The 8th grader, the sophomore and the crazy summer

OK, this summer was a wash for blogging and pretty much staying on top of my life. The fact that, just two posts ago, I was talking about the last day of school and only wrote once for Bode’s birthday should tell you something.

Soooooo many updates but first, we have an eighth trader and a sophomore!

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First day of 8th grade for this kid where he’ll be a saxophone-playing, student-governing, ski-teaming fool. He hates having his picture taken almost as much as he hates going back to school but no one is rejoicing more than me that my middle school mothering years are almost over.

Sophomore year! She kicks off Young Artists’ Academy next week and has been drawing/painting everything (including her clothes). She also secured a gig helping with horses and really, the biggest downer is she got a retainer on Monday and talks with a lisp (she laments that she sounds like Dustin from ‘Stranger Things.’) My wise parental advice this morning? “Talk to no one, head down.” Good luck, Dusty Bun!

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As for summer? It kicked off with a trip to The Broadmoor for Memorial Day and Hadley’s birthday.

Bode was BUSY with DEVO (Nordic ski team training), PGA Junior League, coding class (PYTHON) and Scout trips including a week-long trip to Boulder Mountain. He shot up this summer, got his hair lightened and is looking like a certified teen. Without the moodiness and attitude. So far.

Hadley was not-so busy but we tried to keep her busy with girl’s camp at Heber Valley Camp, a week at Outdoors for Youth in Idaho over the 4th of July and waaaaay more down-time than a 15-year-old should ever have but what do you do when she’s too young to get a job and not interested in sports/programs? She spent a lot of time painting everything including her hands, clothes and canvases, cooking and chilling.

Oh, and procrastinating her online P.E. class that she never ended up finishing but that’s OK because we later found out what a nightmare it was. In my teacher-friend Jillian’s words: “PE is THE. WORST. ONLINE. COURSE. EVER. Seriously. It’s the only course my kid ever dropped, enrolled in real life, and it is taught BY SATAN and the curriculum was written by his ex-wife and demon spawn.”

Live and learn, folks. Oh, and I am never, ever homeschooling in a gazillion years.

Jamie has been busy obsessing over his greenhouse and has a pretty sizable pumpkin. We are almost finished hauling the 71 TONS OF ROCK in our backyard. Yes, it has been a misery and I am so done with it. We have one last small section where our trampoline will go up but we’re all pretty tapped out and may not get to it until spring. Jamie’s rheumatism has been debilitating so he started eating a Paleo/anti-inflammatory diet a month ago. It has helped with the migraines but it remains to be seen if it alleviates his chronic pain. I’ve been eating “clean” as well and feel so much better.

But do you know who has a new and girlish figure? Fat Kitty. In the spring, he was throwing up A LOT. We were worried he was terminally ill. He is, after all, an older cat (13 years old) and he had a lump on his back. Turns out it was just a fat lump and we were overfeeding him by just leaving out a huge bowl of food because we’re gone so much. Since we’ve limited his food intake, he has stopped puking, has slimmed down and is now only obese and not morbidly obese. I wish I could say slimming down has helped his energy levels but I don’t think that cat has ever been energetic or playful.

As for travel, the kids and I had a wonderful, though shorter-than-usual vacation to Canada: 5 days in Vernon and 5 days in Calgary.

Why the quicker trip? Because we were invited by our friends the Olsens and Andersons for a week on a houseboat at Lake Powell a few days after we got back. Every other person in Midway has an RV and a boat and since we have neither, people aren’t exactly knocking down our door to travel with us . So even though the timing was inconvenient and it was more money than we had in our travel budget this summer, we knew we had to jump at the chance. And it was really, truly an incredibly memorable trip that I hope to write about soon.

So many details to share and hopefully I’ll get to them. Even though it was a good summer, it was overwhelming and exhausting for me trying to juggle 30 hours of work/week + freelance projects + girl’s camp director + travel + kids. I got zero downtime and because of it, feel frazzled and exhausted. The kids going back to school actually feels like a vacation to me because I don’t feel obligated to keep them entertained while working all sorts of crazy hours. So here’s to a more leisurely fall.

Well, after I survive the Hades-that-is-Swiss Days Labor Day weekend. And the fact that we’re out of town the following weekend. And that I’m so far behind on work and Mile High Mamas right now that I feel like I’ll never get caught back up. And I’ve taken on another freelance assignment of writing for Ski Utah this winter in trade for a season pass at all the resorts so I guess I’ll never get caught up.

Better luck never, I guess.

XO

Happy 13th Birthday, Bode!

Bode,

This is the first birthday I have spent apart from you, something Dad has become acquainted with because we’re usually in Canada this week while he works. I’m missing you like crazy but I know you’re having a great time on your Scout camp-out at Boulder Mountain. These trips have been a source of joy for you this year as you have conquered fears like the rappel trip to Skull Valley and especially white-water rafting the Green River where you learned you have swimmer’s itch-repellent skin because you were one of the few who wasn’t plagued with it. That’s something to be proud of, Son!

Twelve was a great year for you! As far as Middle School goes, you’re making the best out of some of the most awkward years ever. You have a good group of friends at school, have made the honor roll every term for the last two years, got into student counsel for eighth grade and are enjoying a variety of activities outside of school. Though you stay busy, make no mistake that you enjoy your quiet downtime with video games, Audible, and more video games (rumor has it you’re getting a PS4 for your birthday and you’ve spent your summer trying to prove you’re not addicted to your technology so as to become more addicted with your new unit).

(Antelope Island)

The toughest waters you navigated were in math. You have always been the top of your class but this year, you qualified for Catalyst, an accelerated program that combined 7th and 8th grade math into one year. You fell behind in assignments, did poorly on a few tests and at mid-term, were at risk for being booted down to 7th Grade Honors. We gave you the choice to pray about what to do and to make the decision on your own…and you put your shoulder to the wheel, got caught up on your assignments and ended up doing well in the class. That week where we grounded you from video games so you could get caught up was helpful, too!

Since receiving the priesthood when you were twelve, you take your responsibilities very seriously. You collect Fast Offerings on Fast Sunday, serve as the counselor in your Deacon’s quorum presidency and regularly attend the temple and bear your testimony in Sacrament meeting. You also pass the Sacrament every week. My favorite moment was the first Sunday after it was announced that 11-year-old boys would be bumped up to become Deacons and you were suddenly among the oldest passing the Sacrament, they miscounted and you were running back and forth giving and receiving the bread on the middle row. Other people noticed how calm and composed you were. I just laughed because I knew inwardly you were freaking out.

You have developed the wonderful habit of reading the scriptures before bedtime and listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on your Alexa (“God Be With You ‘Til We Meet Again” is always your final song). You read the entirety of the the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants and have now moved onto reading the Old Testament cover-to-cover, something that even I haven’t done. As a reward for finishing the Book of Mormon, Dad took you on a father-son trip to San Francisco last fall where you had a blast touring the city on foot and on bikes and even ran into a giant pumpkin on the street, thereby proving we’ll never truly be free of them (though you’re still growing and hope to make some cash from selling yours this fall).

Your enthusiasm for piano has been waning (despite doing a fantastic job playing the Missionary Medley duet with me in church) so I let you quit this summer with the promise that you’ll pour your energies into playing the saxophone. You had two lackluster years playing the flute and your sax skills have really taken off. You’ve serenaded me with “O Canada” and I was surprised when you played “Careless Whisper” even after I told you it was a stellar song for wooing women. Maybe your aversion to girls is softening just a bit, too. You can *almost* sit through kissing scenes on TV, have taken more care in your appearance, have had a growth spurt (you’re now in the 68th percentile for height and 64th for weight) and your voice dropped even lower than Dad’s.

You’re living your best life this summer. After your third season Nordic skiing with Kickers and Gliders at Soldier Hollow, you got bumped up to the advanced group, leaving me in your dust…errr…powder?

(Rappeling Skull Valley)

Even though you could have had one more year of class instruction, you decided to take it up to the next level by joining DEVO, the center’s ski team and you have been training twice a week this summer. Hiking, rollerskiing (which you picked up right away!) strength training, yoga (yuck) and your favorite: mountain biking. It has been fun to see you care about your fitness and becoming more careful with your food choices. Most of the time. Until you’re really, really hungry.

You have enjoyed playing with your airsoft guns with neighbors Hunter, Will, Stockton and whoever else is around. You had a blast downhill skiing at Park City with us and your friends this year. It has been awesome to see you start to click on the slopes as skiing becomes a passion. You are still wise and cautious on the slopes but your skill allows you to conquer terrain that I’m now shying away from. And yes, I did use the word “shy” to describe myself.

You are also in your second year of PGA Junior League and are enjoying playing twice a week…and I enjoy watching my two boys enjoy this sport together while I don’t have to lift a club.  You were even able to golf with Dad at one of The Broadmoor’s world-famous courses in May! You have been attending free weekly coding (Scratch) classes with friends Eli, Jonas and Brett at the library and kicked it up a notch this summer by completing a three-week-long Python coding class.  You’re eager to improve your computer skills and Dad is eager for someone else to teach you so he can hire you for his gruntwork in a few years.

Another end-of-an-era is soccer and Spring 2019 was your final season. Dad has coached your teams since moving here, mostly because their rec league sucks and if he was going to yell at everyone on the sidelines, he may as well make it official as coach.  You have been the top scorer on your team since moving here and an especial shout-out for the game when you took a shot on goal, the ball smacked your teammate’s face, and you scored a goal off the deflection.

Timpanogos Summit

You have had some good travels this year. Christmas and summers in Canada. Family reunion at Yellowstone/Henry’s Fork. The Broadmoor.  Vail/Beaver Creek (we skied our 28th of 33 Colorado resorts). Monthly Scouting adventures that included winter cabin camping at Tibble Fork, rappelling Skull Valley, exploring Antelope Island and you aren’t too sad to miss their annual Mount Timpanogos climb because you’ll be out-of-town (but you did it for the first time with Dad last summer). Your Scout leader, Rob, calls you a “joy,” which is a nice compliment because I’m sure he encounters lots of boys who are “less-than joyful” on these adventures.

You are kind and a peacemaker. When your dad and I were bickering with Hadley on the chairlift, there was a long, awkward silence before you piped in singing a happy song that had us laughing and forgiving in moments. Thank you for bringing our family together, for being thoughtful and for rarely complaining when you are asked to do something. Really, you mostly parent yourself these days with the exception that you are a slob, can’t cook (though you learned to make crepes this summer) and play way too many video games so I suppose those are the only reasons Dad and I have been put here on the earth. Mostly, you just keep the rest of us in line and are a tremendous example to us every day.

I’m not known for my finger-nail-cutting abilities (I accidentally cut baby Hadley when she was a baby and she had to wear socks on her hands to prevent greeting blood everywhere). When you were little, as I was cutting your nails, in the sweetest little-boy voice, you said, “Be gentlwe.” Dad and I are asking for the same courtesy during your teenage years. ;=)

XOXO

Mom

P.S. For a stroll down memory lane, see birthday letters 1, 234 5,  6, and 78 910, 11 and 12.

Final Kids Adventure Games with Porter

Antelope Island

Troll Falls, Kananaskis Country

Fins Course, The Broadmoor

Chair hike at Deer Creek

Grandma’s funeral

Regrub in Calgary

Snowshoe Winter Camp

Christmas lights at Temple Square

Troll Falls with Dad

Surfing at Lake Okanogan

Farewell to the 2018-19 School Year!

We survived the school year!

I’m still woefully behind on updating the blog and feel like I’ve been sludging through mud in May.  A rainy and cold month hasn’t helped but it has fit my mood. Now that it’s officially summer, the sun is finally out. We spent Hadley’s birthday Memorial Day weekend at The Broadmoor which was a glorious pick-me-up after a tough month.

As the kids get older, the differences between their first and last day of school photos aren’t nearly as drastic. Bode has definitely undergone the most changes with a growth spurt and a drop in his voice. Apparently the biggest difference for both of them (according to these pictures): hats.

Hadley’s Freshman Year Before and After

Freshman year of high school went a lot better than the entirety of middle school. Hadley is still struggling to find her friend group and activity but one thing I’m grateful for is that she has reconnected with art. It’s her love language and I love that she quickly cranked out paintings last night for her favorite teachers. This one is for her yoga instructor and I love the symbolism of the cairns which are used as trail markers to guide explorers. Her math teacher, Mr. Tree, has been a gem as well and if you know any of her history in math (and her many tutors over the years), you’ll understand the importance of a great mentor. She did much better in school and ended up with mostly As and a couple of Bs.

I have had a panic attack the last few weeks about her lack of plans for the summer. She’s too young to be employable but there aren’t many opportunities for camps around here (nor does she have much interest).  I have always kept the kids busy in the summer because downtime = technology time = trouble (especially as they grow older). So, after a power struggle, she agreed to let me sign her up for Youth Triathlon training for a couple of mornings a week in June. She will have YW Girl’s Camp for a week (with me as Camp Director; lucky girl) and I just signed her up for Outdoors for Youth, the outdoorsy equivalent to EFY. It was a financial stretch but I figure getting that girl active and outdoors while building her testimony is a worthwhile investment. We’ll be vacationing in Canada for a couple of week in July but we still have a looooooong stretch ahead of us and hopefully she’ll find ways to have a fun, productive summer.

Bode’s 7th Grade Before and After   Dare I say that Bode thrived in seventh grade (well, as much as you can thrive in the dreaded middle school years). He has made the honor roll for two years straight and learned how to really WORK with his advanced Catalyst math class which crammed 7th and 8th grade math into a single year. He bombed his mid-term and got really far behind on his class assignments…and was *this* close to being demoted to Honors Math but we left him with the choice to soldier through it or take the lower class. He opted to work hard to get his grade back up (a week-long grounding from video games helped as well). He was accepted into student government next year and switched from the flute to saxophone so my dreams of having a band geek in high school may be realized. Though who else thinks sax is pretty sexy? That boy played “O Canada” on his sax and he’ll be able to woo any woman, which will be helpful because he still can’t talk to girls. Which I’m quite happy about because I’m trying to keep Hadley away from boys.

Bode has a fun, full summer ahead of him. He has done Kickers and Gliders for the past three seasons at Soldier Hollow Nordic Center and made the decision that he wants to try their ski team so is entering into their summer ski training program a couple of mornings a week. He is also doing PGA Jr. League again twice a week, a Python coding class for a few weeks and a few Scout trips: His first white-water rafting adventure in the Green River next week, Boulder Mountain over his birthday and and then Mount Timpanogos again in August.  And he’ll have plenty of downtime to hang out with his buddies, have airsoft wars and play video games.

Jamie just landed a big client and his project deadline hits around the same time as our Canada trip. So, he will be dedicating his summer to work and pumpkins, which sounds pretty miserable to me but in his own warped way, I think he’s having a good time trying to figure out his new greenhouse except for suffering through the bad weather and rheumatism.

As for me, I thank my lucky stars I’m no longer at BYU and am able to work from home. Being gone for 9 hours/day with a 1.5-hour commute was tough and even though I’ll still be working all summer, at least I’ll have a flexible schedule and will be more present for my kids. Goals: Get back in shape now that my knee is fixed and do more water sports like Stand-up Paddleboarding.

Bring it on!

FHE Fun

One of my favorite things about the Church is the emphasis we place on families. Every Monday night (or whenever it fits into our schedule), we are are encouraged to spend time together for a lesson or just to have fun.

Hadley recently complained that we never do anything *she* wants to do so I figured FHE would be a great place to be more intentional with our activities and let each individual shine.

For Hadley, we did art.

For Bode, we had a fitness/nutrition night.

For me, we’ll hike.

For Jamie, he will probably make us haul rocks in the backyard.

Some shining is more brilliant than others.

Hadley’s paint and canvas are really expensive and I didn’t want to waste them so the rest of us used some old, cheap paint and ripped up a cardboard box for our masterpieces. Hadley chose a fairly easy design for us to follow and I was actually really impressed with her patience as she taught us. 

Can you figure out who drew what?

 

Hadley: Top left.

Bode: Top right

Me: Bottom left

Jamie: Went rogue and did his own thing. WHATTHECRAP? We’ve been married 15 years and though I knew he took some painting classes when he was younger, I had no idea he was so talented. If he can do that on a crappy piece of cardboard with old paint brushes, what can he do with good materials?

Bode and I were disasters which is OK because we have other talents (repeat 100X).

I mentioned that Bode has recently become dedicated to exercising several times a week and eating better.  We launched a no-sugar challenge as a family and for his FHE, we made a meal plan and then spent the night reading nutrition labels at the store.

The previous week, he downed an entire box of Ritz crackers and as he was reading the label at the store, he asked, “how much is 24 x 80?” When we joked ore calories and fat than he wanted to know, he defended himself: “Hey, I’m not proud of my past.”

 

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Winter 2019 is a wrap!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DOWNHILL SKI

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

Day date!

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

Girl’s day with Rachel and Julie

Redneck ski boots.

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

NORDIC SKI

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

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

Hula hoop obstacle course racing

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

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

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

The Duck Whisperer

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

SNOWSHOEING

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

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

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

Big Springs

Wasatch Mountain State Park

 

North Fork in the Uintas

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

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

Overnight welcome to puberty

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

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

“Have you noticed his voice has dropped?”

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

And my favorite from his piano teacher:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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

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

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.

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?”