Miracles for Days

Since our return from Canada almost two weeks ago, we’ve delved back into life at warp speed. While my brother was on his honeymoon, his two boys stayed with us for the week, Hadley went to BYU Volleyball Camp, we’ve toured Temple Square, tubed Wasatch Canal (twice), went to the Demolition Derby for Wasatch County Fair Days, registered both kids for middle school (and had a full-blown panic attack) and hosted one of my best friends/mission companions at our house for a couple of days. I have made a vain attempt to get caught back up with work, something I’ve resigned myself isn’t going to truly happen until school starts.

I have lots of updates on Canada (a wonderful trip by most accounts) with the exception of our repeated car problems and our lack of funds to facilitate buying a new car. So, for now we’re trying to live as a one-car family until things calm down. The funny things is we were fasting and praying for more $work$ opportunities a few months ago and then Hadley broke her arm (lots of nice medical bills) and it cost us $2,000 to patch up our car in Canada that we’re not even sure is irrevocably damaged.

Being broke is one thing but so many people close to us are dealing with such major, life-altering trials that I recognize how blessed we are and that we’ll be just fine. Trials like divorce after betrayal. Gang rape. Terminal illness. Hospitalization for Schizophrenia.

I follow a really inspirational gal, Natalie Norton, on Instagram and their family has been through so much but continue to be a force for good. She lost her brother and then her baby. They fostered a few children they were going to adopt but then that fell through and they had to wade through the sorrow of another loss. She is still recovering from a stroke last year…and then her 10-year-old son was hit by an SUV last week and they are enduring multiple surgeries. Oh, and while they were in the hospital, their house got robbed.  I mean, how much can one family endure? But through it all, her faith and hope reigns strong:

On Monday evening, our ten year old son, Lincoln, was hit by a compact SUV and has been in a medically induced coma in the ICU ever since. The internal injuries are too many to list here in their totality, but the pooling blood around his heart, “cracked” liver and a punctured lung are currently the most significant to report. He will require reconstructive surgery to his face, including a skin graft (currently scheduled for Friday morning), and his entire body is covered in road rash, bruises and lacerations. This has been every parent’s worst nightmare from start to finish. At this point, the biggest miracle is that there doesn’t seem to be any neurological damage. I’m sobbing writing those words. My sweet, courageous, brilliant baby’s brain seems to have miraculously suffered little more than a moderate concussion. GOD IS SO GOOD.

My Facebook memory from three years ago today is a reminder of of the goodness of life:

My boy’s baptism was a day of miracles…with one grandparent hospitalized mere hours before flying here and another having eye surgery, I’m eternally grateful for their sacrifices and the many dear friends who came to support Bode today. xOXo

Then there was yesterday. The kids and I were touring the newly expanded Missionary Training Center with Jamie’s sister and were enveloped in feelings of love and peace with the beautiful artwork and inspiring messages like this life-sized mural of the Sons on Mosiah from Alma 17:3 in the Book of Mormon that literally knocked my socks off.

Then my phone started blowing up with urgent texts from neighbors and concerned friends that several violent home invasions in our little town had culminated into an armed robbery at the nearby bank …and the cops were apprehending some (but not all) of the suspects in front of our neighbor’s house.

It was such a juxtaposition to the MTC and Bode soberly observed, “This is a really dark world.”

It sure is, Kid, but yesterday I was grateful to also see the light.

A Return to Colorado: Jet Boat Colorado Edition

I wouldn’t say I “feel the need for speed” but as we raced across the Colorado River with Jet Boat Colorado, I sure did like it. A lot. 

I had never heard of jet boating until a friend went to New Zealand last year and posted a video of her 45 mph adventure through narrow canyons as their boat barely skirted the banks of the river. I never dreamed I would have the opportunity to try it out myself until I learned Jet Boat Colorado offers Coloradoans the same adrenaline-charged adventure as our Kiwi counterparts on a slice of the Colorado River outside of De Beque, a historic community nestled near the Roan Plateau and Grand Junction.

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A Return to Colorado: The Broadmoor Edition

The perfect end to the perfect week in Colorado was three days of perfection at The Broadmor. And there’s no better way to kick off Said Perfection by dining in the 5-star Penrose Room after a grubby week of getting dirty in the backcountry. Fortunately, we clean up nicely.

I loooove Bode’s cultured conversation starters when he’s trying to act proper. Last time as he surveyed the menu, he observed “I hear the salad is quite good here” and this time, it was, “Sooooooo, taxes these days.”

Early the next morning, I went for my traditional solo hike up North Cheyenne Canon and raced back to get ready to The Broadmoor’s fabulous brunch.  Bananas foster. Shrimp diablo. Plum Calvados Crepes. We take our brunching very seriously and Hadley went into panic mode after round 3. “I don’t know what to get now….I feel so empty inside…oh wait, I’m rather full.” These are true First World Problems, people.

One of the highlights of visiting in the summer is renting a cabana by the pool and almost without fail, rain always interferes with our plans. Fortunately, we were able to soak it all in for 1.5 hours before calling it quits and taking a nap in our rooms. 

We are all obsessed with The Broadmoor but no one more than this guy. Every other restaurant or hotel pales in comparison as he sputters out “This would never happen at The Broadmoor,” which means 99.9 perent of his life is a disappointment. I found him napping like this in his luxurious robe that afternoon. At least 0.1 percent of his life is bliss.

That evening, we dined at our favorite restaurant, The Summit, followed by bowling at Play at The Broadmoor. I was worried how Hadley would do with her broken arm but she bowled her first strike ever, thereby proving that maybe having a handicap can actually be helpful. 

The next day, we had one of Colorado’s most epic experiences via the Pikes Peak Cog Reailway! I’ve climbed several 14,000-foot peaks but nothing can quite prepare you for arriving at the summit of 14,114-foot Pikes Peak via the world’s highest Cog Train and being greeted by an onslaught of out-of-shape tourists. If you can’t beat ‘em, you’d better believe we joined ‘em by eating fresh doughnuts and relishing the views from the summit.

Later that evening, 10 days of beautiful Colorado scenery overload was capped off by  Seven Falls and delicious dinner at The Broadmoor’s 1858 restaurant. As I looked across the table at these exhausted, happy people, my heart was so full. We may not always be at our best at home but when adventuring, we shine as our best selves. And it makes all those painful road trips when they were younger to see the avid travelers they have become.

Leaving The Broadmoor always feels like I’m leaving a part of me behind. As we pulled into our neighborhood after the long drive home Jamie observed, “Arvada no longer feels like home and Midway has yet to feel like home. The only place I feel at home is at The Broadmoor.”

We couldn’t agree with you more.

A Return to Colorado: The Keystone Edition

We were in the car for much of our trip to Colorado. In addition to the 9-hour drive from Utah, Keystone Science School was about 1.5 hours away from Denver and Crested Butte was another 3 hours away (where Jamie and I spent Tuesday through Friday). Early Friday morning, we made the 4-hour drive from Denver to pick-up Hadley at the airport (stopping at Country Road Cafe in Kittredge en route to brunch with my dear friend Tina). Then it was another 1.5 hours back to Keystone. We picked up Bode on Saturday and drove to The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, another 2.5 hours. And then there was the final 9.5-hour drive back to Utah at the end of it all.

That’s 30+ hours of driving. Fortunately, I had downloaded Miracle in the Andes: 72 Days on the Mountain and My Long Trek Home, the survival story of a Uruguayan rugby team whose plane crashed somewhere deep in the Andes. The intersection of much of our trip was off Highway 285 in the heart of 14er country so it was fascinating to have this backdrop as we listened to this harrowing story.

As we crafted our Colorado itinerary, we knew we had to plan our activities around picking up and dropping off Bode at Keystone Science School so that involved spending two nights in Keystone. I’ve always enjoyed this area. With easy access to Denver–just 75 miles away– and surrounded by the 2.3-million acre White River National Fore, Dillon Reservoir, a fabulous network of trails, popular mountain towns Breckenridge, Frisco, Silverthorne and Dillon, there is always something to do.

Bode’s KSS drop-off was at 10 a.m. Monday morning. Or so I thought. We pulled up and started unloading his gear but it was weirdly quiet and devoid of the frenzy you’d expect. As we came to find out, Hadley’s small group was supposed to report at 10 a.m. and Bode was at noon. Imagine how thrilled he and Jamie were to learn yes, we’d woken up early but HURRAY, we had two additional hours to explore this beautiful place!

We hiked to Sapphire Point (though I’m not sure I’d call it a hike; it was more of a 1.5-mile stroll) to the most beautiful overlook of Dillon Reservoir, hemmed in by the Gore and Tenmile mountain ranges  (along with several tipi structures for kids to explore along the way).

We also climbed to the top of Loveland Pass overlooking the Continental Divide.

“One day, Simba, the sun will set on my time here, and will rise with you as the new king…everything the light touches.”

OK, more like Jamie was relaying the time we froze our butts off on the chairlift as the winds whipped the Continental Divide at Loveland Ski Area.

Once we finally got around to dropping off Bode at Keystone Science School, he went on to have a fabulous week! (Read the details here.)

7-mile Challenge Hike (in red hoodie)

Jamie and I had a fabulous time as well! We lunched in Breckenridge….

And then returned to Keystone to check into our SummitCove condo overlooking Keystone Lake with excellent access to the Summit County Paved Recreation Path System, a paved network of 70+ miles of trails that connect Keystone, Dillon, Frisco, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain and Vail. After dinner, we biked from Keystone to the reservoir and tried to spy on Bode (we could see the camp from the trail) but to no avail. We went for a leisurely stroll along the pathway at dusk just soaking in the beauty of the area.

The next day, it was off to Crested Butte but we returned four days later after picking up Hadley at the airport. While Jamie rested, she and I enjoyed Keystone’s Friday Afternoon Club atop Dercum Mountain. Friday foot passenger lift tickets up the River Run Gondola are free, and there are complimentary outdoor games like cornhole, slacklines and horseshoes, food and drink specials and live music. And the views? They speak for themselves.

Cornhole with a broken arm for the win

For our final night in Keystone, we stayed at The Springs near the base of River Run Condo. Not only was the location spot-on but there was an awesome pool and hot tub area, a home theater room, playroom, workout room and more.

Here we are practicing stellar parenting. It’s important to ease yourself back into everything after having the week off. 

In honor of Canada Day, I woke up early the next morning to go for a walk. Alberta is “Wild Rose Country” and the trail was bursting with them.

I get it, ‘Merica. You’re pretty darn awesome, too.

A Return to Colorado: The Denver Edition

Following an exhilarating ride with Jet Boat Colorado, Jamie, Bode and I continued our drive to Denver. The timing could not have worked out more perfectly. Our dear friend Lisa’s daughter, Whitney, was leaving on a mission to New Zealand and all the festivities were that weekend. That night was her going away party in their large, luxurious backyard and it was a dream to reconnect with so many people we love. 

We stayed at our friends, the Carrolls, who generously gave us their master bedroom to accommodate Jamie’s myriad of sleeping/health issues and it’s always a non-stop party when you have a family of 8 + our family crammed into their darling house.

Sunday morning, I woke up early to walk along the Ralston Creek Trail, just breathing in the memories and glorious old trees that shaded my route. At church, Whitney gave a wonderful “farewell” talk, we reconnected with many more wonderful people, and then Lisa invited us all over to her house to eat the Cafe Rio leftovers from the party.

We dropped Bode off at his bestie Nicky’s house to play for several hours and when I picked them up, it made my heart just burst to see them together. 

 

Our mere 36 hours in Denver was a whirlwind crammed full of get togethers, a farewell, lots of visit (but not enough) and late-night chats. As we were eating lunch at Lisa’s, I commented that returning to Denver is tough without having our family with whom to stay and Eva objected (the same woman who gave up her bed for us). And she’s right.

This wonderful chapter of our lives will never be over because of friends who will always be family.

A Return to Colorado: The Jet Boat Edition

It has been almost a year since we moved from Colorado. In some ways, it has become much easier but in others I’m still mourning it like a death in the family. When other people move on (and feeling like you should, too), you’re still stuck in the past.  My Facebook memories are an almost daily reminder of my kids’ magical childhood and I miss those days when our summers were fueled entirely by adventure and imagination.

When Bode and I Hadley were invited to attend Keystone Science School (KSS), I knew we had a plan a Colorado vacation around it. We would spend a few days in Denver with friends, drop the kids off at camp, Jamie and I would enjoy alone-time in Keystone and Crested Butte and we’d all reunite at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs.

All was going to plan until Hadley broke her humerus  and we were in a predicament. She obviously couldn’t go to KSS because they were whitewater rafting, camping and horseback riding all week but if she came with Jamie and me, she’d be stuck in our condo because we had an equally active itinerary. Thankfully, Jamie’s sweet mom offered to take her despite the fact it was a very busy week as she helped her 90-year-old dad move into a care center. Thank goodness for Grandma!

Jet Boat Colorado

Bode, Jamie and I kicked off our Colorado adventure with Jet Boat Colorado. Actually, our adventure started well before we hit the water. Its location is in De Beque, a historic community nestled near the Roan Plateau. I calculated it was about the half-way mark of our drive from Midway to Denver but I should have Google mapped it because it was actually about 40 minutes past Grand Junction (the true half-way mark). I made this realization at about 1 hour before our 12 p.m. departure time and we were about 1.5 hours away.

Enter: Jamie “Mario Andretti” Johnson who put the pedal to the metal–driving at speeds up to 90 mph–and we miraculously arrived just a few minutes late.  Oh, and did I mention our gas was below empty and running on fumes? Another miracle: there was a gas station in De Beque, Colo.

I had never heard of jet boating until a friend went to New Zealand last year and posted a video of her 45 mph adventure through narrow canyons as their boat barely skirted the banks of the river. I never dreamed I would have the opportunity to try it out myself until I learned Jet Boat Colorado offers Coloradoans the same adrenaline-charged adventure as our Kiwi counterparts on a slice of the Colorado River.

I don’t yet have any pictures of our experience because cameras were strongly discouraged (you’ll see why in this video). Lots and lots of water…and laughter.

I’ve driven through this part of Colorado many times and had written it off as a barren wasteland but was fascinated to learn De Beque’s rich old west history with ferry sites, homestead stories and fascinating geology. At one point, as he pointed out two eagles’ nests with Mama Eagle and her very large “baby” standing sentry, it was confirmed to me this was an experience like no other and quite the “Welcome Home” party for Colorado.

But it only got better….

 

Happy 11th birthday, Bode!

Happy 11 birthday, Bode!

It has been quite the year and I think our move has been the very hardest on you. When asked what your favorite place in the world was, you’d always respond “Home,” and you were deeply rooted to our family, your many friends and our Colorado adventures.

Arvada besties Nicky and Vinny

You were the Big Man on Campus at Vanderhoof Elementary. You’d grown up with everyone and were beloved by all as they voted you to the Student Council. You prided yourself on being obedient, smart and kind and had some of the most wonderful friends whom we miss every day.

You’re slowly rebuilding and finding your place here. You had the short stick in the draw–entering fifth grade in an alternate universe of a 5-6 Intermediate School which closed down this summer. You’ll be bumped up to middle school, which means you’ll have to start over yet again as the youngest in the school. But like most things you try to make the best of it and rarely complain, even on the really hard days.

You quickly rose to the top of your class and your teacher divulged that the kids came to you for help in math before her. All the students were given laptops during the school year and this was just an excuse to read silly memes and obsessively check your online grades.  One day as you dramatically read each itemized grade to me, Hadley interrupted. I told her, “Hadley, can you hold on? I’m listening to Bode,” which prompted you to reply, “Nevermind. They’re all straight A’s again.”

I spent a lot of the school year worrying you hadn’t yet found your Tribe until I chaperoned a field trip in May and was relieved to see you with a group of fun, respectful, athletic boys who radiated goodness. At church, you’ve made some good friends with the Seversons and Jonas. You had a blast doing the Kids Adventure Games with your ski buddy,  Porter, despite the fact he was like the Energizer Bunny. When his bike chain kept slipping off because he was incorrectly changing gears, you confessed, “I was glad when it kept happening because he never wanted to stop and rest.”

Kids Adventure Games

You’ve been a part of Webelos this year and earned your rank. You (and, let’s be honest, your dad) won the Pinewood Derby, a great way to leave Cub Scouts with a bang. You and your fellow technology geeks took free coding classes at the library and learned such monumental skills like learning to hack a website. In the spring, you once again dominated rec soccer despite having your dad as the coach (which we’ll both agree isn’t always super fun). We were relieved when you opted to do rec soccer again this fall despite the fact that many boys your age are competing in competitive, which is akin to selling your soul (and free time) to the Devil.

This summer, you attended a week-long adventure camp at Keystone Science School, a golf camp last week at the Homestead and took a weekly fishing clinic at Wasatch Mountain State Park. Our travels have been  minimal this year due to our tight finances but you’ve enjoyed returning to Colorado a couple of times to see your friends and our favorite place on earth: The Broadmoor.

You and I had quite the winter together. You agreed to try Nordic Ski lessons at Olympic venue Soldier Hollow so twice a week I volunteered in your class for the sole purpose of skiing for free.  You took six weeks of ski lessons at Sundance Ski Resort where you fine-tuned your skills. You and I were also the only two in the family with free passes to Park City Ski Area so our accumulative total number of ski days this year was 30+. I’m not sure if it was all the cross-country skiing you did, but something clicked for you and your downhill skiing is better than ever. You attempted double-black diamond McConkey’s Bowl and have become a solid, excellent skier who wants to ski more challenging terrain than your decrepit mother wants to ski. We made the financial sacrifice to buy everyone season passes next year because what’s the point of living in the mountains if we can’t enjoy them? Eating is highly overrated anyway.

McConkey’s Bowl

Though you’re still as snuggly and kind as ever (but only in private; you can’t lose face in front of your friends), I’ve seen little signs of distancing yourself away from us and the occasional pre-teen moodiness. You’ve been a complete ray of sunshine for many years so it’s to be expected that some dark clouds of teenage-dom should loom but here’s for hoping they aren’t here to stay.

Minecraft Sunset

You’re a pleaser and even when you don’t want to do something you’re asked, you do it quickly so you can get back to the fun stuff. Like video games. Lots of them. If I didn’t have any kind of monitoring system, you would play 24-7 so I’m hoping you’ll grow out of this technology addiction that is your Achilles heal and the source of your occasional moodiness. We have the most beautiful sunsets in our backyard and one day I told you, “Bode, look outside at the gorgeous sunset.” You quickly glanced up and then down. “On Minecraft there’s a beautiful sunset, too.”

You only tolerate the piano but to your credit, you’ve stayed with it. However, you really like listening to popular music and your favorite artists include Imagine Dragons and Daughtry. You and Fat Kitty have finally become besties. For years, you were his least favorite person in the family because you wanted to maul him with love. You’ve always been patient.  First, there were Hadley’s beloved stuffed animals, Tabby and Lolly, whom you loved in secret while she was in preschool and you were thrilled to pounce on them when she moved on. Fat Kitty has proven the same. Though she still adores him, he doesn’t have the same appeal as make-up and boys so you have become his caretaker, feeding and taking care of his every need. You have been rewarded with his long-anticipated affections. Your brother from another mother now goes to your bed to sleep with you first, the ultimate badge of honor for everyone in the family except your father who doesn’t understand The Grandeur That Is Fat Kitty.

For your “friend” birthday this year, you invited Jonas, Porter, Eli and Charlie to the Aqua X Zone obstacle course on Jordanelle Reservoir where your inconsiderate sister proceeded to break her arm. Undaunted, you all bravely carried on as she was rushed to the ER. :-) We are currently in Calgary for your “real” birthday. We generally have a big family celebration that has been bumped to Thursday night and you’ll have to share the spotlight with Uncle Jade for your family dinner the night before his wedding. Something tells me that you won’t mind so long as you get to celebrate with Timbits and video games on your big day.

Aqua X Zone

If you remember anything about your first year in Utah, I hope that you remember that you are loved–both by your Colorado friends and family–and by your new ones here. You can do hard things and I have no doubt that as you continue to climb to the top that the summit views will be spectacular.  Just know that we will be cheering and loving you no matter where we are on that mountain. Always.

Love,

Mom

P.S. For a stroll down memory lane, see birthday letters 1, 2, 3, 4 56, and 7, 8 9 and 10.

Earning your Webelos rank

Provo Canyon ziplining

 

Broadmoor Brunch

Park City

Killer Coders Jonas, Charlie and Eli

14er Pikes Peak

Keysone, Colo.

Coach Dad

 

Bode’s Electrifying Summer to Imagine!

Bode was uncharacteristically nervous as we waited in Keystone Science School’s registration line. It felt like a family reunion with a flurry of high-fives and fist-bumps as returning campers proudly showcased their beaded necklaces from previous years. It didn’t take long for a kind counselor to notice Bode’s apprehension as a first-year camper and introduce him to other kids.

He quickly connected with a boy who would earn the nickname “Marshmallow” from his s’mores T-shirt. When we noticed he was a returning camper, we asked about his favorite activity from last year and he divulged “I learned how to make a prison.”

The Warden (as he become known to me) would become Bode’s best friend.

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Happy Birthday to Maman!

It’s been a big week at the Borowski house!

My parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, it’s my mom’s birthday today and my brother Jade is getting married next week.  Normally we’re in Calgary by now but Hadley is at Young Women Girl’s Camp until Saturday so the kids and I are driving north on Sunday (yes, I’m dreading the 13+ hour drive by myself); Jamie will fly out later to join us for the wedding.

It’s been a tough year for my mom. Her MS has increased to the degree she has no quality of life and sleeps most of the time. Most of my contact has been with my dad because she can’t hear very well and is no longer very coherent.  This is the first summer she won’t make it to the lakehouse because she can’t travel anymore.  I miss her everyday and really miss my kids never knowing the dynamic, funny, talented, glamorous spitfire that I’m proud to call my mom.

One of my favorite funny memories of her was when I was about Bode’s age and there was a traveling carnival in the Deer Run mall’s parking lot. We decided to go on a few of the carnival rides including one called “Rock ‘n Roll.” As we boarded the cages, we thought we were in for a nice rocking and rolling back and forth but unbeknownst to us, it actually rolled upside-down….and kept rolling. (Hence the aptly named Rock ‘n Roll). My mom hates rides like that and she had neglected to zip up her purse so its contents were flying all over the place, along with her steady stream of obscenities while I laughed the entire time. Ahhhh, good times.

Happy birthday, Maman and we can’t wait to see you next week!

XO

Amber

 

The Climb

My entire life has been spent barreling forward without much of a plan but pouncing on each new opportunity as it came. Hard work was always rewarded with open doors and I expected the same revelatory experience that brought us to Utah to also determine my new direction.

But here I am, making an unholy mess with my clumsiness and am trying to practice forgiveness for not having it all figured out.

Talking to my dear friend Lisa last weekend was a reminder to not settle for the quick fix and that the rebuilding process will take much longer without any guaranteed rewards but the risk is worth it…because that is who I am. A year ago we were living on a wing and a lot of prayers as we prepared to leave a life we loved without knowing why. And now I’m back to to trusting that it won’t always feel this way and to just keep moving forward, even if that summit is still out of reach.

“Our Father in Heaven is concerned not just about our comfort but even more about our upward progress.” -Henry B. Eyring