An Ode To The Lovely Chris

My dad wrote this to my mom 20+ years ago and he included it in her funeral program! I love it…except that Jamie wasn’t yet on the scene and an old boyfriend is included. :-)

An Ode To The Lovely Chris by Stan February 14, 1996

They met at curling, that roaring game

Stan of Fork River and Christine from Raymond she came

That Chris was a knockout, ere was no doubt But Stan was too shy to ask her out

Chris took the lead

And to dinner Stan came

And that all started the old dating game

First came love, and then “I do”

And off to Hawaii the happy couple flew

Taylor apartments was their first home

With that big Dodge Royal with which to roam

A year later Number 1 baby came

Patrick Shawn was the little guy’s name

A new home was now needed and as the story goes

Off the pair went to Mapleglade Close

A few years later, in 1972 I think

We got baby Number 2 and the color was pink

For a girl arrived at the stroke of midnight

While Stan was at home sleeping quite tight!

On summer vacations we traveled quite far

Off to B.C. or Disneyland in that faithful old car

First with a tent, then a tent trailer we went

Finally a -fist class trailer was money well spent

In 1977, the last bundle of joy came

Jade Barrett Borowski was Number 3’s name

Sports was a big thing with the kids I must say

Baseball and soccer and volleyball and hockey they play

Those were great times, a chance to go out

To cheer and to holler and let out a loud shout!

Pat finally got married and it seemed to be

That would leave Chris, Jade, Amber and me

But no – I remember utter surprise When Pat, Jane and Ashton on our doorstep arrived!

We managed quite fine but they needed something new

And after awhile, out of the nest they all flew

It was Amber’s turn next and off to Ricks she went

And the big expedition was money well spent

For she made good friends and found a boyfriend named Scott

He was No.1 whether we liked it or not

But she wasn’t prepared to just settle down

A missionary call would change things around

Geneva Switzerland, she said was the place to be

With Heavenly Father, my companion and me

That left just Jade and he was growing up fast

Enjoy him while he’s home. It wasn’t to last

Hockey was over when Jade broke his right leg

But it was on to golf with great passion instead

On crutches to school and on crutches to play

On Mapleridge course, it was the talk of the day

Two holes in one during only one year

Was cause for celebration and a loud cheer

But a golf ball came flying and much to his surprise

It caught Jade squarely between his two eyes!

Chris became a business lady under The Curiosity Shoppe name

Tea room and gifts were her new claim to fame

They came to the tea room from near and from far

And it was a great business, well above par

But the landlord and city lowered the boom

With more rent and more taxes to send them to doom

And out dear old Chevron way,

Stan was bundled up and bid a good day

After 33 years to new ventures he went

You still have to eat. You still must pay rent

And Jade has now left and so you must see

That leaves empty nesters, Christine and me

We still have our quarrels, our troubles, the lot

But I am still happy we decided to tie that OLD KNOT!

-Love, Stan

A final farewell

I returned from Calgary on Friday and I’m still processing the myriad of emotions from burying my mother.

Mom took a turn for the worst shortly after Christmas and we were sure it was time. She spent several weeks in the hospital as my family started planning her funeral. I stressed about immigration. My passport and green card expired in March. Should I roll the dice and send everything in to be renewed, praying she didn’t pass away and I wouldn’t be able to get home? Or should I delay the renewal until March and run the risk of letting everything expire? I ended up rolling the dice and submitting everything in January…which turned out to be a big stress because my passport application got returned, along with a myriad of other problems.

Mom has been on the cusp of needing to go in a care facility for a few years now but my Dad has somehow continued with her care with the help of daily visits from Alberta Health.  The week prior to my mom’s passing, he took a mental health vacation to Mexico. My mom has been vehemently opposed to being left in a care facility for fear that she would never come home again. Fortunately, my brother and his family have been living with my parents so they were able to watch her at night while women in our ward stayed with her during the day.

Her Passing

When my mom returned home from the hospital a few months ago, she had bounced back and though she still had a poor quality of life, she was in a much better place. She attended family dinners (including Easter where they rolled her wheelchair to roll Easter eggs down the hill) and was happier than she had been in a while.

The night before my dad left for his early-morning flight to Mexico, she told him, “I’m not even going to have a chance to say good-bye to you.” My dad interpreted that to mean saying their farewells the next morning but maybe it went deeper than that.

The week she spent with my brother’s family was the best she had in a long time. She had some semblance of her former self and was in good humor. When Jamie and I were saying good-bye to her at Christmas, we saw a glimpse of her former spunk when she reacted incredulously to our 6 a.m. flight. It was good to hear her laugh again.

She was also manic at times the last week of her life. My brother and his wife Jennifer would hear her rummaging through the kitchen at all hours. On Saturday, she fell–hard–and her glasses cut her face. They rushed her to the hospital for her to get stitches and did an MRI because she hit her head. Nothing showed up and amazingly, she was still in good humor. “I can’t figure out why I have such a bad headache,” she said in the hospital. Maybe because you slammed the floor, hard!

Jen and Jade took away her walker when she wasn’t supervised because they were worried she would have another bad fall. On her last night on earth, my brother Jade woke up at midnight to her cooking toast in the kitchen. He was frustrated and tired.  Jade has had poor health for months as he has battled kidney stones, failed surgeries and other major hardships. He patiently waited for her to finish and he was granted a sacred moment with her.

“I want to go home,” she quietly told him.

She has said this a few times the last several months, which my family interpreted to mean she was confused with where she was. “You are home,” my sister-in-law, Jane told her. But slowly it started to sink in. “OK, Christine. You can go home.” After years of fearing death despite her hellish condition, she was ready to go home.

My mom started to have trouble breathing that final night and Jade debated taking her back to the hospital but when he went to check on her around 2 a.m., she had fallen asleep in her beloved chair. Four hours later on April 30, 2019, Jen went to check on her and realized she had passed. Or rather, Jen was “99% sure” she had passed away.  She frantically called my brothers. Pat called me at 7:05 a.m. with the news. Dad was flying home from Mexico that day he eventually got the message to call home. After years of taking care of her, he was spared the horror of being the one who found her, calling the funeral home, and seeing her taken away. It was a tender mercy for her to pass away at home, in her chair.

The Dressing and Viewing

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, our view of death is an eternal one. We believe we lived as spirits in a pre-mortal existence with God (but that we have always existed as Intelligences). That we came to earth where our spirits gained a mortal body where we grow in wisdom and faith. When we die, we are reunited with loved ones in a world of light: the spirit world, where we await judgment and resurrection through Jesus Christ. (Learn more about the Plan of Salvation, Great Plan of Happiness here).

My mom didn’t want a large funeral. Her final requests were for a simple graveside service with a closed casket at the Okotoks Cemetery. I flew in a day before Jamie and the kids so I could go to Pierson’s Funeral Home with my Aunt Sue, sister-in-laws Jane and Jennifer, and nieces, Ashton and Emily. Our purpose? To dress my mom’s mortal body. Mike Pierson walked us through the process and we began with a prayer prior to entering the Rose Room (which I thought was the perfect location because of her love of roses).

Seeing her for the first time was a beautiful experience. She had sustained a large bruise and stitches on her face from her fall a few days prior to her death but she looked at peace. Mike assisted Jane and me in dressing her in her temple dress and clothing. Her skin was cold and hard, yet smooth. My nieces did her hair and make-up to look like the beauty she always was.  “She is not here,” the spirit kept whispering. She was free. We placed her in the beautiful pink! coffin. Attending to her–as she always attended to me–was a final act of service.

That evening, we had a viewing for family and close friends. Many traveled to honor her and it was a close-knit, memorable night as stories and tears were shed. My mom’s best friend, Brenda, passed away when I was 12. Her daughter, Stacey, attended the viewing and the grief of losing her mom resurfaced and she struggled to leave my mom’s side. It made me think about her loss..and mine. I was about 13 when Mom was diagnosed with MS. Her journey has been a long, difficult and painful one but unlike Stacey’s mom, she was still here. As it came time to leave, we gathered around her coffin. I kissed her for the last time, softly placed her veil on her head and covered her face. The last, hardest good-bye.

The Graveside Service

On Friday, we met at the Willow Park Chapel to caravan to the Okotoks Cemetery. I was touched by the outpouring of friends and family on that cloudy morning. I hopped in the back of my Aunt Sue’s van with Jamie and Bode for the 30-minute drive. We were part of the caravan…until we weren’t. Jamie and Sue had assumed the cemetery would be outside of town so missed the turnoff. We finally pulled over to Google map the route and turned back.

Then, the phone rang; it was my brother Jade wondering where we were. “At least it was the nice brother,” Sue joked, but then the “not-nice” brother Pat came on the phone to not-so-nicely guide us back to the cemetery.

When we arrived 15 minutes late, everyone was already seated but with two pallbearers (Jamie and Bode) and the eulogist (me), we figured they couldn’t start without us. I wish I had time to regain my composure from being late but immediately, the pallbearers carried the coffin to the graveside before I was able to process what was happening.

The service was short. The bishop shared some remarks and then it was my turn to give the eulogy. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to hold it together but the previous day’s dressing and viewing were my good-bye; this eulogy was about sharing funny stories and touching tributes about my mom (I will post it separately).

Then, we had Open Mic. My dad shared the story of winning a vacation to Hawaii when I was 5. My dad was out snorkeling waaaaaay past the reef when he heard my mom yell at him from across the waves, “Stan, get back in here. You’re going to die and ruin everyone’s vacation.”  Always thinking of others. :-)

Aunt Sue shared stories of my dad’s devotion and losing her sister. Pat shared a story that he was out playing street hockey with his friends and Mom threatened him to come rest and get cleaned up before his hockey game, saying he would be too exhausted to play that night. They made a bet that she’d pay him $100 if he scored two goals…he went on to score three and she gave him a $100 bill after the game. For Jade, he had the special experience of being the final one to be with my mom and he shared her story of wanting to go home.

Granddaughter Ashton shared some of her fun Grandma Christine stories and the true showstopper was my nephew Jaxson. We all held our breath as he walked to the pulpit because he’s often king of the inappropriate but my gosh, he gave the most beautiful tribute to his grandma. Mom’s cousin Lynn Wilde gave a spiritual message, longtime family friend Colleen Low led us in song with”God Be With You ‘Til We Meet Again,” Jade dedicated the grave and Jane gave a beautiful prayer of farewell.

It was perfect.

Our family’s tradition of going out for Chinese food was rooted in Southern Alberta years ago when we would drive into Lethbridge and the Chinese restauranteurs would declare, “The Wildes are here again.” It is one of our favorite traditions and my dad generously took everyone in attendance out for Chinese food. It was the perfect way to honor her–with stories, laughter and ginger beef.

====

As we raced in late to the graveside service, several people told me I was my Frenzied Mom Incarnate. When I gave the eulogy, I shared the story of when my mom was late (as usual) for a class at BYU. Her instructor required latecomers to announce their last and first name and so she hurriedly shouted in the quiet room:

“WILDE CHRISTINE” which was met by laughter.
Wild, indeed.
How honored I am to be her daughter…and for her great legacy that will forever live on.

In memorial on a hill

I have had so many emotions since my Mom’s death. My dad asked me to give the eulogy which has resulted in lots of laughter and tears as the wonderful tributes from her family and friends have poured in. On the final night she was alive, she quietly told my brother, “I want to go home.”

The spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life. And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow. -Alma 40:11-12

Today, I will participate in the sacred practice of dressing her in her temple clothes, a family viewing tonight, followed by her graveside service tomorrow.

I didn’t leave the house on the day she died but the next afternoon, I rode my bike to the top of Memorial Hill in the middle of our mountain hamlet. The site is dedicated to those from our valley who have served in any United States military conflict and it is a place we hold sacred. I was mercifully alone (it’s a popular destination) and I plopped myself down on the grass in front of the “Final Salute” bronze statue of a soldier’s boots, gun and helmet as I looked out over the valley. I talked to her, REALLY talked to her, something I haven’t been able to do since the illness took over a few years ago. I told her I missed her. That I was sorry for her suffering but that she was finally free. That her teenage grandchildren really need her help and even on the other side, I knew she would be in a position to call upon other ministering angels from our family to guide, comfort and inspire. I know this because I have felt her mom and dad–my Grandma and Grandpa Wilde–protecting me during some of my most vulnerable times.
As I sat in silence overlooking our view, a light breeze rolled through the valley, rustling the dog tags hanging from the statue. They read: “To all in God’s Grace. Never Forgotten.” 
For the first time, I noticed a bell attached to the front of one of the boots. How peculiar, I thought, and I reached over to ring it, chuckling with surprise that it actually worked as I remembered Jamie’s favorite movie, It’s A Wonderful Life:  “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.”
She was there with me on that hilltop and it was a tender moment as it was confirmed that she would be looking out for me and our family…and that I could go to this special place whenever we needed to talk and that she would never be far away.

Christine Ririe Borowski

A lot of people associate me with being the writer in the family but I love the sweet and funny tribute my dad wrote about my mom.

BOROWSKI, Christine Ririe
July 12, 1944 – April 30, 2019

Christine Ririe Borowski passed away on April 30, 2019 at the age of 74. Despite being a life-of-the-party type of person, at her request there will not be a funeral service or public viewing (she didn’t want people staring at her), only a graveside service. Her request for no obituary is being overlooked (maybe at great peril).

Christine Wilde was born in Magrath, Alberta on July 12, 1944, the first daughter to Wallace and Virginia Wilde. Two more daughters, Miriam and Susan, came along later to complete the family. Many of her fondest memories were of living on a farm a few miles outside of Raymond, Alberta where she enjoyed growing up with her ‘Wilde’ cousins who lived half a mile down the lane. The family moved to the bright lights of Raymond when she was around Grade 8.

Chris attended Rick’s College in Rexburg, Idaho for a year and then moved on to the larger social scene at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

Age 22 found her in Calgary, working for an insurance company. Chris enjoyed curling and her roommate Francis invited her to join a Catholic youth curling league. Well, the ‘Mormon’ girl ended up on Stan Borowski’s curling team which led to dating, a proposal and finally marriage on July 8, 1967. A honeymoon to Hawaii started their married life.

Chris was a stay-at-home mom for Patrick, Amber and Jade. While the kids were growing up, she demoed food products at the grocery stores on weekends and Friday nights. She smiled at the masses and handed out food samples. And then there was the “route.”  She worked tirelessly delivering The Bargain Finder newspaper every week, lugging those bundles of newspapers into her gold Mini Cooper and out to the businesses. She always wanted her kids to have a few extras. She sewed, cooked, camped, did crafts, church callings and set an example of a woman who was talented and devoted to her family and was a hard worker. It was in her genes.

As the kids grew older, a new adventure awaited her. Chris and her friend, Lin Snowdon, launched ‘The Old Curiosity Shoppe’ in Glenmore Landing. This popular and beloved tea room was to be her passion for the next 12 years. Following the shop’s closure, Chris and Lin ran a wedding decorating/catering business for a few years.

Family vacation time usually took them to British Columbia and the western United States in the Nomad travel trailer. Later in life, the trips were mostly to New Jersey and Colorado to visit her children.

Chris was diagnosed with MS while in her 30s, but that didn’t slow her down much until the last 5 years of her life. She had an outgoing and fun personality and was a faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Chris was a collector. People who knew her would recall her passion for baskets (100+) and hats (100+), several closets full of clothes, many, many shoes and an impressive collection of rings and jewelery as well as many hat boxes. The few times they had a garage sale, Stan was instructed not to sell any of her stuff. So, Stan has been quietly taking trips to Goodwill as well as being a regular contributor to charities collecting used clothes.

Chris liked buying “brand name” clothes but didn’t particularly like paying “brand name” prices. This led her to roam around places like Winners and TJ Maxx.

Christine is survived by her devoted husband of 50 years, Stan; sister, Susan; her children. Patrick (Jane), Amber (Jamie) and Jade (Jen) as well as 6 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.

A Graveside Service will be held at Okotoks Cemetery on Friday May 10 at 11:00 a.m. Please meet at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Willow Park Chapel (940 Acadia Drive, Calgary) Procession will depart at 10:30 a.m.

Messages of condolence may be forwarded to the family at www.piersons.ca.

“Maman”

My beautiful mom passed away on Tuesday, April 30, 2019.

For those who knew and loved her, she was a hilarious spitfire who could cook, craft and create anything. She was an entrepreneur who built a charming restaurant/gift shop, and was renowned throughout Calgary for catering huge parties and her larger-than-life personality. When Jamie asked my dad for my hand in marriage, she interjected in her typical Christine way, “YOU CAN HAVE HER.” (It was, after all, very difficult to have an unmarried 30-year-old Mormon daughter).

I was around my kids’ age when she was diagnosed with MS and she spent more than half of her life with a crippling disease that slowly stripped her of her every gift and passion. It has been a slow, painful death and I’m so grateful my dad, brothers and their families have been her selfless caretakers. She passed away in her sleep at home–a tender mercy after so many years of suffering. My sadness is trumped by the peace that she is finally free of pain.

I have no doubt in addition to some joyous reunions with her parents, sister and best friend, she is having a blast raising a ruckus on the other side in her unforgettable way. She is, after all, a Wilde.

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.

Thanksgiving at The Broadmoor

Thanksgiving in Colorado: who could turn down an offer to spend a long weekend in one of our favorite places?

First stop: Denver. We crammed a lifetime’s worth of memories into 12 hours that included a drive-by of our old hood, Marcella’s crispy potato pizza, the magical Christkindl Market, Tattered Cover, downtown holiday lights and a stay at the modern-chic Crawford Hotel above Union Station.

From there, it was onto the biggest, baddest Thanksgiving feast we have ever seen at The Broadmoor.  The buffet was, in Bode’s words, “exquisite” with a sophisticated twist on all our traditional favorites…plus some new culinary experiences.

Me: “You need to try caviar.”
Bode: “That’s cow heart, right?”
Jamie: “It is eggs. You like eggs, right?”

Hadley later went on to say it tasted like “the bottom of the ocean.”

Bode overindulged in everything else to the point where he looked like he was in pain.

Me: “When it stops being enjoyable, you need to cut it off.”
Bode: “I can’t force it down anymore. I need gravity to so its job.”

Our Denver Thanksgiving tradition was to hike Turkey Trot before dinner but we switched things up to hike in between feasts, which proved challenging when you’re in a food coma. Fortunately, a snowball fight and the threat “you don’t want the old lady who just had knee surgery to beat you, right?” proved highly motivated.

On Friday, I joined in the fun of The Broadmoor’s Turkey Trot 5K. I was first place of the losers (walkers).

The Family: Slept in and ordered room service.

Final score: It’s a draw.

We also did our first photoshoot in years with one of our favorite people: Photographer Mic. The pictures turned out fabulous!

However, there was a lot of wardrobe-related bickering, causing peacemaker Bode to start singing, “If you’re happy and you know it…” He stopped looking at us and proclaimed, “Forget it. There is no happiness here.”

Fortunately, the rest of the weekend WAS sheer happiness with swimming, gingerbread-house making and posing, and Jenga, laser tag, checkers and pool playing.

One night, we took the shuttle to Seven Falls Winter Lights. We ate at Restaurant 1858 at the base and since it was bitterly cold, we opted not to climb the massive staircase  and instead took the archaic elevator which offered a bird’s eye view of the falls. It was cold (did I already mention it?) and the elevator was old (mentioned that, too). As we patiently waited for the elevator, a crowd of people spilled out and the doors promptly started to close. An elderly woman lunged forward, sacrificing herself as someone yelled, “NOT GRANDMA!” But I’m here to tell you those doors reopened and Grandma saved the day, just like every day.

When we first attended The Broadmoor’s White Lights Ceremony six years ago, Christmas magic was at its peak…and Hadley bolted off to follow the merry band of elves when Santa made his appearance.

Fast-forward to present day and the teens were, welp, teens. A blistering wind and cold picked up right before the ceremony. Bode braved it outside but Hadley bolted indoors. After the tree lighting, they reluctantly followed the droves of kids to what we thought was storytime but when we found out they were only visiting Santa, they wanted nothing to do with it.

But then it was almost like the Christmas elves got together and hatched a plan to remind them what the holiday spirit was all about. Mrs. Claus, unprompted, walked over to where those teens were sitting and gave them their own private storytime full of delight, humor and wonder, making believers out of all of us.

December fun!

I worked from home yesterday after a controlled avalanche closed Provo Canyon (my commute) and deposited 30 feet of snow across four lanes of traffic. But you won’t hear any complaints from me after last year’s dismal snow. Bring it on!!!

I’m woefully behind on updates from Thanksgiving (Colorado and The Broadmoor) and Christmas (Canada).  I set the goal to blog more because this is really my journal but between working (and my daily 1.5-hour commute), Mile High Mamas, freelance projects and family, there isn’t a lot of spare time.

So, a few quick updates that I will hopefully expand upon another time.

Thanksgiving

My contact at The Broadmoor just retired so I HAD to get one more story assignment for the magazine. Thankfully, she bit and assigned me to cover their over-the-top Thanksgiving buffet and White Lights Ceremony. We had the time of our lives (as always) and the good news is I get at least one more return trip as “payment” for the article, so we’ll return in May for Hadley’s birthday. I probably spent 30 hours interviewing, researching and writing it but what I get in return (two glorious stays) is so worth it. I love that The Broadmoor will always be my family’s happy place because it is truly special.

December

December was busy with Bode’s sax concert and Hadley’s art show. We invited some friends over for a cookie exchange prior to going to Midway’s Creche exhibit and Jamie and I had a fun time getting dressed up for the Heber Chamber’s formal Christmas dinner. We went caroling with friends and were invited by the publisher of Heber Valley Life Magazine; it was so fun to network and meet new people. I skipped out on my big baking extravaganza since we were leaving for the holidays but made approximately one gazillion gingerbread cookies.

Our annual ward Christmas party is always fun. This year, they had a photo booth where Hadley volunteered by taking photographs. The best photos of the night were undoubtedly our photos with Bonnie Jean, Paige, Lynn, Jana and Jen.

We had a couple of great snowfalls and my first snowshoe adventure with friends Jana and Sarah was pretty epic. So so so beautiful! Have I mentioned I love snow? :-)

Ski Days

Bode and I are cross-country skiing twice a week at Soldier Hollow after school. We were in the intermediate-level group until he got bumped up to the experts and I’m very happy to be left behind. He’s become a great skier, both downhill and Nordic.

It seems like since we moved here two years ago, weekends and evenings have been so full of drudgery and yardwork. But guess what: when your yard is buried under a foot of snow, Jamie can’t make you haul 61 tons of rocks so we’ve been hitting the slopes every chance we get.

Hadley is really struggling with PTSD after that snowboarder slammed into her last year. I totally get it. I was hit from behind two years ago by a skier and I’m still on edge whenever I hear anyone coming up behind me which is a nice way of saying I yell at a lot of reckless people.

On our first day of the season, I posted:

Great early-season conditions for our first day on the slopes! While the rest of the old-timers were rusty, after one run Bode boasted. “That was awesome. I feel like I’ve been skiing all season.”

Jamie: Only brought one ski boot for reasons that aren’t entirely my fault but I will take the blame because it’s his birthday weekend and he had to drive home to get it. I was stuck in the season ticket office about the same amount of time so we’ll call it a draw.

Me: Told everyone we should stick to intermediate runs so I could ease my knee back into it. By the third run, they made me go down a black diamond with bumps. As Jamie was trying to coach Hadley down a tricky section he told her, “Just do what your mom does.” “What? Complain about my knee?”

Hadley: Did great despite post-accident PTSD. Had the best quote of the day when an avalanche gun was shot and she declared: “A tribute has died.”

Christmas

I had resigned we wouldn’t be able to go home but was thrilled when a friend informed me she had found $300 tickets to Calgary, which is unheard of.  Our trip was full of the good, bad, ugly, hard, glorious and dramatic all wrapped into one and I’m so glad we were able to go to spend time with my mom. The weather has been pretty mild in Canada so I was unsure if we’d be able to skate and do some of my favorite winter activities but thankfully, the lakes and rivers opened for skating right before our arrival so we had a great time on Lake Bonavista and Bowness Park, as well as spending a day in Banff.

Top 9

2018 was one of our toughest yet as we navigated some very tough teenage issues.  But looking back, it wasn’t all bad. The highlights according to my most liked pictures on Instagram:

1) My daily commute to BYU

2) Hadley winning the middle school art show.

3) Jamie terrifying Hadley in Goblin Valley

4) Color wars at the middle school with friends Ali and Katelyn

5) Snow Canyon State Park with the Hardymans

6) Celebrated our 15th anniversary

7) Hike to Troll Falls

8) Moraine Lake

9) Waterton Lakes  (my favorite place on earth) with my kids and Dad.

Here’s to 2019!

Oh Canada: The Lakehouse 2018

The kids and I spent a glorious two weeks in Canada. The whole thing was a whirlwind: Hadley was on a 3-day Pioneer Trek just prior and had to return two weeks later for BYU volleyball camp. So, we packed up and headed to British Columbia, breaking up the 18-hour drive with an overnight stay at my sister-in-law Jane’s wonderful parents in Eastern Washington.

My brother and his wife have been renting the Mana Manor in Vernon for 15 consecutive years and the rest of us have been coming for five years. It’s not a fancy cabin and is in dire need of some overhauls but it’s convenient and is divided into four different two-bedroom units. I had asked if we could only do a 5-night rental instead of 7 and assumed it was a done deal when my brother reached out to the owner but through some miscommunication, we never heard back.

I found out the week prior that the kids and I didn’t have a place to stay. Fortunately, I ended up finding a great rate at a nearby Best Western. So, while the kids bunked with their cousins at the cabin, I made the 15-minute drive to my air-conditioned and clean hotel room to decompress each night. I’m a convert!

It was the smallest group yet. Poor Jamie was too overwhelmed with work and yardwork so couldn’t come; Ashton only came for a few days because she just had a beautiful baby boy, Raiden, and my niece Emily and her boyfriend just returned from Ireland so couldn’t take off work. My mom and dad have been unable to attend the last couple of years due to her health.

They were all missed but the smaller group didn’t deter us from having a grand ‘ol time; Pat and his wife were generous hosts as always.

We celebrated Bode’s 12th birthday with Timbits, a successful surf, smoked pork sandwiches and a strawberry cheesecake Blizzard ice cream cake from Dairy Queen. Presents included his first new bike, some golf clubs and books. How we love this sweet boy!

We had our traditional visit to Davison Orchards for killer peach, cherry and apple pies, fresh cider slushies, cut throat checkers and farm animals.

We all vastly improved in wakesurfing, Hadley in particular really clicked out there, dropped the rope and was surfing! I did my best ever, which still isn’t super great but the good news is I’m not regressing. Bode is slowly moving forward as well!

We marveled at my brother’s new toy, a wakefoil that had him surfing two feet above the water.

We had our annual dive-off. I had great hopes that family friend Todd would dethrone Pat from the title but he came up way short. I blame Pat for stuffing Todd with food just prior (an evil strategy).

The unicorn. Jade jumped on it in the lake. It popped. All that remained was its head.

Teenagers can be fun but not always. One of their redeeming qualities is they have zits the entire family loves popping.

Pat brought his stand-up paddleboard and we all had a blast paddling around the perimeter of the lake…except for when Hadley took it out, got caught in a scary wind storm and had to be rescued by a cute guy in a boat wearing a Superman shirt.

We brought our volleyball net so downtime was spent playing volleyball, some crazy-competitive badminton tournament and boulle.

Friends Tom and Kim have been through a lot this past year, including losing their beloved lakeside rental home to a terrible storm. But they’re always really generous and a part of our family when we come to visit. Todd brought his lakeside movie night to us and it’a favorite tradition!

And the perfect way to end a fantastic week at the lakehouse.

43 tons of rock

Good gosh, I hadn’t intended to let that much time lapse since my last blog post but life has been warp-speed ahead. BYU’s graduation was last week, I’m a couple of months ahead of schedule on our alumni magazine and work life is settling into a more reasonable rhythm–one where I dictate the wheres and the hows for the next few months. I really need to sell Mile High Mamas but that will take time and effort to redesign and revitalize it to where it needs to be, neither of which I have.

I have so many updates. Our fun spring break in San Diego. My awesome foodie group that meets every month.  The start to pumpkin season. Watching Bode score lots of soccer goals every week with Jamie as coach. The start of track season. The end to Hadley’s roller-coaster club volleyball season. A lot of seasons through the hourglass.

But if I’m being honest here, life is hard right now, really hard. I’m not a complainer but we’ve been dealt a heavy dose of C-R-A-P and every time we think we can come up for air, we’re thrust down under again.

Hard, hard, back-breaking things. Doctors. Interventions.  Mountains of medical bills.  A snowboarder who won’t pay for injuring Hadley and now we have to deal with the hassle of small claims court. My stupid bum knee(s) I can’t afford to fix. Jamie’s chronic rheumatism. This week our washing machine started wigging out and is knocking at death’s door. A part on our new dishwasher broke off and oh, don’t forget that our outdoor water spigot leaked into our walls and floorboards, forcing Jamie to punch a hole in the basement ceiling to survey the water damage and the potential for mold.

When it rains, it downpours. Sometimes inside your own house. 

We had 43 tons of rock delivered a couple of weeks ago. We’re slowing chipping away at our landscaping but it’s a slow process as Jamie repeatedly runs into problems installing the sprinkler lines. Once that is finished, then we can rock the backyard and then seed. Everything in its proper order. On Saturday, the kids tirelessly and without complaint helped me wheelbarrow and haul buckets upon buckets of rocks in our front yard. The rock pile is still there…and so are our weary muscles but the front yard is one step closer to being finished.

After yet another major blow after church yesterday, Jamie and I were feeling so darn defeated but I’m so grateful to have him by my side. “Survivor Island,” we jokingly call this new existence with the hope that pina coladas will someday be back on the menu. As I was expressing my frustrations to him last week, he said, “I really feel like we’ve got about seven years of this and then things will turn around. And then we’ll be better off than we ever were in Colorado.”

S-E-V-E-N YEARS? If you do the math, Bode will be 18. It’s no small coincidence that the end of his time frame also marks the end of the teenage years.

Jamie needs some tips on how to give an effective pep talk.

But you know what? Hard things are everywhere. My dad is a tireless caregiver for my mom. My friend Anne is an inspiring advocate for her beautiful autistic schizophrenic boy. My friend Tanya has been struggling with infertility for years after having cancer. She set the goal to do a triathlon and crushed it last year. She eagerly prepared to have a beautiful baby placed in their home via adoption, only to have the birth mom pull out right before. Tonight, she announced her cancer is back.

43 tons of rock.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland spoke at BYU’s Commencement and his words pricked my heart about the state of the world and our role in it.

No child should have to go to school fearful that they won’t live to see their parents that evening. No citizenry should have to live with a system, pick a nation, any nation, put a pin in a world map almost at random, where corruption is rampant, where chaos is the order of the day, and statesmen lack character, elevated to say nothing of elegant speech, and dignified personal behavior are seemingly alien concepts. No young people your age or any age ought to face conditions in so many places where poverty and abuse, including sexual abuse, malnutrition and disease, human trafficking and terror are still the rule, rather than the exception for too many people, including too many children.

Well, not on this day do I want to dwell on anything negative.

And you might say, ‘it has always been so down through time.’ Maybe it has but it doesn’t have to be. So, go out there and light a candle. Be a ray of light, be your best self and let your character shine. Cherish the gospel of Jesus Christ and live it. The world needs you and surely your Father in Heaven needs you if His blessed purposes for His children are to prevail. You have entered to learn…now go forth to serve and strengthen.

43 tons of rock.

We’ve got this. Even if it is one small load at a time.