“Maman”

My beautiful mom passed away on Tuesday, April 30, 2019.

For those who knew and loved her, she was a hilarious spitfire who could cook, craft and create anything. She was an entrepreneur who built a charming restaurant/gift shop, and was renowned throughout Calgary for catering huge parties and her larger-than-life personality. When Jamie asked my dad for my hand in marriage, she interjected in her typical Christine way, “YOU CAN HAVE HER.” (It was, after all, very difficult to have an unmarried 30-year-old Mormon daughter).

I was around my kids’ age when she was diagnosed with MS and she spent more than half of her life with a crippling disease that slowly stripped her of her every gift and passion. It has been a slow, painful death and I’m so grateful my dad, brothers and their families have been her selfless caretakers. She passed away in her sleep at home–a tender mercy after so many years of suffering. My sadness is trumped by the peace that she is finally free of pain.

I have no doubt in addition to some joyous reunions with her parents, sister and best friend, she is having a blast raising a ruckus on the other side in her unforgettable way. She is, after all, a Wilde.

Youth Conference at Bryce Canyon!

Having a mom who is the Camp Director in your Young Women’s organization is a double-edge sword. Or maybe it’s just edges at every angle if you ask Hadley. :-) I was recently called upon to be one of the leaders for our ward Youth Retreat for teens ages 14+ in Bryce Canyon National Park.

It has been several years since I’ve been in Bryce Canyon, the last time with my friend Kristy when we participated in a biathlon through Utah Winter Games (a hilarious read if you have a moment). The canyon is perched at about 8,500 feet, which makes it a fantastic winter destination. However, our visit was mid-March so we weren’t sure just how much winter we would get and how much mud.

The outdoor rink had recently closed down but other than that, it was a winter wonderland! We stayed at the Best Western Ruby’s Inn, which is the the ultimate family-friendly property with a huge restaurant, general store, swimming pool, and loads of activities. I would love to go back with our boys and a big group of friends.

We played lots of fun games and had inspiring youth battalion devotionals in our conference room, swam, and hiked to the rim of the canyon.

On the last day, I was put in charge of cross-country skiing. The area is famous for its glorious network of Nordic trails but we were at the very end of the season so we didn’t know what would be opened, much less groomed. Miraculously, we found the most amazing 5K loop that took us right out to the rim of Bryce Canyon that been groomed for the final time of the season. Many of the teens had never been Nordic skiing and they ROCKED it. And I’m salivating to go back there with Bode to ski. It was just that good.

Hadley and I returned home after 48 hours of inspired adventures to our boys…who skied, ate fast-food for every meal (yet somehow didn’t clean a single dish even though they’re disposable) and the worst trespass of all: Bode’s introduction to the movie “Dumb and Dumber.”

Apparently they can’t be left along for even one weekend without adult supervision.

Winter 2019 is a wrap!

I was supposed to publish this on March 20 but never finished it and hit publish. How quickly this month passed!

How did winter 2019 slip by so fast? We have had a lot of stress with my mom’s health the last few months (and my passport problems added to the panic in case I needed to get home) but after an extended stay in the hospital, she is home for now.

But we’ll focus on the fun parts of Winter 2019 because there were plenty in one of my snowiest winters since I have lived in the U.S.

Snow. So much glorious snow. Oh, wait. I already mentioned that. I truly can’t remember enjoying myself so much in years. We’ve had almost constant snow since Christmas which is pretty funny because very few people around town have taken down their outdoor Christmas decorations and it’s totally OK (edited to note: they finally came down April 17). We haven’t had very many huge snowfalls but rather, just nice and consistent almost every week. After two grueling years of landscaping our yard (and we’re still not finished), we had a great winter where we were finally able to play with lots of snow days.

Jamie, Hadley and I went to the Midway Ice Castles preview party. Translucent blue, green and red sculpted waves danced on the walls, showcasing our very own aurora borealis…without the Arctic temps. 

That night was a win for all except for Bode who winter cabin camping with the Scouts.

Luckily for Bode, he got really sick the following month when they did their winter cave camping trip. He wasn’t disappointed to miss it.

DOWNHILL SKI

Lots and lots of ski days. Bode is totally rocking the slopes, Hadley is still struggling with PTSD, Jamie is skiing stronger than ever and I’m getting worse in my old age and am the slowest of all. But we still love it!

Day date!

I only had one girl’s day this year but it was memorable. As we were driving to Park City, I realized my ski boots were SOAKING wet on the inside, which was particularly suspect because I hadn’t skied in over a week. My girls Rachel and Julie to the rescue! I went through an entire roll of paper towels trying to soak up the moisture during the drive and in a stroke of brilliance, we picked up plastic bags that I wore as booties to keep my feet dry.

Girl’s day with Rachel and Julie

Redneck ski boots.

On Saturday, we did a Couple’s Day Out with Jamie’s college friends, Jim and Lindsay. First and last on the slopes, zero drama/whining, gorgeous conditions and a leisurely 1.5-hour Legends burger lunch. That day was a rare glimpse at the fun side of adulting.

NORDIC SKI

Bode and I Nordic skied twice a week after school at Soldier Hollow. This will likely be our third and final year of Kickers and Gliders ski program because he wants to try their DEVO ski team this summer and next winter. The first year we did the program, it was epic because of the incredible snow. Last year was horrible due to the lack of slow and the man-made 5K icy track we looped over and over again. But Bode didn’t mind. Whenever it did snow, the groomers made these huge piles of snow to later distribute that the kids called “snow whales.” They looooved racing down their steep slopes.

This year, Bode got bumped up to the advanced class while I happily stayed back with the intermediates who, by the end of the season, were skiing some pretty crazy stuff. I love the uphill and flats on Nordic skis but if you’ve ever attempted the downhill, you know the terror I’m talking about with no edges and the inability to turn. Regardless, it was fun seeing Bode fall in love with cross-country skiing as well.

Hula hoop obstacle course racing

He did DEVO “tryouts” last week where they could try out the team and I saw his competitive edge kick in as he raced to the top and came in second.

For the first time in his life, he is actually trying to get into shape and goes on the elliptical in the basement…except for when there are spider webs because THAT, my friends is a deal-breaker. I hope he enjoys their summer training program!

Hadley and Jamie, on the other hand, hate cross-country skiing. We planned to ski on my birthday but it was brutally cold that Wednesday morning and I was told the ski crowds would be bad. I let Hadley skip her state testing that day and she promised to do anything I wanted…so she made me crepes for breakfast and we went cross country skiing at the golf course at Wasatch Mountain State Park for the first time. Hadley hated every minute of it but bless her heart, she tried to be *kind* of positive because it was my birthday. Jamie didn’t even bother coming. :-)

The Duck Whisperer

I went back a few days without her and discovered a secret network of trails that climbed for miles and miles in the foothills. I went about a half hour before reluctantly turning around because 1) remember how I’m not great at the downhill and I didn’t want to get stranded? and 2) due to the high snow levels, we have had a lot of cougar and moose in the valley and I didn’t want to get attacked. I’m already chomping at the bit just thinking about exploring this next year:

SNOWSHOEING

During our first winter in Midway, I organized a memorable couple’s full moon snowshoe night. We skipped last year due to abysmal snow but this year, we reintroduced Soup ‘n Snowshoes with these crazies under a full moon, followed by wart removal New Year’s resolutions, and late-night game night with leg wrestling champions, pumpkin-orange diarrhea and the very salacious Song of Solomon. #WhyParentsShouldn’tStayUpLate 

And of course, there was our memorable Valentine’s Day overnight yurt retreat!

I had quite a few fun outings with friends, none of each involved plastic bag booties.

Big Springs

Wasatch Mountain State Park

 

North Fork in the Uintas

2) Jamie’s parents are celebrating their 50th anniversary later this month and that will be a different post unto itself.  Last weekend, we drove 45 minutes to the Art City Trolley because Jamie was craving the best wings ever. Little did I know that just two doors down was the home his parents rented the first four years of his life: 107 Main Street, Springville. For being so young, he remembered quite a bit. Winning a fish at a competition at the church across the street. Burying the fish in the backyard. Visiting the lady next door who ran a headstone company (it’s still there) who would give him hard candies. The huge lot across the street where his dad would garden (it’s now a 7-11). Progress, folks!

Now, let’s hear it for our rainy and snowy spring after our glorious winter!

Overnight welcome to puberty

When you live with someone, you don’t always notice big or small changes right away. Hadley’s entrance to puberty has been fairly gradual (despite shooting up the summer before fifth grade and being a foot taller than everyone).

Almost overnight, I started getting a lot of comments about Bode.

“Have you noticed his voice has dropped?”

“He lost his baby fat on his face and he grew two inches!”

And my favorite from his piano teacher:

“Oh my gosh! Your little boy’s voice is dropping lower and his cute cheeks are hollowing out–he’s entering testoterone-land. He’s going to be a handsome man.”

And then I tuned in that they were right! That boy of mine is entering teen-dom.

He’s still really easy-going and sweet but there is definitely the occasional dose of moodiness. He has taken more care in his appearance and actually started styling his hair this year. For the first time in his life, he’s interested in eating healthier and has put himself on a fitness regimen by running on the elliptical for a mile every day as he tries to get in great shape for soccer and summer ski season. WHAT?!

I can find awesome brand-name clothes at a thrift shop in Provo and have always done his shopping for him because he just hasn’t cared…until last week when I came home with a haul of clothes and he said he wanted to come with me from now on to pick them out. Fortunately, there was only one shirt he didn’t like, which is a far cry from Hadley who hates 95% of what I buy for her…and that is why I don’t shop for her anymore. He hasn’t surpassed me in height–yet– but the countdown is on.

Last week, he was really tired and a bit grumpy racing out the door in the morning. I soon realized he forgot his lunch so I drove to meet him at the bus stop. He sheepishly and affectionately thanked me, grabbed his lunch and I caught a glimpse of my little boy as my teenager walked to the bus.

These are tough years for mamas but what a wonderful young man he is becoming.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Dear overachieving leprechaun-pranking parents. If you think it’s cute now, I have a cautionary tale. I thought my St. Patty’s Day antics were over now that the kids are teens but I learned otherwise last year when I did nothing and was met with much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

After the kids delightfully explored our overturned Emerald City this morning, I hesitatingly asked if I would have to keep doing this even when they are 40 and Hadley said, “Wherever we are living in the world, YOU WILL DELIVER LEPRECHAUN PRANKS.”

A glimpse at my new job

The past few days have been a whirlwind with training, meetings and more training.

This morning, we had a last-minute, hour-long interview on NPR’s The Mountain Life” with Lynn Ware Peek and Tim Henney, a staff meeting, a lunch where we met with all of CONNECT’s board members, and more training that afternoon.

I’m exhausted, overloaded with information and loving that my life has taken on a new direction and purpose. 

If you’d like to learn more about my organization, I posted the link to our interview on social media today:

Pro tip when your CONNECT Summit County team gets tapped to appear on KPCW Radio’s Winter Pledge Drive: Make sure when you’re introduced as being Day 3 on the job you interject with “ASK ME ANYTHING” to ensure they don’t.

(Around the 3:30 mark).

kpcw.org/post/mountain-life-winter-pledge-drive-connect-summit-county

Hasta la Vista BYU!

Today is the first day of my new life!

I recently put in my two-week notice at BYU and accepted a position with a non-profit in Park City dedicated to providing resources and eliminating stigma related to mental health, something I have grown very passionate about in recent years.

I have been casually looking for a new position for a few months but was not willing to take the leap unless it was a good fit. My industry is sadly one I don’t really recognize or even like anymore. Gone are the days of creativity and vulnerability. Now, it’s all about who has the prettiest pictures on Instagram, the best analytics and digital marketing. And forget about being paid a decent wage because it just isn’t happening.

Last month, my friend Sheri posted a job position at her non-profit that was for only 15 hours/week with minimal pay. I had a friend who was looking for a job so DMed Sheri for details and she mentioned they would also be hiring a Communications Manager for 15 hours/week. Again, not enough hours or pay but I told her if they managed to combine the two position for 30 hours/week, I might be interested if they could also up the pay. It’s a non-profit so I knew the pay wouldn’t be great but I needed to earn more than minimum wage, y’know?

Well, Sheri moved heaven and earth with the board to meet my requests and I’m thrilled to start training this afternoon. The best news of all is I’ll be working from HOME with frequent runs to Park City for meetings and events. Plus, I adore Park City and plan to sneak in a hike or bike ride every chance I can get.

While I was interviewing with Sheri, two other job opportunities arose–one that was full-time at a non-profit affiliated with my current company and the other was for a friend. In the end, the one I took was the best fit for my family and what I’m most excited about.

But can we talk about BYU?  I truly thought I was at the point in my career where I would enjoy giving back and mentoring students which I did…but academia was just not a good fit and is better suited for someone who prefers a safe, stable, unchanging environment.

Things that I’ll miss:

  • My students. I left two student writers, Grace and Jane, students assistants and an awesome team of students who worked with me in design, web development and video.
  • The staff. Truly, some of the best people and so darn kind.
  • Overhauling our alumni magazine. I learned I prefer writing to editing so serving as editor was a bit of a stretch but I loved being a part of building a magazine from the initial conception to writing to design to publication.

OK, long pause as I try to think of some other things I’ll miss but I can’t at this time, which is a sign that it was time to leave.

Things that I won’t miss:

  • The commute. 1.5 hours/day down Provo Canyon which was often perilous this winter.
  • Utah County. I love living in the mountains and I did not like driving to suburbia every day with its traffic, franchises and inversion. Plus, the Utah County bubble is real and while most people are lovely, there is also a lot of close-mindedness.
  • My position. Overall, my job was a daily frustration with zero creativity. In the beginning, I tried to innovate but was shut down so often that I stopped fighting it and just did what the job required of me…nothing more. The crazy thing is I received RAVE reviews about what a great job I was doing. If only they had let me do what I do best.

I could go on but I’ll stop there. The Dean’s Office staff threw me a lovely going-away party and it was sad for a minute..until I remembered I’ll be home a lot more for my family, can schedule my workouts whenever I want and yoga pants are my new daily uniform.

Bring it on!

This picture is one of my favorites ever of Bode. We were exploring in Evergreen while Hadley was at a birthday party and this was a moment of sheer joy, how I’m feeling right now.

A Backcountry Yurt Couple’s Retreat for Valentine’s Day!

Jamie and I spent one of my favorite Valentine’s Days ever in a backcountry yurt with five other couples.

The adventure started long before it began. A steady stream of storms threatened to derail our plans but the grandparents came a day early, for which I’m so grateful because they were able to take care of Bode when he got sick.  Then I-80 westbound closed but thankfully we turned off at the exit just before the closure.

Trip organizer Rob is Bode’s Scout master so I’m attuned to his craziness. I was a bit wary when he said it was a flat-ish 3.5-mile snowshoe into Beulah Vista a brand-new yurt on the east fork of the Bear River that is maintained in a cooperative venture between the U.S. Forest Service and BRORA in Uinta National Forest. I mean, I really like Rob but this is a guy who is a juxtaposition: he is a caring, encouraging Scout leader but has also been known to toughen them up when he takes picture if they cry during their expeditions. Would I be his next victim?

The Mirror Lake Scenic Byway is 78 miles between Wyoming Highway 150 and Utah State Road 150, but the middle portion is closed in the winter so we drove to Evanston. The freeway was still closed and it was a bit eerie as we wound through a tight tunnel of hundreds of semis parked along the road. We carb-loaded at Jody’s Diner before driving to the Lily Lake trailhead 45 minutes away in Utah.

(Andrew, Jessica, Me, Jamie, Jed, Nicole, Kristen, Rob, Leland, Lindsey, Jenny, Rod)

The piercing wind was biting when we arrived. We strapped on our snowshoes, grabbed our backpacks and slowly broke trail through huge swathes of wild coniferous landscape. As our heart rates increased, our body temperatures warmed and we shed layers…until the next time we left the trees and were exposed again. I have been snowshoeing. I have been backpacking. But I have never backpacked with snowshoes and though the trail was only moderate, I had just enough sensory bandwidth left when we arrived at our yurt 3.5 miles later as the wind and cold were being unleashed.

The yurt was cozy and clean, equipped with six bunk beds, a large table, propane stove, kitchen utensils and plenty of firewood for the wood-burning stove. It took a while for the yurt to warm up so we shivered off the cold as we unpacked and prepped for dinner. Rob served his mission in Thailand and served up a gourmet batch of yellow curry and rice for our Valentine’s Day feast….and a delicious breakfast of bacon, eggs and hashbrowns.

He is the most organized person alive but in his words, “I don’t do games” so he put me in charge of the fun. We played an ice-breaker, followed by a VERY revealing Newlywed Game that lasted until 10 p.m. where we laughed ’til we cried.

A few truths revealed:

Jessica and Andrew lived in Dubai for three years and most recently returned from a year abroad with their five kids where they traveled to 20+ countries. Favorite family tradition: throwing hard-boiled eggs at each other for Easter.

Rob and Kristen. Apparently Rob once kissed his cousin (on the lips). But the real show-stopper was when he was asked what would be his first purchase after winning the lottery. His response? A knife.

Jed and Nicole. Though they have been married almost 17 years, they bombed the Newlywed Game but we did learn he was the worst (black) Baptist minister ever and has a deep love for all the Rocky movies.  He was also great comic relief when he picked Jamie every time for the ice-breaker and when he played the Rocky theme song as our wake-up call the next morning.

Lindsey and Leland. He once peed on a pregnancy stick, she once owned 200 shoes and don’t ask either of them to perform “Sneaky Snake” in a talent show.

Jenny and Rod. She likes peace in the morning, he’s a wildman who mountain biked the Alps. We also learned getting busted for “make-out face”  by your parents is a bad thing when engaged.

Jamie and me. We were in our element with many incriminating stories but nothing brought down the house quite like his Meet the Parents: Sleepwalk Edition. “Don’t worry, I’m Jamie Johnson” was the inside joke the rest of the trip.

Some other memorable moments:

  • Leland terrifying me as I walked back from the outhouse. It was pitch-black and he was grabbing snow for water. Not wanting to alarm me, he spoke from the darkness, “Don’t worry, I’m over here.” Good thing I had already peed because I let out a blood-curdling scream that freaked everyone else out as well. I haven’t laughed that hard in years.

Leland: the predator

  • Jamie brought his disco globe nightlight and Jessica hung a string of white lights above her bunk for some mood lighting while Jed, a Tony Robbins-certified coach, led a discussion on forming meaningful connections in our relationships.

  • Rob (a prolific musician) serenaded us to sleep with his violin. Fiddler on the roof…errr. yurt.
  • It snowed all night, the perfect setting in our cozy yurt. I worried I would freeze but had the opposite problem and slept poorly because it was so warm from the wood-burning stove.
  • Kristen’s alarm went off at 6 a.m…and she was the only one who didn’t hear it because she was wearing earplugs. Bless Rod who climbed off the top bunk to turn it off–and bonked his head twice on the ceiling. Fortunately, we fell back asleep until 8 a.m.
  • We celebrated our 16th anniversary with the most stunningly pristine bluebird day with fresh views of Deadman Pass.

    • Rob rolling up his sleeping pad. I swear, it as smaller than when it arrived from the manufacturer.
    • Jessica and Andrew brought two sleds and hit the deep powder behind our yurt.  Rod hit a tree in a very memorable way; good thing they’re done having kids.

Our trek out was a lot different than the previous day. The temperatures were milder, the sun shone brighter and our packs were lighter so it was much easier to appreciate the scale and connectivity across our powder-perfect playground.

Our Valentine’s Day Retreat 2019 was one of those experiences that can be recreated but never relived.

Here’s to creating more experiences and to saying “yes” because you just never know when magic will happen.

Christmas in Canada

Slowly but surely, I’m getting caught up here and I would be remiss if I didn’t post about our Canadian Christmas. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times but I’ll focus on the best.

1) Being there in the first place.  Special thanks to my friend Lisa who spotted the $300 direct flights to Calgary and to my dad who, instead of buying Christmas presents, chipped in for part of the fare. A Christmas miracle! Not so miraculous: our 24-hour ordeal getting back to SLC after our flight was canceled.

2) Being with my mom for her last Christmas at home. She is currently in the hospital and on the waiting list for a care facility. It has been a long time coming and we’re grateful my selfless dad has been able to care for her at home this long. She spends most of her day sleeping now but miraculously was awake for all Christmas Eve. She went out for Chinese food  with us one day and most moments spend with her were holding her hand, looking through her beloved Woman’s Day magazine recipes and bucolic scenes from her favorite calendar. Our final night before flying home, she was more lucid than she was the entire time we were in Canada and we saw a glimpse of that spitfire we know and love.

3) Christmas. A smorgasbord of food, left-right game, bells, besting Pat in Jenga, home theatre movies (“Crazy, Rich Asians” is a new favorite), naps and matching PJS. The gift exchange game was our most epic ever with three people who bought Pimple Pete (we have zit-loving issues), Jade’s camo marshmallow blowgun and Pat’s Presidents Putin and Trump socks. Borowski Family Christmas: alternately promoting chaos and world peace. 4) Ice, ice, baby. The weather was so warm leading up to our visit I had resigned myself I wouldn’t be able to  do any of my favorite winter activities. Quite unbelievably, our lakes and rivers did freeze over so we were able to play hockey with cousin Conner, my dad, Jade and a few pee wee kids at Lake Bonavista. Bode found his calling as goalie, as did I after a near concussion making a slapshot (I scored!) Bowness Park is a Canadian party on skates! We joined the throngs of people to circle the lake but the real fun began after we crossed the barriers to skate the river for a few miles. Canadian fun at its best! And another family favorite: Fish Creek Provincial Park. In the summer, it’s the mud pits and swimming. In the winter: Cautious Bode and Dallas (the dog) only had minor heart attacks about walking on the cracking ice. Also, what a difference a few years makes! 5) Troll Falls Insider tip #1: Skip Banff and recreate next door in Kananaskis Country—same gorgeous Rocky Mountains without the crowds and cost. Insider tip #2: When hiking steep, icy sections, link arms in a “love chain.” When someone starts to wipe out (like your brother) ditch him, even if it prompts his rebuke, “WHAT HAPPENED TO THE LOVE CHAIN?” Insider tip #3: When you say, “I feel like I’m the only sane one in the family,” make sure your mom is not editing the group picture at that exact moment where you look certifiably insane with your mouth wide open.

Insider tip #4: Despite teens often being really boring and glued to their technology, those reduced brain cells make for exciting moments when they attempt to scale a waterfall without spikes. Insider tip #5: Remember that being a pleasant teenager is hard work, as demonstrated by your daughter after your epic adventure, “I started to get a headache from my delightfulness.”

4. New Year’s Eve was replete with family, my bestie, Stacey, chocolate, cheese and meat fondue (which is to be repeated for Valentine’s Day), not be forgotten was marathon Pictionary when the team with the worst artists (Bode and me) somehow won. Christmas is, after all, a time for miracles.

The Duet of Death

How to perform a memorable first (and last) mother-son duet at church.

1) Practice for a couple of months, making sure to push it back at least once because you still suck.

2) Finally start mastering it the week prior (think: deathbed repentance).

3) Ignore the prompting to tape the music to the stand because really, what could happen?

4) What could happen is the music will fall down in the middle of your performance (not shown in this practice rehearsal but the :50 second mark is where all the fun began).

5) When you calmly pause to pick up the music, make sure you do not place your son’s sheet over the last bars of your final page.

6) Quietly freak out when you realize your music is partially covered but you don’t dare move it for fear it will fall again so you go off your [very bad] memory.

7) Fake your way to the ending, proud of yourself that you have given your son yet another (unintentional) life lesson on resiliency and you have survived a near heart attack.

The End.