Happy 16th Birthday to Hurricane Hadley!

Dear Prin,

I never thought we would see this day! Sweet 16 in Quarantine! Just as we’ve always dreamed! This past year has been a return to light after a few very dark years as you’re starting to figure out who you are (or maybe, return to who you always were). You’re a hilarious, smart, beautiful, creative creature who has a bright future and you’re just starting to figure out how capable you are.

For your sophomore year of high school, you have started carving out your place here. In Colorado, you had a built-in friend group since birth and rebuilding has been a slow process. Friends have come and gone but this year, you started to attend high school football games with friends, Homecoming with a group from our ward and a new friend group on the other side of town.

You were accepted into the Kimball Art Center’s Young Artist Academy. Though it was a bit of a pain to drive to Park City every Tuesday night, it became your safehaven. No matter your mood going in, you always came out rejuvenated and refreshed as you were given the freedom to create and just be. My favorite part was our chats when we drove home when you would talk freely about the many things on your mind, a reminder of when you were an unfiltered little girl and would chat about anything and everything.

You have loved make-up since seventh grade but this year, you’ve taken it to the next level. Your face has become your palette for the whimsical, fun, weird and grotesque (yes, I’m talking about those bloody horror movie makeovers). I never know what you’re going to come up with next and it’s so fun to see your creativity shine in different ways.

We are in the process of finishing our basement and it has been a lot of work for all of us but most especially your father. You will finally get the larger room and closet at the back of the house you’ve coveted since we moved here…and we can’t wait to finally have a home theater room and rec area for you to hang out with your friends. After almost four years of living here, we finally put up our trampoline a couple of days ago after a looooong series of missteps of your dad buying a cheap, used trampoline that needed a mat upgrade, only to order the wrong one three times in a row. But! We finally have a trampoline and you’ve spent more time on it than any of us.

Quarantine has been…quarantine. As I’m writing this, we’re been over 2 months isolated as a family. Online schooling has been rough because it’s just not your out-of-the-book, experiential learning style but you’ve managed to crank out mostly As and a couple of Bs. In some ways, you have thrived as an introvert. You’ve taken up puzzles.  You’ll spend hours on Tik Tok and YouTube while blasting your heater. You don’t feel pressured to go out. But in other ways, you were just starting to spread your wings so two months with your parents feel stifling at times.

You and Bode have bonded and have reestablished a strong relationship. You both picked up a dog-walking gig and your jaunts with Chewy and Zelda have been a highlight, especially after the passing of your beloved Fat Kitty last month. When we first brought Fat Kitty home 10+ years ago, you were obsessed with him and his passing was devastating for you. But now, you’re obsessed with getting a dog which Dad says will happen after we finally finish the basement and fence in the yard. If the timeline is anything like the trampoline, that means…20 years from now.

Last year for your 15th birthday, we were at our glorious Broadmoor which had been our standing tradition for a number of years. Sadly, my PR contact retired and those beloved trips have come to an end (hopefully not forever) so we’ll be creating new traditions now. We will be going to Salt Lake City today to shop for your new room and have a backyard Cafe Zupas dinner with the Johnson clan. Hopefully when the basement is finished and social distancing is a thing of the past, we can have a nice, big soiree to truly celebrate you!

We had a few great trips that included Canada and a detour to Jasper en route from the B.C. Lakehouse to Calgary.  You had a blast attending OFY (Outdoors for Youth) in Idaho, as well as Heber Valley Girl’s Camp (where you were beyond thrilled to have me as your camp director!) Our friends the Olsens and Andersons, invited us on their Lake Powell houseboat last summer which was a glorious, hot week of wakesurfing, cliff jumping, playing games and late nights.  Last winter was your return to the slopes after your ski accident a couple of years ago where you worked through your PTSD and did some pretty impressive feats out there (including skiing double-black diamond McConkie’s Bowl).

You have developed a wicked sense of humor. You got your wisdom teeth out earlier in the year. I pulled Bode out of school to record what we hoped were some epic drug-induced hilarities but nothing. You snapped out of it very quickly, much to our disappointment and our inability to submit your blackmail video to America’s Funniest Videos and snag the $10,000 prize. All we got were two days of sleepless nights and lots of bloody gauzes.

You have wanted to get a job but few places were hiring at 15 (and honestly, we didn’t want you working while you were in school). You and Bode made some money by starting a business selling giant pumpkin seeds but a couple of weeks ago you landed your first real job at Dairy Keen, the local burger hotspot.  Jobs during quarantine look a lot different: they take your temperature when you arrive at work, you wear a mask and gloves, everything is deep-cleaned and partitioned off in the restaurant. They threw you right into the mix by making shakes and you’re adapting quickly and are enjoying it (with the exception of those many hours on your feet after many lackadaisical days homeschooling from our bed in quarantine).

You’re not known for saving money but when I told you if you carefully save your earnings and pay your tithing, you’d have enough money to buy a car by the end of the summer, which has fueled your fire for working. A car = independence. You’ve had a lot of anxiety about driving and the cancellation of school has forced me to become your instructor with some perilous moments (remember when you thought the gas was the brake and you lurched us forward and later said, “Wrong Pedal?” Good times.  And there was the time when you drove for the first time and kept repeating, “I am a responsible citizen,” enough times to almost make me believe it.

A couple of weeks ago, we had a breakthrough when we took the leap to have you drive into Heber for your beloved Crumbl cookies…and then get COVID tested at the outdoor testing station. You did a great and though you are still figuring out how to go in reverse (and I shudder at the thought of parallel parking), you’re making a lot of progress. You delayed getting your Learner’s Permit until last February so can’t get your license until August but I have no doubt you’ll be ready.

But will I?

As the story goes, the night before you were born (10 days before my due date), your dad was stressed out at work and told you, “Hadley, if you’re born tomorrow, I’ll buy you a car on your 16th birthday.” Of course, we can’t exactly afford that but working your butt off all summer to buy your own is almost as good, right?

I have been writing for Ski Utah this year and they hosted us at Brian Head Resort. On your first run down the tubing hill, you flew off your tube (not realizing you were supposed to HOLD ON). You sat out recovering from your face plant for a while, but on the final run, you were ALL IN…and the guy next to you serendipitously recorded our little crash dummy slam into the crash pads at the bottom.  As you limped off the course, a staffer (who had witnessed her previous incident), commented, “Wow, way to finish strong.”
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Here’s to hoping that is in all of our futures, maimed and all. Your junior and senior years are ahead of you with the potential for a lot of fun times. Remember who you are, the love of your Heavenly Father and your parents.

Now, go out and wreak havoc on the world, my little hurricane.

Love,

Mom

 

P.S. For a stroll down memory lane, read letters for your  15th birthday, 14th,  13th12th11th10th, 9th 8th7th6th5th4th3rd2nd and your birth story.

(Easter 2020)

(Fat Kitty good-byes)

(Last snuggle)

(Homecoming: Ammon, Wally, Stockton, Hunter, Will, Preston, Hanna, Boston, Hadley, Kallie, Edyn)

(Salt Flats)

(Aunt Lisa’s 1980s Party)

 

(Lake Powell)

Quarantine Day 1,254

OK, I’ve lost track. Maybe it’s week six? Everything is blurring together but thankfully, the weather is finally warming up after a moody spring with snow and rain.  I went on a socially distanced bike ride with a couple of friends yesterday and today, I hope to take the kids hiking. We can still go outside and to the store. Restrictions are being cautiously lifted but I hope they take it slow. They’re talking about reopening gyms and that seems like the worst place to start. I can’t think of anything more germ-infested.

Last week was brutal. Between Fat Kitty’s passing, hanging insulation, Jamie’s health and oh yeah, after I brought up some issues to my boss, her response was to demote me to less than half my hours and for less pay. Three people have quit in the last few months…and we only had four staff members so that should tell you a bit about where we’re at.  Good times. But honestly, working less hours there has been better on my mental health; I didn’t realize how much it was weighing me down. Now, I just need to make up that money somewhere else and I’m turning my attention back to my long-neglected Mile High Mamas. We’re at the mudding stage of our basement so getting my hours slashed has added an extra measure of economic stress because we feel like we’re still supposed to move forward but there’s just a lot of uncertainty.

A bright spot from last week is we were also flooded with love, texts, food, thoughtful visits and on Sunday, I was on my way out the door after telling my humans they were lame because they wouldn’t give me any attention and I was going to bike to the grocery store to return our movie “It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.”

As I opened the garage door, I saw this crazy crew singing and dancing. For me. And I marveled at these women who, in the last couple of weeks, lost a father, had a cancer diagnosis, job insecurity…really, we covered the gambit of Hard Things. And yet, still there they were showing up and dancing. And tomorrow, we will show up and dance for a beautiful birthday girl who needs an uplift and gosh darn it if seeing this strange new world of simplicity, beauty and connection doesn’t bring tears to my eyes.

The kids are doing about as well as can be expected. Hadley’s school work (and boy crush Josh) keeps her busy and Bode is breezing through online schooling and usually finishes his work early which leaves waaaaay too much video game time. (Intervention needed). Our neighbor’s dog Chewy was on the lam a few weeks ago and when the kids returned him, they picked up a dog-walking gig a couple of times a week with Chewy and Zelda. It has been a nice diversion for both of them. They have also been helping me cook dinner most days and our dishwasher died last week, leaving lots of nice family bonding time washing dishes.

As hard as quarantine has been on an extrovert like me, it isn’t great for introverts either because it is making Hadley even more anti-social. Not only is she doing PUZZLES now but we did a drive-by birthday party for our favorite girl Hanna and some of Hadley’s friends were there.

“Hey, Hadley. Go say ‘hi’ to them.”
Hadley: “I’ve forgotten how.”

But she apparently hasn’t forgotten her quick wit. Before riding over to our friends’ house, I grabbed a cowbell and asked, “What else can we bring that’s loud?”
Hadley: “We have you.”

Something fun that is happening is we are hosting an exchange student for the next school year. Of course, so much is still up in the world with COVID-19 but for now, everything is moving forward. We were contacted about hosting back in December. The liaison from the agency had posted a message on my Swiss mission reunion page that they were looking to place a young man last year….and I helped her put the word out locally. But this time when the agency reached out to me in December about a new placement–Maelle from French-speaking Switzerland–something stirred. We were planning to finish our basement (an issue before because we simply didn’t have room) and I was almost immediately struck by her profile.  It just felt right. I had never envisioned us as the kind of people who would host an exchange student but here’s the thing: you’re not really any type of person until you just do it.

We had an at-home interview with the agency on December 30, submitted a lot of materials and we finally heard back yesterday that everything was moving forward with Maelle. We’re supposed to hear from her in the next few days so that’s exciting! And strange. And makes me a bit nervous because we are at a wonderful place in our family dynamic right now–everyone is doing well (despite the challenges of quarantine) and our family bond has grown stronger this past month. How will adding someone else to the mix impact that? Regardless, Jamie and I both feel like she is supposed to come to our family so, good or bad, this is supposed to happen. We’re just hoping it’s all good. Maelle will be a junior like Hadley, is from Geneva (where I served my mission) and loves skiing, ballet, badminton and academics. Hadley will be the most impacted by all of this so we’re hoping it’s a positive, learning experience for her as she adapts to a sister for the first time. Bode is so easy-going and kind but has an inability to talk to girls–especially pretty ones–so this will be an interesting case study in our home.  Will Bode ever talk to Maelle? Time shall tell.

And, that’s about it. I miss Fat Kitty all day long. Being quarantined doesn’t help because he was my snuggle buddy. We’d eventually like to get a dog but the timing just isn’t right so we’re just prodding long trying to make the best of these final weeks of school before summer “break” hits. Whatever the heck that looks like! I’m personally REALLY tired of breaks…

 

The 8th grader, the sophomore and the crazy summer

OK, this summer was a wash for blogging and pretty much staying on top of my life. The fact that, just two posts ago, I was talking about the last day of school and only wrote once for Bode’s birthday should tell you something.

Soooooo many updates but first, we have an eighth trader and a sophomore!

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First day of 8th grade for this kid where he’ll be a saxophone-playing, student-governing, ski-teaming fool. He hates having his picture taken almost as much as he hates going back to school but no one is rejoicing more than me that my middle school mothering years are almost over.

Sophomore year! She kicks off Young Artists’ Academy next week and has been drawing/painting everything (including her clothes). She also secured a gig helping with horses and really, the biggest downer is she got a retainer on Monday and talks with a lisp (she laments that she sounds like Dustin from ‘Stranger Things.’) My wise parental advice this morning? “Talk to no one, head down.” Good luck, Dusty Bun!

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As for summer? It kicked off with a trip to The Broadmoor for Memorial Day and Hadley’s birthday.

Bode was BUSY with DEVO (Nordic ski team training), PGA Junior League, coding class (PYTHON) and Scout trips including a week-long trip to Boulder Mountain. He shot up this summer, got his hair lightened and is looking like a certified teen. Without the moodiness and attitude. So far.

Hadley was not-so busy but we tried to keep her busy with girl’s camp at Heber Valley Camp, a week at Outdoors for Youth in Idaho over the 4th of July and waaaaay more down-time than a 15-year-old should ever have but what do you do when she’s too young to get a job and not interested in sports/programs? She spent a lot of time painting everything including her hands, clothes and canvases, cooking and chilling.

Oh, and procrastinating her online P.E. class that she never ended up finishing but that’s OK because we later found out what a nightmare it was. In my teacher-friend Jillian’s words: “PE is THE. WORST. ONLINE. COURSE. EVER. Seriously. It’s the only course my kid ever dropped, enrolled in real life, and it is taught BY SATAN and the curriculum was written by his ex-wife and demon spawn.”

Live and learn, folks. Oh, and I am never, ever homeschooling in a gazillion years.

Jamie has been busy obsessing over his greenhouse and has a pretty sizable pumpkin. We are almost finished hauling the 71 TONS OF ROCK in our backyard. Yes, it has been a misery and I am so done with it. We have one last small section where our trampoline will go up but we’re all pretty tapped out and may not get to it until spring. Jamie’s rheumatism has been debilitating so he started eating a Paleo/anti-inflammatory diet a month ago. It has helped with the migraines but it remains to be seen if it alleviates his chronic pain. I’ve been eating “clean” as well and feel so much better.

But do you know who has a new and girlish figure? Fat Kitty. In the spring, he was throwing up A LOT. We were worried he was terminally ill. He is, after all, an older cat (13 years old) and he had a lump on his back. Turns out it was just a fat lump and we were overfeeding him by just leaving out a huge bowl of food because we’re gone so much. Since we’ve limited his food intake, he has stopped puking, has slimmed down and is now only obese and not morbidly obese. I wish I could say slimming down has helped his energy levels but I don’t think that cat has ever been energetic or playful.

As for travel, the kids and I had a wonderful, though shorter-than-usual vacation to Canada: 5 days in Vernon and 5 days in Calgary.

Why the quicker trip? Because we were invited by our friends the Olsens and Andersons for a week on a houseboat at Lake Powell a few days after we got back. Every other person in Midway has an RV and a boat and since we have neither, people aren’t exactly knocking down our door to travel with us . So even though the timing was inconvenient and it was more money than we had in our travel budget this summer, we knew we had to jump at the chance. And it was really, truly an incredibly memorable trip that I hope to write about soon.

So many details to share and hopefully I’ll get to them. Even though it was a good summer, it was overwhelming and exhausting for me trying to juggle 30 hours of work/week + freelance projects + girl’s camp director + travel + kids. I got zero downtime and because of it, feel frazzled and exhausted. The kids going back to school actually feels like a vacation to me because I don’t feel obligated to keep them entertained while working all sorts of crazy hours. So here’s to a more leisurely fall.

Well, after I survive the Hades-that-is-Swiss Days Labor Day weekend. And the fact that we’re out of town the following weekend. And that I’m so far behind on work and Mile High Mamas right now that I feel like I’ll never get caught back up. And I’ve taken on another freelance assignment of writing for Ski Utah this winter in trade for a season pass at all the resorts so I guess I’ll never get caught up.

Better luck never, I guess.

XO

Farewell to the 2018-19 School Year!

We survived the school year!

I’m still woefully behind on updating the blog and feel like I’ve been sludging through mud in May.  A rainy and cold month hasn’t helped but it has fit my mood. Now that it’s officially summer, the sun is finally out. We spent Hadley’s birthday Memorial Day weekend at The Broadmoor which was a glorious pick-me-up after a tough month.

As the kids get older, the differences between their first and last day of school photos aren’t nearly as drastic. Bode has definitely undergone the most changes with a growth spurt and a drop in his voice. Apparently the biggest difference for both of them (according to these pictures): hats.

Hadley’s Freshman Year Before and After

Freshman year of high school went a lot better than the entirety of middle school. Hadley is still struggling to find her friend group and activity but one thing I’m grateful for is that she has reconnected with art. It’s her love language and I love that she quickly cranked out paintings last night for her favorite teachers. This one is for her yoga instructor and I love the symbolism of the cairns which are used as trail markers to guide explorers. Her math teacher, Mr. Tree, has been a gem as well and if you know any of her history in math (and her many tutors over the years), you’ll understand the importance of a great mentor. She did much better in school and ended up with mostly As and a couple of Bs.

I have had a panic attack the last few weeks about her lack of plans for the summer. She’s too young to be employable but there aren’t many opportunities for camps around here (nor does she have much interest).  I have always kept the kids busy in the summer because downtime = technology time = trouble (especially as they grow older). So, after a power struggle, she agreed to let me sign her up for Youth Triathlon training for a couple of mornings a week in June. She will have YW Girl’s Camp for a week (with me as Camp Director; lucky girl) and I just signed her up for Outdoors for Youth, the outdoorsy equivalent to EFY. It was a financial stretch but I figure getting that girl active and outdoors while building her testimony is a worthwhile investment. We’ll be vacationing in Canada for a couple of week in July but we still have a looooooong stretch ahead of us and hopefully she’ll find ways to have a fun, productive summer.

Bode’s 7th Grade Before and After   Dare I say that Bode thrived in seventh grade (well, as much as you can thrive in the dreaded middle school years). He has made the honor roll for two years straight and learned how to really WORK with his advanced Catalyst math class which crammed 7th and 8th grade math into a single year. He bombed his mid-term and got really far behind on his class assignments…and was *this* close to being demoted to Honors Math but we left him with the choice to soldier through it or take the lower class. He opted to work hard to get his grade back up (a week-long grounding from video games helped as well). He was accepted into student government next year and switched from the flute to saxophone so my dreams of having a band geek in high school may be realized. Though who else thinks sax is pretty sexy? That boy played “O Canada” on his sax and he’ll be able to woo any woman, which will be helpful because he still can’t talk to girls. Which I’m quite happy about because I’m trying to keep Hadley away from boys.

Bode has a fun, full summer ahead of him. He has done Kickers and Gliders for the past three seasons at Soldier Hollow Nordic Center and made the decision that he wants to try their ski team so is entering into their summer ski training program a couple of mornings a week. He is also doing PGA Jr. League again twice a week, a Python coding class for a few weeks and a few Scout trips: His first white-water rafting adventure in the Green River next week, Boulder Mountain over his birthday and and then Mount Timpanogos again in August.  And he’ll have plenty of downtime to hang out with his buddies, have airsoft wars and play video games.

Jamie just landed a big client and his project deadline hits around the same time as our Canada trip. So, he will be dedicating his summer to work and pumpkins, which sounds pretty miserable to me but in his own warped way, I think he’s having a good time trying to figure out his new greenhouse except for suffering through the bad weather and rheumatism.

As for me, I thank my lucky stars I’m no longer at BYU and am able to work from home. Being gone for 9 hours/day with a 1.5-hour commute was tough and even though I’ll still be working all summer, at least I’ll have a flexible schedule and will be more present for my kids. Goals: Get back in shape now that my knee is fixed and do more water sports like Stand-up Paddleboarding.

Bring it on!

Happy 15th Birthday, Hadley!

Dear Prinny-Princess,

Just as your nicknames frequently change, so do you! You’re wrapping up your freshman (9th grade) year and though you’re still figuring out your path, high school proved to be exponentially better than middle school and have pulled off mostly A and A- for grades! Unfortunately, you got cut from the volleyball team but fortunately, you took two art classes–painting and pottery–and reminded yourself that art is your passion and talent. You spend hours in your room painting and people have taken notice: you’ve had some friends ask you to paint their laptop covers, which I think could turn into a business opportunity. You also love photography, much to your brother’s chagrin, who takes every chance he can to avoid “the paparazzi.”

Oh, and let us not forget about your “My Little Pony Addiction” and the hundreds of hours you spent in Equestria this year. It could be worse, right?

I introduced you to yoga when you were around 7 which you described as “the worst pain ever” so I was surprised that you wanted to take a yoga class at the high school and even more shocking: you enjoyed it! You went from the least flexible person in the world (barely able to touch your knees) to a passably flexible person and can almost touch your ankles. However, your yoga enjoyment only goes so far. You went on a class field trip to a hot yoga studio at Thanksgiving Point, which you described as “the worst experience of my life.” No judgment here about your hatred for hot yoga; I won’t even do “cold” yoga.

You have had some fun trips this year. Canada for Christmas, Grandma’s funeral and last summer at the lakehouse in B.C. and Calgary.  The Johnson family reunion at Henry’s Fork Landing near Yellowstone. Our beloved Broadmoor resort in Colorado Springs. Youth Conference at Bryce Canyon National Park.  Especially for Youth (EFY) in Provo. Trek in the middle-of-nowhere Wyoming. YW Girl’s Camp at Bear Lake. Vail and Beaver Creek Resorts for Spring Break where you skied #28 of Colorado’s 33 resorts.

A broken shoulder (Aqua X Zone), a busted back (skiing) and last summer was The Sailing Disaster, which has prompted me to officially pass my Murphy’s Law torch to you.  Your tiller broke at sailing lessons at Jordanelle, your sailboat capsized and while you and your partner clung to the side of the boat, the wind whipped them to shore, almost running over a [terrified] elderly woman in a kayak. You somehow emerged unscathed but the bright side is you were a celebrity when I checked you into sailing lessons the next day. Takeaway: Being a Murphy is nothing if not notorious.[/caption]

You’re still suffering PTSD from last year’s ski accident so you skied down Beaver Creek by yourself early for your first-ever massage at the Westin’s spa. That night after we went hot-tubbing as a family, you headed to the gym by yourself and just as I was starting to get impressed that you are becoming independent and oh-so capable, you never came back so Dad eventually went to find you. And there you were trying to jimmy the door open because you were locked INSIDE the gym after the attendant left…with a creepy old Asian guy who had lined up about 10 bottles of weird tea around his workout area. It’s like trying to parent myself.

You have been begging us to get braces and we will just as soon as we pay off my knee surgery and all of your medical accident debt (it never ends). You’re hankering to get a job and make your own money but pickins are slim out in these parts and 16 is the golden age. We need to make a plan for  summer because it’s wiiiiiiide open. You have had a tough time since we moved to Utah and that’s hard to witness as a mom because I felt–and still feel–we made this move for you. You have had a lot of setbacks and you often feel so defeated you just want to sleep. But sometimes we get glimpses of your former self and it’s reconfirmed to me that this journey, as hard as it is, is the path you are supposed to go through.

Broadmoor Santa

During our recent trip to Colorado for Spring Break, we saw the return of Adventure Girl (AG).  I have wanted to hike popular Hanging Lake for years and their recent announcement requiring a $shuttle$ starting in May spurred us to action. The steep pitch didn’t deter us, nor did traversing the long, icy stretches but when we came across an avalanche 3/4 of the way up that completely blocked the path, you climbed over it and wouldn’t leave until you relocated what was left of the icy “trail.”

The three sane ones in the family turned around, an argument ensued that we were ruining your life and it was only when we heard The Voice of God in the form of a WHUMPF (the sound of the collapsing snowpack as a boulder was launched from the cliffs above) that we convinced you to high-tail it outta there. Takeaways: You may the most stubborn person on the planet, even at the detriment of your own safety but my gosh, you’re determined.

You recently had a Young Women retreat at the Kuch’s cabin and I was asked to write a little something about you:

Hadley is artistic, hilarious, free-spirited and when she sets her mind to something, she is unstoppable. Don’t ask her to turn around on a mountain because you’ll never hear the end of it. You were born to Summit.

And don’t you ever forget it.

Love,

Mommy

P.S. For a stroll down memory lane, read letters for your 14th birthday,  13th12th11th10th, 9th 8th7th6th5th4th3rd2nd and your birth story.

Teaching art for FHE

Beaver Creek Girls

The Broadmoor

Bryce Canyon

Deer Valley

The Duck Whisperer at Wasatch State Park

Cascade Springs

Ice Castles

Hanging Lake

Moraine Lake

Lover of babies

Razor racing

Trek with Allie and Jodi

Troll Falls, Canada

Yellowstone

Singing “As Zion’s Youth in Latter-days”

Waterton Lakes, Canada

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FHE Fun

One of my favorite things about the Church is the emphasis we place on families. Every Monday night (or whenever it fits into our schedule), we are are encouraged to spend time together for a lesson or just to have fun.

Hadley recently complained that we never do anything *she* wants to do so I figured FHE would be a great place to be more intentional with our activities and let each individual shine.

For Hadley, we did art.

For Bode, we had a fitness/nutrition night.

For me, we’ll hike.

For Jamie, he will probably make us haul rocks in the backyard.

Some shining is more brilliant than others.

Hadley’s paint and canvas are really expensive and I didn’t want to waste them so the rest of us used some old, cheap paint and ripped up a cardboard box for our masterpieces. Hadley chose a fairly easy design for us to follow and I was actually really impressed with her patience as she taught us. 

Can you figure out who drew what?

 

Hadley: Top left.

Bode: Top right

Me: Bottom left

Jamie: Went rogue and did his own thing. WHATTHECRAP? We’ve been married 15 years and though I knew he took some painting classes when he was younger, I had no idea he was so talented. If he can do that on a crappy piece of cardboard with old paint brushes, what can he do with good materials?

Bode and I were disasters which is OK because we have other talents (repeat 100X).

I mentioned that Bode has recently become dedicated to exercising several times a week and eating better.  We launched a no-sugar challenge as a family and for his FHE, we made a meal plan and then spent the night reading nutrition labels at the store.

The previous week, he downed an entire box of Ritz crackers and as he was reading the label at the store, he asked, “how much is 24 x 80?” When we joked ore calories and fat than he wanted to know, he defended himself: “Hey, I’m not proud of my past.”

 

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Youth Conference at Bryce Canyon!

Having a mom who is the Camp Director in your Young Women’s organization is a double-edge sword. Or maybe it’s just edges at every angle if you ask Hadley. :-) I was recently called upon to be one of the leaders for our ward Youth Retreat for teens ages 14+ in Bryce Canyon National Park.

It has been several years since I’ve been in Bryce Canyon, the last time with my friend Kristy when we participated in a biathlon through Utah Winter Games (a hilarious read if you have a moment). The canyon is perched at about 8,500 feet, which makes it a fantastic winter destination. However, our visit was mid-March so we weren’t sure just how much winter we would get and how much mud.

The outdoor rink had recently closed down but other than that, it was a winter wonderland! We stayed at the Best Western Ruby’s Inn, which is the the ultimate family-friendly property with a huge restaurant, general store, swimming pool, and loads of activities. I would love to go back with our boys and a big group of friends.

We played lots of fun games and had inspiring youth battalion devotionals in our conference room, swam, and hiked to the rim of the canyon.

On the last day, I was put in charge of cross-country skiing. The area is famous for its glorious network of Nordic trails but we were at the very end of the season so we didn’t know what would be opened, much less groomed. Miraculously, we found the most amazing 5K loop that took us right out to the rim of Bryce Canyon that been groomed for the final time of the season. Many of the teens had never been Nordic skiing and they ROCKED it. And I’m salivating to go back there with Bode to ski. It was just that good.

Hadley and I returned home after 48 hours of inspired adventures to our boys…who skied, ate fast-food for every meal (yet somehow didn’t clean a single dish even though they’re disposable) and the worst trespass of all: Bode’s introduction to the movie “Dumb and Dumber.”

Apparently they can’t be left along for even one weekend without adult supervision.

Winter 2019 is a wrap!

I was supposed to publish this on March 20 but never finished it and hit publish. How quickly this month passed!

How did winter 2019 slip by so fast? We have had a lot of stress with my mom’s health the last few months (and my passport problems added to the panic in case I needed to get home) but after an extended stay in the hospital, she is home for now.

But we’ll focus on the fun parts of Winter 2019 because there were plenty in one of my snowiest winters since I have lived in the U.S.

Snow. So much glorious snow. Oh, wait. I already mentioned that. I truly can’t remember enjoying myself so much in years. We’ve had almost constant snow since Christmas which is pretty funny because very few people around town have taken down their outdoor Christmas decorations and it’s totally OK (edited to note: they finally came down April 17). We haven’t had very many huge snowfalls but rather, just nice and consistent almost every week. After two grueling years of landscaping our yard (and we’re still not finished), we had a great winter where we were finally able to play with lots of snow days.

Jamie, Hadley and I went to the Midway Ice Castles preview party. Translucent blue, green and red sculpted waves danced on the walls, showcasing our very own aurora borealis…without the Arctic temps. 

That night was a win for all except for Bode who winter cabin camping with the Scouts.

Luckily for Bode, he got really sick the following month when they did their winter cave camping trip. He wasn’t disappointed to miss it.

DOWNHILL SKI

Lots and lots of ski days. Bode is totally rocking the slopes, Hadley is still struggling with PTSD, Jamie is skiing stronger than ever and I’m getting worse in my old age and am the slowest of all. But we still love it!

Day date!

I only had one girl’s day this year but it was memorable. As we were driving to Park City, I realized my ski boots were SOAKING wet on the inside, which was particularly suspect because I hadn’t skied in over a week. My girls Rachel and Julie to the rescue! I went through an entire roll of paper towels trying to soak up the moisture during the drive and in a stroke of brilliance, we picked up plastic bags that I wore as booties to keep my feet dry.

Girl’s day with Rachel and Julie

Redneck ski boots.

On Saturday, we did a Couple’s Day Out with Jamie’s college friends, Jim and Lindsay. First and last on the slopes, zero drama/whining, gorgeous conditions and a leisurely 1.5-hour Legends burger lunch. That day was a rare glimpse at the fun side of adulting.

NORDIC SKI

Bode and I Nordic skied twice a week after school at Soldier Hollow. This will likely be our third and final year of Kickers and Gliders ski program because he wants to try their DEVO ski team this summer and next winter. The first year we did the program, it was epic because of the incredible snow. Last year was horrible due to the lack of slow and the man-made 5K icy track we looped over and over again. But Bode didn’t mind. Whenever it did snow, the groomers made these huge piles of snow to later distribute that the kids called “snow whales.” They looooved racing down their steep slopes.

This year, Bode got bumped up to the advanced class while I happily stayed back with the intermediates who, by the end of the season, were skiing some pretty crazy stuff. I love the uphill and flats on Nordic skis but if you’ve ever attempted the downhill, you know the terror I’m talking about with no edges and the inability to turn. Regardless, it was fun seeing Bode fall in love with cross-country skiing as well.

Hula hoop obstacle course racing

He did DEVO “tryouts” last week where they could try out the team and I saw his competitive edge kick in as he raced to the top and came in second.

For the first time in his life, he is actually trying to get into shape and goes on the elliptical in the basement…except for when there are spider webs because THAT, my friends is a deal-breaker. I hope he enjoys their summer training program!

Hadley and Jamie, on the other hand, hate cross-country skiing. We planned to ski on my birthday but it was brutally cold that Wednesday morning and I was told the ski crowds would be bad. I let Hadley skip her state testing that day and she promised to do anything I wanted…so she made me crepes for breakfast and we went cross country skiing at the golf course at Wasatch Mountain State Park for the first time. Hadley hated every minute of it but bless her heart, she tried to be *kind* of positive because it was my birthday. Jamie didn’t even bother coming. :-)

The Duck Whisperer

I went back a few days without her and discovered a secret network of trails that climbed for miles and miles in the foothills. I went about a half hour before reluctantly turning around because 1) remember how I’m not great at the downhill and I didn’t want to get stranded? and 2) due to the high snow levels, we have had a lot of cougar and moose in the valley and I didn’t want to get attacked. I’m already chomping at the bit just thinking about exploring this next year:

SNOWSHOEING

During our first winter in Midway, I organized a memorable couple’s full moon snowshoe night. We skipped last year due to abysmal snow but this year, we reintroduced Soup ‘n Snowshoes with these crazies under a full moon, followed by wart removal New Year’s resolutions, and late-night game night with leg wrestling champions, pumpkin-orange diarrhea and the very salacious Song of Solomon. #WhyParentsShouldn’tStayUpLate 

And of course, there was our memorable Valentine’s Day overnight yurt retreat!

I had quite a few fun outings with friends, none of each involved plastic bag booties.

Big Springs

Wasatch Mountain State Park

 

North Fork in the Uintas

2) Jamie’s parents are celebrating their 50th anniversary later this month and that will be a different post unto itself.  Last weekend, we drove 45 minutes to the Art City Trolley because Jamie was craving the best wings ever. Little did I know that just two doors down was the home his parents rented the first four years of his life: 107 Main Street, Springville. For being so young, he remembered quite a bit. Winning a fish at a competition at the church across the street. Burying the fish in the backyard. Visiting the lady next door who ran a headstone company (it’s still there) who would give him hard candies. The huge lot across the street where his dad would garden (it’s now a 7-11). Progress, folks!

Now, let’s hear it for our rainy and snowy spring after our glorious winter!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Dear overachieving leprechaun-pranking parents. If you think it’s cute now, I have a cautionary tale. I thought my St. Patty’s Day antics were over now that the kids are teens but I learned otherwise last year when I did nothing and was met with much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

After the kids delightfully explored our overturned Emerald City this morning, I hesitatingly asked if I would have to keep doing this even when they are 40 and Hadley said, “Wherever we are living in the world, YOU WILL DELIVER LEPRECHAUN PRANKS.”

Christmas in Canada

Slowly but surely, I’m getting caught up here and I would be remiss if I didn’t post about our Canadian Christmas. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times but I’ll focus on the best.

1) Being there in the first place.  Special thanks to my friend Lisa who spotted the $300 direct flights to Calgary and to my dad who, instead of buying Christmas presents, chipped in for part of the fare. A Christmas miracle! Not so miraculous: our 24-hour ordeal getting back to SLC after our flight was canceled.

2) Being with my mom for her last Christmas at home. She is currently in the hospital and on the waiting list for a care facility. It has been a long time coming and we’re grateful my selfless dad has been able to care for her at home this long. She spends most of her day sleeping now but miraculously was awake for all Christmas Eve. She went out for Chinese food  with us one day and most moments spend with her were holding her hand, looking through her beloved Woman’s Day magazine recipes and bucolic scenes from her favorite calendar. Our final night before flying home, she was more lucid than she was the entire time we were in Canada and we saw a glimpse of that spitfire we know and love.

3) Christmas. A smorgasbord of food, left-right game, bells, besting Pat in Jenga, home theatre movies (“Crazy, Rich Asians” is a new favorite), naps and matching PJS. The gift exchange game was our most epic ever with three people who bought Pimple Pete (we have zit-loving issues), Jade’s camo marshmallow blowgun and Pat’s Presidents Putin and Trump socks. Borowski Family Christmas: alternately promoting chaos and world peace. 4) Ice, ice, baby. The weather was so warm leading up to our visit I had resigned myself I wouldn’t be able to  do any of my favorite winter activities. Quite unbelievably, our lakes and rivers did freeze over so we were able to play hockey with cousin Conner, my dad, Jade and a few pee wee kids at Lake Bonavista. Bode found his calling as goalie, as did I after a near concussion making a slapshot (I scored!) Bowness Park is a Canadian party on skates! We joined the throngs of people to circle the lake but the real fun began after we crossed the barriers to skate the river for a few miles. Canadian fun at its best! And another family favorite: Fish Creek Provincial Park. In the summer, it’s the mud pits and swimming. In the winter: Cautious Bode and Dallas (the dog) only had minor heart attacks about walking on the cracking ice. Also, what a difference a few years makes! 5) Troll Falls Insider tip #1: Skip Banff and recreate next door in Kananaskis Country—same gorgeous Rocky Mountains without the crowds and cost. Insider tip #2: When hiking steep, icy sections, link arms in a “love chain.” When someone starts to wipe out (like your brother) ditch him, even if it prompts his rebuke, “WHAT HAPPENED TO THE LOVE CHAIN?” Insider tip #3: When you say, “I feel like I’m the only sane one in the family,” make sure your mom is not editing the group picture at that exact moment where you look certifiably insane with your mouth wide open.

Insider tip #4: Despite teens often being really boring and glued to their technology, those reduced brain cells make for exciting moments when they attempt to scale a waterfall without spikes. Insider tip #5: Remember that being a pleasant teenager is hard work, as demonstrated by your daughter after your epic adventure, “I started to get a headache from my delightfulness.”

4. New Year’s Eve was replete with family, my bestie, Stacey, chocolate, cheese and meat fondue (which is to be repeated for Valentine’s Day), not be forgotten was marathon Pictionary when the team with the worst artists (Bode and me) somehow won. Christmas is, after all, a time for miracles.