Aaronic Priesthhood and the Errands of Angels

August 5, 2018 was a special day for our family: Bode received the Aaronic Priesthood and was ordained to the office of Deacon, and my brother, Pat, turned 50! Talk about a memorable day for both of them.

In the Church today, worthy male members may receive the Aaronic Priesthood beginning at age 12. These young men, typically ages 12–17, receive many opportunities to participate in sacred priesthood ordinances and give service. As they worthily fulfill their duties, they act in the name of the Lord to help others receive the blessings of the gospel. -lds.org

Things I want to remember:

Last night was the worst thunder and lightening storm we’ve had since we moved to Utah. The power went out around 10 p.m. and we went to bed in complete darkness. The next morning when I walked into the living room, Bode had stumbled out of bed and fallen back asleep on the couch. The whole room was full of light…and I was so filled with love and appreciation for my sweet boy and the man he is becoming. 

After four non-stop weeks of activity (Trek, Canada and volleyball camp), Hadley had an exhaustion-fueled meltdown that escalated to a full-blown panic attack on Friday, the worst she has ever had. Jamie and I shifted gears from frustration and anger when we tried to get her to leave for a long-planned cabin getaway with friends that afternoon to honestly being at a loss of how to help her calm down..and fear. Bode knew. Jamie was in his office and Bode came in. “I think we should pray for Hadley, Dad.” And so they did. He has always been very sensitive tothe spirit and looks for ways to bring calm and peace to our family. Always.

The boy does not like to be the center of attention so it was torturous for him when I told Hadley to do a little photo shoot before church but she got a few great pictures of our boy.

Our Bishopric member called him up in front of the congregation to congratulate him for moving on from Primary (the children’s organization), completing his Faith in God and to announce he would be ordained a Deacon that afternoon (which elicited a quiet cheer from his buddies at the Sacrament table).  The youth are usually asked at that time to share their favorite Article of Faith and/or short testimony and Bode was well-prepared…and was a bit relieved when Bother Price forgot to have him talk. He dodged at least one bullet that day!


Grandma and Grandpa Johnson, Aunts Lisa and Tammy, Uncle Jeremy and cousins Ada, Berkley and Darby all came to see him ordained to the priesthood that afternoon, a sacred ordinance performed by his dad in a circle of love, fellowship and priesthood holders. It was a special, sacred moment.

We gathered after church to celebrate Bode’s birthday with smoked brisket, corn on the cob, watermelon, two kinds of homemade French fries, topped off by Bode’s favorite dessert: strawberry cheesecake.

How grateful we are to have this strong, smart and spiritual boy to help lead the way in our family.


I loved this story that I read to Bode when we were staying at my mom’s cousin’s house in Canada. The following is excerpted from President Thomas S. Monson’s biography, To the Rescue, our former prophet who recently passed away. There are two priesthoods: the lower (Aaronic Priesthood) which is what Bode received and the higher priesthood (Melchizedek). This is a beautiful story about the importance and gifts of the Aaronic Priesthood. 

Before Tom left for basic training, his bishop recommended that he receive the Melchizedek Priesthood. Tom phoned his stake president, Paul C. Child, to set up an interview. President Child was known for his love and deep understanding of the scriptures. He was also known for his searching, detailed probing of the scriptures with those he interviewed. So when Tom called for an appointment, he was reasonably nervous.

“Fine, Brother Monson. When can you see me?” President Child replied.

Knowing that President Child’s sacrament meeting was at six o’clock, Tom suggested five o’clock, hoping that the interview would be brief.

“Oh, Brother Monson, that would not provide us sufficient time to peruse the scriptures,” said President Child. “Could you please come at two o’clock and bring with you your personally marked and referenced set of scriptures.”

When Sunday arrived, Tom appeared at President Child’s home on Indiana Avenue at the appointed hour. He was “greeted warmly, and then the interview began.”

“No, President Child.”

“Do you know,” said the president, “that you are entitled to such?”

Again Tom said, “No.”

Then President Child requested, “Brother Monson, repeat from memory Doctrine and Covenants section 13, which tells of the ordination of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery to the Aaronic Priesthood.”

“Stop,” President Child directed. Then in a calm, kindly tone he counseled, “Brother Monson, never forget that as a holder of the Aaronic Priesthood you are entitled to the ministering of angels.” He then asked Tom to recite section 4 of the Doctrine and Covenants: “Now behold, a marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men. Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day . . .”

Tom never forgot the spirit he felt in President Child’s home. It was “almost as if an angel were in the room.” And the message of the fourth section he had recited would become more than words revealed in 1830—those words would become a standard for him in his service to the Lord. . . .

Happy 14th Birthday, Hadley


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Goblin Valley summit

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

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

Love, Mom
The Woman on the Ground

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

Morro Rock

Magical Morro Bay

Midway Tree Lighting

Coral Pink Sand Dunes

Zion National Park

St. George Slot Canyon

Art show winner

La Jolla, CA

Goblin Valley


Ambruary is a wrap!

Several years ago, someone jokingly nicknamed February “Ambruary,” in honor of Valentine’s Day, our anniversary and my birthday. That same month the wheels came off so Jamie banned us from ever calling it that again! We had a pretty low-key week.

Pre-Valentine’s Day. Fondue has been our Valentine’s Day tradition the last several years. Since the holiday fell on Wednesday (our busiest night of the week with volleyball, piano, Scouts, young women and missionary meeting), we had Jamie’s family over the Sunday prior for a delicious meat and cheese fondue while we watched the Olympics.

Valentine’s Day. I woke up really early on Valentine’s Day to make Pioneer Woman’s red velvet pancakes and assemble treat bags/gifts to the family. There was a minor teen meltdown that morning and she later apologized…for the first time ever. Forget Christmas miracles; it was a Valentine’s Day one. That night, we made a heart-shaped pizza that we ate in the small 30-minute window we have together. Craaaaaazy night.

Anniversary. Jamie and I celebrated 15 years of wedded bliss by meeting in Utah County to go car shopping after work.  We have essentially been a one-car family since our Pilot’s problems in Canada last year. When Jamie and I both worked from home, this wasn’t a problem but now that I’m at BYU, he needs a car to get around town. We’ve been poking around and found a 2016 Pilot with low-mileage so jumped on it quickly. Normally, we sell our vehicles on our own but decided a trade-in was the best bet due to its continued problems…and we were offered exactly what we were hoping for it which still wasn’t much but we gratefully took anything we could get. It was a wonderful, reliable car until this last year. The funny thing is we had planned to replace it until the move happened…and then we just kept pushing it back until it was almost too late. 

Isn’t it pretty? Don’t blink or you’ll miss Jamie’s bow. :-) He says he bought it for my birthday but really, he’ll be the one who drives it because his old Camry gets better gas mileage for my commute.

Birthday. I had a nice, low-key day. Normally, I would have taken my birthday off but since the day before was President’s Day, I went into work.  While the boys skied on the holiday, Hadley and I had some nice adventures hiking in the snow and bonding with the geese.

“Hey, Mom. Have you ever had anything swarm and attack you like this?”

“Yes. They’re called children.”

We had received our first sizable snowfall of the year and I was thrilled. Last year was truly epic for snow and I had a blast volunteering twice a week in Bode’s cross-country lessons at Soldier Hollow. Since going back to work, I’ve scaled that back to once a week and I haven’t minded because all they have had opened was a 5 km stretch of man-made snow (I told you it was depressing). But on my birthday, it was a white package tied up with lots of powder. Our class climbed higher than I ever had, I did not die on the downhills and I just felt grateful to be alive. The week prior, I had a bad wipe-out on a steep, icy hill. But on my birthday as I helped the slowest skier in the class, I had a renewed outlook. I no longer need to be the strongest or fastest; I just want to keep doing what I love…and survive. Low standards? Sure. But I hope to still be hiking in my 80s so longevity is my new focus…and hopefully getting one of my bad knees fixed this spring.

After cross-country skiing, we raced home for an evening out at Midway Mercantile, a delicious new restaurant in town with a stone hearth and succulent dishes. We’ll be regulars for sure!

From there, I rushed off to bookclub where we video chatted with the authors of Mustaches with Maddie. If you liked Wonder, you’ll love this feel-good book based on a true story of their daughter Maddie who was diagnosed with brain tumor.  The book had an ambiguous ending but the real-life story is so much better. Maddie spent two weeks recovering in the hospital, but luckily the doctors were able to remove 90 percent of the tumor from Maddie’s head. Unfortunately, 10 percent was hard tissue, and the doctors were unable to remove it. The risk for removing the hard tissue was much higher, so the doctors left it alone. But after the surgery, a cyst started growing on the hard tissue that was left, and two years later Maddie went in for a second surgery.

After the first surgery, her mom Shelly recalled that the pediatric neurosurgeon was just talking about things and [mentioned], “With that 10 percent you never know—maybe it could just fall right off the brain. It’s happened before.’” She continues, “I just thought, ‘I like that answer.’ And so for two years almost, we were praying at every family prayer and every meal that Maddie’s tumor would fall off her brain.”

Shelly says there were two doctors working on Maddie’s head during her second surgery as they successfully removed all the soft tissue.

But Maddie was still facing radiation because of the remaining parts of the tumor the doctors couldn’t remove.

“When they turned around [to finish the surgery], that little piece of hard tumor that was stuck to her brain had just fallen right off the brain, and they plucked it right out of her head,” Shelly says. “So it was straight up an answer to a lot of prayers that happened oddly in the way that we had hoped.”

What an amazing miracle and an amazingly awesome way to end a great birthday.


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.



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


The birthday boy!

Celebrating another trip around the sun for our unsung hero with his favorite gingerbread pancakes and fresh apple marmalade. I

t’s been a tough year and he’s been the glue that has held us together with his hilarious one-liners and unwavering strength.

We vowed not to get Christmas gifts to save money but laughed yesterday upon uncovering we secretly bought each other the same gift from a random store an hour away.

It has often felt like we were worlds apart during the chaos of rebuilding our lives but in so many ways, we’re more in tune than ever.

I love you, Pumpkin Man!

Bode’s Canadian Birthday

The kids and I are in Calgary. I’m going to be bouncing around a lot on this blog over the coming weeks, alternating between Canadian fun and our final Colorado adventures. Normally, we’d be at the lakehouse in B.C. this week but I begged my family to push back the date with all the uncertainty with the sale of our house. It worked out pretty well. Of course, nothing has been ideal this summer but when we return early-August, we’ll have a couple of weeks to pack up the house and move. So, we’re trying to enjoy a bit of downtime with family while we have it.

Traveling to Canada for 2.5 weeks in the middle of a move is certainly not prudent but this is the only time I see my family all year and my Mom’s MS has grown from bad to worse. Undoubtedly this will be the last summer she will still be able to travel so it was especially important to be here. I’m just grateful for Jamie who made it possible and is holding down the fort at home.

We’re usually in Canada for Bode’s birthday and this year was no exception, except that we’re generally at the lakehouse. So, this year, he had a rather leisurely birthday at my parent’s house. I went on the hunt for his beloved Tim Horton’s Timbits (tougher than usual; who knew several franchises only carry a few varieties? The horror!)

He went on a golf cart ride with Grandpa.

Just minutes before, he informed me that he’d dropped his iPod at our hotel in Great Falls a few days ago, shattering the screen. Then, he narrowly missed Jamie’s car when he was driving.

Way to get it all out there when you can’t get in trouble on your birthday. Well played, Birthday Boy.

Since it was his day, I let him have free reign on what he wanted to do, which mostly involved video games. For a 10-year-old boy, that is the best birthday ever!

Later that night, we went over to my brother Pat’s house for a a pizza party and Kung Fu Panda 3 movie night in their home theater room. He and his wife Jane spent a minor fortune on a gorgeous outdoor pizza oven and they made the most amazingly delicious pizzas. Their family just got back from a European vacation where they took a legit pizza-making class in Florence, Italy and that crust was out of this world. 

Dessert was several different kinds of cheesecakes, a chocolate caramel cake and homemade Gelato. 

I’m not sure what he wished for but at least one wish came true when he blew out the candles: no girlfriends.

Happy 10th Birthday to Bode!

Dear Bode,

Happy Birthday! It’s a big day for you. Not only are you turning double-digits but your life is about to drastically change with our move to Utah.  I know this is hard for you because, like the rest of us, you have loved the only home you’ve ever known. You don’t ever ask for much, which is why we splurged and bought you a cool electric motorbike to putter around our new neighborhood and Dad’s old BB Gun. Talk about perfect training for our new lives as country bumpkins.

We’re currently in Canada indulging in pizza from Uncle Pat’s new wood-fired outdoor oven, followed by a movie of your choice in their fancy basement theater room. For your “friend” birthday, we played Bubble Soccer at the Apex Field House, which involved a lot of laughter, sweat and Sumo knockdowns. 

Fourth grade was a great year for you with Mrs. Trapp as your teacher. You had loads of friends, did Student Council, cross-country, were in the advanced math program, performed in the schools’ talent show and also the most adorable stage production on “Colorado.” I wish we could have gotten settled in Utah prior to starting fifth grade at your new school but everywhere you go, you make friends easily. You always get chosen among the first when kids are selecting teams; not because you’re the best athlete but because you’re well-liked, encouraging and fun.

Talent Show

Speaking of which, you and I competed in our first adventure race together at Copper Mountain a few weeks ago. We each had our strengths. Me: mountain biking, glacier climb. You: Running, cargo net, obstacle course, Tyrolean Traverse, Darwin Dash, blow darts and the ropes course. This is just a nice way of saying you dominated the course and I was so proud to be your partner…even if I was usually a few (wet) steps behind. My only request for our mother-son adventure was that you didn’t throw up, which is exactly what happened–not once during our ski trip to Beaver Creek but twice when we rescheduled it a few months later.

6th grade kids vs. teachers basketball

You and your neighborhood friend Nicky have been inseparable this year and you’ve had plenty of adventures with church friends Porter, Carson, Seamus and Noah. I loved meeting you for lunch at school and playing Four Square with your buddies, though I am remiss we are moving before I can truly humble Brody from his smug position in the head square.

This was a big year: You skied your first double-black diamond at Sunlight Mountain Resort and rocked the Kids Adventure Games in Vail with Seamus. You love soccer, The Broadmoor, snuggles to start and end the day, Fat Kitty, listening to Fablehaven, Cub Scouts, video games, summer swim lessons, riding your bike with your friends, piano, and catching crawdads. We had plenty of ski trips, Christmas in Utah, a media preview of “Season of the Force” at Disneyland, a weekend with friends at YMCA of the Rockies Snow Mountain Ranch, summer fun at the Calgary Stampede and boating at the Lakehouse in B.C.

I especially appreciated your help when it came to our miserable 2+ months of house showings and you frequently asked me “what can I do to help?” Of course, no one is perfect and neither is your room but you did a great job keeping it picked up and gave me hope that slobbery is not in your eternal future. But you’d better believe that very day we went under contract, your room quickly returned to its original (condemned) condition.

You were born with an extra ray of sunshine. Being happy, having faith and obedience come so easily for you and you truly want what is best for those around you. In a world that encourages boys to be competitive and tough, you reminds me everyday that kindness counts (along with a healthy dose of silliness). You’re such an easy-to-please bloke that sometimes it’s tough to figure out what you really dislike (beyond the obvious food choices like peppers and seafood) so on our recent hike to St. Mary’s Glacier, I asked you “Bode, what kind of things do you hate? I mean, Hadley really hates math. What would be on your list?” You took a long pause of consideration before responding “you know, I really hate mean people. Why can’t everyone just be nice and kind? I want peace for the whole world.”

St. Mary’s Glacier

Jamie joked “”world peace?’ You’ll be a great beauty contestant with an answer like that.”

All kidding aside, your sincere answer so beautifully demonstrated your role in this world as a peacemaker. Every day you teach me about love and patience. I got weepy writing this letter because Colorado has been a wonderful dream for you full of friendships, developing your testimony in the gospel and fun…and I hope you will always look back upon your single digits with wonder and magic because that’s exactly what they were.



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

Fun with friends at Snow Mountain Ranch

First double-black ski run

Bike to School Day

Kids Adventure Games

Birthdays at the Lakehouse

Famous on the slopes

Halloween pumpkin fun

Sledding with Dad at Meyers Ranch

Student Council field trip


Sunlight Mountain Resort snowmobiling

Snow Mountain Ranch’s lame tire swing


The Raging of the Bull

It’s been more than a year since I first saw the Apex Field House in Arvada advertise Bubble Soccer and I’ve since dreamed of playing it with Bode’s friends for his (early) birthday. After all, what could be more fun for a group of soccer-loving boys than to wear an over-sized inflatable suit and be encouraged to knock your buddies over?

The game itself is a cross between soccer and zorbing, a sport where an individual rolls down the side of a hill in a giant plastic orb. The main objective in bubble soccer is to bump, kick and score your way to your opponent’s net.

Now, lest you think this was a big Sumo wrestling free-for-all, let me assure you that is not the case comes later. Apex Center staffer Whitney started by explaining the rules that included the guideline: ”You can bump players but be careful not to make ‘illegal’ contact – which is hitting from behind, or against the wall (boarding).” She demonstrated how to slide the bubble over the boys’ heads, adjust the straps, grab the handles and GO!

Whitney threw the soccer ball in the air and the boys fearlessly waddled/rushed to the center of the field in an attempt to kick the ball. Truthfully, it took them a few minutes to get their balance and the strategy behind the game but once they figured it out, there was a lot of laughter, hilarious bumps and rolls and a couple of kids who got lodged upside down in the amazingly impact-absorbing globes.bubble1sm


My son has some friends who play competitive soccer and others who don’t play at all but everyone had a blast–those bubble suits are the great equalizer. There’s nothing like becoming a human wrecking ball to create memories to last a lifetime.

Sumo Showdown

After a sweaty and fun 50 minutes, Whitney gathered us together at center court for a Sumo Showdown to end our one-hour session. The boys faced off two at a time with the objective to push each other out of the circle.  In their bubble suits. And thankfully without thongs.

sumosmThey implemented a few different strategies that involved hitting each other straight-on, running away or trying to trip up their competition but there was none more nefarious that my dear husband Jamie. When I innocently challenged him to a duel, I expected a good-natured bump fest.

What I got: a raging bull with blood-thirsty eyes wrapped up in an over-sized bubble suit. With nostrils flaring, Jamie charged me like I was his dobladore on the streets of Pamplona’s old quarter. He didn’t just knock me over, he gored my bubble with such force that I not only fell flat on my back but he literally knocked my shoe off.

“What the?” I slowly staggered to my feet and before I could find a defensible position, he was back to finish me off, shoeless and all. This time, I didn’t get up.

“Why didn’t you stop the first time?” I demanded.

“You weren’t knocked out of the ring. I had unfinished business.”  Bull-Man did his victory lap playing to the cheers of the crowd.

I later shared the story with friends on social media, ending my tale with the hashtag #GuessWhoIsSleepingOnTheCouchTonight, to which my friend Paul retorted, “At least he’ll have his bubble suit to keep him warm.”

Hear, hear.

Hadley’s 12th Birthday “Close to You” Painting Party!

Hadley is so obsessed with all-things painting that I knew we had to do something creative for her 12th birthday party. There are several fabulous painting/drinking studios but I didn’t want to deal the hassle of driving somewhere so it was a no-brainer when I heard about Gallery on the Go, a mobile canvas painting party service that was started right here in Colorado.

I don’t have an artistic bone in my body so the thought of getting out the craft supplies and cleaning them up makes me cringe. At the time of Hadley’s party, I was juggling sixth grade continuation, putting our house on the market, helping at a wedding reception and four graduation parties, which is a nice way of saying I had no time. 

Do you want to know what I had to do to plan our Gallery on the Go party? I simply told them when to come to my house and Hadley pre-selected what she wanted to paint from the variety of artwork for boys and girls from their gallery. I provided the food and drinks while they supplied everything else–from the table and floor coverings to chairs, aprons, paint, canvases, a fun photo booth, a game and even a gift for the birthday girl!



Carrie, our “Independent Gallery Guide,” was fabulous as she assisted the girls through every brush stroke made even easier with their color-coded brushes while still giving them their own creative outlet. The girls were widely varied in their artistic abilities and all were thrilled with the finished product, thanks to Carrie’s patience and expertise while I stayed hidden on the sidelines.

It was a win-win for everyone.

But the party was just getting started. If you’ll recall, last year I pulled the ultimate prank when a huge birthday package arrived for her from J.B. When she opened the big box, several smaller ones were inside. When she got down to the final box, the girls were squealing “I’ll bet it’s a cell phone.” It was much better: it was a Justin Bieber T-shirt. Hadley was so hilariously mortified she stuffed it in the toilet.

I wondered how I could top J.B.’s celebrity appearance and the inspiration came to me when I heard The Carpenter’s song, “Close to You.” I asked each of her friends to secretly learn the words and they performed it for her, complete with costumes and props.


I asked my friends at Talk to the Camera to pull together a video for it and I had one requirement: make it cheesy and they delivered. I get teary-eyed watching these great friends (Alex, Addison, Maeve, Morgan, Alicia, Kasey, Ellie and Haley) and I know she’ll treasure this for many years to come…when she gets over her shock.   https://vimeo.com/169764033 Password: Stars

Close To You Hadley from Audrey Walters on Vimeo.

And yes, the Biebs did make a surprise celebrity experience at the end. Unfortunately she didn’t really notice Alex was wearing the shirt until the camera stopped rolling but it would have been footage for the ages.

Happy 12th, my dear!

Lovin’ it as a “Ritz-Kid”

I wanted to do something special for Hadley’s 12th birthday. Not only will she be moving and starting at a new middle school, but she is leaving our children’s organization at church and entering “Young Women.” She’s at such a tender, transitional age that I wanted to celebrate the beautiful young lady she is becoming.  There was no better way to do it than by  surprising her with her first real spa experience at the Ritz-Carlton Denver, which recently introduced an array of services crafted just for kids and teens.

Upon arrival, Hadley was instructed to change into a robe and slippers. The locker room facilities are only available to ages 18 and older so she got ready in the bathroom and waited for her appointment in the cozy lounge. As she leaned back on the luxurious beige couch sampling chocolate chips, infused water and dried bananas, she mused:


“Can we do this every day?”
“You haven’t done anything yet.”
“All I need is to sit in this waiting area and I’ll be happy.”

Attention to all parents with hormonal teens: this is all they need!

Her first treatment was the Teen Facial. Specially crafted for teenagers, this cleansing facial helps analyze any concerns with your developing teen’s skin with organic products used to add extra sensitivity protection. I hunkered down in the corner of the dimly-lit room for the duration of the 45-minute treatment trying to stifle my laughter. My girl was in her element as she was swept and blown away in her ultimate experience of relaxation, renewal, and refreshment (if you’ve ever had a facial, you know).

While she was still relaxing on her massage table, I asked what she thought of her first facial.

“I feel heavy,” she groggily announced.
“Heavy? Do you mean from all the blankets?”
“No, heavy like gravity is pulling me down telling me not to move ever again.”

From there, she entered the world of light, The Spa at The Ritz-Carlton’s bright salon, where had the Berries and Bliss Manicure Pedicure. Starting with a warm Butter Brulee Milk soak, she then had her toes and nails rejuvenated with a fresh coat of polish, concluding with a Strawberry Smash Creme application.

As Hadley nibbled on her brownie pops with ganache and fresh berries from ELWAY’S Downtown, the hotel’s signature steak house, she declared it a memorable birthday surprise.

The Spa at The Ritz-Carlton sure does a warm welcome to womanhood.