Winter, resurrected

Good gracious, who writes a blog post entitled “the winter of my discontent” and then doesn’t write again for the rest of the month?! It’s been a whirlwind for sure but I’m happy to say that winter did eek out a brief comeback and I was able to have a couple of great ski days to finish out the season.

Ski Buddies

Bode and I went skiing with friends Porter and Julie and we had a blast! The last time we skied with Porter in January, he ended up getting hauled away in an ambulance so we were thankful everything went perfectly. The snow was soft, the sun was out and it was an awesome reminder of why we love this sport so much. 

We celebrated Jamie’s mom’s birthday the night before and while we waited for our food to arrive, Bode entertained everyone for a half hour with all of his silly jokes and brain teasers.  Well, my boy was primed and ready when there was an open mic moment while we waited in the looong line at the base of Silverlode. The brazen boy of mine skied right up and told his compelling, “What is brown and sticky?” joke. And the answer: “A stick.” Duh. I laughed louder than anyone because I’m his mom.

We were also thrilled to see Cosmo, BYU’s mascot shredding the terrain park. As we were skiing down, we overheard an adoring snowboarder say “he has the voice of an angel,” which is particularly mind-blowing because I didn’t think he talked.

The day was non-stop fun and even though I’m not superstitious, I know the reason.  As we drove to the resort, someone had attached a “Good Luck” balloon to a roadside carcass. God knew we needed a win and delivered His message through roadkill.

I had such an awesome time that I went skiing by myself the following week. Usually I hate to go solo–it’s one of the few sports I don’t enjoy by myself–but Park City had fresh snow, sunny skies and I skied the strongest of this season. It was one of those ski days I never wanted to end!

But alas, I had to race back to pick-up Hadley to take her to a two-day volleyball tournament in Salt Lake City. It’s been a tough season for her. She switched to being the setter and started out strong but following her accident, she had to miss the first tournament. Even though she barely missed a practice, there were some drills she couldn’t do those early weeks. She is 1 of 3 setters so the coach benched her and has made little effort to involve her, which made the problem even worse because when you’re not playing, you’re not learning the rotations or the position. I could start a rant about a myriad of other frustrations all of the other parents share but I’ll stop there. Unfortunately, the club coaches are also the high school coaches so no one wants to burn bridges. We’ll need to enroll her in BYU’s volleyball camp this summer to get her up to speed.

The good news is this coach did not attend the tournament and the substitute coach played her every single game for two days. And she did great! They won all of their games Friday night and were on a total high (they’ve lost pretty much every game this season). But those victories set them up for a day of defeats the next day. They got bumped up to the gold medal bracket and these teams were en par with my high school team’s level of play. So, we got HAMMERED. But if you have to spend two days watching these girls play volleyball, at least they’re cute.

 

My job will start slowing down after a big event I have on April 12th. I feel like I’m getting more of a handle on things and am enjoying the position and my co-workers.  I plan to drop down to a four-day work week soon; it’s a 3/4-time position but it has been all-consuming up until this point, leaving little time for anything else. It doesn’t pay well enough to justify my 1.5-hour commute five days a week so I’m hoping once things slow down I’ll be able to dedicate more time to Mile High Mamas and other freelance projects because money is still really tight with a mountain of medical bills (thanks to the snowboarder who refuses to pay for Hadley’s accident) and our backyard.  Jamie calls the next two months “hell” because we’ll be hauling in tons of rocks and landscaping our half-acre backyard. My garden will have to wait for another year…this summer, I’ll just be happy with grass.

We’re still not loving this house (maybe we never will) but goshdarnit, we have the most gorgeous plot in all of Midway so we can at least make our yard something to be enjoyed.

The winter of my discontent

This is the winter of my discontent. Last year was so incredible for winter adventures and this season has constantly come up short…and so have I!

Nordic Skiing

We finally got some snow on my birthday weekend and for the first time, we were able to Nordic ski the majority of Soldier Hollow. For most of the season, we were only able to ski on a 5 km loop of man-made snow. However, I was extremely impressed with the resort’s snow farming. Every time there was a storm (which was’t very often), the resort collected huge mounds of snow the kids nicknamed “the snow whales.” As the snow would start to melt, the groomers would spread the snow from the whales all over the loop. The conditions weren’t always optimal but I’ll tell you what: those kids had a BLAST climbing and skiing down those steep snow whales.

Bode has turned into a great Nordic skier and officially surpassed me this season, which really doesn’t take much. Though I love Nordic skiing and grew up skiing the track on the golf course near our house, I’ve never been very adept at skiing downhill on Nordic skis. In fact, I’m quite a hot mess. Case in point: There was a REALLY steep hill I nicknamed the hill of death along this 5 km track. The first time we did it, I barely made it down in one piece and last week, I crashed and burned. Big time. The hill was steep and icy and unlike downhill skis where you have glorious things called sharp edges and the ability to turn, your only method of slowing down on Nordic skis is to snowplow or telemark (the latter of which I do not know how to do). And so I tried the trusty ‘ol “pizza” and even that didn’t work on the icy slope as I barreled down at top speeds. As I neared the bottom, I thought “Maybe I CAN do this,” and then I wiped out…my worst ever on Nordic skis.

I was sore for days and in my former, stupider years I would have said YOU’RE MINE, MOUNTAIN and jumped back on that horse but since I’m older, wise and more injured, I took the opposite approach: I bypassed the hill entirely and cut across to the bottom of it. The instructor, Evelyn, waited for me at the top with everyone and asked, “Bode, is your mom really that far back there?” and then they noticed me already at the bottom, poised to take pictures.

I have no shame.

I was one of the fastest in his class last year but this year, he was in the “Snow Leopards,” the top level. I was among the slowest on the downhill (though the uphill climbs were definitely my strength). Thank goodness for Ethan who lagged far beyond the class and was my excuse for falling beyond.

Last week was the final week of class, which was really sad because we finally have snow for the first time all year. We had a beach party and the kids had a blast doing obstacle course races and climbing the snow whales. Bode has gotten really good at skate skiing and was the very last one in the group of 30 kids to be tagged in “Infection.”

Bode and his buddy Henry

Conquering the snow whale

I’m not sure if I should be proud or a bit worried.

Downhill Skiing

Last year was such an epic one with downhill skiing and I truly couldn’t get enough time on the slopes–between SkiUtah Board meetings at Solitude and Sundance to our memorable “Interlodge” experience at Alta (we thankfully had two awesome ski days), to frequent ski outings with the ladies and Bode. I loved skiing Utah!

But this year?  From Hadley and our friend Porter’s ski accidents to dismal snow, the odds have not been ever in our favor.

Last Friday, Jamie and I both took the morning off work to finally hit the slopes together. We were right in between two storms and we figured we had perfect timing.

Oh, how wrong we were.

The problems started in the parking lot. As we were putting on our gear, Jamie got an urgent call from a client. After waiting for him for 15 minutes, he waved me ahead to start skiing. The snow was OK but the wind and resulting cold were HORRIBLE.

By the time we finally connected over an hour later, I was ready to call it but I wanted to give him the chance to ski. We headed over to our favorite run, Powder Keg, and the conditions were sub-par and I wasn’t skiing the moguls very well. They vacillated between being icy to having weird powder stashes and branches sticking out. It was not my best run.

Silverlode is the chairlift we usually take back up but the lines were so atrociously long–almost all the way back to the lodge. And then we found out the reason.  The 7,300-acre resort consists of two sides–the Canyons and Park City. We were skiing Park City but due to the brutal winds, the Canyons never opened so all those thousands of displaced people drove over to Park City. I motioned Jamie to bypass Silverlode and keep skiing down to King Con Express, which typically has smaller lift lines. Lo, was I wrong. All the lifts ended up having Disneyland-esque lines, worse than any holiday or weekend I’ve ever skied.

As we waited…and waited…and waited to board, we decided to call it a day. The way we traditionally return to the base is from King Con to Silverlode and then back down but a helpful French man on the lift told us we could take Erika’s Gold that would bypass the lines at Silverlode and shortcut to the base.

What this nice French man failed to note was that Erika’s Gold was an expert NIGHTMARE with steep, icy moguls. Literally, I had to peer over the edge just to see where the drop-off led, it was that steep. 

“I’m not doing this,” I announced to Jamie. “Let’s go back down and wait in the Silverlode line.”

My husband coaxed me to follow some people who were traversing across to another moguled run that didn’t look quite as steep. He lied. Instead of being a 90-degree slope, this one was 88 degrees. But we had passed the point of no return.

I tried to traverse across the slope as much as I could but it was so steep anytime I turned, I lost control.  My knee ached, and I freaked out about injuring it even more. And so I did what any woman trying to survive would do: I did the slide of shame and slid perpendicularly down the slope, which is two steps up from taking off your skis and walking down and only one step up from sliding down on your bum.

I have no shame.

I was fuming at Jamie for taking me down it but eventually made it down to a more reasonably pitched mogul run and we skied the rest of the way down. I officially announced my retirement from steep moguls.

Worst date ever. But I refuse to let that be a season-ender for me so I will go back.

Maybe I do have some shame after all.

 

The one-legged gingerbread man

Things have been a bit serious on this blog lately so lest you’re worried we’ve become saints, I assure you we’re still as cantankerous as ever.

Following our friend Porter’s ski accident, I was at a loss as to what we could do to help while the ambulance whisked him away to the hospital. He was originally going to stay in Park City so I offered to bring them their shoes (they were obviously still wearing ski boots). But then they opted for Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City in case his leg was broken. I offered to watch their younger children but Julie’s in-laws took care of them. She left her van in the resort’s parking lot and I volunteered to bring Jamie back and drive it home but she told us to hold off. I called guest services to tell them not to tow the car if she needed to stay there overnight but I still felt at a loss.

What could we do to help this poor family? Food. Food is always the answer.

So, I came up with a plan to make Porter some cookies but not just any cookies but one-legged gingerbread men because what more could a kid want when he busts his leg, right? We did a terrible job decorating them and Hadley made a memorable card to commemorate when Porter ran into the SLOW sign:

When you have lice at Christmas, the Johnsons come caroling at your house wearing hairnets.

When you’re skiing and hurt your leg, the Johnsons bring you one-legged gingerbread men because we’re those kind of people.

And the hits (literally) just keep on coming

At one point do you determine that maybe your life isn’t just about Murphy’s Law but you are, in actuality, cursed? The day before I started my new job, I took the kids for one last fun-filled ski day on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It has been a dismal winter and we’ve had minimal snow but the resort has done an excellent job snowmaking and using what they have. The conditions were great!

We try not to eat lunch on the mountain because it’s $15 for a slice of pizza (I’m not exaggerating) but we were all hungry and planned to split chicken fingers and fries. As we were heading down to Mid-mountain Lodge, we saw a group take what looked like a fun trail through the trees. “Where does this lead?” I asked. They weren’t sure and Bode was hungry for some tree bashing because most of his Adventure Alleys were still closed.  Hadley didn’t want to follow them because we would have had to hike back up to the lodge in our skis but Bode begged to ski down a bit just to see where it led. I gave Hadley permission to head to the lodge and we met her a couple of minutes later. As I pulled up to the ski rack, I saw a skier on the ground surrounded by people. Then I saw pink goggles–Hadley’s pink goggles. Alarmed, I took off my skis and raced over to find her flat on her back, obviously injured. The lodge is at the intersection of a few runs and she was almost to the ski racks when she was pummeled from behind by an out-of-control snowboarder.

Ski Patrol was quickly on the scene and I was relieved she had movement in her legs and toes. There were tears in her eyes but she didn’t cry and she later told me those tears were only because “I realized just how sad my life is.” Poor kid.

They carefully loaded her onto a backboard and then placed her on the sled.  A female ski patroller took her down the mountain, hooking up with the snowmobile a couple of times. Bode and I followed her and actually beat them down to the Ski Patrol hut, which looked like a warzone with injured skiers and snowboarders scattered throughout the waiting area.

The doctor saw her fairly quickly and ascertained he didn’t think anything was broken but because it was a back injury and she couldn’t sit up, she needed to go to the hospital for X-rays. What would have taken a looong time in our big-city hospital took only a couple of hours in Park City.  Jamie, his dad and sister all have bad backs so we were relieved to learn that nothing was broken. She stayed home from school today because she’s really sore and we’re praying for no long-term problems.

A few memorable/funny moments:

The girl has always struggled in math and I’m convinced she has dyscalculia (think: math dyslexia). Our old house in Colorado had an actual street address so she could remember that but here in Utah, it’s all just numbers i.e. 258 South 794 West. When the ski patrol was questioning her to see if she had a concussion, two of his questions were “what is your address?” and “what is the date?” We had a good chuckle when I replied, “She doesn’t remember her address or day of the week on a good day.” 

When the ski patrol strapped her into the sled, they bundled her up tight and I joked with her not to put her arm up. When she was a baby and I tried to swaddle her (which she hated), her rebellion was to stick her little arm out.

While we were in the waiting area at the Ski Patrol Hut, a snowboarder was there with her friends and had a huge gash in her knee. Ski Patrol had ripped her pant leg open and at one point, she started freaking out, “Oh no, look how much blood there is!” because her ski pants were lined in red. But then a few seconds later, she realized her ski pants were actually had a red liner and it wasn’t all blood.

I have had two accidents on the slopes, both by out-of-control snowboarders. My most recent was on my first ski day of the season with Bode last year and it was BAD…I couldn’t get up for several minutes and a sweet angel woman who saw the collision held me the entire time until we made sure I was OK. I was sore for week but thankfully I don’t have any long-term repercussions but I do suffer from mild PTSD. Whenever I hear the sound of a snowboard coming up behind me, I tense up and slow down.

Hadley initially wanted me to ride in the ambulance with her and I definitely would have if she had been seriously injured or was freaking out but she was calm and the hospital was only a few minutes away so Bode and I followed her in the car. The paramedics/firefighters were all handsome men, as were the male nurses who attended to her when she arrived. And this did not go unnoticed to her.

Jamie met us at the hospital while Hadley was having her X-rays and he told me, “This morning, I just paid off all the medical expenses from her broken arm last summer.” And now we’re several more thousand dollars in the hole thanks to our crappy insurance (the joys of self-employment) for an accident that wasn’t even our fault. My friend Mike commented on my Facebook page I was surely missing socialized medicine and I couldn’t agree more.

As weird as it sounds, the Park City Hospital is renowned for its cafeteria food and we were excited to find affordable locally grown and organic foods like healthy soups, salads, and sandwiches and entrees.

Hadley’s leaders from church brought her a milkshake and paid her a visit that night. Her sweet friend McKenna came over to hang out. She has had some health (kidney) problems of her own so they were joking about their matching hospital bands.

We were laughing remembering Hadley’s first time in the ER when Jamie was having heart problems. She was really young and kept waving and saying “hi” to everyone, appalled that no one waved back or responded. Because, you know, they were in the ER and it isn’t exactly a happy place.

How I know she’ll probably be OK: During all the chaos following the accident, she hopefully asked me, “Does this mean I don’t have to go to school tomorrow?”

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So, what’s next for our family? Never leave the house? Bubblewrap? Only time will tell.

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

    Sundance

    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.