The real nightmare of showing your kids horror movies

Them gem was written two years ago and still in the draft folder. 

My kiddos are turning 9 and 11 and both have been begging me to watch scarier movies. After all, they’ve overcome the trauma of the Wizard of Oz’s flying monkeys, so they should be ready for The Shinings of the world. Right? Wrong.

Call me an overprotective mom, but I’m appalled I spent my tween years watching Friday the 13th at sleepovers where we’d freak each other out by pretending to bring Jason–the silent, undead and unstoppable killing machine–to life. I still remember my adrenaline-fueled bike ride home from my friend Avril’s in the dark after watching Children of the Corn, certain that didn’t bike fast enough, I’d become part of that  dangerous religious cult of children who believe everyone over the age of 18 must be killed. Fortunately, I was only 12 so I was safe. OR WAS I?

Related: College Humor’s Horror Movie Daycare is a must-see if you’re a child who grew up watching the horrors films of the ’80s and ’90s.

I’ve kept my kids pretty sheltered so I figured I’d ease them into the scary-movie genre with Watcher in the Woods. This 1980 American horror mystery thriller film may be be produced by Walt Disney Productions but the movie–in particular the mirror scene at the carnival–haunted me for years.

They laughed in my face. “Mom, that wasn’t scary at all.”

I decided to up the ante with Signs. If stalker in the woods didn’t freak them out, maybe Mel Gibson as a fallen Reverend coupled with aliens would.

They were definitely freaked out but I talked them through the deeper meaning of the film. We even had a really in really in-depth spiritual discussion about signs that are around us every day and I thought all was well.

Until I went to bed.

In the middle of the night, I felt something pressed up against me and realized I’d been curled up in a ball. I felt a toussle of long hair. Hadley. Then I heard someone else breathing heavily. I reached over her to find her brother nestled up against her.

I’ll take that as a Sign we’re putting a kibosh on scarier movies for a while.



Bode’s first race

Another one from the draft folder, dated Oct. 12, 2015. 

Our elementary school has a cross-country team for grades 4-6. I really wanted my daughter Hadley to join because she’s a talented runner but she was reluctant, citing she’s more of a sprint and middle-distance runner, not long distance.

Fair enough. I’m wisely learning to pick my battle with my tween so made the deal that if she joined, I wouldn’t make her do any of the meets…that she could just do it for the joy of running. I motivated her by promising that her increased fitness and endurance would help her with hiking, something she is passionate about (read about her first 14er she climbed last summer).

Out of nowhere, my son Bode piped up. “I want to join the cross-country team.”

“You know it’s running, right?”

“Yes, I know, Mom.”

Bode is many things but a runner is not one of them. First, he has my side of the family’s build (short and stout), not long and lanky like Hadley from the Johnsons. Second, he jerks his head around like a bobblehead because he thinks it makes him run faster. Third, he’s never shown any interest in running and thinks our longer hikes are downright painful.

To his credit, he has enthusiastically attended all his twice-weekly practices, even during sweltering temperatures. And in typical optimistic Bode fashion, he never complained. Another perk I hadn’t anticipated: he has never been better at soccer. That kid can run faster and for longer, which has increased  his confidence and enthusiasm for the game. It has been a joy to watch him this season.

I kept  my promise to not make my kids actually compete until Bode casually mentioned he wanted to try one of their meets.

“You know it’s running, right?”

“Yes, I know, Mom.”

I picked Bode up early from student council and we tore over to a neighboring school that was hosting. He was delighted that in addition to his own peers, most of his soccer team’s buddies were racing as well.

Denver hadn’t seen rain in what felt like months so, of course, the sky was heavy with dark, drooping clouds. A few raindrops started falling so the organizer made the decision to start the boy’s race a bit early. The 1-mile course covered a series of hills and I quickly lost sight of him.

Enter: the downpour.

And then the hail.

Most of the parents ran for cover but I stubbornly stood out there getting pelted. If my boy was going to run through this weather, I was going to be there to greet him at the finish line.  Besides, if anything, seeking shelter from the hail would just make him fun raster, right?

As Bode rounded the final hill, I shouted, “Run, Forrest, Run!” Of course, he didn’t understand the Forrest Gump reference but I beamed with pride as I watched my “non-runner” run his guts out to the finish line.

Bode was drenched and his skin flaming red from getting pelted by the hail but he was beaming. Out of a field of about 40 boys, he took 12th, narrowing missing the top 10 medals but he didn’t care. His first cross-country race taught me a thing (or 12) about what it  means to be a runner. And it’s not about running.He’d tried something new that was hard for him and he did his very best. For him, that was enough.

Though, unlike Forrest, he unambitiously stopped at the finish line instead of running from coast-to-coast for an additional three years.

Better luck next race.


Love and Marriage: The Laundry Wars

This beauty from my draft folder is from a few years ago. Ahh, the memories!

In most ways, Jamie and I have a very traditional marriage. I take care of most household chores and the children. He works, pays the bills and quarterly taxes and raises freakishly large orange creatures.

Remember, I said MOST WAYS. 

I do the laundry. I hate doing laundry but when we were engaged, I saw how Jamie did laundry and I wanted no part in it (his method involved large heaps of clean clothes that were never put away all week long). Though I don’t claim to be the perfect laundress, my process involves washing, drying, folding and putting away the laundry on the same day. I’m also moderately obsessive about doing laundry when we’re on vacation (if possible) and can’t stand coming home with a suitcase full of dirty clothes.

Jamie, on the other hand, likes to mix his clean clothes with his dirty ones in his suitcase.

It’s like nails on the chalkboard, peeps.

I do laundry a couple of times a week so usually stay on top of things, for which Jamie is openly grateful. But the other day, he made an unusual request.

“Where is my Nike shirt?”

“Which Nike shirt?”

“My grey one. It’s not in my drawer.”

“Then it’s probably in the dirty laundry.”

He proceeded to dig through the laundry basket. “HERE IT IS. Why is it not washed?”

“Let’s see. It’s Thursday and I did the laundry on Monday. That means you must have worn it in the last two days.”

I am the master of deduction.

Jamie is picky about what he wears but for some reason, he was hell-bent on wearing that shirt. And this, my friends, is where another laundry pet peeve comes into play. On the rare occasion he does a load of laundry, he only washes his clothes and nobody else’s.

A few minutes later I walked into the laundry room to see he’d thrown a few of his shirts into the wash (another peeve: not running a full load).

“Jamie, do you see this pile of dirty clothes sitting by the washing machine? It would be swell if you’d put some of these other clothes in to wash as well.”

His response? “I don’t want that dirty stuff touching my stuff.”

Dude needs a lesson in airing dirty laundry.

Utah’s culture club

From the draft folder, October 27, 2016.

I’ll admit that moving back to Utah was never in my game plan. Ever. Though I loved my college experience at BYU and living in Salt Lake City for five years, I’ve never been a huge fan of the culture here. The “are you or aren’t you (Mormon)” issue. This come from both sides. When I started my job at Snowbird, the anti-Mormon marketing staff vetted me to see if I was. And I’ve heard some saddening stories about Mormons not being inclusive to those not of our faith. Frankly, I don’t care what what you are. Can’t we all just get along?!

Utah County is home to many of the orthodox Mormons who live in a “Happy Valley” bubble, Salt Lake City is a mix of those in and not of our faith with a liberal streak, Park City is known to have many anti-Mormons and “Jack Mormons”–those no longer practicing. The high school’s drug problem is exponentially higher than anywhere in Utah.

I wasn’t sure what to expect about the Heber Valley but thus far, I’ve been pleasantly surprised. Small-town kindness rules over any religions affiliations. You know, the way it should be. I don’t feel like I’m in Utah, just that I’m in a a friendly place where people go above-and-beyond to help one another. We’ll see if/how that opinion chances once we’re more settled.

Before we had even moved into our ward, I randomly had the Teachers (boys ages 14 and 15) call to see if our family was in need of service that night? “Check back in a few weeks for our move, Dude.”

And then the older girls (Mia Maids ages 14 and 15) thoughtfully left this for Hadley. Jamie was offended by its size.

But I’m just grateful for the warm welcome of our beautiful community.

Things I Miss About Colorado

October 8, 2016 was the first night we slept in our new home. Today marks six months since we moved in.

As I was going through my draft folder, I saw that I had started this list “Things I Miss About Colorado” back in October. The longer we’re away, the more I miss Colorado and yet Utah somehow becomes more amenable to me. Every new month brings back Colorado memories and I suspect it will take at least a complete year until I can really move on and be able to truly celebrate the new traditions we’re building.

It’s curious because I really don’t want to move back. I have a firm confirmation this is where we’re supposed to be but I often wish I could go back in time to the way it was when Hadley and Bode would play for hours with their stuffed animals and our world was full of endless days of magic and wonder.

The biggest thing I’ve been mourning is the loss of childhood. Hadley and Bode spent a magical childhood in Colorado and Utah will be their adolescence. My job gave them unprecedented access to grand openings, exclusive previews and travel, travel, travel. I laughed when we returned to the Colorado Springs Grand Opening of Great Wolf Lodge in February. As they gave Hadley her VIP lanyard, she raved, “It’s so good to have something around my neck again!”

Ahhh, the life of a former VIP-turned-regular tween.

Hadley initially adjusted surprisingly well, quickly making friends and landing on the honor roll but has had some heart-wrenching struggles these last two months that have less to do with the move but more to do with toxic middle school. Bode forms much deeper attachments to people and places so the move was harder on him but he is slowly forming deeper connections and is in a happy place with weekly coding classes at the library with his best buddies and spring soccer starting soon.

As for me, I’m still feeling at a loss. Of course, I miss the amazing perks and privileges that came with the life I built in Colorado. But mostly, I miss knowing what new direction I should be taking. I miss being known and needed, and being a builder and connector of people.

Here are other some things from my list of Things I Miss About Colorado:

Our friends. Jamie and I were best friends with the parents of our kids’ best friends. Every time we got together (which was often),  it was a huge party for everyone. We’re making wonderful friends here but it will take years to rebuild. I miss sending an email to see if anyone wants to go for free 7-Eleven Slurpees and a bike ride…and having 30 people show up.

Our house. It had a much better layout and the rooms were more spacious. We’re growing used to some of our frustrations with our new space and will be working a lot to install our yard this spring and summer.

The many wonderful places. Golden. Strolling along Clear Creek. Washington Avenue. The hikes. Chautquaua. YMCA of the Rockies. Playing for hours and biking through Van Bibber Creek.

Target was 2 minutes away, Costco was 10 minutes. Though I’m not a big shopper, I miss the convenience of regular store hours. Small-town living often has shortened hours and the most random closure dates. Yes, Woodland Biscuit Company, I’m talking about the fact that you’re closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays after we drove a half hour for breakfast.

October and April in Denver. Glorious. Mud season in the mountains is not.

Free stuff. Since I’m still running Mile High Mamas, I continue to get invited to a barrage of event, VIP previews and travel invites. It’s depressing not to do any of them (and not be able to afford the ones in Utah!)

Things I don’t miss:

The view behind our fence



The big city and an endless barrage of franchises

Marijuana in the news every day


Of course, I could write a separate list of Things I Love About Midway after just six months and I know it will continue to grow.

To combat our family’s homesickness, we are returning for 10 days of play this summer and I cannot wait to visit our Colorado home again.

A prize-winning cabbage

From the draft folder, April 14, 2015.

“I can win a major award!” My son Bode squealed at me across the field as I picked him up after school.

“A major award” conjured up images of “liquid sex” à la  Christmas Story so I waited until he got closer to expound.

“What are you talking about?” I noticed he was holding a plant.

“This!” He excitedly thrust it into my hand. “Third graders are competing in a contest and the winner will win a $100, no, $1,000…or maybe was it $10,000 scholarship if they grow the biggest cabbage!”

I could see it in his excited little eyes. The kid has been bred to grow giant pumpkins.

But wait there, was a catch and he blurted out:

“Everything is great except for…”


“The part of the scholarship being reward to a random winner.”

He has more of his dad in him than I’d prefer.

What not to say to your self who’s been nursing a sick kid to health all week

From the draft folder, October 22, 2012. Some men never learn. 

Hadley has finally turned the corner from Strep and and fingers are crossed this particular plague has passed by without infecting the rest of us.

By Thursday, I was going out-of-my-mind with cabin fever, particularly since it was the last week before school and talk about a less-than-optimal way to spend it.

I blurted out to Jamie. “I am sooooo BORED!”

What men don’t understand is women need to vent and don’t necessarily need the problem fixed. Jamie offered a solution.

“You could try cleaning the house.”

Looking for rainbows

From the draft folder: May 8, 2015. I’m dedicating this to my Grandpa Wilde because it would have been his birthday today.

Denver lies within a semi-arid, continental climate zone so anytime it rains more than one day in a row, it feels like we’ve been plunked down in the middle of the Amazon. I’ve lost track of how many days it has rained, which has put a serious dent in Bode’s soccer season, not to mention my mountain adventures but I’ve been so busy I’m glad I haven’t been tempted to play.

On Thursday night, I was helping the kids with their homework when I happened to glance out the window and saw this:

It’s rained for week and this is the first rainbow I’ve noticed. Note to self: Look up more. Life happens when you slow down to enjoy it.

As much as I miss the sun, you won’t hear any complaints from me; after a dry winter, we desperately needs the moisture. Dear Colorado: It sure would have been nice to have Said Moisture in the form of snow during ski season. Please plan accordingly for 2015/16.

For Mother’s Day weekend, it’s supposed to rain, rain, rain with a possibility of snow.

We’re Moab-bound to the land of sun, desert, mountain biking, hiking and 65-degree temperatures–talk about the ultimate Mother’s Day gift. Have a great weekend!

The torture chamber of puss

I was cleaning out my drafts folder and came upon this beauty from October 27, 2015 that was never published. For obvious reasons. Poor Bode!


I’ll admit it: I have an affinity for popping pimples. It’s genetic, you know. Every time I go home, if anyone has any semblance of a zit, they’re immediately attacked. Many say you shouldn’t pop them and I don’t…unless they’re big, pussy and have a personal conversation with me, which happens a lot.

I had typical teenage acne but when you’re a zit-obsessed family, you go for the juggler. My mom submitted me to not one but two rounds of Acutane, which cleared out my face (and everything else) forever. I still get the occasional rogue breakout but rarely. Whenever I get a facial, the esthetician always cleans out my  blackheads, except they call it “extraction,” which I suppose is a more professional way to refer to popping zits. But the result is still the same: pure, unadulterated joy.

So, imagine my angst to have an entire playground of puss on my daughter’s face and she won’t let me go anywhere near it. For the most part, I’ve learned to look away except for those rare moments when I’m massaging her hair during church and a pimple literally jumps out at me from her hairline. What am I supposed to do? Attack or ignore it?  Definitely the former, and since we’re in a reverent, public place she can’t react like a banshee and I go back to massaging her hair and all is forgotten.

Last week was picture day at school, the one day of the year when I actually insist the kids look quasi-presentable. Fourth grader Bode came down decked out in a stylin’ outfit I bought from Nordstrom Rack and I almost sent him on his way until I saw it: his first zit. And it wasn’t just any pimple, but the grandmother of whiteheads square in the middle of his chin.

I’ll admit I squealed for joy and dragged him into the bathroom. He was unimpressed. “Bode, normally I wouldn’t care [oh, the lie] but it’s picture day and you can’t have this huge zit on your face. You can either have me pinch it or do it yourself.”

Here’s the thing about Bode: If there was a Richter scale for lack of pain tolerance, he would be a 10,000. It literally took us hours one night to pull a dangling tooth, and the only reason we were insistent was because we were doing a photo shoot the next day for The Broadmoo’s Ranch at Emerald Valley and we couldn’t have him looking like Billy Bob.

Bode wanted nothing to do with the zit popping but tentatively pinched. Nothing. “You have to go a bit harder,” I tenderly coaxed, like the Model Masochist Mother that I am. He tried again. Nada.

The bus was coming so I took over. It didn’t go well. Though I’m well-versed in the art of painless pimpling, this bugger was stubborn and it took me several attempts, by which time Bode was furious as the tears streamed down his face. “I’m so sorry, it’s not usually that difficult,” I consoled him. Even though I knew he was being melodramatic, I felt badly that he felt badly. He blew past me ignoring my attempts at our usual hug and a kiss and stormed to the bus.

I’m bracing  myself for the result of his pictures. Puffy eyes. A red sore on his chin. And a dagger-like glare “my mother made me do it.”

It’s all part of making memories.

Small Town Livin’ Updates

I’ve never lived in a small town. Sure, I went to college in Rexburg, ID and served as a missionary in several small villes in France and Switzerland but it’s just not the same. I find it rather humorous that when I was single, I was the PR rep for a popular musician who lives in the Heber Valley…and I remember thinking “why on earth would anyone ever live out there?”

Park City has many of the amenities of a big city (Home Depot, Walmart, numerous franchises) so it’s been interesting to adapt to our little hamlet with a population of just 4,000.

A few observations thus far:

  • The mountains, views and sunrises. When we sat on our front porch one evening before we moved in, it was complete stillness and peace under a blanket of stars. It took me exactly 20 seconds to get used to it.
  • Whenever I hear Salt Lake City’s traffic reports, I give a little chuckle of gratitude and am SO glad I don’t have to deal with that on a daily basis.
  • There are very few radio stations out here so KPCW public radio in Park City has become my go-to station in the mornings. I love all the evidences of small-town life including their lost and found reports.
  • There are a few private Facebook groups for the Heber Valley that crack me up on a daily basis as people sell, swap and ask any question under the sun. Takeaway: people in small towns are ready to help their neighbors. And sometimes get snippy with them, too.
  • The kids’ recreation guide included gems like “hunter safety, concealed weapons class and wilderness circuit rodeo finals.
  • Bode’s teacher “rodeos” and she was absent from class because her husband won the lottery…for a sought-after hunting permit.
  • Bode missed the competitive soccer tryouts and by fifth grade, most kids are playing competitive. We’ve found out why on his rec team this year. Some of these boys have never played before (which is fine) but our frustration is the league’s horrid policies on rules…as in they don’t enforce them. Offside? No problem. Let’s teach kids to cherry-pick. You’ve stepped three feet over the line for a throw-in? Throw away! I’m surprised how much it has bugged me. I don’t expect perfection but my gosh, can we please teach the kids how to play soccer?  The good news is not only was Bode the oldest but he was the superstar of the team–he scored more goals this season than he did the last few years combined in our city league. It’s been great for his confidence but not his skills. Better luck next season!


  • We were given a stipend from our builder for our front lawn so we immediately hired someone to do the sprinklers and sod. The problem was there was no grass to be found this late in the season so we are lucky enough to be the only house in the neighborhood who will have a mucky lawn all winter.
  • There are so many things we need to buy for this house in order to truly fit–cabinets for the laundry room and garage, an end table, lamp, rug and an addition to our too-small couch (that’s just the tip of the iceberg) but my top priority has been getting these kids skiing. We can’t afford season passes this year so are biting the bullet to do the skiing through our rec program. For just $350/kid, they get six weeks of half-day ski lessons and passes to Sundance Ski Resort and transportation up there. There goes our entire budget but really, all I want for Christmas is to get these kids of ours on the slopes.
  • Juggling my new job with Mosaico Travel along with all my other gigs has kicked my can. The good news is it’s been baptism by fire and I’ve been literally thrown into their busy Christmas travel season.
  • I look forward to life calming down a bit so I can actually get out and explore this glorious place we get to call home. Soon, right?