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.

Thanksgiving at The Broadmoor

Thanksgiving in Colorado: who could turn down an offer to spend a long weekend in one of our favorite places?

First stop: Denver. We crammed a lifetime’s worth of memories into 12 hours that included a drive-by of our old hood, Marcella’s crispy potato pizza, the magical Christkindl Market, Tattered Cover, downtown holiday lights and a stay at the modern-chic Crawford Hotel above Union Station.

From there, it was onto the biggest, baddest Thanksgiving feast we have ever seen at The Broadmoor.  The buffet was, in Bode’s words, “exquisite” with a sophisticated twist on all our traditional favorites…plus some new culinary experiences.

Me: “You need to try caviar.”
Bode: “That’s cow heart, right?”
Jamie: “It is eggs. You like eggs, right?”

Hadley later went on to say it tasted like “the bottom of the ocean.”

Bode overindulged in everything else to the point where he looked like he was in pain.

Me: “When it stops being enjoyable, you need to cut it off.”
Bode: “I can’t force it down anymore. I need gravity to so its job.”

Our Denver Thanksgiving tradition was to hike Turkey Trot before dinner but we switched things up to hike in between feasts, which proved challenging when you’re in a food coma. Fortunately, a snowball fight and the threat “you don’t want the old lady who just had knee surgery to beat you, right?” proved highly motivated.

On Friday, I joined in the fun of The Broadmoor’s Turkey Trot 5K. I was first place of the losers (walkers).

The Family: Slept in and ordered room service.

Final score: It’s a draw.

We also did our first photoshoot in years with one of our favorite people: Photographer Mic. The pictures turned out fabulous!

However, there was a lot of wardrobe-related bickering, causing peacemaker Bode to start singing, “If you’re happy and you know it…” He stopped looking at us and proclaimed, “Forget it. There is no happiness here.”

Fortunately, the rest of the weekend WAS sheer happiness with swimming, gingerbread-house making and posing, and Jenga, laser tag, checkers and pool playing.

One night, we took the shuttle to Seven Falls Winter Lights. We ate at Restaurant 1858 at the base and since it was bitterly cold, we opted not to climb the massive staircase  and instead took the archaic elevator which offered a bird’s eye view of the falls. It was cold (did I already mention it?) and the elevator was old (mentioned that, too). As we patiently waited for the elevator, a crowd of people spilled out and the doors promptly started to close. An elderly woman lunged forward, sacrificing herself as someone yelled, “NOT GRANDMA!” But I’m here to tell you those doors reopened and Grandma saved the day, just like every day.

When we first attended The Broadmoor’s White Lights Ceremony six years ago, Christmas magic was at its peak…and Hadley bolted off to follow the merry band of elves when Santa made his appearance.

Fast-forward to present day and the teens were, welp, teens. A blistering wind and cold picked up right before the ceremony. Bode braved it outside but Hadley bolted indoors. After the tree lighting, they reluctantly followed the droves of kids to what we thought was storytime but when we found out they were only visiting Santa, they wanted nothing to do with it.

But then it was almost like the Christmas elves got together and hatched a plan to remind them what the holiday spirit was all about. Mrs. Claus, unprompted, walked over to where those teens were sitting and gave them their own private storytime full of delight, humor and wonder, making believers out of all of us.

December fun!

I worked from home yesterday after a controlled avalanche closed Provo Canyon (my commute) and deposited 30 feet of snow across four lanes of traffic. But you won’t hear any complaints from me after last year’s dismal snow. Bring it on!!!

I’m woefully behind on updates from Thanksgiving (Colorado and The Broadmoor) and Christmas (Canada).  I set the goal to blog more because this is really my journal but between working (and my daily 1.5-hour commute), Mile High Mamas, freelance projects and family, there isn’t a lot of spare time.

So, a few quick updates that I will hopefully expand upon another time.

Thanksgiving

My contact at The Broadmoor just retired so I HAD to get one more story assignment for the magazine. Thankfully, she bit and assigned me to cover their over-the-top Thanksgiving buffet and White Lights Ceremony. We had the time of our lives (as always) and the good news is I get at least one more return trip as “payment” for the article, so we’ll return in May for Hadley’s birthday. I probably spent 30 hours interviewing, researching and writing it but what I get in return (two glorious stays) is so worth it. I love that The Broadmoor will always be my family’s happy place because it is truly special.

December

December was busy with Bode’s sax concert and Hadley’s art show. We invited some friends over for a cookie exchange prior to going to Midway’s Creche exhibit and Jamie and I had a fun time getting dressed up for the Heber Chamber’s formal Christmas dinner. We went caroling with friends and were invited by the publisher of Heber Valley Life Magazine; it was so fun to network and meet new people. I skipped out on my big baking extravaganza since we were leaving for the holidays but made approximately one gazillion gingerbread cookies.

Our annual ward Christmas party is always fun. This year, they had a photo booth where Hadley volunteered by taking photographs. The best photos of the night were undoubtedly our photos with Bonnie Jean, Paige, Lynn, Jana and Jen.

We had a couple of great snowfalls and my first snowshoe adventure with friends Jana and Sarah was pretty epic. So so so beautiful! Have I mentioned I love snow? :-)

Ski Days

Bode and I are cross-country skiing twice a week at Soldier Hollow after school. We were in the intermediate-level group until he got bumped up to the experts and I’m very happy to be left behind. He’s become a great skier, both downhill and Nordic.

It seems like since we moved here two years ago, weekends and evenings have been so full of drudgery and yardwork. But guess what: when your yard is buried under a foot of snow, Jamie can’t make you haul 61 tons of rocks so we’ve been hitting the slopes every chance we get.

Hadley is really struggling with PTSD after that snowboarder slammed into her last year. I totally get it. I was hit from behind two years ago by a skier and I’m still on edge whenever I hear anyone coming up behind me which is a nice way of saying I yell at a lot of reckless people.

On our first day of the season, I posted:

Great early-season conditions for our first day on the slopes! While the rest of the old-timers were rusty, after one run Bode boasted. “That was awesome. I feel like I’ve been skiing all season.”

Jamie: Only brought one ski boot for reasons that aren’t entirely my fault but I will take the blame because it’s his birthday weekend and he had to drive home to get it. I was stuck in the season ticket office about the same amount of time so we’ll call it a draw.

Me: Told everyone we should stick to intermediate runs so I could ease my knee back into it. By the third run, they made me go down a black diamond with bumps. As Jamie was trying to coach Hadley down a tricky section he told her, “Just do what your mom does.” “What? Complain about my knee?”

Hadley: Did great despite post-accident PTSD. Had the best quote of the day when an avalanche gun was shot and she declared: “A tribute has died.”

Christmas

I had resigned we wouldn’t be able to go home but was thrilled when a friend informed me she had found $300 tickets to Calgary, which is unheard of.  Our trip was full of the good, bad, ugly, hard, glorious and dramatic all wrapped into one and I’m so glad we were able to go to spend time with my mom. The weather has been pretty mild in Canada so I was unsure if we’d be able to skate and do some of my favorite winter activities but thankfully, the lakes and rivers opened for skating right before our arrival so we had a great time on Lake Bonavista and Bowness Park, as well as spending a day in Banff.

Top 9

2018 was one of our toughest yet as we navigated some very tough teenage issues.  But looking back, it wasn’t all bad. The highlights according to my most liked pictures on Instagram:

1) My daily commute to BYU

2) Hadley winning the middle school art show.

3) Jamie terrifying Hadley in Goblin Valley

4) Color wars at the middle school with friends Ali and Katelyn

5) Snow Canyon State Park with the Hardymans

6) Celebrated our 15th anniversary

7) Hike to Troll Falls

8) Moraine Lake

9) Waterton Lakes  (my favorite place on earth) with my kids and Dad.

Here’s to 2019!

Christmas Wishes from the Pumpkin Man!

Years ago I was the Director of Interactive Operations for the Denver Post and worked right downtown on the 16th Street Mall. I had worked there for a number of years. One day when heading out for lunch a gentleman stopped me on the street asking if I had some change for the bus. Now I was familiar with that “line” and was experienced with the homeless that sometimes pan handled on the mall. Sometimes I gave and many times I did not. I opened up my wallet and saw I only had $5 which I intended to use for my lunch and I said, “I only have a $5 bill,” which is more than he needed for his bus ride. He misinterpreted that I guess to mean that I could only give him $5 and he said, “That is okay” enthusiastically, seeing as $5 to be more than he needed. I didn’t want to disappoint the man, so I gave him the $5.

I’m not sure what happened next, but maybe it dawned on the man my original intent after I handed him the money and he said, “Where are you going?” I said, I was going to get some lunch. He said, “Let me buy you some lunch at the McDonalds.” I found his offering both surprising and intriguing so I agreed. We then proceeded to the McDonalds where he bought me a hamburger using the $5 I gave him and we sat down together and started to talk. He had just gotten out of jail and was downtown trying to get a social security card so he could get a job and actually needed money for the bus so he could get to his next destination.

Now I share this story, not because I did something good. In reality, I did not. It was more circumstance than a kind heart. If anyone was good, it was that man and not me. He taught me. In difficult circumstances HE was kind to me. I wish I had done more for him now. Because the lessons I learned from him where invaluable. As a beggar, he was dignified. And this Holiday season I have to think of the great scripture that says:

“And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.

Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—

But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.

For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?”

Merry Christmas!


(Christmas 2013)

Merry Christmas #1

Going home for Christmas has its advantages. I simplified and didn’t do my baking extravaganza or mail our cards. I’ve felt pangs of guilt whenever anyone has brought by a card or a treat…but then we eat away and get over it really quickly. There’s always next year. Now that I’m working out of the home while juggling a lot of freelance writing and Mile High Mamas, I don’t have time for clutter. And sometimes saying ‘no’ feels pretty good…while being grateful for all of the ‘yes’ friends in our life!

After a pretty rough few years, I’m actually looking forward to 2019. Nothing has really changed and we are still battling many of our same challenges but I feel like we’re getting a better handle on everything. But with two (almost) teenagers, I’m reminded that life is never predictable.

We have some solid Christmas traditions. Watch A Christmas Story and It’s a Wonderful Life.  Bake treats (I made a gazillion gingerbread cookies for various functions). Read and sing from our Christmas book every night. Do service. Visit Santa. See the lights on Temple Square. And on Christmas Eve, we have a compendium of traditions. The left-wright game. Holiday gift exchange. Play the bells. Christmas Jammies. Eat a gazillion treats.

One thing that hasn’t been constant for the holidays is where we are spending them. Even when we’re at home, we seem to always travel to some family member’s house for Christmas Eve or Day. And that’s OK; I’d rather be surrounded by family. Hawaii would be nice, too. :-)

Check-in luggage is $50 on Delta so we’re only taking one large suitcase and we decided to open most of our gifts here. Tomorrow, we’ll open our Grandma gifts at Jamie’s parents and do a little celebration before flying to Calgary. Three Christmases in one week? That’s a win!

For our family Christmas yesterday, I slept in until 7:30 a.m. to find Elf Jamie bursting at the seams that he’s been up for hours wrapping gifts and when he saw me, he started blasting Christmas music but I shut him down that we do not wake teenagers early.

By 9 a.m., they were tearing through their presents that included computer/coding games for Bode, a sundry of art supplies for Hadley from Fat Kitty (and on her card, he wrote, “Draw me like one of your French girls, Hadley.” Perv Kitty). Jamie stepped it up and probably bought more presents than I did this year.  A used trampoline and a Roomba were the bigger items.

Then, I tagged along for a fun night with our youth! We went to the temple, had a private fireside with Elder LeGrand Curtis, toured Temple Square’s lights and not-to-be forgotten were the disgusting drink concoctions these teens dared each other to drink (meat juice, anyone?) at Chuck-a-Rama.

(Jensen, Bode, Will, Wally, Stockton, Hunter)

(Cassidy, Emma, Hadley, Edyn)

(Intense coin showdown)

It was Bode’s first time at the restaurant and he was very concerned about the cost of a group our size.

Bode: “Who is paying for all of this?”
Me: “The Ward. You know, Jesus.”
Bode: “We’re making Him pay on His birthday?”

 

 

 

Gingerbread Cookies with Eggnog and White Chocolate Filling

My childhood friend and neighbor, Stacey, dropped me a note this morning. While watching Christmas movies on Netflix, she was inspired to go through her files to look for some Christmas recipes.  In 1991, her now-deceased mom wrote out all of her recipes as a Christmas gift. On each note card, her mom wrote who gave her the recipe and my domestic goddess mom’s name was written on many of  the files.

“It’s just kind of beautiful,” Stacey wrote. “I feel like I am spending the day with both of our moms today (and yes, I am ugly crying as I type this!)”

Given my mom’s poor health, I, too was touched that her legacy continues to live on.  Our Christmases were a flurry of activity in the kitchen with her famous Christmas pudding (and that amazing white sauce), shortbread cookies, amazing pies and thoughtful gifts. Our house was decked out in holidays colors and lights and the snow. How I loved the snow! We’d bundle up and go skating at the community center or go sledding in the gully, followed by cozying up to our fireplace with hot chocolate. There is something so powerful about the traditions and recipes we pass down through the generations.

I have a new recipe to add to that list. With three of my very favorite flavors–gingerbread, eggnog and white chocolate–melded together in one recipe, this cookie is my own Christmas miracle.

I adapted this recipe from the blog Two Cups Flour and if you like your gingerbread with stronger, more rustic flavors, this is the way to go. Next time around, I’m going to make my own gingerbread recipe that is a tad bit sweeter but either way, it’s full of sugar and spice and everything nice.

Here’s to our mothers, traditions and a holiday that reminds us of that love.

Gingerbread Cookies with Eggnog and White Chocolate Filling

  • 3 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 tsp Ground Ginger
  • 2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Nutmeg or allspice
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 10 Tbsp Unsalted Butter softened
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar (their recipe called for dark; I prefer light)
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 Cup Molasses
  • 3 Tbsp  Pure Maple Syrup

Topping

  • 1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar for rolling gingerbread balls

Eggnog White Chocolate

  • 2 Cups White Chocolate Chips or Chopped Baking Bar
  • 1/4 Cup Eggnog
  • Dash of nutmeg (optional)

Instructions

Cookie Dough

  1. In a large bowl, sift the dry ingredients (flour with baking soda, spices, and salt). Set aside.
  2. In a mixer, beat together the softened butter with brown sugar until creamy.
  3. Add egg, molasses, and maple syrup to the butter mixture. Mix together on medium until combined.
  4. Slowly add the flour mixture, ensuring it is thoroughly mixed before adding the next portion.
  5. Form the dough into a large ball, wrap and plastic and chill in the fridge for 30-45 minutes.
  6. Preheat Oven to 350 F and grease the cookie sheet.
  7. Measure 1 Tbsp of cookie dough and roll into small balls with your hands. Place each cookie dough ball into a bowl with the granulated sugar, roll around for a light coating. Place dough balls 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.
  8. Bake cookies for 6-7 minutes until almost cooked (don’t bake cookies until they are hard; they will firm up as they cool down).
  9. Once they are cooled, take your teaspoon and gently press down your ‘thumbprint’ in the middle. Note: Don’t go lower than halfway through cookie.
  10. Let cookies cool completely before filling with eggnog white chocolate.

Eggnog White Chocolate Filling

Warm the eggnog and combine with white chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl, stirring every 30 minutes until melted and smooth (a double-boiler is great, too).  Transfer eggnog and white chocolate to a piping bag or a Ziploc bag with a cut corner. Pipe into thumbprint of cooled cookies and leave for 30 minutes to set. Sprinkle with cinnamon and store in an air-tight container.

Moody November: Survived!

Can we just be honest here? Jamie and I both agree that November is probably our least favorite month of the year. We’re adjusting to shorter days, dark nights, the beautiful fall leaves are gone but there is not yet enough snow to have any fun. We have somehow survived another November but thankfully, DECEMBER is pretty glorious! Here are our happenings:

Hadley

Hadley had an epiphany today: she loves art. Good gosh, we’ve only been trying to remind our wandering, lost soul of this pretty much every day since we moved to Utah. (You would think winning last year’s middle school art competition would have reminded her of this but nope).  She is currently taking painting in school and told me today she’s going to switch to the advanced painting next semester. She was really excited that if she stays on this track, she can take an AP Art class where she will get college credit. For a kid who sometimes struggles academically (though she has been doing better in high school), it’s a big confidence boost that yes, she is awesome at something! Let the Bodes of the world take AP math; the artists are who makes this world beautiful. I need to start doing some research on buying her some more advanced brushes and paints. She is currently in her room creating, creating, creating. She would do this for hours in Arvada and it makes me happy to see her slowly figuring out her passions…while fighting us every step of the way because she is, after all, still Hadley.

Bode

Twelve is such a silly, beautiful age. Not yet a man, but no longer a boy. He is taking free coding classes at the library with his buddies but I love that they still want to play hide-and-seek afterward while waiting to be picked up. He’s doing well in school, is learning to play the sax and starts cross-country skiing at Soldier Hollow next month. We have an incredible Scout leader who takes them camping every month and a good group of boys who meet weekly. He and I were asked to play a piano duet in church. When I asked him, he looked like he was going to throw up–then cry. He has worked his way through those emotions to a steady laissez-faire attitude and I really wish he’d be a wee bit more hands-on because I, too will be publicly humiliated due to his lack of practicing. He’s still one of the easiest, happiest kids I know but he’s turning 13 next year and I know better than anyone the fiery pits that are teenage hell. Yay.

Jamie

Jamie finally chopped up his pumpkin and disposed of it behind our fence (the deer will have a nice snack all winter). He is going to make some big changes with his web development business in 2019. We have had a few loyal employees but are continually frustrated we just can’t get ahead, especially with all of the financial hits we’ve taken since the move (he counted them up a few months ago: $30,000 of expenses last year; it’s a miracle we’re not in the poor house). But we’re still paying our tithing and for that, we have been blessed. Jamie feels like he needs to take a leap of faith and remove himself of the day-to-day web development, do more project management and sales, and hire more people and an accounting firm. We’ve avoided taking any big chances and have been slowly growing over the years but it has come to the point where we’re tired of just getting by and need to make some changes. He was the director of new media for one of the biggest newspapers in the country! He’s brilliant and visionary…and we just need to take the leap. But there will be definite growing pains, especially because we don’t have much of a safety net.

Me

Still here. No real updates. I’m six weeks out from knee surgery and I’ve been trying to consistently work out the last couple of weeks which is helping with my physical therapy. I got sick a couple of weeks after knee surgery…and caught another cold Thanksgiving weekend so I’m pretty much ready for 2018 to be OVER and I’m eager to implement a fitness regimen with my new-and-improved knee. But the best news of all is my friend Lisa caught wind of a $300 fare to Calgary for Christmas…and we nabbed it. I’ve been pretty bummed out I haven’t been home for the holidays for several years because there’s nothing like a Borowski Christmas! I still feel like I’m trying to find my way here and I miss the person I was before we moved. I love building, connecting, influencing and making a difference. I’m not a going-through-the-motions kind of person and being bereft of a real passion/purpose since moving is a constant source of frustration for me.

But do you know what? Life is good. A lot of last spring’s drama has simmered down and we’re having a season of calm before the next bottom drops out. :-)

We just returned from a glorious Thanksgiving weekend at our favorite place on earth: The Broadmoor. I need to crank out that magazine article and then I’ll do some updates here.

Another one of my favorite traditions is the kids wake up 10-15 minutes early before school, pile into our king-sized bed, and snuggle and snooze until it’s time to get ready. Jamie hates it because he misses out on precious sleep but I’m of the attitude, “These kids are growing up too quickly and gosh darn it, if they still want to snuggle (even if it means they’re manipulating me to let them stay in bed longer), SO BE IT!”

P.S. Fat Kitty secretly loves it, too.

XO