Happy 14th Birthday, Hadley

Oooogie,

Happy day, you’re 14 and the happiest of all is we have [hopefully] left unlucky #13 and the dreaded middle school behind us. Your high school future is bright and through the clouds, we have caught glimpses of just how bright you can shine!

No doubt you have wading through some difficult waters this year. You got a phone, had it taken away, and had some tough diagnoses (not to mention fracturing your shoulder last summer on the Aqua X Zone, followed by your snowboarding accident in January) and thousands of dollars in medical bills. But guess what: you’re still standing…albeit with a few less limbs like your dad but you’re still here.

There were also a lot of highlights. You flew out to meet us in Colorado last summer where you had a glorious time at your favorite place on earth: The Broadmoor. You competed in your final Kids Adventure Games and sadly, announced your retirement this year (though I have no doubt you will find other adventurous outlets). You came to life during two wonderful trips to California–to the Central Coast and then to San Diego– and again in St. George, the Coral Pink Sand Dunes and Zion National Park.

You rocked the surfboard at the lakehouse in Canada and I fully expect you’ll continue to hone your craft on the water while you leave your dear ‘ol mom in your dust. Speaking of which, I am leaps and bounds slower than you on the hiking trail thanks to my knee injury. Last summer, we took what started out as a casual stroll and made the mistake of putting you in charge…and you dragged us up a peak with a 2,000-foot elevation gain. As I was limping down, I commented, “Hiking and skiing are my favorite activities to do all together,” which caused you to scoff. “Together? You were like a mile behind me.”

You received your patriarchal blessing, a powerful, spiritual reminder of who you are who you can become. You have so many wonderful gifts and promises in your future and if we ever doubt any of them, let us be reminded of the very powerful (and accurate) observation in that blessing: “You have a mind of your own and don’t like to be told what to do.” Can we all say a resounding “AMEN?”

Your interest in photography has grown and one of your birthday presents is a new lens. You have always loved the outdoors but now you have a new reason to explore.Before we moved here, you used to lock yourself in your room for hours, drawing, painting, creating and dreaming. I was so happy when you reluctantly took art again this year. Your teacher submitted some of your creations to an art show and you took first place in your class and another drawing took first place in the whole school. You didn’t tell us about any of it (I had to find out from a friend) and this is when I throw my hands up in frustration because 13 is the worst age ever for recognizing your God-given talents and just how incredible you really are.

Some things to look forward to this summer: Canada and the lake! Trek! Young Women Girl’s Camp with ME as your leader!  EFY! Sailing camp! BYU volleyball camp! Yellowstone!

You had a doozy of a club volleyball season thanks to your medical challenges. You went from learning a new position (setter), to fighting through pain, getting benched, discouragement, being forgotten, and finally clawing your way to the starting lineup. It has been heart-wrenching to see you struggle but you have been my lesson to not measure success from academic and athletic accolades and that greatness comes in many forms.

A few weeks ago, we went camping in Goblin Valley State Park. There were some precipitous cliffs you explored the night we arrived. You almost made it to the top but you fell just short (while cautious Bode had given up long ago). The next morning before leaving, you asked if you could give it one more shot. You arrived at the road (or cliff)block from before, reattempted it a few times and failed…but did not give up. Instead, you looked for another way around it. I held my breath as you disappeared for a moment behind a rock and I almost started to panic…until I saw you pop up the other side and triumphantly climb to the top. You owned your fear that day.

Goblin Valley summit

“If we stopped being so afraid of pain we would find our power. If we stopped being so afraid of pain, we would become the parents our kids need. It’s not our job–nor our right–to protect them from pain. It’s our job to point them directly toward their struggle and say: ‘See that? That was made for you. Your joy is straight through your story. I see your fear and it’s big. But I can also also see your courage–and it’s bigger. You can do hard things.’” -Glennon Doyle

You are worthy and worth it. Don’t ever forget you are meant to climb, conquer and soar.

Love, Mom
The Woman on the Ground

P.S. For a stroll down memory lane, read letters for your 13th birthday12th11th10th, 9th 8th7th6th5th4th3rd2nd and your birth story.

Morro Rock

Magical Morro Bay

Midway Tree Lighting

Coral Pink Sand Dunes

Zion National Park

St. George Slot Canyon

Art show winner

La Jolla, CA

Goblin Valley

sdfaf

Sports crazed

Hadley is wrapping up her volleyball season this week and it has been one of highs and lows. She tried out and made the club team, switched to the setter position and then got hurt by the snowboarder…which set her back several weeks. While everyone was learning rotations and skills, she often has to sit out until her back healed…but even after she started feeling better, her coach had already written her off. And the bad news is that same coach also coaches at the high-school level. Even though money is tight (no thanks to our mountain of medical bills and the snowboarder who refuses to pay them), we enrolled her in BYU’s volleyball camp this summer because it’s one of the few activities she enjoys.

A few weeks ago, that coach was out of town for a tournament as was the other setter (there are three of them) so Hadley got to play for two days and she did so well! The Friday night was sheer magic. Those girls won every single game (something that has never happened) and they were on cloud nine. Until Saturday play. They were bumped up to the elite gold level and I kid you not–some of those eighth grade girls were at the same level as my high school team.  We got slaughtered.

But at least they looked good doing it!

Bode kept busy this winter with cross-country ski lessons, coding and downhill skiing. He is signed up for track with his buddies and when I suggested he start running to get in shape for that and soccer, he responded, “No way, Mom. I can already run a 9.5-minute mile.” Talk about a speed demon.

Jamie is coaching rec soccer gain this year. This is Bode’s fourth season playing in Utah and Jamie’s second time coaching. He learned his lesson last season when he opted not to coach and when we got someone who had zero experience with soccer which made Jamie a very irascible parent. He has learned the hard way that if he’s going to sit on the sidelines screaming at everyone, he may as well be coach.

I took on the role of team manager, texting everyone and organizing the snack schedule. When I asked all the parents what position their kids played, most responded “defender” or they had little/no experience at all.

We were bracing ourselves for the worst today but my gosh if their team didn’t dominate. They’re playing co-ed at this age and our nine boys and three girls annihilated the other team 8-0. It was fun to see them play so seamlessly together–passing and already demonstrating awesome teamwork. One of the boys, Aaron, just moved here from upstate New York and proclaimed Jamie the best coach he has ever had.

Let’s see if they can keep that momentum going!

My month of work in review

It has been just over a month since I started working at BYU and I’m overdue for an update. The first couple of weeks were rough trying to get into the new routine and there are still a lot of areas we need to tweak with the kids’ schedules but overall, I’m enjoying the new position and my co-workers.

Week 1. We thought we were going to die. No lie. Hadley got in her ski accident on Monday (Marin Luther King Jr. Day), she stayed home from school Tuesday and I started work Wednesday. She was unraveling in so many ways and we were emotionally and physically exhausted dealing with everything. We were supposed to start a personal finance class through the Church’s Self-reliance initiative but as we lay curled up in the fetal position on the couch, we decided the class would have to wait until spring (there was a lot of intensive homework and our camel’s back was already broken). Plus, I’m still running Mile High Mamas for the foreseeable future so I’m juggling two jobs while trying to keep everything else afloat.

Week 2. I came into this position at the worst possible time with the planning of our two biggest annual events + overseeing the editorial for our alumni magazine. Even though the position is only 3/4-time,  my commute is 1.5 hours and I’ve been working longer hours. Jamie has had to pick up a lot of my slack, driving Hadley to her many doctor’s appointments. I still felt overwhelmed with the position. My predecessor is my polar opposite: bookish, research-oriented and a Pulitzer Prize winner for spreadsheets. I seriously questioned my ability to fill her shoes and felt my creativity was being squashed. However, as I edited a 100-page donor report, there were so many stories of student internship experiences that directly correlated to our struggles. It was confirmed over and over again that landing this job was not a coincidence.

Week 3.  The awakening with our first big donor event. For three days, I hosted our guest lecturer from Vanderbilt, took his amazing wife on private tours of our art museums  and connected with them both in a meaningful way. The event was poignant and meaningful….and I started to catch a glimpse that maybe I could do this and bring my own flavor to the position.  Until I received my first paycheck. After taxes, tithing and 401K, I’m not making very much money but I guess every little bit helps, especially when we have a new car payment (Jamie bought me a Pilot for my birthday) and the mountain of medical debt we’ve accrued over the past year. And the backyard that needs to be landscaped. And the basement that needs to be finished.

Week 4. Things started to click at work. My proposal to overhaul our alumni magazine was approved and my student writers were excited about the new direction we were going with less in-depth research and more features. I celebrated my birthday with fresh snow (FINALLY), cross-country skiing after school with Bode, dinner at a delicious new restaurant, Midway Mercantile, and a live video chat with the authors of “Mustaches for Maddie” (a must-read) for our bookclub. A low-key but great day thanks to my awesome family and many sweet messages from friends.

Week 5.  We’re still surviving. Life is hard in so many ways–wading through Hadley’s struggles, Jamie’s chronic pain and my mom’s hospitalization. During those rough couple of weeks when I went back to work, Jamie was being overly accommodating and I felt badly because I knew he didn’t feel well and yet was going above-and-beyond for me. His response made me chuckle: “I just don’t like tears.”

At one of my low points, he reminded me of one of my favorite scriptures.

“And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.

“And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.

“And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord” (Mosiah 24:13–15).

We may not be in bondage to some tyrannical leader (President Trump notwithstanding :-)   but life has been overwhelming since our move. I miss the comforts of friends and our wonderful life in Colorado as we still struggle every day to find our way here. But slowly and undeniably, God’s otherworldly strength is falling upon us and through all of this messiness, I know He is guiding our way.

And the hits (literally) just keep on coming

At one point do you determine that maybe your life isn’t just about Murphy’s Law but you are, in actuality, cursed? The day before I started my new job, I took the kids for one last fun-filled ski day on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It has been a dismal winter and we’ve had minimal snow but the resort has done an excellent job snowmaking and using what they have. The conditions were great!

We try not to eat lunch on the mountain because it’s $15 for a slice of pizza (I’m not exaggerating) but we were all hungry and planned to split chicken fingers and fries. As we were heading down to Mid-mountain Lodge, we saw a group take what looked like a fun trail through the trees. “Where does this lead?” I asked. They weren’t sure and Bode was hungry for some tree bashing because most of his Adventure Alleys were still closed.  Hadley didn’t want to follow them because we would have had to hike back up to the lodge in our skis but Bode begged to ski down a bit just to see where it led. I gave Hadley permission to head to the lodge and we met her a couple of minutes later. As I pulled up to the ski rack, I saw a skier on the ground surrounded by people. Then I saw pink goggles–Hadley’s pink goggles. Alarmed, I took off my skis and raced over to find her flat on her back, obviously injured. The lodge is at the intersection of a few runs and she was almost to the ski racks when she was pummeled from behind by an out-of-control snowboarder.

Ski Patrol was quickly on the scene and I was relieved she had movement in her legs and toes. There were tears in her eyes but she didn’t cry and she later told me those tears were only because “I realized just how sad my life is.” Poor kid.

They carefully loaded her onto a backboard and then placed her on the sled.  A female ski patroller took her down the mountain, hooking up with the snowmobile a couple of times. Bode and I followed her and actually beat them down to the Ski Patrol hut, which looked like a warzone with injured skiers and snowboarders scattered throughout the waiting area.

The doctor saw her fairly quickly and ascertained he didn’t think anything was broken but because it was a back injury and she couldn’t sit up, she needed to go to the hospital for X-rays. What would have taken a looong time in our big-city hospital took only a couple of hours in Park City.  Jamie, his dad and sister all have bad backs so we were relieved to learn that nothing was broken. She stayed home from school today because she’s really sore and we’re praying for no long-term problems.

A few memorable/funny moments:

The girl has always struggled in math and I’m convinced she has dyscalculia (think: math dyslexia). Our old house in Colorado had an actual street address so she could remember that but here in Utah, it’s all just numbers i.e. 258 South 794 West. When the ski patrol was questioning her to see if she had a concussion, two of his questions were “what is your address?” and “what is the date?” We had a good chuckle when I replied, “She doesn’t remember her address or day of the week on a good day.” 

When the ski patrol strapped her into the sled, they bundled her up tight and I joked with her not to put her arm up. When she was a baby and I tried to swaddle her (which she hated), her rebellion was to stick her little arm out.

While we were in the waiting area at the Ski Patrol Hut, a snowboarder was there with her friends and had a huge gash in her knee. Ski Patrol had ripped her pant leg open and at one point, she started freaking out, “Oh no, look how much blood there is!” because her ski pants were lined in red. But then a few seconds later, she realized her ski pants were actually had a red liner and it wasn’t all blood.

I have had two accidents on the slopes, both by out-of-control snowboarders. My most recent was on my first ski day of the season with Bode last year and it was BAD…I couldn’t get up for several minutes and a sweet angel woman who saw the collision held me the entire time until we made sure I was OK. I was sore for week but thankfully I don’t have any long-term repercussions but I do suffer from mild PTSD. Whenever I hear the sound of a snowboard coming up behind me, I tense up and slow down.

Hadley initially wanted me to ride in the ambulance with her and I definitely would have if she had been seriously injured or was freaking out but she was calm and the hospital was only a few minutes away so Bode and I followed her in the car. The paramedics/firefighters were all handsome men, as were the male nurses who attended to her when she arrived. And this did not go unnoticed to her.

Jamie met us at the hospital while Hadley was having her X-rays and he told me, “This morning, I just paid off all the medical expenses from her broken arm last summer.” And now we’re several more thousand dollars in the hole thanks to our crappy insurance (the joys of self-employment) for an accident that wasn’t even our fault. My friend Mike commented on my Facebook page I was surely missing socialized medicine and I couldn’t agree more.

As weird as it sounds, the Park City Hospital is renowned for its cafeteria food and we were excited to find affordable locally grown and organic foods like healthy soups, salads, and sandwiches and entrees.

Hadley’s leaders from church brought her a milkshake and paid her a visit that night. Her sweet friend McKenna came over to hang out. She has had some health (kidney) problems of her own so they were joking about their matching hospital bands.

We were laughing remembering Hadley’s first time in the ER when Jamie was having heart problems. She was really young and kept waving and saying “hi” to everyone, appalled that no one waved back or responded. Because, you know, they were in the ER and it isn’t exactly a happy place.

How I know she’ll probably be OK: During all the chaos following the accident, she hopefully asked me, “Does this mean I don’t have to go to school tomorrow?”

===

So, what’s next for our family? Never leave the house? Bubblewrap? Only time will tell.

This is Me

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

(Circus preview show)

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

A win

I’m not going to lie. Middle school has been rough on Hadley and subsequently the rest of us.

Before we moved here, this girl used to lock herself in her room for hours drawing, painting, creating and dreaming. I’ve encouraged her to start up again and she reluctantly took art this year. Her teacher submitted some of her creations in an art show and she took first place in her class and another drawing (not pictured) took first place in the entire school.

She didn’t tell us about any of it (I found out from her friend) and this is when I confirm that 13 is THE WORST AGE EVER for recognizing your God-given talents and just how incredible you really are.

Christmas 2017: It’s a Wrap!

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

Saturday

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

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

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

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

Sunday

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


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

The bells!

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

Monday

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

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

A few gift highlights:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Teenage Musings

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two middle schoolers and one update

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

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

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

Let the games begin!

 

First Day of School: Through the Years

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

Kindergarten Cutie

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

Second grade and kindergarten.

Bode first grade. Jazz hands.

Fourth and sixth grades

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

Middle school: Sixth and eighth grades

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