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.

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.

Day of the Mothers

Mother’s Day: It was the best of times and the worst of times but there was certainly a lot of awesomeness that included:

Bode and Hadley gave me new scriptures (which, to be honest, kind of makes me sad because I’ll need to start over with my well-worn scriptures and markings but they are literally falling apart).

Hadley painted me a beautiful picture.

Bode and Jamie built me a garden box.

The boys made me breakfast in bed, a longstanding tradition and Jamie gave me a hair massage (MY FAVORITE).

We went for a lovely walk in Wasatch Mountain State Park, fed the ducks, got attacked by them and marveled at the blossoms. What a perfect morning!

During Relief Society, the men prepared a lovely spread of food, after which we drove to Salt Lake City for a family dinner at Aunt Tammy’s. Though I miss my own family–especially on holidays–I’m so grateful to have Jamie’s nearby.

This is the last week ever of having two middle schoolers. My aunt made a comment how much Bode looks so much more grown-up these days and it’s so true. He has thankfully avoided the drama of middle school and has a great group of friends. Though he is as sweet as ever to me at home, he definitely plays it cool outside.

He is wrapping up his final year of playing the flute and potentially wants to try the sax last year. He was fine with me attending his band concert–because that is what parents do–but when he brought home a field trip release for a performance on the Heber Valley Railroad, he was pretty emphatic I not attend.

that is a tough pill to swallow for the overzealous mom who planned all the activities and field trips but apparently in middle school, that is no longer cool. When he saw me wallowing in self-pity the morning of his field trip, he consoled me, “I don’t think there will be any parents on the train but if there are, I’ll pay you $5,” to which I retorted, “I don’t want your money, I just want your guilt.”

Happy Mother’s Day, folks.

 

The real winners

I played team sports my whole life but I am most grateful for the individual sports/activities I did like skiing, running and hiking.  Team sports have a limited shelf life but instilling an activity you can do until your old and gray? Priceless.

One of the great things about living in a small community is the cost of recreational sports are very affordable. Bode is wrapping a fun rec soccer season and it’s the perfect fit for him. Low cost, low stress, show up, play for a month twice a year, and be the superstar (none of these things would happen in competitive soccer).

Both of the kids will be doing a lot of challenging hikes this summer so I encouraged them both to run track to get in shape. I told them I didn’t care if they did the track meets but Bode wanted to do the first mini-meet that was held at our local high school. His chosen events? 100m, 200m and the long jump.

Here’s what you need to know about Bode: he isn’t fast. He has these short Borowski legs that just aren’t equipped for top speeds but he doesn’t really care. He had a 5K a few weeks ago for a school fundraiser and when I asked him if he should start training, he replied, “No need. I can already run a 9.5-minute mile.”

Impressive.

All teasing aside, I actually really admire him. He’s fearless with trying new things and he doesn’t really care if he’s not the best; he’s just in it for the experience. I was always driven to win and if I wasn’t the best, I didn’t want to do it. All or nothing. Field hockey, basketball and baseball–I am regretfully talking about you. It is only as I’ve aged and have been unable to perform at high levels that I’ve realized the value of being part of something, even if you’re not No. 1.

Bode gets that.

Several of his friends are doing track with him and they all performed about the same level, which made for some good parental bonding. Our text conversations:

Me: “Last is the new first! Eli came in last place in his 100m heat and Bode and Henry tied for last in theirs.”

Jenn: “Ha, Yes! I’m so glad they’re all in this together.”

Sarah: “LOL, way to go boys!

Ben: “Ellis just broke the trend with a second-to-last finish.”

Here’s to the losers who are actually winners because they’re not afraid to play the game.