And why is this the conversation opener for buying my breakfast sandwich? So I smiled and said, “Oh?” and she said, “It looked like it was dying, it wasn’t happy. But this morning I woke up and the blooms were opening.”

It basically hit me between the eyes that this was the answer to my heartfelt prayer this morning. I may be experiencing a “re-planting” in my life, and right now things may look droopy and like they will never bloom again, but the blooming will come.

I had to hold back a tear or two, and told her “Thank you for sharing that with me.” She shrugged and turned to go back to the register so I drove forward. By the time I was at the second window I was a teary mess. The lady in that window didn’t share any words of wisdom, just handed me my bag with a puzzled look on her face.

Heavenly Father loves us. He answers our prayers and he re-pots us so we will bloom. And sometimes the moments that he reaches us are so odd and unexpected and I’m so grateful to this woman, one of his daughters who is also pushing through her struggles in life, for sharing her story about the almost dead lilac tree. I’m not sure she will ever comprehend that she was a conduit for the spirit to communicate with me in that moment. May she be equally blessed in her life. May all her re-potted lilacs bloom. And I wish that for all of you. -Lisa

The real winners

I played team sports my whole life but I am most grateful for the individual sports/activities I did like skiing, running and hiking.  Team sports have a limited shelf life but instilling an activity you can do until your old and gray? Priceless.

One of the great things about living in a small community is the cost of recreational sports are very affordable. Bode is wrapping a fun rec soccer season and it’s the perfect fit for him. Low cost, low stress, show up, play for a month twice a year, and be the superstar (none of these things would happen in competitive soccer).

Both of the kids will be doing a lot of challenging hikes this summer so I encouraged them both to run track to get in shape. I told them I didn’t care if they did the track meets but Bode wanted to do the first mini-meet that was held at our local high school. His chosen events? 100m, 200m and the long jump.

Here’s what you need to know about Bode: he isn’t fast. He has these short Borowski legs that just aren’t equipped for top speeds but he doesn’t really care. He had a 5K a few weeks ago for a school fundraiser and when I asked him if he should start training, he replied, “No need. I can already run a 9.5-minute mile.”

Impressive.

All teasing aside, I actually really admire him. He’s fearless with trying new things and he doesn’t really care if he’s not the best; he’s just in it for the experience. I was always driven to win and if I wasn’t the best, I didn’t want to do it. All or nothing. Field hockey, basketball and baseball–I am regretfully talking about you. It is only as I’ve aged and have been unable to perform at high levels that I’ve realized the value of being part of something, even if you’re not No. 1.

Bode gets that.

Several of his friends are doing track with him and they all performed about the same level, which made for some good parental bonding. Our text conversations:

Me: “Last is the new first! Eli came in last place in his 100m heat and Bode and Henry tied for last in theirs.”

Jenn: “Ha, Yes! I’m so glad they’re all in this together.”

Sarah: “LOL, way to go boys!

Ben: “Ellis just broke the trend with a second-to-last finish.”

Here’s to the losers who are actually winners because they’re not afraid to play the game.

43 tons of rock

Good gosh, I hadn’t intended to let that much time lapse since my last blog post but life has been warp-speed ahead. BYU’s graduation was last week, I’m a couple of months ahead of schedule on our alumni magazine and work life is settling into a more reasonable rhythm–one where I dictate the wheres and the hows for the next few months. I really need to sell Mile High Mamas but that will take time and effort to redesign and revitalize it to where it needs to be, neither of which I have.

I have so many updates. Our fun spring break in San Diego. My awesome foodie group that meets every month.  The start to pumpkin season. Watching Bode score lots of soccer goals every week with Jamie as coach. The start of track season. The end to Hadley’s roller-coaster club volleyball season. A lot of seasons through the hourglass.

But if I’m being honest here, life is hard right now, really hard. I’m not a complainer but we’ve been dealt a heavy dose of C-R-A-P and every time we think we can come up for air, we’re thrust down under again.

Hard, hard, back-breaking things. Doctors. Interventions.  Mountains of medical bills.  A snowboarder who won’t pay for injuring Hadley and now we have to deal with the hassle of small claims court. My stupid bum knee(s) I can’t afford to fix. Jamie’s chronic rheumatism. This week our washing machine started wigging out and is knocking at death’s door. A part on our new dishwasher broke off and oh, don’t forget that our outdoor water spigot leaked into our walls and floorboards, forcing Jamie to punch a hole in the basement ceiling to survey the water damage and the potential for mold.

When it rains, it downpours. Sometimes inside your own house. 

We had 43 tons of rock delivered a couple of weeks ago. We’re slowing chipping away at our landscaping but it’s a slow process as Jamie repeatedly runs into problems installing the sprinkler lines. Once that is finished, then we can rock the backyard and then seed. Everything in its proper order. On Saturday, the kids tirelessly and without complaint helped me wheelbarrow and haul buckets upon buckets of rocks in our front yard. The rock pile is still there…and so are our weary muscles but the front yard is one step closer to being finished.

After yet another major blow after church yesterday, Jamie and I were feeling so darn defeated but I’m so grateful to have him by my side. “Survivor Island,” we jokingly call this new existence with the hope that pina coladas will someday be back on the menu. As I was expressing my frustrations to him last week, he said, “I really feel like we’ve got about seven years of this and then things will turn around. And then we’ll be better off than we ever were in Colorado.”

S-E-V-E-N YEARS? If you do the math, Bode will be 18. It’s no small coincidence that the end of his time frame also marks the end of the teenage years.

Jamie needs some tips on how to give an effective pep talk.

But you know what? Hard things are everywhere. My dad is a tireless caregiver for my mom. My friend Anne is an inspiring advocate for her beautiful autistic schizophrenic boy. My friend Tanya has been struggling with infertility for years after having cancer. She set the goal to do a triathlon and crushed it last year. She eagerly prepared to have a beautiful baby placed in their home via adoption, only to have the birth mom pull out right before. Tonight, she announced her cancer is back.

43 tons of rock.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland spoke at BYU’s Commencement and his words pricked my heart about the state of the world and our role in it.

No child should have to go to school fearful that they won’t live to see their parents that evening. No citizenry should have to live with a system, pick a nation, any nation, put a pin in a world map almost at random, where corruption is rampant, where chaos is the order of the day, and statesmen lack character, elevated to say nothing of elegant speech, and dignified personal behavior are seemingly alien concepts. No young people your age or any age ought to face conditions in so many places where poverty and abuse, including sexual abuse, malnutrition and disease, human trafficking and terror are still the rule, rather than the exception for too many people, including too many children.

Well, not on this day do I want to dwell on anything negative.

And you might say, ‘it has always been so down through time.’ Maybe it has but it doesn’t have to be. So, go out there and light a candle. Be a ray of light, be your best self and let your character shine. Cherish the gospel of Jesus Christ and live it. The world needs you and surely your Father in Heaven needs you if His blessed purposes for His children are to prevail. You have entered to learn…now go forth to serve and strengthen.

43 tons of rock.

We’ve got this. Even if it is one small load at a time.

Sports crazed

Hadley is wrapping up her volleyball season this week and it has been one of highs and lows. She tried out and made the club team, switched to the setter position and then got hurt by the snowboarder…which set her back several weeks. While everyone was learning rotations and skills, she often has to sit out until her back healed…but even after she started feeling better, her coach had already written her off. And the bad news is that same coach also coaches at the high-school level. Even though money is tight (no thanks to our mountain of medical bills and the snowboarder who refuses to pay them), we enrolled her in BYU’s volleyball camp this summer because it’s one of the few activities she enjoys.

A few weeks ago, that coach was out of town for a tournament as was the other setter (there are three of them) so Hadley got to play for two days and she did so well! The Friday night was sheer magic. Those girls won every single game (something that has never happened) and they were on cloud nine. Until Saturday play. They were bumped up to the elite gold level and I kid you not–some of those eighth grade girls were at the same level as my high school team.  We got slaughtered.

But at least they looked good doing it!

Bode kept busy this winter with cross-country ski lessons, coding and downhill skiing. He is signed up for track with his buddies and when I suggested he start running to get in shape for that and soccer, he responded, “No way, Mom. I can already run a 9.5-minute mile.” Talk about a speed demon.

Jamie is coaching rec soccer gain this year. This is Bode’s fourth season playing in Utah and Jamie’s second time coaching. He learned his lesson last season when he opted not to coach and when we got someone who had zero experience with soccer which made Jamie a very irascible parent. He has learned the hard way that if he’s going to sit on the sidelines screaming at everyone, he may as well be coach.

I took on the role of team manager, texting everyone and organizing the snack schedule. When I asked all the parents what position their kids played, most responded “defender” or they had little/no experience at all.

We were bracing ourselves for the worst today but my gosh if their team didn’t dominate. They’re playing co-ed at this age and our nine boys and three girls annihilated the other team 8-0. It was fun to see them play so seamlessly together–passing and already demonstrating awesome teamwork. One of the boys, Aaron, just moved here from upstate New York and proclaimed Jamie the best coach he has ever had.

Let’s see if they can keep that momentum going!