Merry Christmas #1

Going home for Christmas has its advantages. I simplified and didn’t do my baking extravaganza or mail our cards. I’ve felt pangs of guilt whenever anyone has brought by a card or a treat…but then we eat away and get over it really quickly. There’s always next year. Now that I’m working out of the home while juggling a lot of freelance writing and Mile High Mamas, I don’t have time for clutter. And sometimes saying ‘no’ feels pretty good…while being grateful for all of the ‘yes’ friends in our life!

After a pretty rough few years, I’m actually looking forward to 2019. Nothing has really changed and we are still battling many of our same challenges but I feel like we’re getting a better handle on everything. But with two (almost) teenagers, I’m reminded that life is never predictable.

We have some solid Christmas traditions. Watch A Christmas Story and It’s a Wonderful Life.  Bake treats (I made a gazillion gingerbread cookies for various functions). Read and sing from our Christmas book every night. Do service. Visit Santa. See the lights on Temple Square. And on Christmas Eve, we have a compendium of traditions. The left-wright game. Holiday gift exchange. Play the bells. Christmas Jammies. Eat a gazillion treats.

One thing that hasn’t been constant for the holidays is where we are spending them. Even when we’re at home, we seem to always travel to some family member’s house for Christmas Eve or Day. And that’s OK; I’d rather be surrounded by family. Hawaii would be nice, too. :-)

Check-in luggage is $50 on Delta so we’re only taking one large suitcase and we decided to open most of our gifts here. Tomorrow, we’ll open our Grandma gifts at Jamie’s parents and do a little celebration before flying to Calgary. Three Christmases in one week? That’s a win!

For our family Christmas yesterday, I slept in until 7:30 a.m. to find Elf Jamie bursting at the seams that he’s been up for hours wrapping gifts and when he saw me, he started blasting Christmas music but I shut him down that we do not wake teenagers early.

By 9 a.m., they were tearing through their presents that included computer/coding games for Bode, a sundry of art supplies for Hadley from Fat Kitty (and on her card, he wrote, “Draw me like one of your French girls, Hadley.” Perv Kitty). Jamie stepped it up and probably bought more presents than I did this year.  A used trampoline and a Roomba were the bigger items.

Then, I tagged along for a fun night with our youth! We went to the temple, had a private fireside with Elder LeGrand Curtis, toured Temple Square’s lights and not-to-be forgotten were the disgusting drink concoctions these teens dared each other to drink (meat juice, anyone?) at Chuck-a-Rama.

(Jensen, Bode, Will, Wally, Stockton, Hunter)

(Cassidy, Emma, Hadley, Edyn)

(Intense coin showdown)

It was Bode’s first time at the restaurant and he was very concerned about the cost of a group our size.

Bode: “Who is paying for all of this?”
Me: “The Ward. You know, Jesus.”
Bode: “We’re making Him pay on His birthday?”

 

 

 

Moody November: Survived!

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

Hadley

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

Bode

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

Jamie

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

Me

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

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

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

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

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

XO

 

Summer 2.0

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

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


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

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

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

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

Fat Kitty. Still Fat. Still fabulous.

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

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

My, how times have changed.

A summer in full swing!

We’re alive!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Takeaway: Being a Murphy is nothing if not notorious.

Sum-Sum-Summer!

I have to believe our start to a great summer has to do with serenading the kids at the top of my lungs to Olaf’s “In Summer,” a first-day-of-summer-break tradition I hope they will carry on to torture their own children for many years to come.

In previous years, our summers have been jam-packed with adventures and this week has been particularly brutal with work and responsibilities. I’ve been working long hours and have been home very minimally in the evenings as I prepare for Young Women Girl’s Camp next week. Hadley begged me to play volleyball and when I told her I didn’t have time, she said “I wish you never went back to work!” Ouch. It was definitely a transition when I first started in January but the kids and I left at the same time in the morning and returned home around the same time so they were impacted very minimally. I, on the other hand, have had to be find creative ways to fit in all the household chores and Mile High Mamas projects while spending time with them. Finding a time to workout has been sacrificed and I desperately crave being active again. Summer adds even more complications.

So, here are our two-weeks-into-summer updates:

Social media fast. A couple of weeks ago, President Russell M. Nelson spoke at a worldwide fireside to our youth, during which time he challenged them (among other things) to go on a 7-day social media fast. I have felt waaaay too addicted to my phone so I deleted Instagram and Facebook. It helped me realize how much time I spent mindlessly scrolling through feeds. I felt so much better after the seven days that I have challenged myself to be on social media very minimally. Ideally, I’d love to spend more time journalling/blogging after the craziness of summer subsides.

EFY. Hadley’s besties from Colorado flew out for Especially for Youth, an awesome spiritually-charged week for the youth on campuses all over the country. Hadley and her friend, Maeve, stayed at BYU and it was fun having her on campus every day. In the beginning, she wasn’t having a great time “because we have really cute guys in our group but they won’t talk to us” but that changed by week’s end and she came home flying high. The $500 cost was definitely worth the investment into her spiritual health.

Camping. Bode went on two camping trips in a row: the first was a father-son camp-out and the second was an 11-Year-Old Scout camp-out to Strawberry Reservoir. He had a blast at both! At the end of June, our ward is having another camp-out so we’ll definitely get our fill this summer.

Outdoorsy. My dad generously gave the grandkids some money this summer to be dedicated to outdoorsy pursuits. Bode enrolled in a “Shredders” mountain biking club that has been kicking his butt (he has fun but calls it very “taxing”), while Hadley spent her money on a new lens for her camera. That may seem like a weird outdoorsy purchase but she looooves landscape photography so she has been spending a lot of time outside. A couple of weeks ago, she put her new lens to good use by staging an awkward end-to-middle-school photo shoot with Edyn, Allie and Zoie, the other three graduating eighth graders from our ward. It was such a fun, goofy night.

Pumpkins. Jamie has been enduring most of the back-breaking yard work (we’re now up to 51 tons of rock and lots of time in the skid steer) and pumpkin growing. Our backyard still has a long way to go but much of it will have to wait until we get more money and time. But for now, the big news is we’re almost ready to seed the backyard. We might even have GRASS by the end of the summer! If you knew the hundreds of hours we’ve spent on it all, you would see why the very prospect makes us want to weep. A half-acre lot sounded look a good idea…until it came time to landscape!

Hiking. In an effort to get back into shape, I sent out a text last week to see if anyone wanted to do a 5:45 a.m. weekly hike before work….and these crazies answered the charge! The week before, I joined my friends Dawnelle, Shauna and Sarah for some stand-up paddleboarding on Deer Creek Reservoir. Then, I ran several errands on my bike and marveled how so many treasures are within a few miles from our house. 

Citrus Pear. Mealtime has definitely suffered since I went back to work, especially with the long hours I’ve been working lately. Sweet Bode made a tasty pita pizza and salad dinner the other night but I was thrilled to do a Citrus Pear girl’s night out. It took me two hours to chop and prep 20 delicious small dinners for my family…for just $10 each. Chicken tikka masala. Creamy lemon chicken. Balsamic pot roast. Orange ginger pork loin. The recipes are divine and I’m thrilled to have a freezer full of meals that can be thrown in the crockpot. 

Unicorn. I’ve been vocal about Hadley’s hellish middle school years and it’s pretty shocking the about-face since school ended. She’s happy. She’s helpful. She’s actually delightful. She spent the week at EFY and this week, has been voluntarily getting up early three times a week for volleyball conditioning at the high school. Her friend is having some health struggles so I asked her to do something nice for her. When I came home from work, she had spent most of the day making unicorn cupcakes from scratch….the girl even made little candy straws that she filled with melted white chocolate. She had a few leftover cupcakes so she delivered them to some of her other friends.

WHA? WHO IS THIS KID?

The key to her happiness if finding healthy ways to deal with her stress…and creating. Middle school was all about the unhealthy ways. Here’s for praying she refills her reservoir this summer and that carries over into high school.

Business. No, not business, but rather, BUSY-NESS. I’m in charge of Young Women Girl’s Camp next week (stress and lots of it) and then we’ll start preps right away for Swiss Days over Labor Day. Jamie and I are in charge of the biggest booth (Swiss Tacos) for this beast-of-a-festival…300+ volunteers and thousands of customers. At work, I’m trying to pull together a PR/outreach plan for all of our college’s departments and centers. It has been very well-received by most…except for by the deans in our office. You know. My bosses. They’re all wonderful people but it has been a frustrating process to try to validate the value of promoting all the awesome things in our college. I’m the editor of our alumni magazine and it has been a really fun process to see things from the beginning to the end; usually I just send an article to an editor and see it in print. Our magazine is currently being designed and it has been fun to work through all the mock-ups and concepts.

Golf. Bode took a few golf classes through our rec center that he enjoyed last summer. When my friend Cami asked if Bode wanted to do the PGA Junior League with her son, I was all-in when I noticed it was offered nationwide and I could do a write-up for Mile High Mamas in trade for participating. It’s held at Wasatch Mountain State Park Golf Course, arguably one of the most gorgeous in Utah and only a few minutes from our house.

I do have one question, though.  Is sending your kid to PGA Junior League without his own clubs kinda like sending him to tennis without a racket?

I’m asking for an [idiot] parent. 

Fortunately, the golf course gave us some loaner clubs and if Bode ends up liking it, we’ll buy him some used clubs for his birthday.

Bode’s rec program last year did little more than putting and chipping. PGA Junior League is geared to beginner through intermediate players, and Bode is definitely one of the rookies in the group. On the first day, I was a bit worried to leave him after seeing the high calibre so many of the boys were already playing…but I was relieved to find him a couple of hours later riding the golf cart with his new friends in his “scramble” team…and despite his grandpa-style half-ditched swing, he and his partner ended up winning their little competition.

Tonight, they worked on skills and he came back professing that his golf swing “needs some work!” But he’s in the right place to learn the skills he needs for a lifetime of frustration a.k.a. playing golf.

School’s Out for Summer

Summer 2018 is upon us! I’m usually ecstatic to delve into summer but this is the first time I’m not very excited about it. Though I have scheduled a fun summer for the kids with lots of activities and camps, I’m partially filled with dread that I’ll be working for the first time and am worried about how they’ll spend their downtime when I’m not around. Of course, Jamie is home but he has two modes: work and pumpkins; entertainment committee is not on his radar. When the kids were younger, I kept them busy in the summertime but with plenty of free time for imaginative play outside. Now that they’re teenagers, downtime means technology time.

Fortunately, my position is 3/4 time. I worked way too many hours during winter semester so will be scaling way back this summer and taking about four weeks off. But I’m stressing about how to manage everything with the kids home, how to get them to-and-from activities and just to stay on top of everything. The lack of structure that I used to love about our summers together is now causing me angst.

Here’s what’s going down at the Johnsons.

School. It was a doozy of a school year with two middle schoolers and I’m just relieved it’s over for Hadley. Despite roller-coaster grades the first few semesters, she somehow managed to crank out all As and Bs her final term while Bode made the Honor Roll all four terms. Though I wouldn’t say Bode loved middle school/sixth grade, he adapted seamlessly, made a core group of friends, says film was his favorite class (though he continues to really excel in math), is switching from flute to the sax for band and his year was gloriously drama-free. I could not have  two more opposite children if I tried.

RMMS Color Festival with Will, Hunter and Wally

Allie, Katelyn and Allie

Rock. Remember the 43 tons of rock that cost us thousands of dollars for our landscaping? It has been a month of back-breaking work and our joyous Memorial Day was spent distributing it…and running out. That’s another story for another day. At this rate, we’ll never seed our backyard.

Camping. Aunt Lisa invited Hadley to camp with their family at what has become my favorite Utah campground in Utah: Ledgefork. Just an hour from our house, it was gorgeously forested for optimal (albeit reluctant) hammock snuggles, adjacent to a river, had a nearby reservoir for kayaks and gorgeous hiking. I had a miserable sinus infection so Bode and I just joined them for the day before driving home, which was a total win-win. Enjoy all of the fun camping activities while sleeping in my own bed.

Track.  Once soccer and club volleyball ended, I signed both kids up for our rec track-and-field this spring in an effort to keep them active (and you can’t beat the $50 price tag) Neither of them particularly loved it but had fun with their friends. So I’m calling that a win. It’s safe to say Hadley does not have a future in javelin and Bode needs to grow another foot to be a contender in the high jump.

Pumpkins. Jamie is in the process of installing his high tunnel (greenhouse) that he got funded by a grant from the federal government. Midway is really challenging for growing pumpkins and we are located just north of Provo Canyon and Deer Creek Reservoir, which serves as a tunnel for high winds. Hopefully this will provide some protection for them and he’s pleased with how the season is going. If you’re curious to see how his season is unfolding, follow along at giantpumpkinman.com.

The Ranch. There is a really special 100-acre property in the Heber Valley that is mystery to most residents. A couple of weeks ago, we were granted access and this place was nothing short of magical and deserves a separate blog post unto itself. A glimpse:

Summer Fun.  Some things to look forward to this summer: Canada and the lake (family)! Trek (Hadley)! Young Women Girl’s Camp (Hadley and me)!  EFY (Hadley)! Sailing camp (Hadley and Bode)! Mountain biking camp (Bode)! BYU volleyball camp (Hadley)! PGA golfing (Bode)! Yellowstone (family)!

And work. Let’s not forget work for Jamie and me because someone needs to pay for all these activities, medical bills and life.

Adulting is hard; kid-ing is much better.

 

 

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.