Updates, updates, updates

I’m writing this on Tuesday, Sept 27, 2016. We were supposed to move to our house on October 1st but it didn’t happen.  There is still so much to be done.   They just barely got started on the deck last night, the cabinets aren’t finished, we’re battling them on our sloped sidewalk and a myriad of other last-minute headaches. The good news: they painted the house the wrong color and corrected that without much backlash. I say that because we’ve received push-back on so so so many of their design center staffers’ communication screw-ups and we’ve had to eat the cost. Remind me to never build again.


We’ve been doing this Park City to Heber to Midway commute for about six weeks now and though the days are long, the weeks are short. I will truly miss our glorious townhome at the base of The Canyons and even more glorious Park City in the fall. Here are a few of our happenings.

Bode. Still slowly getting settled and it’s surprising to me how long it’s taking him to make meaningful connections because he finds BFFs everywhere he goes. Spoke in church a couple of weeks ago and I got a glimpse at the dynamic of the boys his age: pretty unruly. For a rule-abiding kid like Bode, this isn’t a great fit. He hangs with my friend Sarah’s three boys in the morning before school and has fun with them; hopefully more friends will follow soon after our move. Academically, he’s doing great. He was selected as one of two students from his class to attend the “Math Bus,” which is essentially an advanced math outing every month at the high school. He proudly says that the kids check their math answers against his for their corrections, a great compliment, indeed.  I received the following email from his Assistant Principal today: “I just wanted to let you know that Bode’s name was drawn out in our Mustang Buck drawing this morning.  I appreciate the great things he does each day to earn those Mustang Bucks.  I am so glad to have students like Bode at TIS.  He stands out as an example to other students.” Straight-A report card at mid-term.

Hadley. Still settling in surprisingly well (maybe I should have prayed harder for the rest of us and not just her? :-) She attended her science club field trip to UVU on Saturday, has been hanging out with her new friend Zoie and is somehow juggling her busy middle school schedule. Zoie is my new hero when, being bullied by a boy at school who called her a weakling (among other things), she countered: “Can YOU lift more than your weight and mountain bike for miles?” Hadley has taken a new interest in her appearance, watching a lot of hair and make-up tutorials on YouTube. This is fine and dandy except her room and bathroom constantly look like a bomb exploded. Our new house isn’t move-in ready so she’ll be cramped for a while. We have three small bedrooms on the main level so she will be temporarily living in what will become my den while we hire someone to finish two rooms in the basement ASAP. We’ll then boot her to the basement and Jamie’s office will be next to her.

Jamie. Rock star. Despite having a multi-week rheumatism attack, barely sleeping and a lot of back pain, he’s been a warrior through this whole process. He’s been on the front lines of battles with our builder to get everything right and handles all the documentation with the exception of setting up all our utilities, which he put me in charge of. Translation: we’ll probably end up without power, water and sanitation. Surprised me with a lovely romantic lunch he grilled of steaks, scallop and shrimp with roses. This guy is a keeper.

Me. After suffering a “what am I supposed to do with my career” panic attack last week, I’m feeling temporarily peaceful knowing now is not the time to worry about jobs and that we just need to get settled. Missing Colorado daily (especially all the amazing event invites I’m getting) but am truly happy most of the time to live in Park City. I’m a pretty simplistic person; put me in a beautiful place with lots of trails to explore and I’m good.

Here’s for hoping all goes well with this crazy move of ours!

Serendipitous Deer Valley

the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.
“a fortunate stroke of serendipity”

Have you ever had an evening of happy little coincidences? Welcome to our first Girl’s Night Out since moving to Utah!

Let me back up a bit. I was in a bit of a funk. Fall is usually my favorite time of the year and that very week was usually our big pumpkin party and weigh-off when we were surrounded by fun and friends. I was missing our wonderful life in Colorado.

The boys had a father-son campout with our new ward so I determined I was going to invite some of the ladies and Hadley’s new friends over to our Park City townhome for swimming and dinner. The problem: I only got around to inviting Sarah, who has been my lifesaver with watching Bode in the mornings before school. So we decided rather than staying in, we would go out! The week prior, my Kristen (the wonderful gal from whom we’re renting the townhome) took me on a tour of Park City and included in that tour was Deer Valley. I determined that was where we would go.

Deer Valley is the Aspen of Utah, tucked amongst forested slopes with luxe accommodations. Hadley, Sarah and I had dinner lakeside at the Deer Valley Grocery~Café, a casual yet delicious eatery (the turkey panini with roasted rhubarb chutney, Cabot white cheddar, tarragon aioli, fresh arugula, housemade wild rice harvest bread was delicious).

From there, we rode up the free funicular (mountain rail-car) to four-star St. Regis Hotel, nestled above Snow Park in Deer Valley, and hit the trails. Lo, did we hit the trails.

As we marveled at the gorgeous fall colors, Sarah (an ace photographer) gave Hadley some tips as gawked northward towards Park City and Deer Valley and eastward to the Jordanelle Valley.

We continued our explorations back to the hotel and saw a glowing firepit in the distance. We headed toward the light and settled by the fire and acknowledged a young woman selling s’mores but we were still full from dinner. When some hotel guests arrived (with whom Sarah had common friends in Chicago), we gave into the temptation and that is when our lives changed forever. The staffer, Michelle, was a s’mores sommelier who taught us the art form of stuffed chocolate s’mores. Dripping peanut butter cup smores. And s’mores cakepops.

All this while our boys were at the father-son campout eating half-cooked hot dogs.

Nothing like girl’s night out for the win!

The Lakehouse

It’s one of the most wonderful times of the year: The Lakehouse in Vernon, B.C. For one glorious week, we unplug, boat, play games, watch movies on the beach, eat oodles of fruit pies from Davison Orchards and just relax. It wouldn’t be possible without my brother Pat and his wife Jane who tirelessly cart us around on their boat without complaint and do 99% of the planning leading up to the trip.

This year, the theme was wakesurfing. Hadley was moderately obsessed with beating her dear old mom in the water, which doesn’t take much. She rocked it!

It was also fun to see Bode take to wakesurfing as well (with Jane’s help positioning his board in the water).

I showed some signs of improvement and even jumped in for a run fully-clothed when I had an unexpected chance to go. Getting up has always been my biggest struggle and was able to do it the first try every day until the final one when the water was choppy. I should have quit while I was ahead!

The kids spent hours upon hours playing off the dock.

In fact, I barely saw Hadley the entire week. Bode and I bunked with my parents while she slept in another unit with Cousin Emily. When Hadley wasn’t on the boat, I’d see her swimming with cousins or by herself and relaxing in the hammocks. As much as she enjoys people, she truly loves just being by herself as well.

She introduced a game to us called “Never Have I Ever” where everyone takes a turn saying something they have never done. I.e. “Never have I ever worn a dress.” Anyone who has done that thing has to take a piece of candy but if you swallow it, you lose. The winner is the last person standing.

My mouth was literally bursting with gummy bear juice and I was one of the first to spit out my candy. Some call me a loser; I say that was for the win. No one was funnier than Ashton.

Just thinking about it makes my teeth ache!

I rarely took my phone on the boat because of my little incident a few months ago during my adventure race with Bode where I landed in the dunk and ruined it. The threat of Jamie kept it far, far away from the water.

We had our annual family dive-off. Usually we go over to the West Side but we’re getting too big (fat?) to all fit on the boat so we did it off the dock. As usual, Pat stayed under the longest. His 44-year-long winning streak is really getting old.

Pat’s friend Todd always invites us over for movie night on his beach and it’s one of our favorite traditions. This year, we watched the Addams Family and conditions could not have been more pristine. As Bode gazed at the sky, he marveled “Mom, will we be able to see the stars like this when we move to Midway?” You’d better believe it.

Ashton cut our hair while Emily gave Hadley a makeover. Good thing Jamie wasn’t there because he would have had nightmares about her future suitors.

Twelve going on 22.

In the evenings, we wound down by playing lots of card games.

And it was great just to chill out together.


The week wasn’t perfect by any means. Mom was scary-sick after the long drive. There were some good, old-fashioned meltdowns but overall, I couldn’t be more blessed than to call these people Family.

Here’s to the sun setting on another great year at the lake.

A week at play in the greatest city on earth

My original plan: Put the house on the market in early Spring. Sell. Spend most of the summer in Utah and Canada.

What happened: Didn’t move until the 11th hour before school started. Endured a lot of stress but also extra time with wonderful Colorado friends.

And Canada. What would I do without my annual trip home for the summer? We usually spend most of July in Calgary and at the Lakehouse in B.C. Due to our unknown schedule, my family accommodated bumping the Lakehouse back a week so the kids and I could come. Jamie, unfortunately, stayed in Denver to hold down the fort. You know, the one that wasn’t selling.

A major factor in making this trip happen is my mom’s MS has grown from bad to worse and I know this would likely be the last time she could travel. Not only has her physical condition deteriorated but mentally as well and it’s so difficult to see my beautiful mother barely coherent. That said, I’m so grateful for her lucid moments and the time we got to spend with the family.

Every year, my dad has a family reunion for his side of the family and every year, I’ve missed it due to the timing. So, this time around I was delighted to become reacquainted with them. Pat and Jane had everyone over for a glorious dinner where they cooked pizzas in their new pizza oven.

I have only one cousin on my dad’s side of the family (and just one on my mom’s) so it was awesomely fun to meet my cousin Richard for the first time. Shamefully, I didn’t get a picture of him but he just got his PhD and was in town competing in the Ironman. So, pretty much he takes after me in every way.

Calgary is the best city in the world and despite rain when we first arrived, we had a blast at the Calgary Stampede with my bestie Stacey. As a favor to her, I didn’t take any pictures (you’re welcome, dearie) but I present unto you Bode. With Beaver Balls. You can’t make this (Canadian) stuff up.

Beaver Balls. Yes, that’s a thing.

Bode braved his first upside-down ride, the Brain Drain.

Despite three years of coaxing them, Hadley still refuses to do it and that’s the good thing about her. No amount of bribery or pressure will make her do something she doesn’t want to do. That’s also the bad thing about her.

Usually my dad and I go on daily bike rides through Fish Creek Provincial Park but this year, I didn’t bring my bike, he didn’t have time to borrow my brother Pat’s and so we just went on a lot of individual bike rides including my annual 30 miler.

Bow River

I’ve long told the kids life is too short to live somewhere ugly. Growing up in Calgary set the bar incredibly high.

Usually we celebrate Bode’s birthday at the Lakehouse but since we bumped it back a week, Jane threw a wonderful 10th birthday soiree at her house with pizza and a movie in their awesome home theater.

We went on lots of walks with the dogs to the playground and Grandma came along for one of our adventures.

Not even 24 hours after my brother Jade and his boys arrived, the cops came knocking on our door. A neighbor busted the kids for golf carting in the gully.

The infamous gully


Jade and I introduced our little American offspring to the wonders of 5-pin bowling, followed by My Favorite Ice Cream Shoppe.

And, of course, the hallowed MUD PITS. My niece Emily came along for the first time and was a wonderful sport despite slipping down the mountainside and landing in a tree. Never a dull moment, I tell ya!


Hadley and Jade: Tough mudders

We cleaned off in Fish Creek and played for a while before walking to Annie’s for ice cream.

All in all, we had a fabulous week with my dad’s siblings and the rest of our family. I stayed behind an extra day with my dad in Calgary while he wrapped the family reunion and to help him with the 9-hour drive to Vernon. Bode drove over with Jade while Hadley rode with the girls. The boys won for this stopover at Moraine Lake in Banff National Park.

Canada wins for lack of ugliness but the boys lose for those expressions.


Adjusting to the adjustments

First World Problems. That’s what I keep reminding myself when I’m tempted to whine and complain about this wild ride my family has been on living in limbo while our house is being finished. It doesn’t help that I haven’t been feeling well with allergies and teeth pain. I’m hoping for a reprieve on many, many levels.

The frustrating

The commute. So much driving. I’m in the car a minimum of four hours per day. Jamie had a business trip in AZ for five days and I miraculously survived (though I’ve averaged one meltdown per week; usually a nap in the back of the car assuages nervous breakdowns).

I miss Colorado. I spent more than a decade building friendships and an awesome online and offline community. I’ve been blessed with an amazing team of writers who are handling all the on-the-ground coverage while I manage everything else (advertising, editorial calendar, etc.). But here’s the problem: I love all those trips, VIP pre-screenings, restaurant openings, etc. It’s tough not to feel depressed after repeatedly turning down invites; that’s why I started blogging in the first place.

Lack of direction. I have no doubts we were supposed to move to Utah but until we can get settled in our house and I have some time, my hands are tied with pursuing new career paths. I put out some feelers for freelance magazine writing with my former editors and already heard back, only to realize I have zero time to travel and pursue these opportunities. Patience, little grasshopper. I’d really like to get back into Utah’s travel and tourism industry but have no idea what that will look like.

The “coming along”

Friendships are slowly forming.

Hadley is probably adjusting better than any of us and has joined the Science Club, has a group of friends at school and has bonded with the girls in our ward.

Bode was really attached to our life in Colorado and despite usually being able to make friends immediately, he has been slower to form meaningful connections. He is extremely frustrated by this but I have no worries once we’re finally in our house, he’ll make a lot of friends in our neighborhood.

Jamie. Lives in the basement working all day. So, not much has changed from his days in Colorado.

Me.  I’ve met some really great ladies and we’ve been on some adventures together. Have passed out in the backseat of the car more times than I’d care to admit. #Survivalmode

The awesome

As bi-polar as I feel about being here (“I love this place!” “What the crap” are we doing here?) the good far outweigh the bad.

I’m driving back and forth to the Heber Valley several times a day but we’ve been privileged to watch fall unfold in all its crimson magnificence. Truly, the 30-minute drive from Park City to Heber is gorgeous x 100. The kids and I listen to Audible or the scriptures, talk about nothing or everything and marvel at the mountain majesty that surrounds us.

Our luxury 3-story townhome. On Wednesdays, I stroll down to the farmer’s market at Canyons Village to eat peach cobbler ice cream, pluots, peaches and corn on the cob.

New adventures. Though I’m itching to explore the Heber Valley, I can’t pass up the opportunity to tackle Park City while we’re living here. I have had a grand time hiking and biking in my spare time, often with new friends.


We are supposed to be closing on our house next week but a lot of things need to happen before then. A deck. Cabinets. Carpet. Driveway. Fingers are crossed it will all go down according to schedule. This time in Park City has been a lot like new motherhood: the days are loooong but the weeks are short.

Here’s to starting a new adventure!



The Best Place to Spend Labor Day in Utah

Every Labor Day weekend, our little town of 4,000 literally welcomes the world for Swiss Days! What started as a local harvest festival has grown to 100,000 strong as Midway celebrates the Swiss Mormon pioneers who settled the valley. To put on a production of this magnitude takes hundreds of volunteers and thousands of hours.

I was excited to learn each ward has a booth and ours was in charge of the extremely popular Swiss Taco booth, which looks suspiciously a lot like Navajo tacos (but don’t tell anyone I said that). Since we arrived just before school started and are commuting from Park City, I wasn’t as involved in the preparations as I would have liked but volunteered with food prep in the mornings–just call me the tomato slicer extraordinaire.

I attended my dear friend Lisa’s son Mitch’s wedding in Salt Lake City the day before and we were thrilled when they agreed to let their daughter Alex spend the night with Hadley and attend. Jamie’s sister’s family joined us from Salt Lake City and we had a grand time taking in our first Swiss Days, starting with the charming hometown parade (with plenty of candy) and floats.

Headless Horseman of Soldier Hollow


There were oodles of the most darling craft booths you’d ever seen (Utah Mormon women are homemaking goddesses) and those Swiss Tacos. I majorly failed on taking pictures because, quite frankly, it was all a little bit overwhelming. We waited to visit the booths until after the parade and congestion was wall-to-wall. We were so busy battling the crowds that we missed out on the huge line-up of Swiss entertainment so I’ve vowed to make better use of my time next year.

One of the cutest things ever was stopping by the Swiss Miss booth for my nieces to meet the five “royalty.” Bode would have NOTHING to do with them (he walks to the bus stop with one of the hotties) but my nieces were enraptured when they autographed pictures and posed with them.

From there, we attended the Soldier Hollow Classic Sheepdog Championship where the world’s best border collies competed in a competition to heard sheep.

It was downright fascinating to watch these brilliantly patient dogs guide those sheep through a series of gates and the finish line. When the sheep went astray, it was a painful reminder of motherhood and crazy kids!

On Monday, Bode and I attended the Park City Miner’s Festival where the highlight was the Running of the Balls, one of the town’s biggest fundraisers of the year.

Running of the Balls? I expected a lot more blood and gore but no complaints. Our little corner of the world throws the best Labor Day celebrations ever!

Week 1 in Utah

I’m so far behind on updates about our summer but I absolutely did not want to forget about our first week here in our new area.

The Furniture

We arrived in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, August 17 beleaguered and exhausted but instead of recovering, we were launched into the nightmare of finding living room and kitchen furniture. Yay: Shopping, my favorite! We recruited Jamie’s wonderful mom and sister to help (unlucky them). The challenge with our new home is it is a lot smaller on our main level than our previous house so we sold all our furniture–two sets of couches and two dining room sets. But that’s not the end of it. Our new living room is too small for a full-sized sectional and the small kitchen nook has made for some creative measuring. We think we’ve found a couch and can’t decide on an accent chair. I’ve been obsessed with finding a big, sturdy farm table but we couldn’t find anything to our liking–either it was too big or the wrong color or had grooves in it, which makes cleaning a nightmare. Jamie’s college buddy invited us to dinner (see below) and his wife had a glorious farm table from Pottery Barn: for $2,000+. Utterly depressed we’d never be able to afford what I wanted, my friend Kristen recommended Pebbles and Twigs high-end furniture consignment store and lo-and-behold was the dark farm table of my dreams for a fraction of the cost. It has a few scratches and scrapes but it has character; we bought a gorgeous bench and chairs that need to be redone but I can’t wait to see how everything looks together.


Furniture and grocery shopped. Moved into glorious townhome. Hit the hot tub. Passed out.


Attended our new congregation. First impressions:  the ward is huge (530+ people) and super friendly. Really excited about this because we left The Best Ward Ever. Gratefully accepted a dinner invitation from Jamie’s college buddy Jim and his wife Lindsay who live just a couple of miles from our  new house. Relived their college days, created new memories and declared them our first friends in Midway. Maybe I’ll make them an honorary plaque.  


Furniture shopping continued. Unpacked. Decompressed. Got ready for school. Drove to Heber for Bode’s meet-the-teacher night where he met his young and perky teacher who “rodeos.” First time I’ve ever heard it as a verb; welcome to the country.


First day of school. Since our townhome is 30 minutes away, Hadley needed to get up at 5:30 a.m. to be ready for us to leave at 7 a.m. Our glorious mountain sunrise was better than yours, I’m sure.

Dropped off Hadley at 7:30 a.m. then waited 1.5 hours for Bode’s school to start at 9 a.m. Drove back to Park City, went on a bike ride at the Canyons, did laundry, worked for a bit and had to turn around to pick them up again. My average time spent in the car: 4.5 hours per day–as tedious as it sounds.

My day: I fought to keep my mountain bike out of the POD and won, only to realize a cable got damaged in the trailer. After driving back to Park City, biked up up up to the base of the Canyons, a kind gal fixed it at the repair shop and I went on a ride. Vowed office hours would begin Wednesday…or maybe Thursday.

The Canyons

Hadley’s day: She survived. Girls weren’t mean but they weren’t friendly either. Sat by a few of them at lunch who refused to acknowledge her. She already has great friends in our ward (we flew her our for YW girl’s camp this summer) but didn’t see them at all. Definitely a demoralizing, overwhelming day being the new kid. Highlight: In science, the students had to say one thing about themselves. Everyone else went with the regular “I play soccer” or “I like dance” but Hadley contributed “My cat is twice the size of a normal cat,” which created quite the hilarious stir.

Bode’s day: The worst thing ever happened. No, he didn’t get kissed by a girl or stuffed in a locker. The school is so overcrowded (a new one is being built) so the lunchroom is a bit of a nightmare (if you’re late, you sit on the floor). There’s no method to the madness so Bode didn’t sit with his class…and didn’t realize when they left. As he chowed down, he noticed some of his peers were gone. In a panic, he looked everywhere for them (they weren’t in class) and got emotional when he couldn’t find them. A half hour later he located them, only to realize he completely missed recess. Basically, life was no longer worth living.

Tried to lift deflated spirits after school with Granny’s famous shakes, barbecued burgers for dinner and  hit the pool at our fancy townhome. Hope was renewed.


My day: drive, drive, drive. Biked the Millennium Trail  from the Canyons to Gorgoza Park. Worked a bit before had to go pick up the kids. Vowed to hire someone to help with Bode in the morning so I could get at least 5 hours in between pick-up and drop-off.

Hadley’s day: Much better second day of school. Bonded with a fellow new girl named Shannon in her P.E. class as they struggled with their lockers. Found her sitting alone at lunch and voila, her first friend! Completed her science questionnaire the night before and was the only kid to complete the Honors section so she got a special award and recognition for going above-and-beyond. Spirits buoyed up. After driving home from school, we ate dinner and decompressed a bit before driving back for 6 p.m. Parent-Teacher Conference where we went from class-to-class meeting her teachers in Health, P.E., College/Career Prep, English, Science, Math and Journalism.

Bode’s day: Made it to recess. Starting to learn the flute in orchestra. Went to his first Cub Scout Webelos meeting and had a great time meeting boys and touring Ridley’s grocery market. We’ll call that a success.


After looking at  the gas tank (less than half full after a mere two days of the commute), vowed to stay in Midway a couple of days per week to save on gas, time and sanity. Hiked Dutch Hollow for the first time, marveling at vistas that are still foreign to me and yet somehow feel like home.

Hung out with new friend Sarah, a gal I connected with before moving here. Her family recently relocated from Chicago and wonder of wonder, this miracle girl offered to take Bode in the mornings after I drop Hadley off, saving me that dreaded 1.5-hour wait. Tried to find Wi-Fi to work but failed. Picked Hadley up from school, went to the public library and found my Wi-Fi and a new library card. Winning!

Hadley’s day: Her social circle of friends expanded to include some of Shannon’s new friends at lunch. The girls give each other nicknames and she is christened “Chip.” She just needs to find her “Chocolate” and she’s golden.

Bode’s day: Four Square World domination at recess. Slowly making friends but says he’s feeling more settled about the move.

Since I’m gone most of the day, Jamie has taken over a lot of the household responsibilities. The kids and I came home to a clean townhome, healthy smoothies for our after-school snack, organic soup simmering on the stove and a fresh baguette, thereby proving he’s a better wife than I ever was.

Patio dining at the townhome


Bode’s day: Drop off at Sarah’s, missed the the group of girls walking to the bus so Sarah dries him to the bus stop (comprised mostly of girls). Perhaps will have a girlfriend by month’s end. A good day of school to end the week.

Hadley’s day: Announces she wants to join the Science Club. I pick myself off the floor in delighted shock and write that club dues check faster than you can say “Science Geek.”

Conclusion: We survived. I vacillated between the highest highs (I can’t believe we get to live in this gorgeous place) and the lowest lower (living in limbo is so hard and I desperately miss my friends and easier life).

As we sat poolside in front of the firepit at our glorious townhome after the first day of school, Jamie asked, “What were we doing a week ago today? Oh yeah, we were in moving hell.”

Let’s hope life gets a little less hellish every day.

The Final Countdown

Our last two weeks in Colorado were a blur full of packing, stress and lots of sad good-byes.

We have dearly loved Skyline Estates. There was nothing quite like building our homes together for the first time, being pregnant together and raising our kids in the same space. Most of the kids have gravitated to other friends at school and church but they’ll always be bonded for life. Our neighbors threw a going-away party for us and Joe and Sherry, who moved a week after us. Some of the original families included the Kings, Schultzs, Morgans, Trinders, Ames, Franklins, Grandma Jean, Ron and Joyce, and the Haymonds.

Most of these kids in this picture were born after we moved in on tax day–April 15, 2004. Hadley was born one month later so she was always our benchmark for how long we lived there. Such an amazing group!

Tina and I met in a hiking group for new moms and she was my first dear friend in Colorado. We capped our friendship by hiking iconic Red Rocks while reminiscing our countless hikes, when I dragged her every Saturday to the Red Rocks Fitness Challenge and she dragged me on the Mind Eraser. And she was the first one to make me cry saying our good-byes.

We were thrilled to have one last hurrah for the Morgan’s backyard movie nights and it was a very befitting send-off to feature Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Mostly because we really love candy.

Andy’s blurry photobomb

One of our favorite summer traditions is helping with our stake’s community-wide service project. We were busy packing our garage but that didn’t stop us from going to the BBQ that night. Because we’re moochers like that.

Hadley was thrilled to go to the LDS Denver Temple for one last time with her besties. Truly, an amazingly supportive, GOOD, drama-free group of girls.

When Bode and I pulled up to our beloved home one night, we found Fat Kitty sitting in his window–something he has never done. It’s like he was saying his own farewells.

Funny how he almost looks fatter by moonlight.

Bode enjoyed playing Pokemon our final couple of weeks of summer. I didn’t complain–it was a fabulous way to explore our favorite haunts in Arvada. One evening took us to the top of what was once our neighborhood water tower. Though it’s no longer there, I have so many fond memories of climbing atop the hill when the kids were little and playing hide ‘n go seek as we marveled at the view.

It’s one of the many things we’ll never forget about our wonderful life in Arvada.

The Retirement of The Cheese Touch

Last summer, my friend Lisa was living a content existence in a cozy house with her beautiful family when her husband came home  and announced they should move into a ramshackle house (with an equally rundown pool) a few miles away. He saw the potential; she didn’t but our ward was awesome with helping them fix it up. I spent an afternoon doing a crappy paint job in her closet and as we helped them move I thought “I’m so glad we’re not going anywhere for a very long time.”

Fast-forward one year later and they threw us a going-away pool party in their backyard. Who would have thought?

I truly love each one of these families–the Larsons, Laras, Carrolls, Maugers and Haymonds. Their kids have grown up with mine, I thought they’d be in Young Men/Young Women together and eventually marry each other. It’s tough to pull myself away from this tight, comfortable cocoon where we feel understood, accepted and loved.

Cincinnati Chili Send-off

Eva, Lisa, Alexis and Jenn

Women folk

I’m not sure how our battle with “The Cheese Touch” started with the Carrolls but it has been going on for years. If you’re not familiar with the Diary of a Wimpy Kid’s dreaded cheese, go here for the background. We’ve been sneaking the cheese to the Carrolls (and vice versa) for years, the most creative being the time Eva covertly inserted it into Rice Krispie treats she gifted us, the worst when I dropped the cheese in their mailbox with our Christmas card and they totally busted me when they happened to be looking out their window.

So, it was only appropriate that for their going away present they gifted us with the cheese touch, framed and signed for us to have forever and ever.

I’m still debating if that is actually a good thing but we’ll take it.

Moving Phase I: Survived

We survived Phase I of this crazy move of ours. Barely! When the kids and I arrived home from Canada, we had two weeks to pack up the house. This doesn’t sound like much time but I had been slowly chipping away at it for months, starting with a month-long purge in January. The real stress began about five days prior when we were finally able to pack up all those last-minute items like the kitchen and clothing/bedrooms.  I helped my friend Lisa move and paint her closet last year and she returned the favor by helping me pack up the kitchen. The irony? I remember thinking when I helped her that I was so glad I was never going to move.

Jamie’s sister Lisa helped with the other half of the kitchen. Julie, a sweet lady from our ward, runs a storage unit and loaded us up with packing supplies. Eva was a godsend and arrived with her kids several hours before we were to load everything in the POD and helped us shrink-wrap all the furniture and bubble-wrap our artwork. Around 6 p.m. our slew of helpers arrived: Uncle Chris, the Larsons, Haymonds, Phillips, Huntleys, Schmidts, Agnews, Uncle Chris, Jenzchs and I’m sure I’m forgetting others. Bode’s bestie Nicky’s mom Julie brought over a going-away cake, we ordered 10 pizzas and the loading frenzy began!

The challenge with this move is our house won’t be finished until late-September and we’ll be in a rental in Park City until then. So, we had to divide our belongings up into two categories: staying and going. We thought since we had sold most of our furniture on our main level (two sets of couches and two dining room sets), we would be able to fit everything into two PODS.

How wrong we were.

Two hours later, we still had a load of C-R-A-P sitting in our garage and in our family room. There was no way to get it all in so we had to drop another $1,500 to rent another POD, which wouldn’t arrive until sometime the next day. Eva thankfully took the kids for a sleepover and it seemed like a Herculean task to load up the remainder of our items; I felt certain we would need to push our move back another day. All we wanted was to lie in our fluffy bed and watch the Olympics and all we got was our bedroom floor. We had all the windows open downstairs as we ran our attic fan and I observed to Jamie, “we should probably lock up the house,” to which he responded “or what? Someone will come in and steal everything? Let them!”


Our bed for the night

The next morning, I left to help with the media day open house at the Fort Collins Temple. Much more on that later but that few hours brought the peace and clarity I needed. I arrived home at noon and the third POD arrived shortly thereafter. Jamie’s sister returned to help us organize everything so it didn’t seem so overwhelming and Eva’s family, Darrin and Ariel (Lisa’s husband) came later that afternoon to help us load the third POD. Truly, we couldn’t have done it without them. I grabbed Panera Bread for dinner and it was depressing as we sat on our floor soaking in our final moments together. They have been among our closest friends in Colorado and they saw us through to the bittersweet end.

With everything loaded, we survived the flood of boxes that still remained. Remember my obsession with collecting them from our neighborhood? I literally had over 100 boxes left over and that was after giving many, many away. It was lightly raining as we loaded them and our carpet scraps in our trailer. Julie had given us permission to load them into the dumpster at her storage facility and we had a good chuckle when she emerged in her robe to find the kids jumping on them in the dumpster while it rained. Talk about a final Colorado adventure!

We spent our final night in our wonderful home. I probably would have been more emotional had I not been tapped out physically but we still had several hours of loading our cars and trailer, as well as cleaning the house ahead of us. Thanks to another friend Lisa and her daughter Alex (Hadley’s bestie), we were able to finish everything before noon.

My heart went out to Hadley as sweet Alex presented her with a going-away present. They’ve literally been friends since birth and Alex knows our house (and pantry) as well as her own. The good news is Alex has three siblings at nearby BYU so she’ll be coming to Utah a lot. In fact, her brother Mitch is getting married this week so Alex is spending the night with us in Park City.

As I walked through the empty house for the final time, that is when the outpouring of emotion came. This is where we became a family. This is where I became a mother. This is where we brought our children home from the hospital. This is where they spent their entire childhood. This is where, when I walked in the door as a young newlywed, I marveled at the wonder of it all and thought, “I will never be unhappy here.” And, despite all the storms that have been thrown our way during the 12 years we lived there, joy has always prevailed.

Family Room

As we closed the doors for the final time, we huddled in prayer in the garage. I was a sobbing mess and Jamie gave a beautiful prayer of gratitude for the beautiful life we lived there. Before we pulled out, I posted the following on Facebook:

5337 Parfet Street was where we became a family and honestly where I thought we’d live until we died. Thank you to all the wonders who worked around the clock to help us with this disastrous move; you are what we’ll miss the most about glorious Colorado. Now, excuse me while I cry the entire drive to Utah.

I did cry most of the way but when we stopped for lunch in Wyoming, I read the wonderful comments so many dear friends had left me. One, in particular, came at the exact moment I needed comfort. When Jamie and I were newly married, I taught the Old Testament in early-morning seminary to 16-year-olds. One of my students, Sariah, was super attentive and mature beyond her years and shared something I had said 13 years ago that she’d never forgotten.

 I remember you telling our class about this house in seminary before you bought it. You wanted the other model house with the loft, but you both prayed about it and knew you should take this one. I remember you saying you were trying to pretend the other was the answer: “But Jesus wants the loft!!” I remember you sharing your testimony about choosing what God wants instead of just what you want. I’ll always think of that when I think of you and houses. Much luck and love in your new one!!

Here’s to hoping….