This is Me

We recently met Jamie’s family in Salt Lake City for my nephew Darby’s 3-year-old birthday party complete with “Panda food” (which is apparently hot dogs and mac ‘n cheese) and the movie, The Greatest Showman.

(Circus preview show)

 

I had heard some positive buzz but honestly, it wasn’t on my radar at all. Even though Sound of Music is my favorite movie of all time, I’m not a huge fan of musicals because they often come across as forced and trite but from the opening scene, I knew this was something special.

 

Based on the true life story of P.T. Barnum, this visionary rose from nothing to create “The Greatest Show on Earth,” a spectacle and celebration of his larger-than-life imagination that captivated audiences around the globe. 

 

I have done a lot of promotions with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus over the years and we were given some cool access to the productions and preview shows. Over the years, they have been plagued with allegations of mistreatment of animals  and have fought back, even removing elephants from their shows. But in the world of hyperconnectivity and YouTube, the audiences just weren’t there anymore and after a run of 146 years, their performances came to an end last year.

 

I’ll never forget the looks of sheer wonder when I took my kids to the circus and I’m so grateful they were numbered among the final generation to be a part of this celebration of what is possible.

 

The Greatest Showman is about love and acceptance, of how a bunch of “misfits” in society who rejected by their pwn families were brought together to create magic. With every song that was sung, I kept thinking “this is my favorite” and then each one would be topped with a new favorite.

 

“This Is Me” was sung by the bearded lady, Lettie Lutz (played by Keala Settle). I loved it so much that when I  got home from the movie, I found a version of it on YouTube that completely blew me away. The movie was seven years in development. Prior to getting approved, all of the performers, producers and Fox executives had to meet together in NYC (a process that took eight months) to do a read-through and perform the songs.


No one had ever heard Keala sing “This is Me” live and what transpired became what she called an “otherworldly experience” in this anthem for the underdog.

If you haven’t seen it yet, go. Take your friends and family. And teach them that we all play an important role in this big, beautiful world.

[Verse 1: Lettie Lutz]
I am not a stranger to the dark
Hide away, they say
‘Cause we don’t want your broken parts
I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars
Run away, they say
No one’ll love you as you are

[Pre-Chorus: Lettie Lutz]
But I won’t let them break me down to dust
I know that there’s a place for us
For we are glorious

[Chorus: Lettie Lutz]
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me

[Post-Chorus: Ensemble]
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh, oh

Christmas 2017: It’s a Wrap!

Christmas 2017 is a wrap! Jamie’s family has some lovely traditions and they are kind enough to let me integrate a few of my own.

Saturday

With Christmas on a Monday, our schedule was thrown a bit of a wrench because many of our activities fell on Saturday. It didn’t make much sense to drive back and forth from Salt Lake City (about an hour away) so when we saw snow was in the forecast, we stayed Saturday and Sunday night at Linda’s.  Jamie’s brother Chris drove out from Denver so the whole clan was here, which made for a tight squeeze at Grandma Linda’s Inn but was still fun.

The brunch at Grand America was our first stop. Linda is kind enough to treat the whole family and I love this tradition in one of Utah’s fanciest hotels. The selection isn’t nearly as extensive as The Broadmoor (which has ruined us for life) but the food is still delicious. They took way too many reservations so there was a long wait for the food–a line that wrapped all the way around the dining room–which is really pathetic at a buffet.  But trust my good husband to issue a complaint and get four of the meals comped because we’re those people.

Side note: Pay particular attention to Bode’s expressions. He’s a real joy with pictures right now. :-)

We took family pictures in the courtyard in the snow, Chris chucked a snowball at Jamie (can’t wait to see that photo) and we dispersed back to the hotel to check-out the life-sized gingerbread house and candy windows. From there, it was off to see “The Last Jedi,” which got two thumbs up from us all! The rest of the day/night was pizza gorging and hanging out at Grandma’s.

Sunday

The whole family attended church at Grandma’s ward and it was one of my most memorable Christmas Sundays ever! They combined with the Spanish-speaking congregation and having the service entirely bilingual was so touching. We were surrounded by Spanish-speaking families and I got choked up to hear them sing…and then we joined them to attempt “Silent Night” in Spanish. There were several times during the service when the speakers and singers were moved to tears and it was just so memorable to be reminded that we are all part of this big, beautiful world bonded together by our Savior, regardless of what language we speak.


Jamie’s sister, Tammy, threw a wonderful Christmas Eve party complete with my family’s pipe bells, the gift exchange game where Linda was the grand prize winner of my white elephant gift: a beautifully framed picture of The Pumpkin Man. Tammy is an amazing cook and we had smoked pork tacos and figgy pudding for dessert, and watched A Christmas Carol and the story of the Nativity.

The bells!

On the drive back to Grandma’s, we stopped at Temple Square to the see the lights. Zero crowds + the Salt Lake Temple appearing like an apparition in the flurry of snow and lights = a peacefulness that breathed the very spirit of that holy day.

Monday

Christmas!!! My loving(?!) husband excitedly woke everyone up at 7:15 a.m., which I suppose isn’t nearly as bad as my brother Pat’s family who always wake up around 4 a.m. (proof of “Crazy Canucks” is in the puddin’). I made breakfast bake with Hollandaise sauce and our famous Ebelskivers for a yummy Christmas breakfast…and the wait wasn’t nearly as long as the Grand America.

Growing up, our family’s tradition was a bit of a free-for-all with paper and presents flying everywhere. Jamie’s family is much more civilized and they elect a Santa who hands out presents and everyone takes turns opening them for all to see. It’s a bit tedious for kids (like me) who just want to get on with it but it makes the moment last longer.

A few gift highlights:

Jamie: We seem to always forgo presents to each other and pool our financial resources into other presents for the kids and family. His big gift for his birthday a couple of weeks ago was a new suit, which he proudly modeled as his “birthday suit.” His mom bought propane tanks for his new greenhouse and that will be part of my dad’s gift as well (we’re sure fun people). Jamie also bought a few Echo Dots to smart-wire our house.   He claims “Alexa” is the only woman in the house who actually listens to him and does what he says. 

Bode: Aunt Lisa and Grandma bought him a Kindle Fire and my dad sent some money to buy our own gifts so we loaded a lot of books and games onto his Kindle Fire.  Jamie also bought him a drone, only to find out (too late) it doesn’t have a video camera. We figure we’ll do an upgrade once he figures how to fly it without crashing! He loves games of all kinds so scored several classic board games like Mastermind and Rummikub.

Hadley: We’re trying to finish decorating her room so she got some lights and clips to hang pictures and we’re still searching for the perfect portrait for above her bed.  She got a tripod for her camera, Grandma Johnson bought her a lot of clothes, while Grandpa Borowski got her VANS and volleyball shoes. She was excited to get Alexa in her room because she can finally listen to music (we don’t allow phones/computers in the bedrooms); however, we have more sinister plans like wake-up calls and turning on the lights to get that teen out of bed. She had her phone taken away the week leading up to Christmas so she said her favorite gift was getting it back on Christmas. Note to self: Don’t waste money on presents next year; just regift items they already have.

Me: Now that we live next to The Best Pathway in the World (the Provo River Parkway), I bought some new roller-blades from my dad. My blades are 20+ years old and my sole outing last summer on my decrepit blades was rather disastrous. Jamie surprised me with some gorgeous new KEEN hiking shoes and I got some cookbooks and kitchen items as well.

Jamie’s parents received a financial settlement from a lawsuit so generously gave each of their children some money, as well as put some in each grandchild’s college tuition account. My first thought upon receiving their gift was to make a smart investment but Jamie’s plan made more sense: to pay down some debt. We’re still climbing out of all financial messes of our move…and the car troubles from last summer.  We’re almost out of debt and vowed to be completely debt-free before taking more on with getting another car, landscaping the backyard and finishing the basement. We had a good chuckle when we realized my Pilot is as old as our marriage–a 2003! It’s no wonder it’s falling apart.

Our 2017 had a lot of highs and lows as our first full year in Utah but I’m hopeful that this slow rebuilding process will start to have some dividends in 2018. Here’s to a great one!

Teenage Musings

One term down, three more to go. For Hadley, that is. You’d better believe the middle school countdown is on because we’ve all hated the last 10 months (minus summer break). I’m not sure what it is about this age for girls but it is brutal beyond what I ever could have imagined.

Bode is fine. He’s doing great in all of his classes and does the monthly “math bus” where he goes to the high school for more challenging math opportunities.  He made the honor roll and commemorated it by handing me this.

 

My friend suggested I frame it as-is. I think she may be onto something.

Part of my frustration with traditional public schools is they just don’t fit the mold for everyone. If you’re a linear learner like Bode, you excel. If you’re an experiential, artistic person, you just feel stupid. It doesn’t help the middle school doesn’t have any extracurriculars or any teachers who go above-and-beyond to help. When you struggle in elementary school, your teacher works through it with you because you have an established relationship; in middle school, you’re hung out to dry. Some kids adapt quickly to this new paradigm while many fall short.

Hadley has zero motivation until the end-of-term when the heat is on and then can generally pull off reasonable grades. How do you motivate the unmotivatable? “It’s too hard.” She hates her classes so it’s easy just not to care.  If it was only school, that would be one thing but she lacks motivation in most areas in her life and we’re really struggling to find something she’s passionate about. Even for volleyball, which she enjoyed playing last year, she told us if she doesn’t make the competitive team (which she has zero motivation to practice for tryouts), she’s prepared just to drop it altogether.

I guess if there’s any age where you’re going to struggle with figuring out life, 13 years old is the time to do it. But what if you don’t emerge unscathed? She is such an amazingly strong spirit, so stubborn but full of so much power. She’s a leader and makes things happen (but only when she wants to). She’s fun, she’s hilarious, she creates beauty in so many forms and when she figures out how to harness the gifts and talents she’s been given, she will be unstoppable.   When we first moved to Utah, she was on fire and landed on the honor roll her first term, proving she can do anything when she puts her mind to it.

Bode cares deeply about people and as a peacemaker, hates contention. Over the weekend, we went shopping for Hadley’s ski jacket. We tried a few second-hand stores and of course, the only coat she liked was a full-priced one at REI, blowing most of her Christmas budget. If we were to compare the amount of money we spend on her vs. low-maintenance Bode, there would be no comparison so I bought him a cool hat for school. Hadley immediately fell in love with it but I was firm that it was Bode’s and she didn’t argue after all the money we’d just dropped on her.

Last night as we gathered for family prayer, he casually mentioned that she had been bugging him to borrow her hat so he bribed her. I was surprised because he’s not really the bribery type and plus, what does she have that he wants?

“I told her she could borrow the hat if she worked really hard tomorrow to pull up one of her failing grades.”

That sweet kid. Maybe I’ll turn over all parental duties to him.

The First Annual Utah Giant Pumpkin Party & Weigh-off!

I’ll admit I wasn’t too thrilled that Jamie wanted to go ahead with the pumpkin party this year. Our backyard doesn’t have any grass so I knew if it rained, it would turn into one big mud pit. But he persisted because he put a lot of effort into this season despite the MANY obstacles he has endured (winds, deer, cold nights) and was somehow able to crank out two of his biggest pumpkins (after his legendary 1,200-pound Stanley, of course).

We nervously watched the weather forecast all week and it wasn’t good. Rain. Then snow. Then back to rain again. I was convinced the whole thing would be a bust mere hours before the soiree. We decided to set up all the food in the garage and people could choose to eat inside to stay warm and dry. The weather miraculously cleared an hour before the party (apparently God is a pumpkin lover?) and we were left with a cool, brisk night.

We weren’t sure what kind of a turnout we would get for the party so invited everyone we knew and lo, they did come–we estimated about 75 people! It was a fun night but part of the problem with having the food in one place and the pumpkins in another is I didn’t get to have a stitch of food…nor was I around to refill plates and drinks. I definitely failed at my hostess duties because all the action was in the backyard.

The one picture I got of all the pumpkin treats…my pumpkin cheesecake trifle.

Moving onto the guest of honor: Meet “Jumbo” the pumpkin! I loved seeing everyone’s shocked expressions as the forklift lifted that bad boy out of the patch. There’s nothing quite like your first time.  At the party, my friend Kelly asked, “So, do you grow anything else?” What? Like food you can actually EAT? Silly woman.

I love our friend Jordan’s expression

My dad was able to visit for the week from Canada and he timed his trip around the Pumpkin Party. Here he is hanging out with Jamie’s dad, Duane.

I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to be with so many friends and family. One of the things I miss the most about Colorado is having our house brimming with  people…I am continually frustrated we don’t have a finished backyard or basement so there’s nowhere for the kids to play. During the party, tons of them were roaming the field behind our house and afterwards, Porter, Callie and Ellie stayed to hang out.

This picture is the aftermath of a whipped cream fight. It would appear Hadley and Porter lost (or were they the winners?)

There were two different weigh-offs two weeks apart. Thanksgiving Point is the larger event where the growers bring their biggest pumpkins. Jumbo was 943.5 pounds and Jamie took fourth place. 

Two weeks later at the Hee Haw Farms weigh-off, Jamie’s weird-looking “Cujoe” somehow beat out “Jumbo” and weighed in at 965 pounds.

Hadley lost her plant early in the season and Bode’s “Ugly Duckling” pumpkin weighed 210 pounds. Both boys took fourth place.

All in all, it was a successful first growing season in Utah. Jamie is planning to install a high tunnel (similar to a greenhouse) in the corner of our lot, which should help with our weather challenges. As happy as he was with the final results, he was reminded how far he still has to go. Matt McConkie consistently dominates the competition and this year, he set yet another Utah state record: 1,974 pounds!

Jamie loves driving home from the weigh-off with his pumpkin in tow because of all the attention he gets. One man yelled out to him:

“Did you win?”

“No! I took fourth place.”

“How far were you behind first place?”

[Long pause] “1,000 pounds.”

Looks like our pumpkin boy has some catching up to do.

Two middle schoolers and one update

I still have many end-of-summer updates but I’m embroiled in the middle of a major deadline for a feature story I was commissioned to write for AAA Encompass Magazine. I never procrastinate but this is one assignment I had to put off until the kids were back in school because I knew it would be way out of my comfort zone. My dad is coming for a week so I’m trying to get the majority of it written so we can tour him around. Here are a few updates in the interim:

  • Middle school is fine. I’ve mentioned the fiery pits of Hades we endured the last few months of seventh grade but so far so good. The kids are quasi-enjoying themselves, half the school has a crush on Hadley so she’s a giggling, texting teenager (but still bombing math) and Bode has acclimated to changing classes. I’m bracing myself for the worst but pleasantly surprised the bottom hasn’t fallen out. Yet.
  • I have made a point to never over-schedule my kids but having tweens/teens is a different ballgame. They used to play for hours outside with friends or with their toys but now, downtime to them means technology time and I’ll be darned if I let them waste away in front of their screens so it’s a daily battle. Bode’s schedule picks up this week and he’ll be juggling piano, rec soccer, coding class at the library and 11-Year-Old Scouts. Hadley is the bigger challenge. She’ll have volleyball and skiing this winter but for now, the only thing she has a desire to do is photography. Fortunately, that gets her outside but I’ve given her fair warning she needs to figure out something active these next months–for her sanity and my own.
  • The devastation in the world has felt overwhelming. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.  An earthquake in Mexico and the west set ablaze by wildfires. I’m not a doomsdayer but it’s tough to ignore the many signs of the times and we’ve been studying them in the scriptures with the kids at night. Nothing has hit closer to home than when my BFF Stacey sent me an article that my beloved childhood playground–Waterton Lakes National Park–is on fire and teams are trying to save the iconic Prince of Wales hotel that stands as sentry over the valley. This crap just got real.

  • On a lighter note (or rather, literally much heavier), pumpkin season is in full swing and despite so many challenges growing in a new environment (that include deer, snow, cold nights and extreme winds), Jamie has managed to crank out a respectable pumpkin that is measuring around 800-1,000 pounds. We’re throwing our annual pumpkin party next week to confirm to our new friends just how strange we are and then it will be off to the weigh-off. Our local newspaper is publishing a picture of his pumpkin tomorrow and the chamber is trying to finagle the pumpkin to make some celebrity appearances at local media events. If he was well-known in Denver, he’s going to be downright famous in our little valley.

Let the games begin!

 

Oh Canada: The Drive

Our annual trip to Canada was cut short because Hadley had Young Women Girl’s Camp mid-July and then BYU volleyball camp the first week of August. My brother Jade got married so our time in Calgary was frenzied helping with the flowers and wedding prep, and we only had five nights at Lake Okanagan in Vernon before driving back to Utah with my nephews, who hung out with us for a week while my brother was on his honeymoon. It was a craaaaazy two weeks!

The drive from Denver to Calgary is 19 hours so the kids and I would always break it down into two days. Now that we’re in Utah. the drive is a 13-hour shot straight up I-15 so I figured would could do it in one long day. Jamie would fly up to meet us later in the week.

My Honda Pilot is a 2003 and our plan was to get a new vehicle last year…and then we moved and are stilling dealing with the never-ending expenses. Fortunately, my car has worked great all these years and we hoped it would hang on a little while longer.

Prior to the road trip, I took the Honda Pilot in to get the oil changed. The kids and I were eight hours into the drive, just 30 minutes past Great Falls, and all was going well.

Until we started going up a hill when the transmission light turned on, and there was a strange smell. I pulled over and called Jamie, who called various auto repair shops in Great Falls. It was 4:30 p.m. on a Sunday night and most of them were closed so he instructed us to spend the night in Great Falls and take the car into the dealership in the morning. 

So, that’s what we did. After a memorable evening in the Super 8 on the seedy part of town, I took the car in and they gave their diagnosis: The place where I got my oil changed had either overfilled the transmission fluid or put in the wrong stuff. It had spilled and burned up the entire underbelly of the car. They drained  and replaced the fluid but were unable to tell me if more serious damage had been done. They gave us about a 50-50 chance of making it. SWELL.

The kids and I started driving. We joked as passed the place we had pulled over the day prior when, not even 100 feet beyond that point, ANOTHER WARNING LIGHT LIT UP ON THE DASHBOARD, this time for the four-wheel drive. I pulled over. The kids asked what was going on and I explained there was a different problem. Bode, ever the optimist, observed,

“Well, at least we made it farther than last time.”

We would make it to Calgary but when en route to B.C. the week after that, the car started smoking in Banff. We eeked our way to Vernon where we became acquainted with yet another Honda dealership that charged us $1,700 in labor to replace a plug (they had to dismantle the entire engine to put it in). On a wing and lots of prayers, we made it home to Utah with my nephews in tow.

So, what’s the status of the car? We’re not sure.  It’s only worth about $5,000 so we really don’t want to dump another $2,000 into it when we’re planning on selling it but we can’t yet afford to buy another car. So we wait. And hope and pray it can hang on just a little while longer, just like the rest of us.

First Day of School: Through the Years

I’m sure if I did some digging, I could round-up all the kids’ first day of school pictures but my Facebook memories captures a glimpse. I’m realllllly missing those darling elementary school years.

Kindergarten Cutie

First grade. By the end of the day, that headband had dropped down to her forehead and she looked like a 1970s flower child.

Second grade and kindergarten.

Bode first grade. Jazz hands.

Fourth and sixth grades

Fifth and seventh…three days after our move to Utah. Hadley: survived. In case you didn’t know this, middle school girls aren’t inclusive when you’re the new kid (or any other time). Bode: Didn’t realize when the bell rang during lunch that meant recess so his class went without him. Took him a half hour to find everyone and the ultimate devastation: HE COMPLETELY MISSED RECESS.

Middle school: Sixth and eighth grades

Bode (my academic) is NOT loving middle school because he hates changing classes. This morning, he was complaining about foot pain and when I asked him what was wrong, he said, “I think the bottom of my feet are bruised from all the walking.”

Things I want to remember (and forget) about the first day of middle school

“Middle school was the best time of my life,” said no one, EVER.

And with an eighth and sixth grader, I’ll have both kids in middle school. I still feel gypped off for Bode. If he was still in Colorado, he would be the king of elementary school today with lots to look forward to like student council and a week of Outdoor Lab. All he gets is is being thrust to the bottom of the totem pole for the second year in a row. In his Intermediate School for fifth grade, he only got to know the 30 kids in his class and half of them are going to the new middle school so he’s starting all over again. But at least he’ll recognize a few familiar faces so that’s a step up from moving to Utah only a few days before school started last year.

Yesterday was back-to-school night where we met their teachers. In typical Bode fashion, he meticulously mapped out his route to each class and quickly figured out his alternating gold and black schedule while Hadley will probably be asking him for directions (she takes after me). Both kids got the classes they wanted. Bode will be playing the flute again this year and signed up to be a tutor. Hadley doesn’t like music (which unfortunately knocks out 80% of the elective choices) so she was relieved to be appointed to student government. The last four months of school were such a nightmare that we’re trying to remind her what a rock star she was when she started seventh grade–she made friends quickly and landed on the honor roll for the first time.

She’s not buying into any of it and judging from her sour expression as we toured her classrooms (most particularly with her arch nemesis: math), eighth grade is going to be quite the ride. We’ve resigned ourselves that we’ll need to hire her a math tutor for the rest of her scholastic life and here’s for hoping we find someone who can get her excited about it all. If last year taught us anything it’s that she can do everything she sets her mind to…but when she’s checked out, watch out.

After touring the school, we grabbed a quick bite to eat at Cafe Rio and went home for back-to-school father’s blessings. We tried to get to bed early and that’s where the fun began.

3 a.m. Bode limps into my bedroom, agonizing over a cramp in his foot. I fumble around for ibuprofen and massage his foot. He goes back to sleep. I barely do.

6:20 a.m. His alarm goes off. Why is he setting it so early when he only takes a few minutes to get ready? He snuggles up to Fat Kitty and me in bed (which I love) and I go downstairs to wake-up Hadley. She leaps out of bed and heads to the bathroom. Note: this is the first time the entire morning she rushes.

6:40 a.m. Bode gets dressed and chooses not to wear the clothes we set out for him the previous night. No worries, he still looks great so I load peaches and cream waffles on his “You Are Special Today” plate. The first day as a Middle Schooler is “special” for sure.

6:50 a.m. Hadley still not out of the bathroom. Order her to go get dressed.

6:55 a.m. Notice Bode spilled food all over his clothes (not untypical). He’s annoyed when I tell him to go change so he wears the outfit we originally picked out.

6:59 a.m. Yell at Hadley she only has 10 minutes to eat her breakfast and pack lunch.

7 a.m. Set out lunch foods for the kids. They throw everything together, Hadley scarfs her food, finishes getting ready and somehow poses for a quick picture within 9 minutes.

7:10 a.m. Drove them to the bus stop like a madwoman.

7:15 a.m. Arrive home and pass out on the couch. Jamie tells me I need to chill out and I decide to put HIM in charge of getting them out the door for the rest of the year.

Now, excuse me while I go back to bed.

Miracles for Days

Since our return from Canada almost two weeks ago, we’ve delved back into life at warp speed. While my brother was on his honeymoon, his two boys stayed with us for the week, Hadley went to BYU Volleyball Camp, we’ve toured Temple Square, tubed Wasatch Canal (twice), went to the Demolition Derby for Wasatch County Fair Days, registered both kids for middle school (and had a full-blown panic attack) and hosted one of my best friends/mission companions at our house for a couple of days. I have made a vain attempt to get caught back up with work, something I’ve resigned myself isn’t going to truly happen until school starts.

I have lots of updates on Canada (a wonderful trip by most accounts) with the exception of our repeated car problems and our lack of funds to facilitate buying a new car. So, for now we’re trying to live as a one-car family until things calm down. The funny things is we were fasting and praying for more $work$ opportunities a few months ago and then Hadley broke her arm (lots of nice medical bills) and it cost us $2,000 to patch up our car in Canada that we’re not even sure is irrevocably damaged.

Being broke is one thing but so many people close to us are dealing with such major, life-altering trials that I recognize how blessed we are and that we’ll be just fine. Trials like divorce after betrayal. Gang rape. Terminal illness. Hospitalization for Schizophrenia.

I follow a really inspirational gal, Natalie Norton, on Instagram and their family has been through so much but continue to be a force for good. She lost her brother and then her baby. They fostered a few children they were going to adopt but then that fell through and they had to wade through the sorrow of another loss. She is still recovering from a stroke last year…and then her 10-year-old son was hit by an SUV last week and they are enduring multiple surgeries. Oh, and while they were in the hospital, their house got robbed.  I mean, how much can one family endure? But through it all, her faith and hope reigns strong:

On Monday evening, our ten year old son, Lincoln, was hit by a compact SUV and has been in a medically induced coma in the ICU ever since. The internal injuries are too many to list here in their totality, but the pooling blood around his heart, “cracked” liver and a punctured lung are currently the most significant to report. He will require reconstructive surgery to his face, including a skin graft (currently scheduled for Friday morning), and his entire body is covered in road rash, bruises and lacerations. This has been every parent’s worst nightmare from start to finish. At this point, the biggest miracle is that there doesn’t seem to be any neurological damage. I’m sobbing writing those words. My sweet, courageous, brilliant baby’s brain seems to have miraculously suffered little more than a moderate concussion. GOD IS SO GOOD.

My Facebook memory from three years ago today is a reminder of of the goodness of life:

My boy’s baptism was a day of miracles…with one grandparent hospitalized mere hours before flying here and another having eye surgery, I’m eternally grateful for their sacrifices and the many dear friends who came to support Bode today. xOXo

Then there was yesterday. The kids and I were touring the newly expanded Missionary Training Center with Jamie’s sister and were enveloped in feelings of love and peace with the beautiful artwork and inspiring messages like this life-sized mural of the Sons on Mosiah from Alma 17:3 in the Book of Mormon that literally knocked my socks off.

Then my phone started blowing up with urgent texts from neighbors and concerned friends that several violent home invasions in our little town had culminated into an armed robbery at the nearby bank …and the cops were apprehending some (but not all) of the suspects in front of our neighbor’s house.

It was such a juxtaposition to the MTC and Bode soberly observed, “This is a really dark world.”

It sure is, Kid, but yesterday I was grateful to also see the light.

A Return to Colorado: The Broadmoor Edition

The perfect end to the perfect week in Colorado was three days of perfection at The Broadmor. And there’s no better way to kick off Said Perfection by dining in the 5-star Penrose Room after a grubby week of getting dirty in the backcountry. Fortunately, we clean up nicely.

I loooove Bode’s cultured conversation starters when he’s trying to act proper. Last time as he surveyed the menu, he observed “I hear the salad is quite good here” and this time, it was, “Sooooooo, taxes these days.”

Early the next morning, I went for my traditional solo hike up North Cheyenne Canon and raced back to get ready to The Broadmoor’s fabulous brunch.  Bananas foster. Shrimp diablo. Plum Calvados Crepes. We take our brunching very seriously and Hadley went into panic mode after round 3. “I don’t know what to get now….I feel so empty inside…oh wait, I’m rather full.” These are true First World Problems, people.

One of the highlights of visiting in the summer is renting a cabana by the pool and almost without fail, rain always interferes with our plans. Fortunately, we were able to soak it all in for 1.5 hours before calling it quits and taking a nap in our rooms. 

We are all obsessed with The Broadmoor but no one more than this guy. Every other restaurant or hotel pales in comparison as he sputters out “This would never happen at The Broadmoor,” which means 99.9 perent of his life is a disappointment. I found him napping like this in his luxurious robe that afternoon. At least 0.1 percent of his life is bliss.

That evening, we dined at our favorite restaurant, The Summit, followed by bowling at Play at The Broadmoor. I was worried how Hadley would do with her broken arm but she bowled her first strike ever, thereby proving that maybe having a handicap can actually be helpful. 

The next day, we had one of Colorado’s most epic experiences via the Pikes Peak Cog Reailway! I’ve climbed several 14,000-foot peaks but nothing can quite prepare you for arriving at the summit of 14,114-foot Pikes Peak via the world’s highest Cog Train and being greeted by an onslaught of out-of-shape tourists. If you can’t beat ‘em, you’d better believe we joined ‘em by eating fresh doughnuts and relishing the views from the summit.

Later that evening, 10 days of beautiful Colorado scenery overload was capped off by  Seven Falls and delicious dinner at The Broadmoor’s 1858 restaurant. As I looked across the table at these exhausted, happy people, my heart was so full. We may not always be at our best at home but when adventuring, we shine as our best selves. And it makes all those painful road trips when they were younger to see the avid travelers they have become.

Leaving The Broadmoor always feels like I’m leaving a part of me behind. As we pulled into our neighborhood after the long drive home Jamie observed, “Arvada no longer feels like home and Midway has yet to feel like home. The only place I feel at home is at The Broadmoor.”

We couldn’t agree with you more.