Winter 2019 is a wrap!

I was supposed to publish this on March 20 but never finished it and hit publish. How quickly this month passed!

How did winter 2019 slip by so fast? We have had a lot of stress with my mom’s health the last few months (and my passport problems added to the panic in case I needed to get home) but after an extended stay in the hospital, she is home for now.

But we’ll focus on the fun parts of Winter 2019 because there were plenty in one of my snowiest winters since I have lived in the U.S.

Snow. So much glorious snow. Oh, wait. I already mentioned that. I truly can’t remember enjoying myself so much in years. We’ve had almost constant snow since Christmas which is pretty funny because very few people around town have taken down their outdoor Christmas decorations and it’s totally OK (edited to note: they finally came down April 17). We haven’t had very many huge snowfalls but rather, just nice and consistent almost every week. After two grueling years of landscaping our yard (and we’re still not finished), we had a great winter where we were finally able to play with lots of snow days.

Jamie, Hadley and I went to the Midway Ice Castles preview party. Translucent blue, green and red sculpted waves danced on the walls, showcasing our very own aurora borealis…without the Arctic temps. 

That night was a win for all except for Bode who winter cabin camping with the Scouts.

Luckily for Bode, he got really sick the following month when they did their winter cave camping trip. He wasn’t disappointed to miss it.

DOWNHILL SKI

Lots and lots of ski days. Bode is totally rocking the slopes, Hadley is still struggling with PTSD, Jamie is skiing stronger than ever and I’m getting worse in my old age and am the slowest of all. But we still love it!

Day date!

I only had one girl’s day this year but it was memorable. As we were driving to Park City, I realized my ski boots were SOAKING wet on the inside, which was particularly suspect because I hadn’t skied in over a week. My girls Rachel and Julie to the rescue! I went through an entire roll of paper towels trying to soak up the moisture during the drive and in a stroke of brilliance, we picked up plastic bags that I wore as booties to keep my feet dry.

Girl’s day with Rachel and Julie

Redneck ski boots.

On Saturday, we did a Couple’s Day Out with Jamie’s college friends, Jim and Lindsay. First and last on the slopes, zero drama/whining, gorgeous conditions and a leisurely 1.5-hour Legends burger lunch. That day was a rare glimpse at the fun side of adulting.

NORDIC SKI

Bode and I Nordic skied twice a week after school at Soldier Hollow. This will likely be our third and final year of Kickers and Gliders ski program because he wants to try their DEVO ski team this summer and next winter. The first year we did the program, it was epic because of the incredible snow. Last year was horrible due to the lack of slow and the man-made 5K icy track we looped over and over again. But Bode didn’t mind. Whenever it did snow, the groomers made these huge piles of snow to later distribute that the kids called “snow whales.” They looooved racing down their steep slopes.

This year, Bode got bumped up to the advanced class while I happily stayed back with the intermediates who, by the end of the season, were skiing some pretty crazy stuff. I love the uphill and flats on Nordic skis but if you’ve ever attempted the downhill, you know the terror I’m talking about with no edges and the inability to turn. Regardless, it was fun seeing Bode fall in love with cross-country skiing as well.

Hula hoop obstacle course racing

He did DEVO “tryouts” last week where they could try out the team and I saw his competitive edge kick in as he raced to the top and came in second.

For the first time in his life, he is actually trying to get into shape and goes on the elliptical in the basement…except for when there are spider webs because THAT, my friends is a deal-breaker. I hope he enjoys their summer training program!

Hadley and Jamie, on the other hand, hate cross-country skiing. We planned to ski on my birthday but it was brutally cold that Wednesday morning and I was told the ski crowds would be bad. I let Hadley skip her state testing that day and she promised to do anything I wanted…so she made me crepes for breakfast and we went cross country skiing at the golf course at Wasatch Mountain State Park for the first time. Hadley hated every minute of it but bless her heart, she tried to be *kind* of positive because it was my birthday. Jamie didn’t even bother coming. :-)

The Duck Whisperer

I went back a few days without her and discovered a secret network of trails that climbed for miles and miles in the foothills. I went about a half hour before reluctantly turning around because 1) remember how I’m not great at the downhill and I didn’t want to get stranded? and 2) due to the high snow levels, we have had a lot of cougar and moose in the valley and I didn’t want to get attacked. I’m already chomping at the bit just thinking about exploring this next year:

SNOWSHOEING

During our first winter in Midway, I organized a memorable couple’s full moon snowshoe night. We skipped last year due to abysmal snow but this year, we reintroduced Soup ‘n Snowshoes with these crazies under a full moon, followed by wart removal New Year’s resolutions, and late-night game night with leg wrestling champions, pumpkin-orange diarrhea and the very salacious Song of Solomon. #WhyParentsShouldn’tStayUpLate 

And of course, there was our memorable Valentine’s Day overnight yurt retreat!

I had quite a few fun outings with friends, none of each involved plastic bag booties.

Big Springs

Wasatch Mountain State Park

 

North Fork in the Uintas

2) Jamie’s parents are celebrating their 50th anniversary later this month and that will be a different post unto itself.  Last weekend, we drove 45 minutes to the Art City Trolley because Jamie was craving the best wings ever. Little did I know that just two doors down was the home his parents rented the first four years of his life: 107 Main Street, Springville. For being so young, he remembered quite a bit. Winning a fish at a competition at the church across the street. Burying the fish in the backyard. Visiting the lady next door who ran a headstone company (it’s still there) who would give him hard candies. The huge lot across the street where his dad would garden (it’s now a 7-11). Progress, folks!

Now, let’s hear it for our rainy and snowy spring after our glorious winter!

The Duet of Death

How to perform a memorable first (and last) mother-son duet at church.

1) Practice for a couple of months, making sure to push it back at least once because you still suck.

2) Finally start mastering it the week prior (think: deathbed repentance).

3) Ignore the prompting to tape the music to the stand because really, what could happen?

4) What could happen is the music will fall down in the middle of your performance (not shown in this practice rehearsal but the :50 second mark is where all the fun began).

5) When you calmly pause to pick up the music, make sure you do not place your son’s sheet over the last bars of your final page.

6) Quietly freak out when you realize your music is partially covered but you don’t dare move it for fear it will fall again so you go off your [very bad] memory.

7) Fake your way to the ending, proud of yourself that you have given your son yet another (unintentional) life lesson on resiliency and you have survived a near heart attack.

The End.

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?”

 

 

 

The glory of knee surgery!

I know, I still have yet to write about my summer updates but the big news ’round here is I had surgery to repair my meniscus I tore while trail running two years ago. With all of our medical bills this year, we almost reached our deductible so Jamie approached me about finally getting it done. I mean, 50% off knee surgery? What a bargain. If you count spending thousands of dollars on a temporary fix “a bargain” but if I can get some semblance of my life back, I’m all-in.

If you’re going to get your knee scoped, there is no better man than Dr. Cooley in Park City who is contracted with the U.S. Ski Team and Tiger Woods. I don’t remember much from my right knee surgery five years ago so wanted to detail all of the glorious details here.

1) Upon check-in, they requested a urine sample to ensure I was not pregnant. I told the nurse, “If I’m pregnant, I’ve got bigger problems than this knee.”

2) As I changed in my lovely hospital gown, Jamie and I overheard repeated staffers talk about a patient who neglected to leave his underwear on. Apparently flashing the staff during surgery is not optimal. I left mine on for kicks and giggles.

3)  The team at Park City Hospital was relatively quick and efficient. I checked in at 10:45 a.m. and was outta there by 2:30 p.m. Everyone was really funny and nice except for the anesthesiologist but when you’re the Drug Man, everyone loves you.

4) As he wheeled me into the operating room, I commented it was “Canadian cold” in there and I was out three seconds later. I suspect foul play.

5) When I woke up in post-op, I remember two things: shivering uncontrollably and discussing giant pumpkins and the upcoming pumpkin regatta. I was apparently delusional.

6) I have awesome friends who are continually checking in on me and bringing me tasty food.  Thank-you tasty friends! P.S. I’m still on drugs.

7) Percocet makes me wanna party all night long. It wasn’t really a tortuous all-nighter: I just laid there listening to Fat Kitty and Jamie synchronize their heavy breathing while I felt pretty buzzed. The doc suggested I switch to Tylenol so I can hopefully get some sleep tonight.

8) I have a nifty tube that connects to my knee from an ice machine. It doesn’t help the sleep situation but swelling (and pain) are subsiding much quicker than my last surgery. I wonder if they have an all-body cooling tube for menopause?

9) I had grandiose Fat Kitty snuggles & Netflix plans but I’m already bored. My new favorite pastime is ringing my cowbell for Caretaker Jamie; my megaphone somehow went missing.

10) Thanks to Grandma for taking the kids so they can have some semblance of a fall break. They’re planning to hit the Hogle Zoo, Dave & Busters and a haunted house, a step up from hanging out at this house of horrors all week.

Here’s to a quick recovery!

And the winner is….

…not Jamie.

With all of our landscaping, this has been a lackluster year for growing pumpkins but Jamie’s pumpkin “Uncle Sam,” was measuring to weigh 800 pounds. In pumpkin circles, this is just an estimate and pumpkins can drastically swing either way when they “go light” or “go heavy;” obviously the latter is the more desirable.

Uncle Sam went really light at 706 pounds and we took fifth place.

It’s one of Jamie’s lightest pumpkins ever but my gosh, can we take a moment and reflect this? He grew a gourd that weighs several hundred pounds!

The largest of the two weigh-offs was a couple of weeks ago at Thanksgiving Point but Hee Haw Farms puts on a great show last weekend as well. It’s too bad my kids have aged out of activities like petting zoos and silo slides because this farm has a lot of fall fun.

This year, my college bestie Lori got addicted to giant pumpkin growing. In fact, as the story goes, she was texting Jamie so much for pumpkin advice this summer that she sent him a message, “Hey, tell Amber I’m going to become a grandma tomorrow” and that is when I put a kibosh on her texting him more than ME. :-)

We had a great time hanging out and her family and her “Cinderella” pumpkin weighed in at 579 pounds. Pretty impressive for a first-timer.

But really, the most impressive of all was that we were big-time winners at the pumpkin drop. We’ve seen them before. Raise pumpkin high above the earth in a crane, watch it drop and spew pumpkin guts everywhere, sometimes even hitting you. But this year, FM 100.3 did something fun: they numbered several ping pong balls, put them in the pumpkin and after the pumpkin was dropped, you race over and if you find a ball with a number, you can claim a prize.

I saw a lot of their swag and wasn’t too interested until someone mentioned they were giving away a trip. Say what?

They kids did it first. Hadley emerged quickly with a numbered ping-pong ball.

“How many kids did you to knock out of the way to get that?” I asked.

“Only a few,” she sheepishly responded. Do I know my girl or what?

Bode came back with a bunch of balls but no number…but a nice girl gave him one of hers.

And what did they win? Bode won a baseball cap and Hadley walked away with a $25 gift card to Dave & Busters.

Then it was the adult division. Jamie was no where to be found so I was on my own. With my crap knee, I didn’t have speed on my side to repositioned myself to the area closest to where the pumpkin dropped, turned my back away when it landed in case a projectile came hurling at me and like a race horse at the starting gate, anticipated the exact moment they said “go,” (OK, maybe I cheated and went a few seconds early). But the adrenaline was pumping and I was in my competitive element.

Bode gave me a sound strategy to skip all the outlier guts and balls and go straight to the middle. It was sound advice. I immediately spotted two numbered ping-ball balls, snagged them and raced over to claim victory: VIP passes to Fear Factory’s house of horrors that Hadley elatedly snatched up and my other prize was a backpack with headphones, a shirt and mug that Bode quickly claimed. Talk about a win!

But back to the pumpkins. While we were waiting for Jamie’s to be weighed, I asked him:

“Hey Jamie, what are the weights of the pumpkins you’ve grown?”

He proceeds to recite every single one.

“Hey Jamie, how much did your children weigh when they were born?

Blank stare.

My work here is done. Or just beginning.

 

Connections magazine: My first stint as editor

Last week was a complete whirlwind for me. It was Fall Conference at BYU, which is like back-to-school week for faculty and staff (students started school the day after Labor Day). I didn’t have any huge responsibilities but I did have to work long hours helping with our college breakfast and Fall Meeting. In the midst of it all, I hired a new student and was relieved our alumni magazine was printed in time for all our staff to receive them in their packets.

My job has a lot of different facets to it and when I was hired, I was most excited to be the editor our alumni magazine…until I saw last year’s edition of Connections. The articles were long, dry, and scholarly with more footnotes than I ever attributed during my entire time as a student. I hate writing research papers and I truly wondered how I would get through it!

Fortunately, the assistant dean was open to my suggestion of having it be less meaty and more informational, inspirational and even humorous in places (I introduced a fun section called “Elevator Eavesdropping” where we published funny conversations we overheard in the elevator of our 12-story building such as this one from the dean:

After pushing the sixth-floor elevator button for a student.

Dean Ogles: So, are you headed to the Geography Department?
Student: Yes. What’s on the ninth floor?
Dean Ogles: The dean’s office.
Student: Are you in trouble?
Dean Ogles: No, I’m the dean.
Student: That’s awkward.

All was going smashingly until we realized a select few of the hundreds we printed had a few blank pages so it was super fun to spend one afternoon at Mail Services to go through every. Single. Copy.

We found four that had the error and I’m still unsure how many faculty received the “golden ticket” magazines but as luck would have it, one of the professors who was featured received one of them…and it was his story that was omitted.

My print and publications contact was dumbfounded. “We’ve never had any thing like this happen before.”

Welcome to my world, BYU.

Back-to-school shopping drama

As I was writing my previous blog post about the first day of seventh and ninth grades (and somehow MISSING the-hell-that-is-back-to-school-shopping), I took pause and remembered THIS. Enjoy!

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If there is one thing I despise about back-to-school, it’s the shopping.

Now, let me be upfront here: If it isn’t Costco or Target and ends in ________ mall, I generally have to be dragged in kicking and screaming. For this reason, I left my kids’ school supply shopping until just a few days prior to the advent of school last year.

Here’s a little tip to the procrastinators out there: you will not win. The supplies will be depleted and you will have to go to several different stores instead of just one, augmenting an already stressful situation.

Note: if you somehow find school supply shopping cathartic, I will be happy expound upon the aberration of college-lined vs. wide-lined notebooks and my goose chase to find Elmer’s Glue-all and NOT their School Glue (which is 99 percent of what the store carried) while battling a battalion of frenzied moms.

This year, I recruited a reinforcement and brought my husband Jamie. I handed him the much-shorter list for my kindergartner (about 12 items) while I tackled my 7-year-old daughter’s list (my sheet included the other grades’ items as well).

Things shockingly went smoothly until they didn’t.

Isn’t that how it always has to happen?….

We both finished in under 30 minutes and were on the way to the check-out when I looked down at my sheet, stopped and morosely declared “OHHH NOOOOO.”

As it turns out, I had collected everything a first grader needs for academic success but here’s the catch: my daughter was in first grade last year and is going into second grade. Who knew?

Evidently not her own mother.

The lists are, of course, completely different and so I trudged back to the school supply section, dumped my previous findings and started from scratch. I was glad my husband had at least figured it out.

Or so I thought.

When we reunited, he started questioning the veracity of the list.

“A clipboard? Why on earth would a kindergartener need a clipboard with his name on it?”

I tried to explain a few scenarios but he then threatened to boycott some other items as well.

“Jamie, if it’s on the list, we have to buy it. It’s like the commandments–you can’t pick-and-choose which ones to follow.”

He seemed to get it and grumpily purchased the good-for-nothing clipboard. When we arrived home, I started labeling the items with my children’s names and double-checked to ensure we bought everything.

He didn’t.

“Jamie, where are the 10 glue sticks?”
“We have a ton of glue sticks.”
“No, we don’t.”

In his defense, I could have appeared on an episode of Hoarders for my glue-stick fetish but that was a few years ago and rehab taught me only three glue sticks per household was necessary.

“What about snack-sized Ziploc bags, Jamie?”
“We have those as well.”
“We only have quart- and gallon-sized.”
“Same thing.”

And then came the colored pencils, which he also neglected to purchase. His defense?

“That was not on the list.”

“It was item No. 1.”

{Silence. Chirping crickets.}

Tomorrow, I’ll be returning to the store.

And next year, the back-to-school supply shopping battle will be waged alone.

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.

Happy 12th birthday, Bode

Happy 12th birthday, Bode!

There are a few big birthdays in your childhood and this is one of them. In the LDS faith, you receive the Aaronic Priesthood when you turn 12. In a few weeks, we will be gathering with our family for this special occasion and I hope it is a day you will always remember. Today, we are celebrating your birthday at Lake Okanogan in Canada, complete with some of your favorite things: Timbits, family and ice cream cake.

I could not be more proud of the young man you are becoming. You are kind, thoughtful and responsible while also being funny and silly. Your teacher, Mrs. Douglas, awarded you with a “Certificate of Awesomeness” where she thanked you for your excitement and passion for life, and for the Best Laugh Ever. I second that motion!

When we first moved here last year, you were in fifth grade at a temporary 5th-6th intermediate school and then this year, you were once again the youngest when the middle school changed to 6th-8th. But you slowly adjusted seamlessly to the switch and made the honor roll every term, with your favorite subjects math and film. You have also made some solid friendships with buddies Eli, Jonas, Porter, and Henry, not to mention your neighborhood Airsoft friends Hunter, Will and Stockton.

You are dutifully still growing pumpkins and cranked out your 210-pound “Ugly Duckling” last year. You [badly] played the flute for the second time this year and do a wonderful job on the piano, though your enthusiasm has definitely wavered on that. For the Fox Den Piano Society recital, you played the very difficult Imperial March.I had you rehearse right before the recital during which time you fumbled through the middle section I had never before heard you practice, which made the recital especially exciting. Somehow you pulled it together as your always seem to do, but not without some anxiety on my part.

(Goblin Valley)

This year, you were in 11-year-old Scouts and had a great time with your buddies at various camp-outs to the Sand Dunes, Strawberry Reservoir and the Heber Valley Camp, though you found that winter Klondike camp-out “very taxing.” But nothing beat your prayer prior to departure when your prayed, “Please bless us to think twice before we do anything,” which I hereby vote should be the new Scout motto. Now that the Church is parting ways with BSA, you probably won’t earn your Eagle Scout as we planned but I have no doubt you have other great thing in store.

You enjoy your video games as much as ever with your favorites being 1942, Clash of Clans and Minecraft. When I asked you to tell me your favorites, I tried to end the list there but you interjected, “Hey, I have a few more,” so here they are: Lorde Royals and Moto-X-360. Grandma J. and Aunt Lisa bought you a Kindle Fire for Christmas and you are always multi-tasking your video games while listening to your Audible books: Michael Vey, Percy Jackson, Heroes of Olympus and Fablehaven.

We had a great time exploring our new backyard and reveling in the fact that California is now only a one-day drive away! We had family reunions in Canada and Bear Lake last summer and for fall break, we had a blast on the Central California Coast. We traveled to Driggs, Idaho with our friends the Kuches and Seversons and New Year’s found us exploring St. George and Zion National Park with our friends the Hardymans. We had a blast in San Diego for Spring Break where you lost my wallet at Sea World, prayed for its return and, despite my lack of faith, it got turned in. We had an amazing time camping in Goblin Valley last spring, one of our all-time favorite camping trips EVER, and you just finished a solo trip to Colorado where you stayed and played with our dear friends, the Carrolls.

(Zion)

You did cross-country skiing lessons at Soldier Hollow for the second year in a row and despite the lackluster snow year, you had a blast climbing up the “snow whales”–huge, two-story piles of snow. You became an awesome downhill skier and it won’t be too much longer until you surpass your parents on the slopes. Every Thursday, you went to Coding Club with your buddies and you suffered through Track Club this spring where you tied for last place with your coding buddies (perhaps more time running and less time programming?) You once again elected to do rec soccer, instead of competitive, and enjoyed being the superstar and averaging three goals per game with your dad as coach. You didn’t even mind having the teams be co-ed, just so long as you could dribble around the girls and not talk to them.

And then there is this summer where you’ve been enjoying PGA Jr. League golf and “Little “Shredders” mountain biking, which pushed you to the limits of your cautious nature but you have survived! You just wrapped your final Kids Adventure Games and got knocked with the boom about 40 times in Sailing Camp at Jordanelle Reservoir. You would have had a better time sailing if you had not been lumped with the younger boys whom you called “immature.” Upon further investigation, you confessed it was because they were rude, insulting and often bullied one of your sailing friends, whom you stuck up for but it deeply impacted your sensitive nature because you hate to see unkindness in the world.

You may only be 12 but you often act way more responsible than your parents, like the stages of your late-night pukefest last winter. The Physician: “It would appear I have finally stabilized…I feel quote certain I lost some vital organs with how much I threw up” The Philosopher: “I get why owls throw up but why us humans?” and then you expounded upon the science of owls’ regurgitated food. At least if I had to stay up with you all night, you were entertaining!

(Morro Bay)

All joking aside, you are a tremendous example to me. You have always had a spiritual depth and it is wonderful to see you nurturing it. You set the goal earlier this year to read the Book of Mormon and you rarely miss a day. I love going into your room before bed where I usually find you reading the scriptures while listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

A couple of months ago, I was having some struggles with one of my employees and I was ready to fire her (we ended up parting ways soon thereafter). But when we were discussing how I should handle this difficult situation with our family, I was really amazed at your sage advice on how to show empathy and kindness and explore all my options to help this struggling young woman. You exhibited astute management skills at such a young age and I have no doubt you will be a tremendous leader someday.

Thank you for always being our family’s peacemaker and looking on the bright side. Hands down, my favorite Bode memory was when I was driving to Canada with you and Hadley last summer. Our old Pilot broke down about 30 minutes north of Great Falls, MT. We turned around, stayed the night in the city, got the car fixed and were on the road by noon. I celebrated when we passed the site where we had stopped the day before when, not even 15 seconds later, I received another alert that that car was having problems. I derilously laughed and pulled over again. There was a long silence and you finally broke it: “Well, at least we got further than last time.”

The world needs your optimism and light. Thank you for shining it upon us all.

Love,

Mom

P.S. For a stroll down memory lane, see birthday letters 1, 234 5,  6, and 78 910 and 11.

(Walking on Water, Lake Okanogan)

(First day of sixth grade)

(Indoor skydiving)

(Ugly Duckling)

(Bike prom selfie)

San Rafael Swell

 

San Rafael Swell

(La Jolla)

Kids Adventure Games

(Soldier Hollow with Henry)

(Midway Town Hall with the Seversons)

(Zion)

 

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.