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?”

 

 

 

Moody November: Survived!

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

Hadley

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

Bode

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

Jamie

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

Me

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

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

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

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

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

XO

 

The Johnson Boys Do San Francisco!

Jamie and Bode had a fantastic boy’s trip to San Francisco a few weeks ago. Earlier this year, Bode set the goal to read the Book of Mormon and has made reading the scriptures a part of his nighttime routine. He recently finished the Book of Mormon and is now part-way through the Doctrine and Covenants.

When the youth turn 12, they enter the Young Men/Young Women organization at church. It’s a pretty special time and I wanted to take each of them on a trip…but that never happened. So when Bode finished the Book of Mormon, *that* seemed like the opportune time for celebration.

Bode is an easy-going, happy-go-lucky fella but it also made trying to find a destination difficult because he really didn’t have any preferences (vs. Hadley who has a gazillion travel passions). He and Jamie finally settled upon San Francisco, and I found cheap flights for a one-night stay. They left early Friday morning, flew into Oakland, took BART into San Francisco, played hard all day, bunked down at the Argonaut hotel near the pier (a great Hotwire find), and put in another full day before flying out Saturday night. They were exhausted but had a blast.

The Past

Bode’s first trip to San Francisco was when he was three months old. Jamie was still at The Denver Post and he had a conference at the Half Moon Bay Ritz-Carlton. There was no way I was missing that so Bode and I jumped on-board for a luxurious couple of nights at the Ritz. While Jamie was in meetings and golfing with Yahoo and Google execs, Bode and I explored the gorgeous cliffs overlooking California’s coastline and Half Moon Bay’s charming shops.. I truly fell in love with that area.

For the third night, we went to San Francisco, arguably one of the best cities in the world. We walked EVERYWHERE with Bode in his stroller, rain often pouring down but Bode ever-happy and as snug-as-a-bug under his blankets. That night, we stayed at the Ramada San Francisco on our dime. When we arrived, there was chicken wire on all the windows and a lovely warning sign that that said, “There were known carcinogens and cancer-causing materials in the building.”  From the Ritz to THIS? Lovely!  I wouldn’t let my sweet baby touch anything that night and kept him in his carseat; we somehow survived.

The Present

This boy’s trip was extremely eventful (and without the threat of radiation, even!) They arrived in San Francisco on BART and proceeded to walk and walk and walk. Two blocks from the train station, they ran into a 1,700-pound pumpkin which was a sure sign God was watching out for them (according to Jamie).

Other sites included exploring Pier 39 and the 7-D Experience (they shot a lot of zombies), a historic video arcade (they played Jamie’s childhood classics Asteroids and Battlezone),  watched the seals sumo-wrestle on the platform, reveled in the street performers and a one-man band, and checked out the World War II submarines.

That afternoon, they took the ferry to tour Alkatraz, definitely the highlight of the trip. Jamie says he got some punishment ideas for messy rooms.

They eventually limped back to the hotel, their feet bursting with blisters. Jamie wanted to get some corn chowder and sourdough bread for dinner, so they watched the World Series on TV at the hotel restaurant. They wanted to do some more exploring but Bode was dead-tired so they compromised: Jamie suggested they walk to find dessert and Bode was rejuvenated with the prospect of Tim Horton doughnuts.

I talked to Bode at the hotel and he sounded like he was ready to pass out–and did so at 8 p.m. (9 p.m. MST), insisting Jamie turn off the TV so he could hit the sack. Jamie and I had a good chuckle about this. When most kids are always pushing bedtime boundaries, Bode has ALWAYS listened to his body and usually goes to sleep on his own. I feel his pain; I hate staying up late.

On Saturday, they had crepes for breakfast and Bode was given the choice of what they should do for the day so he opted to rent bikes and ride across the Golden Gate Bridge, another highlight! Or it would have been have a layer of fog not settled upon the bridge *right* as they were crossing it, obstructing any views of the Bay.

They continued biking to Sausalito as Jamie commented, “Mom would love this town,” which was sure nice of them to think of me when I was holed up at home recovering from knee surgery.

Bode and Jamie continued biking all the way to a small Redwood Forest but opted not to hit the larger trees because it was quite the hike and they were short on time and energy (they biked about 20 miles that day!) They hopped the ferry along with the gazillion other people with bikes, raced over to BART and made it to the airport just in time.

All in all, a successful boy’s trip and now my goal is to help Hadley read the Book of Mormon so we can enjoy a girl’s trip of our own.

 

Happy Halloween 2018

It’s true I was in mourning last Halloween as I realized my kids have mostly aged out of the revelries (with the exception of Bode who still went trick-or-treating).  This year, he had a school social (though it wasn’t so social because he avoided the dance at all costs) and later connected with his neighborhood buddies for some hard-core treat canvassing.

He maaaaay have one year left but we shall see.

As for me, I’m still in knee recovery mode and felt the plague coming on the night before..and was super sick by Halloween. So I got to stay home yet again with the Fat Cat. Hurray!

It was still a good night. Our neighbors go all-out–some make fresh doughnuts. Others have hot dogs, a firepit and doughnuts. And I know one crazy house with giant pumpkins.

with Stockton, Will, Miles, Georgia and Chloe

See this guy here? I bought enough candy for 150+ but I didn’t account for the fact he would hand out handfuls of candy….and we ran out in an hour.

On the plus side, Bode is apparently a better planner than I. Before he went trick-or-treating, he called out to me from behind my computer: “Mom, how do you spell D-I-A-B-E-T-E-S?”

Gotta know just how much candy you can eat.

Summer 2.0

It was a busy summer! For Bode, he had Junior PGA Golf League, Little Shredders Mountain Biking and Sailing Camp (with Hadley).

For Hadley, she had Girl’s Camp (with yours truly as Camp Director), BYU volleyball camp, and not to be forgotten: pioneer trek. Our good friends, the Homers, were her Ma and Pa and they put her in charge of their family’s flag which turned out AWESOME! 


She enjoyed herself with the pre-Trek square dancing and had a great time on the trail. Their family was the first to round the final bend so who would be the crazy girl who RAN the last mile? In her pioneer skirt? After a few days on the trail?
She came in first but let’s just say she walked like a cowboy for the next two days. #C-H-A-F-I-N-G.

The kids and I put in approximately a gazillion hours of yardwork while Jamie did at least two gazillion. But we finally seeded it and have a lawn! This is the before shot; after will will be next summer.

When you’re bored…you grow (or draw) wings.
When we moved to Midway, I thought my dream of having a cabin in the mountains was realized…until we visited the Kuch’s cabin in Oakley that is only accessible via snowmobiles in the winter. This place is sheer magic.

There were some awesome hikes with friends, including this gorgeous loop with Rachel to Lackawaxen Lake and Bloods Lake.

Fat Kitty. Still Fat. Still fabulous.

And not to be forgotten: A glorious reunion with Jamie’s family in Yellowstone. Our brother-in-law’s family owns two cabins on the Henry’s Fork, a tributary of the Snake River. For three days, we Yellowstoned (with a gazillion other people), played games, ate delicious food, kayaked, SUPed, Jackson Holed and chilled on the glorious deck. 

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Next up is the final adventure of the summer: Summitting Mount Timpanogos.

A Great Week for Bode

Today was a good day.

Not because I weeded the yard for hours (definitely not that). Nor the 8 loads of laundry and the washing machine that is on the verge of death (I’m thankful for every successful wash). Nor the fact that I subbed for Jamie as coach of Bode’s soccer team and Bode scored FOUR GOALS! (Final score was 10-1).

It’s because Bode went to the LDS temple for the first time today!

When our youth turn 12, they are permitted to do limited ordinances in the temple and this was Bode’s first opportunity to go. Our ward has this crazy tradition of attending at 5:30 a.m. and I don’t know about you, but getting teenagers out of bed before the crack of dawn is NOT easy. Thankfully, they started switching off the times every month between early-morning and evening session (I would like to think this squeaky wheel is somewhat responsible for the change).  Today, they were supposed to go at 5:30 p.m. but at the last minute turned it back to the a.m. UGGGGGH.

Our beloved Bishop Sorenson is getting released tomorrow so he invited as many youth as were able to attend….and we had over 33, which was a testament to how much we love this dear man. Leading the charge was Hadley, whom I had to promise THE MOON to get her out of bed (that included a pumpkin steamer from Starbucks, no Saturday chores and her phone returned).

But most important of all: I wanted both of my kids to be there for Bode’s first time going through.

He was a bit nervous but really enjoyed being with all of his friends in that sacred place–it’s tough NOT to feel the spirit! We had to leave earlier than the main group to drive back to Midway because of his soccer game but I asked if I could take a picture of him. True to [awkward] form, he sweetly said yes, “BUT ONLY ONE.”

The main group:

Earlier this week, Bode finished reading the Book of Mormon and wants to read the Doctrine & Covenants in its entirety. On the drive home from the temple, I casually mentioned it in the car and the Young Men’s president asked Bode if he would feel comfortable briefly talking about it the next day. He reluctantly agreed; he really doesn’t like a lot of recognition for things like this and that is exactly why Jamie and I decided that if/when each of our kids finished reading The Book of Mormon, we would take them on a fun weekend trip somewhere. We’re currently watching for cheap flights to San Francisco or somewhere nearby for the boys.

Every night before bed, I can see Bode’s nightlight on as he reads and softly plays the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Today, he confided in me that he likes to listen to the choir’s signature “God Be With You Till We Meet Again” before he turns out the lights every night.

“And a little child shall lead them.”

That boy sure has a lot of goodness to give.

Back-to-school: 7th and 9th grades!

Sure, I still have oodles of updates from our fun summer but back-to-school photos are a tradition! Today, Bode became a seventh grader and Hadley started her freshman year of high school. Jamie gave both kids father’s priesthood blessings last night and he blessed Bode with the capacity to learn, make new friends and be a blessing to those about him through the priesthood. Hadley was blessed to be a light and example to her friends, to expand her knowledge and many other great things!

Hadley: I can’t believe she’s a freshman in high school! Her sad news is she was cut from the volleyball team, despite being a solid setter (her best friend told her it was a height issue). We’re hoping she can find something else she loves…while continuing to play volleyball. She has a pretty fun course-work this year: lots of great electives like pottery and painting, and we enrolled her in a “Student Success” class designed to keep struggling students (or those with ADD like Hadley) on-task with their assignments. Today was freshman orientation and in the afternoon, they had a condensed bell schedule where they visited all eight classes for ‘gold’ and ‘black’ days. Or at least they were supposed to. Hadley sheepishly told us they didn’t hear the bell ring during her second period and they talked through her next few classes before realizing they were supposed to move on…only to go to what she thought was her third period and she was two class periods behind. The irony? The class that caused the upset was her “Student Success” class.

My fingers are crossed that she’ll continue to reconnect with her love for art that she abandoned after we moved here (I mean, the girl WON the school’s art show last year). We’re moderately hopeful we’ll have a better year than the last (yes, it really was that bad) but we had a great summer with her and caught glimpses of the just how wonderful she can be.

 

Bode: He was all business for back-to-school night last night. He mapped out his classes, and was straight-forward and direct with his teachers. He is switching fromthe flute to the sax, playing rec soccer and the piano and taking coding this fall. He has a tough course load and is not looking forward to having regular homework for the first time (he has somehow avoided it up until this point). He qualified for “Catalyst” math, which is a step up from honors were only a select group of kids are enrolled and they learn two years of math in just one year. He was reluctant to to do it. He knows he’s great at math and was a peer tutor last year but his hesitation revolves around enjoying being the smartest in the class…and how do you shine when the whole class is full of math whizzes? He’s going to find out this year! Bode is naturally smart but is also nervous about pushing himself…with a touch of laziness. His job was to the mow the lawn this summer and I commented he should start a lawn-mowing business and he replied, “Naw, I don’t want to cut into my friends’ lawn businesses.” How very considerate of him.

Jamie enjoyed having a quiet house once again while I was in mourning for two reasons:

1) Usually on the kids’ first day back at school, I do something fun like go on a hike or lunch. It was a serious bummer to have to drive that 1.5-hour commute and then work.  Blah. Someday I’ll figure out a way to work from home again or find something that actually pays more than $15/hour in the Heber Valley (there aren’t many).

2) The kids are getting older. The school provides laptops for them so school supplies are minimal. Pencil. Notebook. Organizer. I didn’t realize I was in mourning until I passed the anarchy-that-is-the-back-to-school aisle and wistfully thought, “I no longer need to buy them crayons.”

My, how times have changed.

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 12th birthday, Bode

Happy 12th birthday, Bode!

There are a few big birthdays in your childhood and this is one of them. In the LDS faith, you receive the Aaronic Priesthood when you turn 12. In a few weeks, we will be gathering with our family for this special occasion and I hope it is a day you will always remember. Today, we are celebrating your birthday at Lake Okanogan in Canada, complete with some of your favorite things: Timbits, family and ice cream cake.

I could not be more proud of the young man you are becoming. You are kind, thoughtful and responsible while also being funny and silly. Your teacher, Mrs. Douglas, awarded you with a “Certificate of Awesomeness” where she thanked you for your excitement and passion for life, and for the Best Laugh Ever. I second that motion!

When we first moved here last year, you were in fifth grade at a temporary 5th-6th intermediate school and then this year, you were once again the youngest when the middle school changed to 6th-8th. But you slowly adjusted seamlessly to the switch and made the honor roll every term, with your favorite subjects math and film. You have also made some solid friendships with buddies Eli, Jonas, Porter, and Henry, not to mention your neighborhood Airsoft friends Hunter, Will and Stockton.

You are dutifully still growing pumpkins and cranked out your 210-pound “Ugly Duckling” last year. You [badly] played the flute for the second time this year and do a wonderful job on the piano, though your enthusiasm has definitely wavered on that. For the Fox Den Piano Society recital, you played the very difficult Imperial March.I had you rehearse right before the recital during which time you fumbled through the middle section I had never before heard you practice, which made the recital especially exciting. Somehow you pulled it together as your always seem to do, but not without some anxiety on my part.

(Goblin Valley)

This year, you were in 11-year-old Scouts and had a great time with your buddies at various camp-outs to the Sand Dunes, Strawberry Reservoir and the Heber Valley Camp, though you found that winter Klondike camp-out “very taxing.” But nothing beat your prayer prior to departure when your prayed, “Please bless us to think twice before we do anything,” which I hereby vote should be the new Scout motto. Now that the Church is parting ways with BSA, you probably won’t earn your Eagle Scout as we planned but I have no doubt you have other great thing in store.

You enjoy your video games as much as ever with your favorites being 1942, Clash of Clans and Minecraft. When I asked you to tell me your favorites, I tried to end the list there but you interjected, “Hey, I have a few more,” so here they are: Lorde Royals and Moto-X-360. Grandma J. and Aunt Lisa bought you a Kindle Fire for Christmas and you are always multi-tasking your video games while listening to your Audible books: Michael Vey, Percy Jackson, Heroes of Olympus and Fablehaven.

We had a great time exploring our new backyard and reveling in the fact that California is now only a one-day drive away! We had family reunions in Canada and Bear Lake last summer and for fall break, we had a blast on the Central California Coast. We traveled to Driggs, Idaho with our friends the Kuches and Seversons and New Year’s found us exploring St. George and Zion National Park with our friends the Hardymans. We had a blast in San Diego for Spring Break where you lost my wallet at Sea World, prayed for its return and, despite my lack of faith, it got turned in. We had an amazing time camping in Goblin Valley last spring, one of our all-time favorite camping trips EVER, and you just finished a solo trip to Colorado where you stayed and played with our dear friends, the Carrolls.

(Zion)

You did cross-country skiing lessons at Soldier Hollow for the second year in a row and despite the lackluster snow year, you had a blast climbing up the “snow whales”–huge, two-story piles of snow. You became an awesome downhill skier and it won’t be too much longer until you surpass your parents on the slopes. Every Thursday, you went to Coding Club with your buddies and you suffered through Track Club this spring where you tied for last place with your coding buddies (perhaps more time running and less time programming?) You once again elected to do rec soccer, instead of competitive, and enjoyed being the superstar and averaging three goals per game with your dad as coach. You didn’t even mind having the teams be co-ed, just so long as you could dribble around the girls and not talk to them.

And then there is this summer where you’ve been enjoying PGA Jr. League golf and “Little “Shredders” mountain biking, which pushed you to the limits of your cautious nature but you have survived! You just wrapped your final Kids Adventure Games and got knocked with the boom about 40 times in Sailing Camp at Jordanelle Reservoir. You would have had a better time sailing if you had not been lumped with the younger boys whom you called “immature.” Upon further investigation, you confessed it was because they were rude, insulting and often bullied one of your sailing friends, whom you stuck up for but it deeply impacted your sensitive nature because you hate to see unkindness in the world.

You may only be 12 but you often act way more responsible than your parents, like the stages of your late-night pukefest last winter. The Physician: “It would appear I have finally stabilized…I feel quote certain I lost some vital organs with how much I threw up” The Philosopher: “I get why owls throw up but why us humans?” and then you expounded upon the science of owls’ regurgitated food. At least if I had to stay up with you all night, you were entertaining!

(Morro Bay)

All joking aside, you are a tremendous example to me. You have always had a spiritual depth and it is wonderful to see you nurturing it. You set the goal earlier this year to read the Book of Mormon and you rarely miss a day. I love going into your room before bed where I usually find you reading the scriptures while listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

A couple of months ago, I was having some struggles with one of my employees and I was ready to fire her (we ended up parting ways soon thereafter). But when we were discussing how I should handle this difficult situation with our family, I was really amazed at your sage advice on how to show empathy and kindness and explore all my options to help this struggling young woman. You exhibited astute management skills at such a young age and I have no doubt you will be a tremendous leader someday.

Thank you for always being our family’s peacemaker and looking on the bright side. Hands down, my favorite Bode memory was when I was driving to Canada with you and Hadley last summer. Our old Pilot broke down about 30 minutes north of Great Falls, MT. We turned around, stayed the night in the city, got the car fixed and were on the road by noon. I celebrated when we passed the site where we had stopped the day before when, not even 15 seconds later, I received another alert that that car was having problems. I derilously laughed and pulled over again. There was a long silence and you finally broke it: “Well, at least we got further than last time.”

The world needs your optimism and light. Thank you for shining it upon us all.

Love,

Mom

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

(Walking on Water, Lake Okanogan)

(First day of sixth grade)

(Indoor skydiving)

(Ugly Duckling)

(Bike prom selfie)

San Rafael Swell

 

San Rafael Swell

(La Jolla)

Kids Adventure Games

(Soldier Hollow with Henry)

(Midway Town Hall with the Seversons)

(Zion)

 

A summer in full swing!

We’re alive!

Why my absence?  We’ve had a non-stop deluge of landscaping in the Johnson Family Rock Garden. We’re almost ready to seed after literally hundreds of hours of work (85% of which Jamie has done) but that 15% has about sent the kids and me over-the-top. We are OVER it. And we still have a lot of rocks that need to be removed before seeding and Jamie can’t get the sprinklers to work. I keep reminding myself that someday I’ll love this backyard. Last weekend, we caught a glimpse when our Colorado friends came to visit and we played a hilarious game of PIT with them on the deck.

The kids and I leave for two weeks in Canada on Monday so here are a few quick Instagram updates before the summer completely runs away from me:

Young Women Girl’s Camp. I was assigned to be the director of our ward’s girl’s camp and things I want to remember: Creekside glamping, Bear Lake paddleboarding, Minnetonka caving (while candlelight singing and iron rod clinging), Logan temple baptizing, incredible leaders leading, volleyball playing, quiet time pondering, Aggie ice cream and raspberry shake devouring, silly gaming, snipe hunting and testimony building. This was a beast to pull together but they say it takes a village…and I’m so thankful they are mine.

Ward and Father-Son Camp-outs. Our awesome Bishop Sorenson is all about ward bonding and is constantly looking for ways to bring our ward together. So in June, we had both a ward and also a father-son camp-out, and now we’re officially retired from camping for the rest of the summer. I’ve decided my days of sleeping horribly in a tent are over and I’d like to graduate to a nice camp trailer.

Kids Adventure Games. Bode and his buddy Porter participated in what will probably be our family’s final Kids Adventure Games. Hadley participated in it almost from its inception in Vail when she was 7 so I feel like they’ve grown up with it. We’re all sad to be aging out of this great adventure but it sure was wonderful to see Bode kicking butt on the course, thanks to his mountain biking club, “Little Shredders.”

PGA Junior Golf. Sadly, my days of freebies are almost over so whenever I get the chance to do anything in trade for writing about it, I jump at the chance. Last summer, Bode did the rec program’s golf class and learned the basics of golf but PGA Junior Golf really steps up their game. Literally. Bode needs to work on his swing but he’ll have a lifetime of frustrating golf outings to perfect it.

Floating the Heber Canal. Looks like chaos? The story here isn’t the gazillion kids who floated the upper canal but rather, the Warrior Mamas Who Love Them. From Renaissance Woman Lynne who strapped those gazillion tubes onto her huge trailer, to Survivor Julie whose tube popped shortly before entering the “cave” and she had to haul her two kiddos the duration of the run through frigid irrigation waters. But the silver lining is Young Brett will never again wander into a group of sympathetic women for fear he will catch a glimpse of a torn swimsuit and bloodied “moonscape.”

Fourth of July. Park City chairlift riding, wildflower summit hiking, Legends burger eating, Outlets shopping, Incredibles 2 viewing, 4th of July party crashing, volleyball playing and fireworks exploding. In Colorado, they literally shut down our street for the city’s fireworks party…and I resigned myself nothing would ever compare after we moved. Utah will never be Colorado but I was reminded today it’s still pretty darn great.

Sailing Camp. I applied for a scholarship for both kids to attend Park City’s Sailing Camp for a week. It was a tremendous experience with top-notch instructors and crazy-windy conditions.  Bode claims he got hit by the boom no less than 30 times and Hadley actually blacked out for a few seconds on the last day when her partner didn’t tell them they were tacking (turning) and Hadley almost got knocked out of the boat with it. But that wasn’t her biggest adventure.

A broken shoulder (Aqua X Zone), a busted back (skiing) and now The Sailing Disaster, which has prompted me to officially pass my Murphy’s Law torch to her. On Day 2, her tiller broke, her sailboat capsized and while she and her partner clung to the side of the boat, the wind whipped them to shore, almost running over a [terrified] older woman in a kayak. They somehow emerged unscathed but the bright side is she was a celebrity when I checked her into sailing lessons the next day.

Takeaway: Being a Murphy is nothing if not notorious.