Stanley B. Visits Utah!

On October 8, we celebrated our 1-year anniversary for moving into our house. It was also Canadian Thanksgiving so nothing says “Happy Thanksgiving/1-Year Housewarming quite like our favorite dish from our local Mexican restaurant: The mighty Molcajete.

My mom is no longer able to travel and my dad has been her full-time caregiver for quite some time. My brother Jade, his boys and his new bride moved back home while Jade looks for a job so there was a small window of opportunity for Dad to come visit. My sister-in-law Jane helped in the evenings after work and I’m super grateful to everyone who pitched in because we had a really wonderful visit. My dad spends so much of his life taking care of everyone else so it was nice to give him a break.

The great thing about my dad is he’s super low-maintenance and we both love the outdoors so he was easily entertained. The colors were peaking in the mountains so he witnessed some serious fall splendor.

Day 1

Arrival, tour of Midway and drive up Memorial Hill.

Day 2

The weather forecast was iffy for the first several days so when we saw a window of opportunity, we took it to bike Provo Canyon Parkway to Bridal Veil Falls. Some of my favorite memories with Dad are of biking Calgary’s extensive network of bike paths so it was fun to share with him one of mine. That night, he treated us to dinner at Tucanos Brazilian Grill in Orem. 

 

Day 3

The Pumpkin Party!!!!!!!!!!

Day 4

The pumpkin weigh-off. Jamie took us to dinner at Tarahumara Mexican Restaurant to celebrate. And yes, that’s a giant pear. Pumpkins aren’t the only things that can be grown BIG!

Day 5

Church and SNOW?! This put a damper on our plans to see the Kokanee salmon run that afternoon but believe me when I say it worked out for the best.

Day 6

This was my favorite day! Due to our weather delay, we decided to drive up to Strawberry Reservoir on Monday to catch a glimpse of the Kokanee salmon run. If we had gone at any other time, we would have seen some of the salmon in the Strawberry River next to the visitor center (pretty cool) but because we went at this exact time, we got an in-depth look at the process in the Catch House (really cool).

There are only two mornings open for the public to access their fish trap station and it was FASCINATING to see the hundreds of bright red fish. We piggy-backed on an elementary school’s tour and listened as DWR biologists talked about the peculiar life cycle of the fish and how the Kokanee usually spawn when they are four years old and die quickly thereafter. As the fish instinctively swim up the river, they are caught in the trapping station and the male and females are separated until they’re ready to spawn. Since the females are going to die anyway, they are cut open and the eggs are squeezed out. They then take the males and squeeze the milt out of their bellies and fertilize the eggs.  In the wild, the average female has 1,200 eggs but only two survive in the wild. Through this process, there is a 98 percent survival rate that helps guarantee the survival species in Strawberry Reservoir.

eggs

One of Dad’s must-do activities was a leisurely soak in the Homestead Carter, a geothermal spring hidden in a 55-foot tall beehive-shaped limestone rock formation so the kids joined us after school.

To top off the day, we participated in the final Monday Midway Cruiser Cruise of the season. Every Monday night May through September, people in our quirky town gather for a casual bike ride on the beautiful country roads. For the final ride of the season, organizers christened it “The Bike Prom” and it was so fun to see all the awesome costumes. Jamie called me a flamingo but Hadley’s friend Zoe said I looked like a 1980s princess with this ugly outfit I found at the local thrift store.

Day 7

For Dad’s final full day, we did the Park City tour! We drove up Guardsman Pass with the oaks and maples positively on fire, cutting over to Park City where we strolled along the Poison Creek Trail past Shoe Tree Park and cutting over to historic Main Street. We had a late lunch at Cafe Zupas before heading back to Midway.

I love love love showing off our beautiful cut of paradise and I’m so grateful my dad was able to catch a glimpse.

 

iFLY Utah: Indoor Skydiving at its Best

In early June, I planned to surprise the kids with iFLY Utah: Indoor Skydiving but then Hadley broke her arm. I held onto the secret and finally surprised them a couple of weeks ago. We played 20 questions leading up to our visit.

“Is it outdoors?” No.

“Is it adventurous?” Yes.

“Does it involve heights?” Well, kind of but I said “no” because heights were minimal compared to the real thing.

On the 1.5-hour drive to the iFLY Utah location in Ogden, I finally told them so they could take that time to mentally prepare. They were both enthused. “I’ve always wanted to try that,” Hadley raved as we watched a YouTube video of kids in flight.

iFLY indoor skydiving is the perfect way to experience the freedom of flight without jumping from a plane. This indoor flight facility in Ogden offers the simulation of true freefall conditions in a vertical wind tunnel, with room for parties, meetings and even lessons. Upon checking in, we went through a brief training session where we were tutored on two important things: 1) Keep your chin up and 2) Hold still, which is no small feat in a flight chamber with up to 150 mph winds. We learned four hand signals our instructor would be using to communicate and got outfitted in our flight suit, goggles, helmet and earplugs.

Prior to our session, we watched experienced indoor skydivers flip, twist and spin and I was excited to make my own attempts…until I realized as a rookie, my challenge was just to learn to simply fly on the wall-to-wall cushion of air. Our group entered our “wind tunnel” waiting area and one-by-one, we were given a 1-minute turn in the flight chamber. As I stood at the open door to the flight chamber, I suddenly felt anxious but my fears were assuaged when my instructor motioned for me to lean forward…and I was immediately flying as he closely monitored my every move.

A traditional freefall out of a plane lasts anywhere from 45-60 seconds and we had that amount of time to make our own attempt. Initially, I felt like a failed superhero as my arms and legs flailed in the wind but I quickly remembered to keep my chin up and relax…and I was able to fly on my own. It was one of the most exhilarating feelings in the world to give up control and just trust the wind.

For our second attempt, our instructor had a surprise for us–the first 30 seconds we flew on our own but for the second half, he grabbed onto us and we soared up, down and around the chamber with giant sweeping motions. I felt like a bird in flight dive-bombing for my food and just as we were about the hit the bottom net, we effortlessly soared to new heights again.

My kids had very different experiences. From the moment my 13-year-old daughter entered the chamber, she felt empowered and electrified as she quickly learned to surf the wind (and is now begging me to take lessons). Eleven-year-old Bode, traditionally more cautious, struggled to fly on his own and the instructor was constantly tweaking his position (which happened with most of the younger kids).  He was fighting off tears as he waited for his second session and he divulged his frustration: he couldn’t understand what his instructor was telling him to do. I advised him to just relax and let the wind do all the work. On his second attempt, he did much better and finally caught a glimpse of what it felt like to soar.

We were not able to take bring our camera into the wind tunnel so be sure to bring someone who can take pictures for you or buy the $15 DVD of your experience (so worth it). Really, the only downside to our adventure is we did the introductory 2-flight package for $59.98, which sounds like enough until you realize each “flight” is only one minute long.

But rest assured, it was two minutes we’ll never forget.

The Climb

My entire life has been spent barreling forward without much of a plan but pouncing on each new opportunity as it came. Hard work was always rewarded with open doors and I expected the same revelatory experience that brought us to Utah to also determine my new direction.

But here I am, making an unholy mess with my clumsiness and am trying to practice forgiveness for not having it all figured out.

Talking to my dear friend Lisa last weekend was a reminder to not settle for the quick fix and that the rebuilding process will take much longer without any guaranteed rewards but the risk is worth it…because that is who I am. A year ago we were living on a wing and a lot of prayers as we prepared to leave a life we loved without knowing why. And now I’m back to to trusting that it won’t always feel this way and to just keep moving forward, even if that summit is still out of reach.

“Our Father in Heaven is concerned not just about our comfort but even more about our upward progress.” -Henry B. Eyring

My return to rollerblading glory

I’ve lived in Midway almost eight months and had yet to go rollerblading in my favorite place: Provo Canyon. When I was at BYU, I fell in love with the Provo River Parkway and would park at the base of the canyon and rollerblade up about 10 miles past Bridal Veil Falls to Vivian Park and then race back down the canyon. There is a slight incline the entire way making it a great workout but the ride down was sheer bliss.

Since moving to Colorado almost 15 years ago, I would occasionally come back and rollerblade it so I’ve been chomping at the bit since our move but between unpacking, two feet of snow and trail closures and flooding all spring, the timing wasn’t right.

I decided to make the timing work for me so I woke up one morning last week to go. I grabbed my helmet (something I never wore before), wrist guards and thought I was set. Turns out I should have brought full body armor as well. I made some mistakes on my triumphant return and they included:

1) I forgot I’m not 20 anymore. This covers all subsequent observations.

2) What goes down must come up. When I was in Provo, I started at the base of the canyon and went up. This is how I prefer to do everything–there’s nothing more miserable to me than starting a hike going downhill, only to save the climb for the end. The problem is Midway is at the top of the canyon and I really didn’t want to drive all the way down, rollerblade up and then back down and then have to drive back up. Make sense? It sure did to me. At the time.

2) My rollerblades are about 20 years old and are dire need of being replaced. The wheels are so worn it made climbing the hills really tough. Being out of shape didn’t help either.

3) The cruise down vacillated between being empowering “I LOOOOVE THIS!” and moderately terrifying in places. If you’re never rollerbladed before, there’s really no great way to stop on steep terrain. I used to know every curve and bend so would just go with the flow but I was rusty so had to inch down a few sections like a baby learning to walk.

4) I somehow made it down the canyon without falling and then came the moment of truth: going back up. That’s usually my favorite part and I love the burn of the climb! Rollerblading that 20 miles has never been an issue but between being rusty, out-of-shape and having old roller-blades, it was a tough go. I even debated calling Jamie at one point but powered through it (albeit on a low battery).

A few things I learned before going next time:

I need to buy new rollerblades. Period. I should have replaced mine years ago but I never really went in Denver but now that I live next door to an amazing place, I want back in.

I need to start at the bottom of the canyon and work my way up. I bit off waaaaaay more than I could chew so next time I’ll start mid-way up the canyon and slowly make my rides longer.

My before shot as I exuberantly started out:

My after shot:

 

x

 

Yep, that about tells the story.

That time we were featured in the Wall Street Journal

A few weeks ago my friend Eileen Ogintz, founder of Taking The Kids and a syndicated columnist, emailed to ask if I could put the word out to my friends that a reporter from the Wall Street Journal was looking to interview families who let their kids help plan the vacation. I put the word out on Facebook but nobody responded so I acquiesced to be interviewed by Sue Shellenbarger. I really didn’t think much would come of it–maybe she’d include a quote in her article–until she emailed me again in a panic saying her editor wanted her to interview my kids as well. So on Friday after school, Bode and Hadley casually talked to the a reporter from the biggest newspaper in the United States. No biggie.

If you are questioning the reliability of journalism in this day and age, rest assured the Wall Street Journal is the most fact-checked newspaper I’ve ever seen. For our small quotes in the article, Sue emailed me several times.

Anyway, here’s the link to Dare to Let the Children Plan Your Vacation and I’ll include screenshots and our quotes below.

And yes, Bode totally talks like a 40-year-old man.

 

 

The Johnson family of Denver is planning a car trip to western Colorado this summer. Amber Johnson says her daughter Hadley, 12, persuaded the family to go jet-boating, racing over the Colorado River at speeds of up to 40 miles an hour in boats driven by professionals.

It’s a plan Ms. Johnson and her husband Jamie would never have chosen for the family. But Hadley sees children’s museums as cheesy. “I’m kind of growing up and everything,” Hadley says. “I’m a little more crazy and adventurous than museums.”

Bode, 10, says he was nervous at first about jet-boating. But Ms. Johnson reassured him that the boats have seat belts and life jackets. Now he’s on board with the plan. “I think I might actually learn something, including having a positive attitude and being willing to do new things,” he says.

Giving the children a voice keeps them excited and interested, Ms. Johnson says. It also means suffering through their mistakes. Bode and Hadley picked a hotel online for a road trip last summer because it had a big pool, says Ms. Johnson, editor of Mile High Mamas, an online community. She suggested they might want to do more research, but “they jumped on it because it looked really fun,” Ms. Johnson says.

When they arrived, the pool was closed for renovation. Ms. Johnson sees such “soft failures,” or missteps with minor consequences, as learning experiences. “We would call ahead and do more research” next time, Hadley says.

 


Utah’s culture club

From the draft folder, October 27, 2016.

I’ll admit that moving back to Utah was never in my game plan. Ever. Though I loved my college experience at BYU and living in Salt Lake City for five years, I’ve never been a huge fan of the culture here. The “are you or aren’t you (Mormon)” issue. This come from both sides. When I started my job at Snowbird, the anti-Mormon marketing staff vetted me to see if I was. And I’ve heard some saddening stories about Mormons not being inclusive to those not of our faith. Frankly, I don’t care what what you are. Can’t we all just get along?!

Utah County is home to many of the orthodox Mormons who live in a “Happy Valley” bubble, Salt Lake City is a mix of those in and not of our faith with a liberal streak, Park City is known to have many anti-Mormons and “Jack Mormons”–those no longer practicing. The high school’s drug problem is exponentially higher than anywhere in Utah.

I wasn’t sure what to expect about the Heber Valley but thus far, I’ve been pleasantly surprised. Small-town kindness rules over any religions affiliations. You know, the way it should be. I don’t feel like I’m in Utah, just that I’m in a a friendly place where people go above-and-beyond to help one another. We’ll see if/how that opinion chances once we’re more settled.

Before we had even moved into our ward, I randomly had the Teachers (boys ages 14 and 15) call to see if our family was in need of service that night? “Check back in a few weeks for our move, Dude.”

And then the older girls (Mia Maids ages 14 and 15) thoughtfully left this for Hadley. Jamie was offended by its size.

But I’m just grateful for the warm welcome of our beautiful community.

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.