Lessons Learned in 2018

We’re only a week into 2018 and already, the future is much brighter and more challenging than ever! In addition to starting a new job next week, here are a few lessons learned in 2018:

1) Grandpa Smith. We found out on New Year’s Eve that Jamie’s 90-year-old Grandpa Smith passed away. He has been steadily declining for some time now and when you’re so advanced in age, death becomes a celebration of life, not a time of mourning. I’ll write a separate post about some of the sweet moments from the funeral but he truly was such a man of honor with a tremendous legacy.

2) President Monson. A few days later, our beloved prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, passed away. He was also 90 years old and there have been so many remarkable tributes flooding the news and my social media channels. His entire ministry was dedicated to the motto “To the Rescue,” a lesson he learned early-on:

 More than half a century before he became the 16th president of the LDS Church, Thomas S. Monson, who died at 10:01 p.m. Tuesday in his Salt Lake City home at age 90, was an inexperienced, 23-year-old Mormon bishop with a distressing problem that would define his life.

He had the distinct spiritual prompting to leave a priesthood leadership meeting as his stake president was speaking and visit an elderly member of his congregation in the hospital. It seemed rude to stand, shuffle over 20 people and exit as his presiding leader spoke. Instead, he sat uncomfortably until the talk ended, then bolted for the door before the closing prayer.

At the hospital, he ran down the corridor. He stopped when he saw commotion outside the room of the man he was to visit. A nurse told him the man had died, calling Bishop Monson’s name as he passed away. Shattered, the fledgling bishop went outside and wept, sobbing. He vowed then, in the parking lot of the old Veterans Hospital in Salt Lake City’s Avenues, that he would never turn a deaf ear to another prompting.

“It’s the most impressive story I know from him about his ministry to the one,” said Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “As far as I know he kept that promise ever since. It became fundamentally characteristic of his life and what sets him apart from others, that he committed to this idea of following a prompting, and the focus almost always was a single person.” -Deseret News

3) Porter. Our season passes for Park City Mountain have black-out dates during busy times that included Christmas. The first chance we got to hit the slopes also happened to be the last day of winter break so we invited our good friends to join us. Their two children, Porter and Kallie, are around my kids’ same ages and ability levels so it’s a great fit!

We were about 1.5 hours into our ski day racing down Kokopelli when I noticed a child had crashed in a sign. I quickly slowed down and was horrified to realize it was Porter and he was badly injured. He’s a tough kid and an incredible athlete so I knew if he was crying, it had to be serious. His mom Julie and I quickly went into action. I called 911 while she embraced Porter and whispered a prayer in his ear. He immediately calmed down and Park City’s Ski Patrol was there in minutes to administer to him and take him down the mountain in the toboggan. He was raced to Primary Children’s Hospital and they were relieved his femur wasn’t broken and he had a deep muscle contusion diagnosis, which means 1-2 months of healing but no surgery.

During all the chaos following the crash, my kids and I patiently stood by for a long time, unable to do much besides calm Kallie down and steer skiers away. Julie tried to send us home but I refused in case she needed additional help. Later that night, she texted me:

Thank you for saying ‘I am not leaving you.’ That was just what I needed.

My response to her was:

And thank you for making it a sacred moment by fervently praying over your boy and so beautifully showing us how we should all react to hard things.

One crash, two very important life lessons learned.


Alta Ski Area to the Max

Do you remember last year when we were maximum interlodged (a.k.a. snowed in) at Alta Ski Area due to avalanche danger? That article is live today!

We are holed away at Alta Ski Area in Utah as the wind and snow howl, the only visibility the distant light of the snowcats grooming the 36 inches of snow from the latest storm…and more is expected the next day. The kids are nervous; they’ve never skied conditions like this. When we arrived, tales were flying from real-life storm chasers of epic powder and the previous day’s “interlodge” where people were required by law to stay indoors as avalanche crews blasted the hanging faces of Little Cottonwood Canyon. One thing is for sure: these kiddos will never forget their first time attempting Alta’s legendary powder.

Many years ago, I worked as the publicist for Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort but here’s my secret: I always preferred skiing its next door neighbor, Alta. Located 45 minutes from Salt Lake City International Airport, Alta is literally a mountain with a skier’s soul and is one of the fewest remaining resorts that bans snowboarders. It’s also one of the oldest ski areas in the country, opening its first lift in 1939 and continuing to evolve while staying true to its roots: deep, unadulterated snow without the fancy bells and whistles. Alta is for purists who don’t care about 5-star accommodations and the nightlife; its magic happens during the day. CLICK TO KEEP READING


Maximum Interlodge at Alta Ski Area

My family was first invited to Alta Ski Area when we lived in Colorado. Though we tried to visit during Spring Break last year, we couldn’t coordinate our schedule so just opted to visit after our move. It would take several months of back-and-forth to determine a time because the kids had six weeks of ski lessons at Sundance through our recreation program. 

We finally decided staying overnight on the weekend just wasn’t possible until late in the season so opted to drive to Alta on a Sunday night, sleep at Goldminer’s Daughter and hit the slopes on Monday (the kids had a day off). There was snow in the forecast but we weren’t too worried. Were we not, after all, skiing?

Our hour-long drive was seamless. We unloaded, checked in and ate a delicious gourmet dinner at Top of the Lodge Restaurant as the wind and snow howled the only visibility the distant light of the snowcats grooming the 36 inches of snow from the latest storm…and more was expected the next day. The kids were nervous; they’ve never skied conditions like this.

Tales were flying from real-life storm chasers of epic powder and the previous day’s “interlodge” where people were required by law to stay indoors as avalanche crews blasted the hanging faces of Little Cottonwood Canyon. I wasn’t sure if we’d get snowed in but one thing was for sure: those kiddos would never forget their first time attempting Alta’s legendary powder.

We spent an uncomfortable night in our room, groggily waking up to even more snow. We made our way to breakfast, still uncertain how the day would unfold. As we were indulging in delicious pancakes with cinnamon cream cheese, it was then that we learned Alta had declared “interlodge” and Little Cottonwood Canyon was closed–no one could come or go.

The day was still not lost. There was a chance the resort would reopen and we would have all that glorious powder to ourselves.

Until we learned it got even worse: UDOT declared “Maximum Interlodge,” so not only were we quarantined indoors but we could not go near any doors or windows due to extreme avalanche danger.

Guests in other lodges were led the basement and huddled together for several hours to wait it out. Fortunately, Goldminer’s Daughter’s recreation room didn’t have any windows so we had fun ping pong and pool tournament sand mother-daughter weight room showdowns. There’s nothing like forced bonding but we had a blast!

We had bought some lunch and were trying to select a movie “The Shining,” maybe? :-) , having resigned ourselves to staying in our cramped quarters another night when, miracle of miracles, the canyon briefly opened for downhill traffic.

We quickly packed up and joined the legions of skiers trying to catch shuttles to make it back to the airport. Jamie left us to grab the car and after 30 minutes of waiting, I finally went to find him…and our car…stuck under a few feet of snow!

Jamie and an Alta staffer pushed us out while I drove and that was only the beginning of our adventures. The conditions and whiteout were among the scariest I’ve ever experienced (and that’s really saying something when you’re raised in Canada). Jamie did a great job driving and was tempted to turn back a few times but without a safe place, we were forced to resume our perilous drive. It was one craaaaazy experience.

UDOT posted this video of an avalanche near our lodge that same day.

Just a taste of the extensive avalanche results we saw from control work this am 1/23/17 LCC

A post shared by udot avalanche (@udotavy) on

We were later told that Alta regularly experiences “interlodge” but “maximum” is much more rare. What are the odds that during our family’s first visit together, that is exactly what happened?

Don’t answer that.

Finally, an update!

I’ve had way too many balls in the air lately and unfortunately, this blog has been sacrificed. Spring Break kicks off for us early-April and I’ve been hankering to travel but we have two different sets of people coming to stay with us so I guess we’ll be staycationing. I’m trying to be OK with that by reminding myself we haven’t really had time to explore because we moved here in October.

The House

After our initial unpacking frenzy, we took most of the winter off on house organization but we’re at it again. Jamie has been busy planning and itemizing the thousands of dollars it will take to put in our yard and sprinkler system (OUCH!) I spent last week reorganizing our basement to accommodate our visitors (a family of seven + an unfinished basement = tricky).  We’ve gotten used to a lot of the headaches with downsizing but Jamie and I both confessed we won’t truly love this house until we’re able to finish the basement. It’s tough to entertain in our small upstairs space and the kids don’t have a place to bring their friends. I’m hoping once we have a yard that consists of more than just mud, it will alleviate some of our frustrations.

I’ve had a really busy couple of months for Mile High Mamas launching our summer camp guide and some other advertising campaigns. I’m ready to pursue something new here and applied for a couple of jobs but just can’t find anything yet that is a good fit. A friend and I have been collaborating on a new community but she is so busy with other projects that I’m DONE waiting and ready to move on. The problem is, I don’t know what that looks like. So, my life of limbo continues. It’s driving me NUTS because I’ve never lacked in direction (especially when we need the extra income) but I here I am, waiting.

The weather has been strange this winter. Non-stop snow in December and January. Rain in February. Balmy temps in March and it’s currently raining with snow in the higher climes. Normally, I’d be OVER the snow and ready for spring but living in the mountains, we have a delightful non-season called MUD SEASON, followed by summer. I haven’t been able to hike because the trails are too mucky so I’m OK with one last blast of winter.

The Kids

Hadley’s last six weeks have kicked our butt. In some ways, I expected drastic changes with entering a new middle school but it’s been so much harder and more agonizing than I could have imagined. She’s doing a lot better than she was a few weeks ago but I’m well aware of the roller-coaster we are on. One bright spot has been she has fallen in love with volleyball. She has played at the YMCA the last couple of years but enrolling her in our rec program was a godsend. She has a coach who played college volleyball and she has flourished under her instruction. While she was playing with Hadley a couple of weeks ago, she observed that she has “good hands” and asked if she’d ever considered playing setter.

That was it for Hadley. She has become full-blown obsessed with setting and is constantly playing in our house (we have the cracked wall to prove it).  I couldn’t be more thrilled because I come from a long line of setters. Unfortunately, the season ends today and I’m trying to figure out how to keep her passion going…and distract her from the toxicity that is middle school.

Bode’s winter has been all about skiing.  Between his Nordic ski lessons, five weeks of downhill lessons at Sundance Ski Area, two family weekends skiing Alta Ski Area and fifth graders get five free passes for Park City Ski Area, this boy of mine has had 30+ ski days this year. He takes after me with skiing–he doesn’t care about speed and wants to have good technique but he was constantly slowing us down. Those days are no more.  My friend Julie and I pulled Bode and her son Porter out of school a few weeks ago and we honestly had the most fun day ever. When you ski with 10-year-old boys, expect to do a lot of terrain parks and Snowbugs (tree skiing at Park City).

Powder Monkey is our favorite Snowbug ever…except for the fact that I can’t keep up with Bode as his little skis race through the trees.

Who am I kidding? He’s getting so good I was begging him to slow down at the end of another ski day at Park City last week.  It had more to do with my injured knee than old age but I see the writing on the wall. I was so dang proud that he wanted to attempt double-black-diamond McConkie’s Bowl. He has become such a solid skier he’s not afraid to try really challenging terrain.

“Mom, just to warn you: I may think some really bad thoughts skiing McConkie’s Bowl.”

You and me both, Kid.

Welcome to the tween years.


Hap Hap Happenings

Our busy winter season is sadly winding down and I’ve been trying to hold on for as long as possible. Here are are few of our happenings:

  • All of our glorious snow is almost gone. In Ambruary. In the mountains, spring is replaced by a not-so glorious mud season before ushering summer. I’d mentally prepared myself for this in April in May but not in February. Winter, come back!
  • Jamie speaks my love language. For Valentine’s Day and our anniversary the following day, he took me hiking and to the Blue Boar Inn, a fine-dining restaurant in Midway. We also had our family’s traditional fondue on Valentine’s Day. Jamie and I vowed not to get each other gifts to save money and for once, we actually stuck to that resolution (as opposed to Christmas when we said the same thing and yet somehow ended up buying each other the exact same gifts–A Magic Bullet blender and the Jason Bourne movie). However, we did get each other cards where we wrote several things we love about each other but as it turns out, all cards are not equal and he bought one of those huuuuuge over-sized ones. That guy wins at everything, including love. 
  • Bode is winding down his third month of Nordic ski lessons at Soldier Hollow. With the dwindling snow totals, it makes parting less sorrowful but I have truly loved volunteering with his class twice a week. I learned to skate ski and once I get my knee problems fixed, I can’t wait to do it again. He is in an awkward intermediate school and will be bumped up to middle school next year so I thought his days of class holiday parties were over until he came home from his Halloween party and told me how lame it was. So, I took over for Christmas and Valentine’s Day. I thought I was soooo over volunteering but I’ve enjoyed holding onto his final, fleeting moments of childhood. If no one is going to step up to help, I’d rather just do it than have nothing at all.
  • Hadley is a teenager with all the boy drama that involves. Not that she tells us anything but we have this glorious thing called text messaging where her love life (or lack thereof) unfolds in all the glories of unrequited teenage angst. She and Jamie have been swapping a virus for weeks. She was finally feeling better but then had a lot of late nights for her science fair project (an ode to–what else–pumpkins and nitrogen in the soil). She didn’t have to do a project because she’s not in Honors Science but as the top student in her class, she was the only one who chose to do a project. Did I mention she made the HONOR ROLL? However, her rundown body caught up with her and I told her she could sleep in as late as she wanted on Saturday but she did much more than that. She came home from school on Friday and took a nap, refusing to wake up for her volleyball team party she had been looking forward to and slept straight through the night, cranking out a whopping 17 hours of sleep. Just like her father–an overachiever.
  • The cat. Still fat.
  • I’ve been keeping busy. I went to a SkiUtah networking event a few weeks ago where I made some great contacts as we skied Sundance (the best kind of networking). My friend Sheri and I have vowed to try to ski together at Park City every week until the end of the season and we had a blast on the mountain last week. A few of us hiked to Stewart Falls a few weeks ago and got some fascinating avalanche training with beacons and probes.  I’ve been on a couple of hikes at Wasatch Mountain State Park but I need to either have the snow stick around forever so I can snowshoe it or just melt. Having snow that isn’t deep enough for snowshoes but not optimal for hiking is jacking up my knees. For the first time in my life, I’m feeling limited and it’s a constant source of frustration. I’m still fortunate to be able to do the things I love but I’m in pain when I do it.

    Park City Snowmamas

    WOW! Trail


    Stewart Falls

  • I feel like I’m in such limbo with work but there isn’t a lot to be done at this point because other people I’m relying on are engaged elsewhere. The kids are going to the acclaimed Keystone Science School this summer (thanks to a campaign I’m doing for Mile High Mamas) so Jamie and I will have five glorious days to ourselves in Colorado’s backcountry after dropping them off. I’ve been researching a lot of options but one is finalized: we’ll be staying at The Broadmoor after we pick them up, the perfect reward after several days of roughing it.
And the great finale of our happenings (crammed into one big paragraph):
Tomorrow is my birthday and we’re skiing Alta. We have new friends coming over tonight to play games, and our house is slowly coming together. We’ve taken a hiatus over the winter with projects but come spring, we’ll be delving in full-throttle organizing the garage, setting up shelves and putting in our yard. Jamie and I confessed we won’t truly love this house until we can finish the basement, something we can’t afford to do. (And I try not to focus on the fact that everything was done at our Colorado home and we were in a good place financially). My parents sent me some birthday money and I bought a cute mirror for our front entrance. By downsizing from a two-story house to a ranch with only one great room, a constant struggle is the kids don’t have anywhere to put their backpacks and schoolwork so our living room constantly looks like a bomb exploded. Our mudroom/laundry room is super small and inconvenient so we’ve debated moving our washer/dryer to the basement and building lockers/storage closets for all their c-r-a-p but again, that takes money. So, a temporary fix is I bought a beautiful console for the living from an upscale furniture consignment store in Park City and it has helped alleviate the mess. For now.

It has been six months some we left our beloved Colorado. In some ways, it feels like we’ve been here forever and in other ways, I wonder when we’ll finally feel settled. I read a quote this week that really hit home.

Sometimes it’s hard to watch other people “succeeding” when you feel like you keep getting knocked on your face. I get that. It’s hard to watch friends and family and peers storm “ahead” when you feel like you’re indefinitely stuck at ground zero. But from a life that’s been chopped down at the knees more than once, let me tell you… ground zero is a sacred space to be. Don’t wish it away in yearning for the mountain top. There is so much this space will give you…if you let it. Stop looking 10 miles ahead, and spend a moment or two taking in the totality of where you currently are. The juxtaposition of beauty and ashes is REAL, take it from me. But many of us miss this completely in our mad dash attempt to be anywhere but “here.” And I get that. Because pain is real, hurt is significant, fear is debilitating. Even so, trust me when I say, don’t pass over dollars to pick up dimes. What you have the potential to find in the rubble of your life, if you’ll just stop and LOOK, is beyond your wildest imaginings and will serve to propel you on to spaces and places you currently don’t have the capacity to foresee. Pinkie swear. Hang in there, beautiful you. God is on your side. -Natalie Norton

Duly noted and a much-needed reminder: we can do this.

My Elsa Confessions

After a glorious month of snow, February has been rain. Slush. Cloudy. And yuck. But I’m trying to ignore and remember.

Five months from now when I’m melting in summer’s inferno, I’ll remember my climb a few weeks ago as I soaked into my breathing pattern, my sub-zero heart splashed and alive.

And I’ll ignore the mockery of the “wussy, overheated Canuck” because I’ll remember there is always winter.

January: Midway’s magical month of snow

I haven’t had a winter like this since I was a wee lassie growing in Canada. The Heber Valley has had an endless barrage of glorious, fluffy snow and I don’t want it to end. Sadly, we’re kicking off February with 40-degree temps but I’m hoping “Ambruary” won’t let me down.

Since moving here late-September, we’ve tried to limit our schedule to church and the occasional activity. Bode played soccer in the fall and has continued with Webelos. Hadley has weekly Young Women activities and Science Club (she’s thrilled to be doing a snowshoeing field trip today to learn about how animals adapt in the wintertime). It’s a bonus to have world-class mountains right in your backyard.

But now we’re full speed ahead. The kids are doing a six-week downhill ski rec program on Saturdays that will end mid-February. Bode and I Nordic ski twice a week at Soldier Hollow while Hadley has volleyball at the same time. Bode (and maybe Hadley) started piano last week and as much as I try to limit extracurricular activities so we can maximum family time, being busy is working well for us in the winter.  I hate the thought of them hunkering down down with their technology during these dark and cold winter nights.

Here are a few January highlights:


I’ve never done so much snowshoeing in my life! Our texting group is 35 women and growing and I’ve loved getting to know these fabulous women.

Wasatch Mountain State Park

Dutch Hollow

Ice Castles

Just when I thought our resort town couldn’t get any cooler (literally), we spent one evening exploring the Midway Ice Castles’ crystal grottoes with shifting translucent white and petrol blue lights in scalloped ice. 

It would have been a scene out of a Russian fairy tale had I not biffed it GETTING ON (not off) the 50-foot ice block slide. My bruised ego and butt are more of the Brothers Grimm genre.


I ventured out to Park City with some ladies a few weeks ago and we’re doing round 2 tomorrow. I enjoy being by myself for most activities but downhill skiing is not one of them. I love hanging out on the lift with these fellow Snowmamas!

I’ve enjoyed spending every Tuesday and Thursday Nordic skiing with Bode at Soldier Hollow Olympic Center and had an epiphany last week: As much as I love downhill, I actually prefer X-country skiing. I find it much easier to connect with nature and the workout is intense. We tried skate skiing for the first time last week and if my knees weren’t shot, I’d probably trade in my classic skis for skate–that gets your heart pumping like nothing else! 

This week, Soldier Hollow is hosting the USANA FIS Nordic Junior & U23 World Ski Championships 2017. It has been so fun to see 750 athletes from 40 nations in our little community.

Of course, nothing will ever compare to the time I was on a flight with the Austrian Men’s Ski Team. Hubba. Hubba.


We’ve been trying to ski Alta for more than a year and last week was finally our time! Until it wasn’t. We drove up Sunday after church, settling in for the night at Goldminer’s Daughter Lodge. And then an intense storm blew through, Little Cottonwood Canyon was closed due to avalanche danger and “Maximum Interlodge” was declared. Interlodge means you’re on lockdown indoors but “Maximum Interlodge” also involves staying away from windows and doors. 

Many details to follow on this crazy 24 hours but suffice it to say, we did not ski.


We had a grand ol’ time sledding Lime Canyon on Martin Luther King Junior Day.

So much so that when my friend Sarah announced she was throwing a sledding birthday party for her son, Charlie, I volunteered. She had posted some cool pictures of her husband Ben’s secret haunt toward Cascade Springs and I wanted IN.

The powder was thigh-deep in places and we hiked about a half-mile to the start of the hill (not to mention hauling sleds up and down).

It wasn’t as idyllic as it looked, believe me. Case in point: Bode’s awesome wipeout.

And then the real misery began as we were hiking out. As Sarah and I cut trail through the deep snow for a half a mile, her husband and I pulling the injured birthday boy and cold friend on their sleds while she sacrificed her gloves and carried two sleds and helmets in 17 degrees, she commented,

“I mean, really. This is next level crazy.”

And then she glanced over at me, Miss Maximum Interlodge, and said nothing.

I think they’re onto me.

Updates from the Edge (of glory or insanity?)

January has been a blur and I can’t believe we’re almost into my favorite month of the year: Ambruary (so it was affectionately named by a friend due to my birthday, anniversary and Valentine’s Day within the same week).

There have been a lot of happenings so here are a few updates.

Return to Winter

What I’ve loved the most about living in Midway is our return to winter with fun ice skating, sledding and skiing, oh my!

I’m incredulous that just five minutes from our house is the Nordic ski venue for the 2002 Salt Lake Games. Bode and I have had a blast skiing at Soldier Hollow twice a week for his lessons and am sad that will be wrapping next month. But I’m not sad about all the trail passes I’ve been accruing from volunteering.

We didn’t budget for downhill season passes so we enrolled the kiddos in the local rec center’s program for six weeks of half-day lessons at Sundance Ski Area. It would be totally ideal if not for Hadley. She’s a level 6 skier and wants to tackle the moguls and harder runs. We signed her up for Level 6…but she’s the strongest skier there and so they’ve bumped up some other kids (like Bode) who are definitely not level 6 and have consequently dropped the level of difficulty. It justifiably infuriates bored Hadley to ski easy runs all day and so I’ve been on the phone every week either demanding a refund or that they give us what we paid for: level 6 instruction. They have three more weeks to get their act together or Hadley might combust.

Bode and I had a memorable mother-son date skiing at Park City and as a total bonus: he didn’t get sick. Twice. And make use cancel our trip. Yes, Beaver Creek: I’m talking about you.

My friend Julie texted to see if anyone wanted to ski Park City so last week, we had our first Snowmamas: The Next Generation meetup. It was so fun to skip out during the day and ski to our heart’s content. We’re going to try to make it a regular thing if life doesn’t get in the way. 

You know, those inconveniences like family, responsibilities and jobs. 

The Jobs

I announced a few months ago that I was taking a new part-time position with an awesome travel company that plans luxury vacation to Central and South America. I loved the owners, loved the company but just didn’t love what I was doing. It didn’t tap into my skillset at all (lots of numbers, spreadsheets and details) whereas my talents are writing, community building and marketing. I was feeling trapped because I didn’t want to bail on these wonderful people but also knowing I couldn’t give the position my all. Our family has a lot of daunting things ahead of us: putting in our yard, building out our basement and trading in my 2003 Honda Pilot.  And even though I wasn’t making very much  money, I still had a regular paycheck so, I stuck to it.

I got my out when the owner recently emailed me a questionnaire about my feedback thus far with the job. I had forgotten we were on a 3-month trial period and I was relieved when we both reached the consensus that the position just wasn’t a good fit for me. Now, onto something that is!

My friend Krista and I met at the Chicks Who Click conference in 2009. She was the brilliant Marketing Director at Park City Mountain Resort and I was building my empire at The Denver Post. :-) I helped her launch her groundbreaking Snowmamas community, the first of its kind in the ski industry and we’ve wanted to collaborate on a new project together for years…but the timing was never right.

Well, last year she left her job as Sr. VP at Powdr and with my recent move, we are finally making it happen with our new community, OutdoorsyMoms.com! Many more details to come but in the interim, follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter as we build this community that will go behind encouraging moms everywhere to play outdoors but to also form deeper connections with each other and ourselves.

Onward and upward for 2017!









Monarch Mountain: A perfect family ski vacation

I learned to ski on a tiny two-lift hill within Calgary, Canada’s city limits. As much as I love exploring large ski areas, I feel drawn to these smaller homegrown resorts that are solely about the skiing without the pomp, circumstance and inflated prices. A place where everyone knows your name…and that I don’t drink beer and my name is not Norm.

Monarch Mountain is such a place. Located 150 miles from Denver via U.S. 285, this small ski resort has soaring elevations, stellar family terrain, unbeatable views and big snow (it is second only to Wolf Creek for the biggest snow totals in Colorado). Unlike Summit County’s sardine-packed resorts, Monarch has no neighbors and there’s nothing fake about it—including the all-natural snow.

Click here to keep reading about our many adventures on the mountain, as well as our glorious stay at Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort.

Midway Mountain Mamas

Following an almost perfect reunion tour of Colorado, I almost dreaded our reentry into the real world. Would we be sad we moved here and pine to go back?

When we drove into our little valley, this sunset was blazing over a foot of fresh snow. A well cared for Fat Kitty greeted us at home and a thoughtful neighbor had plowed our steep driveway.

Deer Creek Reservoir

It isn’t Colorado but it’s still pretty darn great.

Fortunately, we were forced to launch back into school and work immediately so there was minimal time for mourning.

A huge dump of snow also brought frigid temperatures so I reminded Bode of what my Canadian forefathers said: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.”

We repeated that 100X during his Nordic ski lesson.

Hadley is the kind of kid who does not like to be jam-packed with activities. She loves and needs her down-time so we didn’t enroll her in anything for the first four months we moved here. She resisted my pressuring to take ski lessons with Bode but asked to play volleyball so she started the local rec program last week. Almost immediately afterwards, I took her over to the church to play basketball with the Young Women. Since I have brain damage and a difficult time saying “no” (and an over-easy time inviting myself to new situations), I stayed to play with the girls, my first game in 20 years. I had forgotten about how much fun basketball is!

When I woke up the next morning? NotSoFun.  This darn knee will be the death of me!

That morning was sunny and -15 degrees.

Bode: I sure wish I didn’t have to walk to the bus stop.”

Me: (Sipping hot tea wrapped in a blanket): “Yeah, me too.”

It’s a tough world being raised by a Canadian mom.

Before the holidays, I started a Facebook group “Heber Valley Outdoor Families” for any locals who want to get out and play. Around the same time, my friend Sarah went snowshoeing and asked if anyone was interested. Her texting group is 35 women strong and growing. We had our first adventures this week! It was really cold when I left the house on Saturday morning but had warmed up to a balmy 0 degree by 10 a.m. That didn’t stop this tough bunch of ladies and we had a blast breaking trail in the glorious snow.

Yep, I’m missing Colorado but it’s tough to feel sad when we live in such an amazing place and are making wonderful new friends.