The Light, I See the Light!

Here’s another post from January of last year I never published. Our first family newsletter still makes me laugh!

My goal for January was to purge and organize our home and I’m happy to say I have finished this major undertaking except for the garage. THAT is a project unto itself. Though I try to clean it semi-annually, Jamie ALWAYS wreaks havoc after pumpkin season and there are fertilizer spills, tarps and who-knows-what-else.

I had big plans to clean the garage on Saturday but was struck with the plague.

Me: “I have bad news. I’m too sick so we can’t clean the garage today.”

Hadley: “That’s the bad news? What’s the good news?”

“You get to do your regular chores today.”

Compared to cleaning the garage, that is welcome  news.

I’m still under the weather, which is a particular bummer because we’re having OneHeckOfASnowStorm and it’s depressing to be stuck indoors. I did very little adventuring in January but February will be filled with some of my favorites including Glenwood Springs, a family reunion at YMCA of the Rockies Estes Park Center and The Broadmoor for my birthday. Lackluster January 2016 is well beyond me!

When you’ve lived somewhere for 12 years, it’s amazing how much you collect and it’s been fun to stroll down memory lane. One of my favorite things I uncovered was our very first family holiday newsletter that we sent December 2004. I started blogging shortly thereafter and it’s obvious I needed a creative outlet because I. Was. On. One. Do you know those families that sugarcoat tough years? I did the opposite because make no mistake: our transition to parenthood was rough with our sleepless 6-month-old Hurricane Hadley.  I’ll publish it here for your reading enjoyment.

Johnson Family News

For unto us a child is born, Unto us a daughter is given. And the parents shall be at her fingertips. And her name shall be called Wonderful, Crier, The Mighty Hadley, The Insomniac Babe, The Princess of Pandemonium. -James 24:7

We are pleased to announce that we have [barely] survived the first six months of parenthood! Between starting a business, building a home and birthing a child, there is never a dull moment.

Hadley’s Happenings

Hadley loves hiking with the Colorado Mountain Mamas and is very displeased when she is stuck indoors. She is known as the social butterfly of the babies and tackles them upon contact. “Why” is not in her vocabulary “admittedly, her only vocab consists of “Wah, I don’t want to sleep,” and “Wah, I want food NOW.”)

When not hungry and overtired, she is a complete joy and loves to laugh, have food fights, roll over, yank Mommy’s hair out, dance for Daddy, bounce off walls (literally in her Johnny Jumper), take baths, attack her friends and pull all-nighters.

There is little question who she resembles most with her spirited personality and looks; Jamie is just glad she has his brown eyes to verify that she is indeed his offspring.

Amber’s Anarchy

Amber’s transition from Adventure Travel Writer to Adventurous Unraveling Mother was reminiscent of her Murphy’s Law life. Though relieved Hadley was not born a black baby with buck teeth (as her prophetic dreams foretold), Amber became very familiar with the hospital before and after the birth. She had emergency on her finger a week before delivery but was displeased when it did not preclude her from diaper duty. Then, there was the infamous Bleach Incident a few weeks later when Amber made a trip to the ER after dumping a gallon of bleach in her eyes. The ER has since issued her a punch card; one more visit and she wins a free ambulance ride.

When not frequenting the hospital, Amber enjoys hiking several times per week with Hadley in a local hiking club. Amber has met several outdoorsy moms and her social group is now based in Boulder–the Granola Capitol of Colorado. She is proud to say that she is the only non-Vegan in the group and has yet to be force-fed tofu.

Jamie’s Jabber

Jamie continues to manage the operations and meltdowns at the Denver Newspaper Agency. He also launched a wedding website business and has successfully partnered with more than 15 national newspapers. As the helm of Customer Care, he enjoys correspondence with neurotic and emotions brides across the country. He claims it makes his own estrogen-overdosed household seem less neurotic and emotional.

This past summer, Jamie slaved in soil that made the frozen tundra of the Motherland look like the Garden of Eden. He installed a sprinkler system, sod and even single-handled carried one-ton rocks across the yard…just for fun. Publicity Amber claims he accomplished these great feats on a mere five hours of sleep. Five hours over the course of five months, that is. He is also the Ward Mission Leader at church and relishes in his early-morning meets on the lone day he would have been able to sleep in.

When asked what inspires him, Jamie replied, “Fear of Hadley. Must do what Hadley says. Must not anger the Hadley. Must keep Hadley from crying!! Must get Hadley to sleep!!! KEEP THE HADLEY HAPPY! MUST KEEP THE HADLEY HAPPY!!!!”

Couple’s Corner

We feel so blessed this holiday season to celebrate the birth of the Savior with our beautiful baby in our new home. We wish you all the best in 2005 and of course: “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night(‘s sleep!)

A Utah Christmas

We spent last Christmas in Utah and that was the official beginning of our journey. During our visit, Jamie and I secretly looked at real estate in Midway and fell in love with our lot–only the second property we looked at. One year later, we woke up to a winter wonderland in our very own home. It’s crazy how much can change in a year!

Christmas Eve in Salt Lake City was a full day. Brunch at Little America (and sadly the only picture I have of the entire family).

Afternoon at the movies to see Rogue One.

And a delicious dinner at my sister-in-law Tammy’s who is over-the-top with her gourmet food and gorgeous decorations. Jamie’s family was gracious enough to humor me with all my family’s Christmas Eve traditions of playing the bells, the left-right game and the holiday gift exchange. But there’s no one more over-the-top than my own Canadian family’s Christmas Eve revelries. Just look at these crazies in their matching jammies! 

We were on the fence with staying with my in-laws for the night but between a full house with Jamie’s other siblings, the prospect of sleeping on the couch, and my persisting cough that has been keeping me awake, we decided there was no place like home. So, we made the drive back in the dark. It had been lightly snowing all day so it was a risky decision; there was a good chance we wouldn’t make it to his parent’s for Christmas but decided it was worth it to be in our own house.

Our Christmas Eve jammies had a new twist this year: Hadley is in women’s sizes and I thought it would be fun to get matching PJs. She was delighted with her owl PJs…until she realized they were the same as mine and I wanted to get a picture of all of us after she’d (gasp) taken off her make-up.

I entitle this picture: Loving family minus one melting down, tired, PMSing tween.

She eventually came around, mostly because we each took an arm and leg and dragged her out to watch A Christmas Story with us. Because that’s how we roll. No one melts down alone in our clan.

Note: Jamie took a stellar picture of her during Said Meltdown that will be saved for future blackmailing purposes.

Christmas morning dawned bright, crispy, snowy and beautiful! Jamie woke us up at 7 a.m. to give us enough time to open presents before church. The big takeaways: Bode’s big gift was an air hockey/ping pong table that is being housed in our unfinished basement.

If you look closely, you will see Hadley’s owl PJs. Don’t tell her I told you that.

Hadley claims she’s the only kid in seventh grade without a phone and I’m OK with that. She’s obsessed with photography so we bought her a used (yet still pricey) camera to start her business. 

To save money, Jamie and I vowed we wouldn’t buy each other gifts but discovered a few weeks ago we both bought each other Magic Bullets. From the same random store in Salt Lake. If that wasn’t funny enough, we both bought each other the new JasonBourne movie.

Next year, maybe we’ll both accidentally buy each other trips to Hawaii.

Church was beautifully inspiring and I’m so grateful for our welcoming and wonderful ward that already feels like family after only a few months.  Then we drove the 50 minutes back to Jamie’s parent’s house and had a nice low-key Christmas stuffing ourselves with appetizers, soups and desserts all day long.

After a decidedly tough year, it was a simple, wonderful way to celebrate being surrounded by family and I couldn’t be more grateful…and excited for our adventures in the New Year!

The Town Party

In today’s edition of living in an episode of Gilmore Girls’ Stars Hollow, my friend Sarah texted me at 6:30 p.m. asking if I was going to the annual Midway Town Party. Huh? I’d heard nothing about it but rallied the troops (namely: Bode who’s the only one with any semblance of the Christmas spirit). This move would later be met with great controversy by the Johnson Family Grinches despite the fact that the darling musical performances would have sent Jamie (who despises concerts) and Hadley (who is annoyed by everything, particularly Christmas music) over the edge.

But their (Jamie’s) tune changed when we came home with candy and the news (for Hadley) that her friend was hanging out with cute boys from middle school. We all have our motivations.

I really wasn’t even sure what the Town Party was all about. A couple of weeks prior, we had attended the Town Christmas Tree lighting so I assumed it was outside. I was wearing snazzy summer capris and, in my laziness, just threw on a pair of clompy boots to “complete” my ensemble, only to find out the event was in the Midway City Hall. In the light. Where people could see me.

We arrived late but still caught a few performances on stage including the darling Swiss Miss girls, two of whom are in our ward. I tried to convince Bode and his buddies to compliment them on doing a nice job, which apparently was akin to sending them into the lion’s den. Sorry, ladies. It’s tough to raise gentlemen these days.

The short program ended with everyone singing a couple of Christmas carols and then the Man In Red showed up to distribute over-stuffed bags of candy.

It’s pretty sad to me that our season of believing is over but Bode still went up with his buddies.

Bode later refused to tell me what he and Santa talked about so maybe just maybe he and the Man in Red have a few tricks up their sleeves yet.

Here’s to our first memorable Small Town Christmas!


Thanksgiving (In)Gratitudes

Being grateful and happy has always come naturally to me but this move has really thrown me for a loop. I’ll go from feeling on top of the world with little victories like the kids making a new friend to feeling gobsmacked and overwhelmed.

I was reviewing my blog post from last year at this time as I poured out our many blessings. It was a tough read. Life as we knew it was pretty darn perfect and I was so grateful for it. Two weeks later, I would receive the impression we were supposed to leave Colorado.

I think the toughest thing about moving from an idyllic  world to a less-than-ideal situation is expectations. I miss Colorado. I miss our friends. I miss that my friends were also the kids’ best friends and we did everything together. I miss my job and all its perks. Sure, I still own and run Mile High Mamas but ’tis the season for VIP event and travel invites…and I’ve had to pass them along to my writers, which I’m happy to do. But I’m not happy to be constantly reminded of what I’m missing by all those invitations. I need to build out similar opportunities here but I just don’t have time.

One of my major sources of discontent has been our new house. There are many things I love about it: The view. The kitchen. The charming old farm table. My office. The huge basement. The granite countertops and hardwood floors. The massive yard (that will be a ton of work to complete but will be amazing when we do).

But there are just as many things I dislike about it: The small  upstairs rooms (particularly the master bedroom with the tiniest closet in the house), the mud room (so small that there’s nowhere to put the laundry baskets), the small family room that makes it difficult to entertain. The list goes on.

The financial strain of this move continues daily as we bleed money. We had to order a newer, most expensive couch yesterday because the one we bought is already showing wear. Our builder, Utah Home Builders, took several shorcuts that are costing us a lot of money such as putting in a circuit board with no extra spaces; we had to drop an additional $1,000 to install a new one in order to have electicity downstairs.

I recognize these are first world problems but we spent a lot of money on this house and to be unhappy with the layout is a source of constant frustration. Part of the problem was we never really saw our house before moving in because all the models were sold. We had the builder’s plans so conceptually we had an idea of the layout but living with it is an entirely different ballgame.

It makes me realize how much we loved our old 5-bedroom house.  We hated our view and didn’t have fancy upgrades but all the rooms were spacious and spread apart–the four bedrooms were on separate quarters upstairs. In our new ranch, all three of the bedrooms and two bathrooms are crammed into one little area. Hadley wakes up at 5:30 a.m. for school and we all hear about it. Daily. Top priority: scraping together some money to finish the bathroom downstairs.

The first five weeks were rough. Unpacking. Working 15-hours days getting settled before I started my job. Hadley sleeping on the floor in my now-office. Jamie’s desk in our little bedroom. We hired someone to frame and drywall two rooms in the basement and we’ve done the rest. We finished last week and moved Hadley to her room and Jamie is in his new office. Space is still tight upstairs but at least we’re not living on top of each other.

When we’re finally able to afford finishing our basement, we’ll be just fine but who knows when we’ll have a chunk of money to complete it? For now, I’m just trying to live and love what we have while lowering expectations. Sure, we don’t have the tight-knit group from Colorado but we’ve already made a few good friends. We love our ward, the kids are doing wonderfully in school and love being closer to Jamie’s awesome family. I truly love living in this charming mountain hamlet. In fact, I wonder why I’ve lived in the suburbs of a big city my entire life. On Friday, I went for a hike around Soldier Hollow, the world-class cross-country skiing venue for the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Games. It is a five minute drive from my house. This just blows my mind and I can’t wait to ski it this winter.

So, for those of us who might be feeling a bit less-than grateful this holiday season while also still recognizing our blessings, this article I quoted last year from The Atlantic still rings true:

Gratitude is the truest approach to life. We did not create or fashion ourselves. We did not birth ourselves. Life is about giving, receiving and repaying. We are receptive beings, dependent on the help of others, on their gifts and their kindness.”

Photo taken by Willie Holdman of last week’s sunset in the Heber Valley

A Midway Halloween

Halloween has been my unspoken benchmark for if we are truly on our way to settling into Midway. I figured if the kids had friends with whom to go trick-or-treating, that would be good enough for me.

We had that and so much more!

This is the first year I haven’t attended Halloween class parties and I felt such a loss as I realized despite the chaos, I really love those things. Darn middle and intermediate schools–I want elementary school again!

Hadley dressed as a zombie doll and Bode was an executioner. When Bode was at Vanderhoof Elementary, they would do a costume parade. All of his fellow kindergartners were dressed in sweet costumes like firefighters, unicorns, and princesses. Directly behind them in the line were the sixth graders whose common theme/color was zombie black and I marveled “what happens between kindergarten and sixth grade?”

This is what happened.

Bode was in an uncharacteristically bad mood before we left and didn’t want to take pictures (I later found out he hurt his foot). But really, do you want the man who is about to murder you with his ax to smile?

They call her “Doll Face.”

I was worried Halloween in Midway wouldn’t measure up to Skyline Estates. Next to the Fourth of July, Halloween is the best time to live in our old neighborhood with a party at the fire station, a fire truck-led costume parade through the streets and, of course, The Great Pumpkin.

I’m happy to report Midway is every bit as fun. We’d hoped to hit Park City’s popular Main Street celebration that afternoon (voted one of the best in the country) but I was busy moving Hadley out of my office and settling her in to her new room downstairs. My friend Sarah invited us over for dinner at 5 p.m. so the festivities were off to an early start.

On Sunday, I told Hadley she needed to find friends with whom to trick-or-treat or she’d have to go only with ME (oh, the horror) so she quick made plans with friends Zoie, Katie and Lizzie.

Old Woman Zoie and her little brother

Bode and Co. had a blast racing through the streets. We’re pretty hardcore when it comes to trick-or-treating. We’ll make small talk but we’re not in to to be social like my friend Sarah who stopped to chat–we were in it to win it!

Parents scored almost as much of the kids with various neighbors cooking up everything from fresh doughnuts with a killer warming tent to hawtdogs to a popcorn stand to hot chocolate to dozens of glazed doughnuts with a firepit to “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” on an outdoor screen to Willy Wonka commandeering a tractor-pulled wagon ride on our street.

Warming Tent

Cue: I think I’m gonna like it here. 

And The Great Pumpkin will be in good company next year.

The Fourth Was With Us

There’s no better time to live in Skyline Estates than on the Fourth of July. That’s when we shut down our street, the entire neighborhood throws a party and fireworks are shot right above our house and late into the night.

We were remiss to celebrate our final holiday in Arvada without Hadley who flew to Utah for our new ward’s Young Women’s Girls Camp this week. A second bummer? I don’t even have one picture because my cell phone landed in the lake with me at my adventure race with Bode last weekend.

Regardless, the 4th of July had all the fixins for a great day:

  • Jamie, Bode and I woke up early to attend our stake’s annual patriotic breakfast (though not too early and missed the 5K Bode wanted to run).
  • Our friends, the Rolfsons, invited a few families to spend the afternoon at Hyatt Lake, a private lake where we swam, cannonballed, canoed, lounged and leisurely floated in tubes.
  • That night, some of our dearest friends and neighbors, the Haymonds, hosted a bunch of families at their house for a big BBQ. As I sat there at the kid table laughing at 4-year-old Lucy, I had an epiphany: I love my friends’ kids every bit as much as I love them.  After a few hours, we all walked up to the fireworks together where more families joined us–the Carrolls, Cooks, Larsons, Wagners, Cardons and countless neighbors.
Growing up, Canada Day (July 1) was our big celebration and we loved spending it in Raymond. But since moving to the U.S., the Fourth of July has always come and gone without much fanfare…until we moved here. As Jamie and I slowly walked back after the fireworks, I wanted to soak in every moment. The revelries, the high-fives, the exhausted kiddos with their glow sticks.
And the happiness that we have been part of something special for the 12 years we’ve been privileged to live here.

Easter: In Pictures

I’ll admit that we didn’t get into the Easter spirit as much as usual for the primary reasons that 1) Easter comes waaaaay too early when it’s in March and 2) We spent several days in Utah for Spring Break prior to the big day.

We tried to make up for it on Easter morning with our traditional Easter egg hunt.

And a ladder to up the degree of difficulty.

Another tradition is for the kids to wear new Easter outfits to church. 

Check-out this cute Easter flashback from years past:

Since I’m always behind the camera, Hadley took a picture of the happy couple, which would have been swell had we not been photobombed.

After church there was family time, we watched the Easter story, read scriptures and had a delicious Easter dinner with Uncle Chris and Aunt Lisa.

I originally typed Uncle Christ. Freudian slip? Maybe he’s not as far away as we think.

“For Paul the light of Easter is no lantern swinging over a narrow, empty grave, but a light capable of dispelling the thick darkness covering the nations. Paul never tries to explain the resurrection of Jesus. He knows that to explain the ways of God in the light of human experience is like trying to explain the sun in terms of a candle. It’s the sun that makes sense of the candle. Likewise we don’t prove the resurrection; the resurrection proves us. The Easter faith doesn’t ask us to believe without proof, but to trust without reservation. Don’t think your way into a new life, but live your life into an entirely new way of thinking.”
-William Sloane Coffin, The Riverside Years.



Christmas in Utah

Greetings! We’re back from a fabulous Christmas in Utah with Jamie’s family. This is the first time all his siblings have been together in years and it was a cause for rejoicing (so was our dump of snow on Christmas Day, the ultimate present). Shockingly, I didn’t take many pictures and for the big mom fail, didn’t take even one as we opened our presents. The good news is we’ll all be together again for an official family reunion at YMCA of the Rockies Estes Park in February.

A few highlights:

*Lots of downtime, including Apples to Apples marathons and PBS Masterpiece’s Sherlock (we’re hooked after season 1).

*Food. Too much of it. Jamie’s mom Linda stuffed us to the brim, plus she is her ward’s Relief Society President, which means everyone and their dog brought holiday treats to her. And us.

*Food Con’t. Jamie’s parents treated us to a fabulous Christmas Eve Brunch at Grand America, followed by family pictures and touring the swanky hotel’s holiday window displays and life-sized gingerbread house.

Gingerbread House

*Edible cousins. Shamefully, I didn’t take enough pictures of the twins because my camera was directed at 11-month-old Darby the entire time. And who could blame me? Check him out delighting in the bouncy castle/ball pit Uncle Chris bought them.

*Temple Square. Really, is there any place on earth more magical and spiritual at Christmastime than thousands of lights on 35 acres? Our hot chocolate at Joseph Smith Memorial Building was pretty magical, too.

Hot chocolate warm-up

*BYU. We called it a recruiting trip because we’re trying to expose the kids to our Alma Mater. We went to the Norman Rockwell exhibit at the BYU Museum of Art, bought them BYU shirts, ate at the Creamery and had a lot of fun checking out the campus.

*Presents. This was the first year I found Christmas shopping depressing because the kids are mostly out of the toy phase and want technology (though I remain adamant about no phones before high school). Plus, our recent trip to Disneyland was our main present so our budget was tight and Santa was limited to giving them Brandon Mull books and games. Bode got a cool video drone from my parents and had a blast with a remote control helicopter from Jamie’s parents. Hadley got clothes, lots of drawing tools, arts, crafts and movies. I bought Jamie a new ice cream maker (it’s his obsession) while he purchased Big Agnes sleeping bags and pads for both of us.

But the ultimate present of all presents I gave to the man who hates to share his food? The Freeloader Fork, which expands up to two feet to give me easier access to his food across the table.

He obviously loved it.

What a blessed Christmas 2015 we had surrounded by family as we celebrated the birth of the Savior. We’re going to a New Year’s Eve party at the Carrolls tonight to ring in the New Year. I’m not sure what the future holds but I feel the winds of change blowing through for 2016. May it be a soft breeze and not a tornado.

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

Happy Thanksgiving Gratitudes

Happy Thanksgiving! With a 20 degree high and snow, we’re forgoing our annual Turkey Trot hike and hunkering down with movies and lots of tasty goodness. As I type this, my awesome husband is brining and then smoking our turkey.

This Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for this beautiful family of mine. The kids are growing so fast–too fast–and I’m trying to treasure every last minute with them. We had planned to go skiing but ended up sticking around for a week of fun with friends that included a game night and also a boy’s lightsaber fete while Hadley was at her bestie Alex’s birthday.

There were casualties.

A free Hammonds Candy Factory Tour with 25 fun friends.

Hiking Prospect Park, an adventure we’ve done a hundred times but with Clear Creek’s low water levels, an otherworldly cavernous maze was revealed.

While Hadley was ice skating with friends, Bode hit Big Time Trampoline Fun. It was to be my day of triumph when I conquered their new Wipeout-esqu “Big Balls. Until I took my first step and they completely deflated. Note: not built for anyone over 100 pounds.

On Tuesday, our plan was to go mountain biking and to piano lessons. We decided to combine them and bike to piano but hadn’t anticipated the adventure we would have through Van Bibber Park. If my kids ever relay a story of how their mom dragged them up a hill so muddy they got completely stuck and their wheels wouldn’t turn, don’t believe them. Lies. All lies.

The calm before the (muddy) storm

We had a PJ/movie day where Bode made cinnamon rolls from scratch almost completely by himself.

Bode’s Cub Scout troop did the Scouting for Food drive. The kids and I then donated the food to our local food bank–almost 50 pounds! And then went went to the playground across the street and soared.

A couple of weeks ago for Family Home Evening, we did our annual gratitude turkey. Hadley designed the body while Aunt Lisa cut out the feathers, resulting in our most beautiful turkey yet filled with so many blessings!

This article in The Atlantic nails it: “Gratitude is the truest approach to life. We did not create or fashion ourselves. We did not birth ourselves. Life is about giving, receiving and repaying. We are receptive beings, dependent on the help of others, on their gifts and their kindness.”

My heart runneth over to have so many wonders in my life.

Happy Thanksgiving!