Merry Christmas!

What to say about 2015? We had a cram-packed year of work, school, church, travel and pumpkins. Always, always pumpkins.

We have visited Mexico, Canada, Disneyland and Moab, as well as many Colorado camping and ski trips. Hadley and Bode competed in the Kids Adventure Games as they mountain biked, ziplined, Tyrolean Traversed, mudpitted, underground river hiked, slip ‘n slided, climbed and conquered their way through Vail.

This year has had a lot of highs and a few lows (usually health-related) but we feel blessed to be surrounded by beloved friends and family!

Moab, Utah

Banff National Park, Canada

Cancun dorks

Bode. (Age 9, fourth grade)

Lover of soccer, student council, Clash of Clans, Cub Scouts, making movies, skiing, piano, biking, pumpkins, birthdays at the Lakehouse and his buddies.  Nicknamed “the human calculator” by his peers due to his math aptitude.  Milestones: Spent an extra week with Grandma J. in Utah before flying home by himself. Begged to join the cross-country team at school, to which I responded, “you know that’s running, right?” As it turns out, he’s actually pretty speedy when he remembers not to knock his head around like a Bobblehead.

Avid4 Adventure Camp

Elbow Falls, Canada

Kids Adventure Games

Hadley. (Age 11, sixth grade)

Lover of carbs, drawing dragons, volleyball, Fablehaven books, cross-country, Minecraft, surfing at the Lakehouse, skiing, huge growth spurts, birthdays at  AAA Five-Diamond The Broadmoor, overnight horse camp at Camp Chief Ouray, Outdoor Lab class trip and sleeping in. Milestone: She trained and climbed her first 14er (14,000-foot peak) this summer, leaving her altitude-sick mom in her dust. Had the biggest transition of everyone as she transferred from her Waldorf back to our public school. Exceeded expectations, adapting quickly to new friends and more rigorous academics. Except math, which is a bit of a struggle. Good thing she has a human calculator for a brother.

Kids Adventure Games, Vail

Rigorous Ha Ling Summit, Canada


Lover of all things outdoors, skiing, biking, birthdays at luxury ski resorts and weekly hikes with friends. Still running (Colorado’s social media community for moms), frequent contributor to 9New and area media outlets. Memorable solo press trips home to Canada and New Mexico. Cub Scout leader at church but does more wrangling than leading. Milestone: Survived solo 3,000-mile road-trip to Canada with the kids…and had the time of her life doing it. Traveled to Aspen for a girls’ weekend with friends for a 7-mile Mudderella competition. Also climbed a 14er with Hadley and Jamie and lived to tell the tale. And that story (almost) had a few expletives in it.

14,036 Mount Sherman

Winter media trip to Lake Louise, Canada

Aspen birthday


Lover of nada. At least that was his response when I asked him for newsletter updates and he confessed, “I’ve got nothin’.” Works long hours building his successful web development business Pixo Web Design and Strategy while battling a bad back and rheumatism. Fun-loving father, awesome traveler and busy at church as Priest Adviser and Stake Technology Clerk. Had a disappointing year in the patch when the neighbor’s dog (literally) ate his pumpkin, followed by irrigation problems. Still managed to grow a beast but the man will not rest until he has a state record, which means neither will the rest of us. He’s especially not bitter about his December birthdays stuck at home with Fat Kitty.

Delicate Arch, Moab

Surfin’ Okanogan Lake, Canada

Fat Kitty

Still fat. Lover of Jamie.

Aunt Lisa

We’re including Jamie’s sister to our family newsletter because she is currently living with us. Sold her house in the spring, quit her job and went to Europe. Now that she’s back in Colorado, she says the highlight of her year is cohabitating with the coolest family on the planet. Well, that’s a loose translation of what she mumbles when we’re bouncing off the walls at 6:30 a.m. before school.

Lisa speaks her truth

We wish you and yours the happiest of Christmas seasons as we celebrate the birth of our Savior.


The Johnsons

Waterton Lakes National Park, Canada

Magical birthday at the Canada lakehouse

Oh Canada: The Lakehouse Edition

How can you summarize a glorious week with family at a lakehouse tucked away in the breadbasket in Canada? You can’t, that’s why I prefer to document our family reunion on Okanogan Lake in pictures!

I chuckle when I see other family’s carefully regimented reunions, with every last detail planned. Their perfectly coiffed, matching family pictures. Ours is typical Borowski-style chaos. Wake up. Boat, kayak or SUP. Eat breakfast. Boat, play with cousins, eat. Boat. Eat. Cards. Games. Rinse, lather, repeat. Oh wait. Scratch that because the boys don’t shower.

What I particularly enjoyed about summer 2015 at the lake is the temperature–it wasn’t blazing hot 100+ degrees like last year. With temps in the upper 80s, I deemed it to be near perfect (for me, anyway; the hardcore boaters prefer scorchers). My brother Pat’s family is incredibly generous with their resources, time and patience bringing the rest of us up to their [trailblazing] speed.

A few of our favorite things:

Water play (duh)

Wakeboarding Hadley

Wakeboarding Bode

There’s never a dull moment with cousin Jaxson. Prior to tubing, we asked if he knew the hand signal for telling us he’s done (tapping the top of his head). “Sure!” And he proceeded to do the throat-slitting gesture. That works, too.

Driving to the West Side for our Annual Family Dive-off

Lakeside Movie Night at Todd and Kim’s

First Annual Stand-up Paddleboard (SUP) Competition

When you only have one paddleboard, you improvise and have timed races. Pat won. As always. But he’s almost 50 and we’ll soon dominate him.

Pat the soon-to-be dominated

Lots and lots of cards and games

Bode’s Birthday

DQ ice cream cake courtesy of Aunt Sue

My favorite moment: globe light + sparklers = a magical birthday eve

Davison Orchard Tours

And their best peach and apple pies. Ever.

A truly epic bike ride on the Kettle Valley Rail Trail

Everyone Flying into the Rooster Tail with Guns Blazing

Not pictured:

A lot of laughter, Jane’s delicious cooking, Emily’s addictive Greek bruschetta, bloodsport croquet (we broke Dad’s new mallets), Hadley’s first all-girl dance party on the boat, early-morning kayak runs, nighttime tales of the lake monster Ogopogo, Tim Horton’s Timbits, Rook tournaments, Screamers (half ice cream, half Slurpee) and the Borowski’s epic wakeboarding moves.

Jamie and I had a competition with my younger brother Jade in surfing (we called it The Worst of the Worst). I thought for sure I would win but after popping up my first try and successfully surfing the wake, I cracked and started regressing while Jamie and Jade got better, even dropping the rope and surfing on their own.

Near the end of the week, I’d only been out a few times and was downright frustrated until my sister-in-law Jane shouted out at me, “Do you know what your problem is? You’re not having fun!” She was right. I was so focused on surpassing the boys that my failures were getting the best of me. That very next attempt, I fought my way out of the water and had my best surf of the entire week. Turns out having fun IS the key!

I loved seeing my kiddos progress on the water–Bode popped back up on his wakeboard and Hadley started carving. She tried surfing by herself on the very first day and with Jane’s assistance in the water, was able to get up and surf a bit. She showed no interest in trying again until the very last night. When you have avid boaters, you have to be bold with getting your own time on the water so I asked Pat if we could do one last run before dark, which he kindly acquiesced. I had a great run and wanted to go again until Hadley asked if she could try surfing again.

This time, she said she wanted to do it completely on her own without Jane in the water and my gosh, if that girl of mine didn’t pop up and surf the wake. It was one of my proudest moments at the lake…and then a reminder that she’ll probably surpass me in the Worst of the Worst surfing competition next year and I’ll still be at the bottom of the bucket.

It’ll be worth it.


In case you missed our other Canadian adventures this summer:

Oh Canada: The Lethbridge Edition

Oh Canada: The Canada Day in Raymond and Waterton Edition

Oh Canada: The Calgary Edition

Oh Canada: The Banff/Canmore Edition

Oh Canada: The Lakehouse Edition

Oh Canada: The Kettle Valley Railway Trail Edition

 Oh Canada: The Edition Not in Canada

Blast from my blogging past

Last week, I put a call out for bloggers at Mile High Mamas. I’ve had some awesome longtime bloggers who’ve been with me almost from the beginning (so grateful) but they’re busy, post sporadically and I need some additional blood to hold everything together. I heard back from 9News’ TaRhonda Thomas who came out to our house on Monday to interview me about blogging and I appeared in-studio this morning to talk about it (read their article here).

I wrote a post on Mile High Mamas about how to get started blogging and was reflecting upon the journey it has taken me. I started posting on MSN Spaces (now extinct) when Hadley was just 18 months old and it was an awesome, cohesive community that I miss. Since then, it’s been crazy to see how blogging has grown and I’m proud to be among the earlier mom bloggers, which is just a nice way of saying I’m really old.

I wanted to see just what my blog looked like through the years so I went to to see my evolution from Crazy Bloggin’ Canuck to The Mile High Mama.


My blog in 2007. Love Hadley’s pigtails and my skinny arms

It’s been a great 10+ years! Well, mostly. And for the not-so- great, I’ve blogged that, too.

Southwest Vacations: When Getting There is Half the Fun (Cancun Day 1)

Shortly before Christmas, I was perusing through my  spam folder when I happened upon an email entitled “Southwest Vacations – Mexico Vacation Opportunity.”

I don’t know about you but I’m regularly “winning” the lottery and dream vacations so I almost automatically deleted it but I’m so glad I didn’t.  The email explained that Southwest Vacations® recently launched service to Mexico and the Caribbean and they were wondering if my entire family would consider taking a trip from Denver (one of their top departure cities) to Cancun.

View from the Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort

Though I was obviously familiar with Southwest Airlines®, I had never heard of Southwest Vacations and a bit of research revealed they are directly affiliated with the affordable airline and offer complete vacation packages to Las Vegas, Disney World, Disneyland, Florida, California, New Orleans, Phoenix and other top US destinations.

Low-cost vacation packages that you do not have to plan yourself? Sign me up!

The process was embarrassingly easy, given the amount of research that usually goes into planning a trip and it was a comfort to know that all the services had already been vetted. At, I booked our direct flights, transfer information to-and-from the airport, hotel, excursions and paid my international taxes…all with a few simple clicks.

We surprised the kids with the news of our Cancun vacation on Christmas and they were thrilled. I usually spend the final weeks leading up to a major vacation stressing and planning but I literally had nothing to do because everything had already been confirmed. I started stressing over my lack of stress, which made me realize that maybe I have a problem with needing to feel stressed.

And then I got over it really quickly and decided for once, I would find out what it was like to have a stress-free Southwest Vacation.

The Flight

I checked our family into Southwest Airlines 24 hours before our flight to ensure an optimal boarding assignment. We have flown a number of times but have never had an international direct flight and it was a game-changer. Instead of wasting essentially two days to get there with our usual layovers, we gained an entire day to enjoy Cancun during our quick 3-night trip.

Say “yes” to Southwest’s direct flight from Denver to Cancun!

Our 3.5-hour flight went smoothly and upon arriving at the Cancun International Airport, we were greeted with a madhouse (apparently we weren’t the only ones who had opted for a long-weekend getaway during Martin Luther King Jr. Day). We eventually made it through Customs without a hitch…until we were randomly selected to have our bags searched. Seeing the wad of small bills for tips in my purse, the officer queried, “Ma’am, does this exceed $10,000?” I tried to stifle a laugh–it was like he totally knew me.

The instructions on our Southwest Vacations confirmation were to walk directly from Customs and not stop to talk to the multitude who was trying to sell timeshares. We quickly spotted our Lomas Travel representative and were mercifully whisked away in an air-conditioned shuttle.

The Resort

I had only been to Cancun once before on a brief stopover during a cruise and my first impression was not favorable. Though the Caribbean waters were undeniably beautiful, the hotel zone seemed like non-stop revelries and for a non-partier who craves outdoor adventure, I couldn’t figure out the allure.

When my family pulled up to the Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort–a short drive from the airport but seemingly worlds away (40 minutes) from Cancun’s populous hotel zone–I caught a glimpse. A doting staff presented us with flowers, cool washcloths and we gratefully devoured a spread of snacks in the lobby during while singing, “I think I’m gonna like it here.”

Moon Palace is a sprawling all-inclusive resort, boasting 2,446 luxurious marble décor rooms and private balconies with three distinctive sections. We stayed at the more secluded and quiet Grand section, the expansive Sunrise is replete with activities and pools while the Nizuc section has exclusive concierge service with shuttles connecting them all. I love that despite the size (which seemed overwhelming at times), each area had its own personality and the cozy feel of the Grand perfectly suited us. We had one of their most basic rooms and it was anything but basic.

Our room’s private balcony overlooking the jungle

A double jacuzzi for one fully-clothed boy

A helpful concierge helped us narrow down their 13 restaurant choices and made us dinner reservations at the Brazillian steakhouse, Arrecifes. As we were walking the ocean-side path to dinner, we caught our first view of the water. My daughter begged, “The ocean is calling and I must go” (or something like unto it) but her killjoy parents’ stomachs were calling even louder so we forced dinner upon her. As she stuffed her face with delectable Bolinhos de arroz, acaraje, and empadinhas de palmito, we learned two things about the Moon Palace: 1) We were going to eat well and 2) We were going to eat a lot.

Following dinner, we hit the abandoned beach. Still in our dinner clothes, my husband and I initially cautioned them to merely walk in the sand. But of course, the kids needed to at least touch the water! And then you can’t expect them to merely wade! Before long, they were vacillating between being fully submerged and building sandcastles.

Jamie and I settled back on the beach and watched as the full moon burned down and Cancun glistened with silver lights like a galaxy of fallen stars.

Hadley looked at the horizon, that long line that cuts the world in two, and flung some sand toward it.

“Did you see that?” she squealed as she launched another handful. When it hit the dark ocean, the moon’s reflection lit up each grain of sand like a bioluminescent bay, a befitting touch of lunar magic in the hauntingly beautiful Moon Palace.

Just when we thought our trip to Southwest Vacations couldn’t get any better, it did just that.


Stay tuned for tomorrow for Southwest Vacations: The Flowrider’s Hilarity and Beach Bumming (Cancun Day 2).


Like a Lion to the Slaughter

Welp, 2015 has come in like a lion and I’m hoping it will go out like a lamb (if I survive that long). Many, many good things are going down and I’m feeling overwhelmingly grateful but mostly just overwhelmed. A video from comedian Jim Gaffigan has gone viral and my favorite joke from it:  “You know what it’s like having five kids? Imagine you’re drowning. And someone hands you a baby.”

That’s exactly what I’m feeling like, minus the five kids (thank heavens; I can barely manage my two!) I’m not sure how diligent I’ll be here posting here as I try to navigate my way through the next couple of months.

Some things that are coming down the pipe:

Shower Shimmy

Thank you thank you thank you to all who have supported my friend Karla’s campaign for her invention the Shower Shimmy, the world’s first 3-in-1 tool and green cleaning solution. I’ve been managing her social media and mom blogger campaign while Jamie built their website and ads. I could tell you some crazy stories about investors, network news opportunities and I’m sure that will be a blog post at a future date. But the most important thing is she reached her Kickstarter fundraising goal on Day 1 and is still going strong. Make sure to order one before her offer expires. Or I do. The jury is out which will happen first.

School Stress

School. Why didn’t someone warn me how stressful my kids’ schooling would be? I’ve touched upon some drama with Hadley’s teacher and it ain’t over yet. They’re supposed to loop with their teacher every year, which is a great thing until you get a not-great teacher. I’ve requested to have her moved to the other class but that is in flux as well with a pregnant teacher who isn’t coming back. After several school tours, I’ve open-enrolled her at an awesome Montessori charter school next year but chances of getting picked in the lottery are slim-to-none. Plus, I don’t know if it’s the right decision because there are some elements of the Montessori education that are a perfect fit (out-of-the-box, creative, innovative) but one specific part that worries me (self-directed learning). However, I’ve seen glimmers of hope as she has taken the reigns in her spiritual well-being by recently bearing her testimony in Sacrament Meeting, studying the Articles of Faith on her own and reading her scriptures before bedtime. She’s really turning into a lovely young lady.

Bode is still soaring at school but my gosh, writing has become a struggle for him. And unlike his sister’s apathy toward school work, he agonizes if  he’s not excelling. The other night during FHE, I could tell something was wrong.  He whispered to me, “Mom, during snuggles, can we talk?” I’ve started a new tradition in the evenings when I tuck each of them into bed that we snuggle and talk about our day. Sometimes it’s silly, sometimes it’s serious. In tears, he told me about some writing assignments he was falling behind in at school and we role-played different resolutions to help him talk to his teacher (I’m trying to empower each of them to take more personal responsibility in school). He cracked me up the next morning as he begged me to role play it out again (I HATED role playing when I was young) but it gave him the confidence he needed to talk to his teacher. And him confiding in me made me realize how those simple five minutes of being together before bedtime are creating more far-reaching, tender moments than I could have imagined. This parenting gig is tough but oh-so rewarding.

Travel, Travel

Following our month-long trip to Canada last summer, I was SO DONE WITH TRAVELING. And for the most part, we haven’t gone on any trips besides a couple of quick getaways. Now, our winter is full of glorious travels but at a cost: my sanity because I’ll be writing about all of them but I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunities. Southwest Vacations (Southwest Air’s vacation package company) reached out and asked our entire family to cover a family vacation to Cancun so we’re heading out for surf and sun. I was in mourning when I wasn’t invited to write an article for The Broadmoor Magazine (truly, it’s one of my favorite gigs) but they recently reached out for us to cover their adventurous offerings (what a perfect fit!) I recently attended a ski media event sponsored by Travel Alberta and was delighted when I was invited on a media trip to the Banff-area resorts. I mean, to revisit my favorite childhood skiing haunts while fitting in a visit with my family afterward? Talk about perfection. Oh, and we need to squeeze in some local ski trips over the next few months so our winter is going to be a whirlwind.

And though I’m completely overwhelmed, you won’t hear any complaints.

You just might not regularly hear from me.





Merry Christmas!

If you read my blog, our annual holiday newsletter is old news to you. But I assure you, Fat Kitty has never looked better.

Merry Christmas!

If 2014 could be summed up quickly, it would be non-stop travels for the first six months and the other six were spent recovering with little/no travels. We’re so grateful for both and most importantly that we have had minimal health crises this year and no hospital visits (wood is currently being knocked).

Our year was unprecedented for travel and will likely never be repeated but what a blast we had! I attended a media event in Denver for the Maui Convention & Visitor’s Bureau and was thrilled when I won a trip for two! The coincidence? The only other time I’ve been to Hawaii was when my dad won a trip for two to Hawaii through work. Fortunately for my siblings and our kids, we let them tag along and truly fell in love with that island paradise as it was our favorite trip ever (see all the fun here)and I’m now moderately obsessed with buying a cabin there someday.

Just as we were recovering from Maui, I was asked to attend the Disney Social Media Moms, an invite-only, highly-sought-after conference at Disneyland so we decided to splurge. And Disneyland isn’t the same without family so we surprised the kids by waking them up the morning of our departure. For once, they did not complain about being woken up early.

One of our favorite ways to play is skiing and this past year we’ve been to Breckenridge, Steamboat Springs, Crested Butte, Copper Mountain and Park City Mountain Resort...and have many more ski trips planned for 2015. One of our favorite experiences was dog sledding for the first time in Breck!

And, of course, the kids and I spent our month-long vacation in Canada and the Western United States. Jamie joined us for a week at the lake with my family in Vernon, B.C. and we had a fantastic time boating. Usually our Canadian adventures are a reprieve from Denver’s searing heat so we won’t comment how it was actually cooler in Denver during our lake retreat.

Now, onto family matters.

Hadley (age 10, fifth grade)

Hadley grew leaps and bounds this year…literally. Her huge growth spurt over the summer launched her to the top of the class in height and continues to send us scrambling to replace all her clothes, which is challenging because she hates 99% of what she sees in the store. She has a wicked sense of humor and a large group of friends at church and school. She hates math and piano and enjoys handwork, travel, art, violin, pumpkin growing (hers weighed 401 pounds), Minecraft and crafts. Her favorite class trip ever was a three-day class camping trip to the Great Sand Dunes National Park where she was the second-fastest kid to summit the highest dune in North America (a bit perplexing because she’s always the first-slowest when it comes to leaving the house). For volleyball, we bumped her up to play with the 6-8 graders and she has had no problems keeping up the big girls. She’s a mountain goat hiker and is ready to be challenged on the big peaks (we just need to get our act together to take her), is moderately obsessed with bouldering and is constantly heckling the rest of us to keep up with her during her crazy traverses. She’s a great skier, is learning to tackle the moguls and we had a fabulous mother-daughter trip to the slopes in February during her school break. She loves the water and, despite her protests to try wakeboarding, popped up on her first try and now does it like a champ. Though she and Bode would never admit it, they’re besties and play wonderfully together 93 percent of the time; no comment on the other 7 percent nor who is the instigator for the fall-outs.

Bode (age 8, 3rd grade)

Bode’s big news is he got baptized in August surrounded by both sets of grandparents. He’s a happy, kind and thoughtful kid who has two emotions: joyful (most of the time) and sensitive (usually during the aforementioned fall-outs). He’s a whiz at math and a regular receiver of “Star Awards” at school yet has barely legible handwriting. He is recovering from an addiction to Calvin and Hobbes and Clash of Clans and he thrives on being responsible–he even sets his alarm early for school so he can be “extra-prepared.” For his eighth birthday, we threw him a surprise party where we hired Rolling Video Games Denver to come to the house and we invited all his friends for a two-hour video game marathon that was deemed “the best party ever.” He’s intrinsically more cautious than his sister but battled his fears and did an awesome job wakeboarding, cross-country skiing and a high-ropes course for the first time. Named after Bode Miller, he continues to rock the ski slopes and went on one of his first mogul run last week. When I asked him it was terrifying, he confessed, “A little bit,” and I can’t blame him because I sometimes feel the same way. He plays the piano non-stop, enjoyed growing his 325-pound pumpkin, loves Cub Scouts and is gearing up for his first Pinewood Derby where it will be revealed just how competitive his father really is. Bode went on his first six-day overnight camp to Camp Chief Ouray with Hadley last summer and had the time of his life. As smart as he is, he still puts his shirt on backwards but loves to snuggle up so I’m relieved he’s not growing up too fast, even if he sometimes acts like a responsible 40-year-old man in an 8-year-old body.


The Pumpkin Man had his his worst pumpkin-growing year ever and lost both of his plants to yellow vine disease in August. Despite that setback, he was able to preserve one of them long enough to make it to the scale and it topped 500 pounds. We were sad we wouldn’t have a real giant pumpkin to display so rescued his buddy Joe’s from being axed and it just happened to be the biggest grown in Colorado this year. Jamie had a blast taking the pumpkins around to the area schools and had a ton of media interviews–he was even featured front page on The Denver Post’s YourHub. But his most memorable pumpkin moment was when he decided it would be fun to dress up as The Pumpkin Man, hide inside the pumpkin, and terrorize trick-or-treaters on Halloween. Fortunately no law suits were filed and we only had one casualty when he made Spiderman cry (watch the hilarious video here). His web development business continues to add more people to the team and we’re grateful business is growing (unfortunately so do his stress levels). At church, he’s the Stake Technology Clerk and the Priest’s Quorum Adviser but most importantly, a wonderful husband, father and mortal enemy to superheroes.


As for me, I continue to juggle trips, kid’s activities and working from home. I’ve taken over the business/advertising side of Mile High Mamas, which has confirmed I’d much rather be writing. And traveling. And hiking or skiing. But unfortunately, I haven’t figured out how to make much money from those exploits so in the interim I’ll just dream of more playtime. I’ve become more of a regular contributor on 9News and have done segments on everything from travel tips to Halloween treats to their ugly sweater Christmas party on Friday. I was released as the Primary pianist at church and am on my way out the door for Public Affairs as I’ve been called as an Akela of the Cub Scout Bear Den. I am also an aspiring dodgeball player and if this writing gig doesn’t work out, I hope to go pro in the future.

Fat Kitty

Fat Kitty is the only serious one in the family. In addition to napping for 23 hours a day, he enjoys decapitating the occasional mouse, eating grass until he pukes and annoying Jamie. He also decided to get in shape this year and his favorite exercise is a cross between a lunch and a crunch.

Some people call it lunch.

Christmas Wishes

This time of year, we’re especially grateful for our many friends, family and for our our Savior. Have the happiest of Christmases is our Christmas wish and gift to you!



The Johnsons

Dreaming the Dream of Living Abroad

Jamie thinks I’m a lunatic. What else is new, right?

One of my lifelong dreams is to live abroad with my family. It stems from the fact that I lived in the same house my entire life and always dreamed of experiencing new cultures. And by experiencing, I don’t mean visiting, I mean living there.

Many years ago, I shared this dream with my Utah-born-and-raised missionary companion when we served together in Switzerland. She thought I was nuts, too.

And then she married a diplomat and has lived abroad with her family most of her married life.

I love almost everything about where we live in Colorado: Our home, family, schools, friends, church community and fabulous mountains. I don’t want to permanently leave and we have a truly blessed life so why rock the boat?

I guess I just want more for my kids. I want them to see beyond the confines of their social circles to live in a different culture and be exposed to a different way of life–the good and the bad.

There are many in the family-travel-blogging space who are permanent nomads, homeschooling their kids as they travel the world.  That is way too extreme for my blood but a semester- or year-long sabbatical would be food for my soul.

My fire was stoked when two fellow LDS bloggers uprooted their families: Design Mom spent a couple of years in France with her six kids and recently, Shawni from 71 Toes announced she was moving her family of five to China for a semester.

I am greeeeeen with envy.

Design Mom was able to swing it because she and her husband both work from home and like Jamie and me, all they needed was a Wi-Fi connection and could work anywhere in the world. In Shawni’s case, her husband has dealings with China and he will be working from their Shanghai office. In today’s world where so many are working remotely, it’s a wonder that more people aren’t uprooting themselves.

Another reason why I’m newly obsessed with investigating living-abroad options: my kids are perfect ages. Hadley is in fifth grade and Bode is in third. Next year would be the perfect time to go before she starts middle school and we become inundated with sports, camps, YW/YM, hormones and summer jobs.

On my wish list?  Europe (especially England, France, Switzerland or Scandinavian countries with access to international/English-speaking schools) or Hawaii (not exactly foreign but the culture is so gloriously rich).  Asia is an intimidating pipe dream. New Zealand/Australia would be amazing but their schools and holidays are on a completely different track.

So like the lunatic I am, I’ve been trolling all the house swap/house sabbatical/house sitting sites while also dreaming of house sitting for a senior LDS couple who lives abroad that have been called on a mission.

It will likely never happen, mostly because I have a husband who thinks this is just another one of my hairbrained ideas.

But a girl can dream, right?

Our Happy Neck of the Woods–A 10-year Anniversary

I recently had an epiphany that I am truly in love with where we live. Not just Colorado because our state is undeniably awesome with world-class skiing, hiking and vistas. But our little corner of Denver’s suburbs.  Though I’m constantly vying to move to the mountains, I love our location in the city.

We’re five minutes to each of the kids’ high-ranked schools, are a 15-minute jaunt to some of my favorite hiking trails in the foothills, are extremely close to a network of bike paths and open space parks, have beloved friends in a family-friendly neighborhood, are in an awesome ward, have Jamie’s brother and sister a few minutes away and live right above a huge sports complex that is the pulse of our community where they shoot off the Independence Day fireworks.

When Jamie and I were first married, we heard about our neighborhood that was under development and were excited when we were approved to build a house. Today marks our 10-year anniversary in our home. I still remember the day we took possession of it.  Everything was squeaky-clean and untouched and I was really pregnant with Hadley. I had two thoughts: “We’ll never be able to fill all this space” (yeah, right) and “we will never be unhappy here.” One of these two is true.

A couple of weeks ago, I was reminded how much I love our area when Bode had his first soccer game on these fields near our house. It felt so great to cheer his team on to victory.soccerNot so great: the yelling soccer dad next to me.

A couple of hours later, the kids and I walked down our hill to the community Easter egg hunt.egghuntYes, Hadley is 9 years old. Don’t judge me (see the sign in the background).

On Saturday and Sunday, it was our church’s semi-annual General Conference, which always means lot of food and inspiration (President Uchtdorf’s talk Grateful in any Circumstance was my favorite). conferenceConference always means lots of forts and messes. And I’m (kind of) grateful for them.

We took a break in between sessions to watch the kite festival at our nearby fields. Our failures in kite-flying have been regularly documented (in Kites of Death and Let’s NOT Go Fly a Kite) but it was a really windy day. We spotted our neighbors and figured maybe-just-maybe this was our day to actually fly a kite!

kiteIt was glorious to finally soar.

I have been trying to be grateful for everything little thing and it has greatly helped my attitude and enthusiasm for life. Tired of the constant messes from the kids? Someday they’ll sadly be gone and so will those messes. Sore from boot camp? Be grateful you have a strong, healthy body. Overwhelmed with work? I’m so glad I have work opportunities.  I even find myself being grateful we can buy the bulk bins of laundry detergent at Costco because there was a time after college I was scraping by to even do that.

It is easy to be grateful for things when life seems to be going our way. But what then of those times when what we wish for seems to be far out of reach?

Could I suggest that we see gratitude as a disposition, a way of life that stands independent of our current situation? In other words, I’m suggesting that instead of being thankful for things, we focus on being thankful in our circumstances—whatever they may be. -President Uchtdorf “Grateful in Any Circumstances


CHILL: New Year, Same Old New Me

When we rang in 2013 a year ago, I had a sense of foreboding that it would not be among my best. And it wasn’t. But there were personal victories as I learned to harness some of my lifelong weaknesses, making it one of my favorite years despite the lack of externally awesome summits.

I was at boot camp the other day and my instructor Robyn casually struck up a conversation about her “spirit animal.” I blew if off as some pagan metaphysical mumbo jumbo  but what she said next resounded with me. Her sensei asked her what her word was to define herself. She thought of all the things she is but her spiritual leader led her to the one word she was not and what she desperately needed to learn to be or do. Her word was REST.

The mere thought made her uncomfortable and that was the entire point. She already knew who she was but she needed to become so much more and that was how she could do it.

Robyn and I are a lot alike. I love this quote on Pinterest:

I thought of all the things I am. Happy. Ambitious. Adventurous. Fun-loving. Fierce.

Robyn continued, “It’s tough to come up with your own word so ask the person closest to you what your word should be.”

What would Jamie say? Immediately CHILL popped into my head. He is constantly streaming a barrage of “you need to chill out” and he’s right. Last year was such a powerful year because I really acknowledged some of the things I am not and slowly, deliberately started to make some necessary changes. Learning to chill is not something that comes easily to me. I lack patience, want responses now and am unsatisfied with procrastination and mediocrity.

Professionally, I’m at a crossroads. I have been blessed with some amazing opportunities while working from home and feel strongly I need to keep doing that while my kids are young. But some doors have been closed, I’ve shut a few of my own and I’m straining for a glimpse out of an open window. Should I continue on the same path or take another one entirely? Keep building or start over?

I don’t have the answers and the only impression I’ve received is “wait, it will come.”  So, that’s what I’ll do in 2014. Be hopeful. Be adventurous. Be happy. And learn to CHILL OUT.

Last year, I started on my path of healthier living–mentally, spiritually and physically. I’m learning it’s OK to take baths, curl up with a book and just do nothing sometimes. I’m learning to say “no,” to always put my family first and to be present by stepping away from my computer and turning off my phone. I am aspiring not to be overscheduled because an open, uncluttered and free mind allows for peace and revelation to flow. I am disheartened by so much around me, am often overwhelmed with fighting what feels like losing moral battles but I have resolved to be a force for good. I am practicing being kind instead of right. I am embracing fear for the professor that it is.

I am learning to let fear be my my cue. Any time I feel even a whisper of fear, I try recognize it as a teacher that shows up to instruct me in the areas where I am ready to grow the most.  Fear is energy that, when I allow it, can be harnessed and used to create powerful momentum to thrust my life forward into positive change (think of first learning to ride a bike!). So with my heart palpitating, my palms sweating and my eyes smiling, I welcome this new year.-Mindy Gledhill

Bottom line, I will chill as I learn not to focus on what I want to do but rather, focus on who I want to be.

And the rest will come.

“I’M GOING TO MAUI!”–When you win your dream vacation

A funny thing happened four years ago when I was selected as the grand prize winner of Microsoft Office’s nationwide contest to be their accredited blogger at the 2010 Vancouver Games: I started to think like a winner.

B.O. (Before Olympics), my contest batting average stunk. When I’d enter to win something, I’d just assume I wouldn’t win and I never did.

A.O. (Après Olympics) when I’d enter to win something, I’d assume I would win.

I’d like to call this a winning mentality but here’s the thing: I haven’t won anything in four years so I have been more of a one-hit wonder, “I-think-I’m-a-winner-but-have-loser-tendencies-type person.”

Until last month.

Hawaii has been at the top of my bucket list for several years. So when I heard about a luncheon at the Oxford  Hotel hosted by the Maui Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, I resolved to finally start planning my family’s future vacation. A girl can dream, right?

Upon check-in, we dropped our business cards into a raffle drawing and then briefly met with various tourism reps in a speed dating format. I became convinced that Maui was the perfect island for my family with its combination of scenic natural wonders, Hawaiian culture and idyllic mountain and beach adventures.

As I prepared to leave, Kelii Brown, Director of Public Relations and Promotions at the Maui Visitors & Convention Bureau, announced he was going to do the drawing for the grand-prize giveaway: two round-trip airline tickets, six nights lodging (two nights each at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel, Hotel Moloka’i, and the Fairmont Kea Lani) and a rental car.

I loudly quipped “Just to warn you, I dropped 10 business cards into the bucket.”

Five seconds later, they announced my name. In an out-of-body moment, I panicked, retracted with “Just kidding, totally legit here!”

I instinctively jumped up like I was the next contestant on the Price is Right, but Kelii (who has zero resemblance to Bob Barker or Drew Carey) did not make any indication it was appropriate to maul him. So, in a Mary Katherine Gallagher “Superstar” moment, I lunged forward and shouted:


The organizers said it was their best reaction yet. I’m sure my fellow attendees who had not won thought otherwise.

On a funny sidenote: The only time I’ve ever been to Hawaii was when I was five and my dad won a trip from a raffle at work. It’s about time something ran in the family other than big feet and crappy eyesight.

My husband was, of course, thrilled at the news and we quickly decided to bring our kids along because they are dying to go to Hawaii. We figured even with that additional cost (the trip is only for two people) along with paying the taxes, food and activities, it will be so worth it. We also decided to tack on two extra nights at Napili Kai Beach Resort.

To surprise the kids, we concocted a treasure hunt with the final clue leading them to my son’s (messy) bedroom where I had set out his tropical swim suit and Hawaiian shirt. Their reaction at the news?

(Celebratory chokehold did not cause permanent damage)
(Celebratory chokehold did not cause permanent damage)

Note: It became slightly less enthusiastic when we announced most of our Christmas money would go toward paying for them to come on the trip but we all feel lucky and extremely blessed.

Now, excuse me while I go buy a lottery ticket.