Tonight when we came back from the hot tub, the snow was sparkling.

I had forgotten how it does that.

Like the world is made out of glitter.

Speaking of sparkling, Savannah got a video camera for Christmas and has been delightedly documenting our every move.  Here is her first video. 

And just for the record, it snowed all day again today.  Two feet of fresh glitter.

Far Over the Misty Mountains Cold

The boys are on the floor playing legos.

Olivia has her earbuds in, celebrating her Christmas with Taylor Swift and the boys from One Direction.

Savannah is making electronic cupcakes and David is programming his new running heart rate monitor.

We are snug and happy in the lap of a huge mountain.

A mountain we were nearly lost on forever just yesterday.

We took the kids skiing and after getting everyone's ski boots and skis on (surely the hardest part) we were making remarkably good progress.  The girls were independently skiing and taking the lifts by themselves.  Caleb was competent, if timid, and Ethan was wildly careening and crashing, but happiest when tearing as fast as he could down the icy slopes.

It was snowing lightly all morning, but after lunch, conditions deteriorated quickly.  The flakes got bigger and faster and the wind started blowing.  I could no longer see the girls skiing down the mountain from the lift.  We decided to head for home.

We were on an unfamiliar mountain, but eventually figured out there were two ways home:  the gondola or the "short cut."  The gondola was a gentle enclosed ride to the bottom.  But since the short cut involved skiing to the bottom, and the kids were doing so well, and we had already paid the lift fees, we decided to get our money's worth and ski down.  How hard could it be?  We'd just follow the green trails all the way to the bottom. 

Trouble was, pretty soon we were lost.  There was so much snow and wind we couldn't read the trail signs or the map and even the green trails became treacherous with all that new powder.

There was crying.  (The kids.)

There was screaming.  (Me.)

There was gnashing of teeth.  (David.)

There was fervent prayer from all of us: Get us off this mountain.  

At one point Savannah lost control and ended up in a huge snow drift with so much powder that she lost one ski and both poles.  Only her head was sticking out.  I laughed so hard I couldn't breathe while she screamed.  She saw me laughing and started laughing herself, until she had to dig four feet down to find her ski.  We never did find one of her poles.

Olivia went somersaulting down a particularly steep section of mountain (who knows where we were at that point--green or blue or black diamond, all we could see was white) and lost both skis and had to try putting them back on in the powder at a 65 degree angle.

The ski patrol came by several times to ask us if we needed help, but apparently they only send rescue snowmobiles to help the bleeding and broken and since we were only desperate and in over our heads we were on our own.

Unfortunately, when you are in this situation, on a foreign mountain, in blizzard-like conditions, with four panicked and inexperienced skiers with you, there is only one way home:


A long way down.

At the lowest point (emotionally but not vertically) we were huddled together on the mountain. I was sitting in the snow.  Too tired from digging for skis, and trying to get them back on the kids' feet, and pulling kids out of snow drifts, and dumping out boots and gloves, and trying to bully children down the mountain, to stand any longer.

The youngest two were crying.

Caleb was trying to put a positive spin on things, "Well, we'll never forget this Christmas Eve."

The ski patrol came by one last time. "Are you in trouble?"

David just stared at him.  Because, um, yes. 

Olivia asked, "How much farther to the bottom?"

"Only a mile or two.  You're almost there."

Olivia started weeping.

David gave everyone a pep talk.  There were protests.  I put things more starkly.  "Unless you want to die on this mountain, there is only one way off it.  Get up and put your skis on.  Now!"   I could be a motivational speaker. 

Needless to say, eventually we found the bottom.

All of us in one piece, er...six pieces.

We only lost one ski pole and believe that to be a supreme triumph, considering.

Funny enough, the kids were so delighted to be down that they are only looking back on the whole thing with fond reminiscing, as if fear of imminent death and blinding snow with all that screaming and crying only added to the fun.  By dinner, everything was hilarious. 

Merry Christmas, from us, alive and well, far over the misty mountains cold.

True Blue Through and Through

Well, we lost.

We cheered. We rose and shouted. We wore black to match the boys' jerseys.

But we lost anyway.

The truth is though, it didn't really matter to any of us except Ethan and David.

Mostly we were just thrilled to be in that beautiful stadium in the mountains, surrounded by crisp air and fond memories. There is no place I'd rather spend a Saturday afternoon in October.

The fall weather was perfect. Just cold enough to pink our cheeks and warrant sweatshirts and lap quilts, though it must be noted that many of the Utahns around us were in short sleeves. We, however, wore our gloves and regretted not bringing a beanie for Ethan's ears.

The Cougars scored three touchdowns and a field goal and we went hoarse yelling our praise.

My favorite parts: 60,000 heads bowed in prayer at the start of the game, hearing my children lustily sing the BYU fight song, looking at David's handsome profile framed by the mountains, and the cheering--the roars and groans--that echo off the ancient Rockies. Those giant hills are on our side.

After the game we went bowling, browsed through Blickenstaffs, and ate dinner around a round table with flavored lemonades, where Ethan and David commiserated over a few freak plays in the fourth quarter that turned the game in the Beavers' favor.

Savannah asked why they call it "homecoming." Someday she will understand. For me, it truly is coming home. Back to the beginning. Back to the start. These mountains are the cradle of my adult life, and will always be home.

The Fourth Day of July

At my house,

on the fourth day of July,

we will light the barbecue and the sparklers and the roman candles.

At my house,

on the fourth day of July,

we will swim and sun and read and nap.

At my house,

on the fourth day of July,

we will eat ribs and corn and homemade apple pie.

At my house,

on the fourth day of July,

we will remember and pray and give thanks to our God.

At my house,

on the fourth day of July,

we will climb in bed full of sunshine and ice cream and when we close our eyes we will still see exploding red and white stars behind our eyelids.

And at my house,

(because we are still hurting and smarting and aching from all the upheaval, I'll be honest)

on the fourth day of July,

we will remember that 1776 was among the darkest years of American history,

that good things come even in the darkest of times,

and above all,

that miracles happen.

Happy Independence Day.

"Then the Charm is Firm and Good"

We made the most of our Halloween weekend.  And you can bet we did all the usual verbs in the spookiest way possible: carve, feast, fry, light, roast, dress, comb, watch, howl, dance, parade, read, serve, laugh, kiss. 

We threw a party for our neighborhood that involved more brats and buns and sauerkraut than you can imagine. 

There was a fishing pond, a costume contest, a monster mash, and a dunk tank. 

And my children went to bed believing that their parents are magic, that they alone found the very best tricks and treats, and that the world is a very fine place...even on the scariest night of the year.     






(Olivia was very specific.  And Savannah's make-up was the most fun to do.  Obviously...on both accounts.)

(I am personally responsible for the gun holster and the blow-dry.  Some of my best work, no?)

(In ninety-degree weather, they don't last long.) 

The Stories My Camera Could Tell

We bayed at the full moon, the full moon almost as full as our hearts.

We ate birthday smores.

We waded upriver and tried to float back down.

We played football and chess and Bohnanza in the woods.

We sat around the campfire and told our favorite stories about Ethan.  Mine was about the time the principal called because he had beaten up a third grader. 

Just for the record, it was a glorious weekend in the wilderness. 

Who needs Eden? 

All You Need Is Love...and Pie

I wrote posts all week in my head.  (Rest assured, they were as funny and delightful as usual.  I am sincerely sorry you  missed them.)

Monday's post was about drowning my Monday and my Monday sorrows in peach pie.  As I write, that gorgeous pie is still on the counter...untouched.  We've been too busy to eat it.  And every time I offer it up, the kids just ask for peaches-and-cream instead.  Who needs crust?  Just go straight for the good stuff.

Tuesday's post was about how I spent all the grocery money on wigs, and how it was totally worth it.  Don't worry, I've got cupboards full of beans.  Who needs food when there is lip syncing to be done?  Or we could always eat that pie that's sitting on the counter.

Wednesday's post was about how I ignored all the boa feathers scattered around my house and in my bed (ooo la la) and went to lunch with two of my favorite people in the world and how nice it was to pick up the conversation exactly where we left off, nearly nine months earlier. 

Today's post is about how I am so low on my sleep quotient that I went out today to buy a wedding present for my very good friend's son. 

Last night I told David, "Tomorrow is the Wilkins' wedding reception.  And we're going.  It's non-negotiable."  (David hates wedding receptions.  But non-negotiable means that if he wants to stay married to me he is going with me.  I could see him weighing his options.) 

I read the invitation four times this morning, because something kept going off in my head.  As I was leaving Target today, gift in hand, I realized what it was. 

It says: OCTOBER 16th. 

And today it is only September, although I am so tired it feels about twelve years past that.   

I actually stood stock-still in the parking lot as my brain finally figured it out and said, "Ooooh."  After that, I got back in the car and went to the grocery store to buy nine tubs of cool-whip because I am going to have a nap and then drown myself in that pie no matter what.

Did I tell you we are putting on the ward talent show on Saturday night?  Below is our entry.  It is not the Black-Eyed Peas, but it has its merits, especially if having your own set of Beatles makes you completely gaga like me.  If you don't have ten minutes to waste (we really can't help ourselves), skip to minute 8 to see David making love to a blonde bombshell.  It is as delightful as pie.

A Glorious Reprise

This morning after I finished my post about the glories of my summer, I went outside.  Savannah was in her grandparents' swing, pumping her legs in and out of the sunshine streaming through the maple leaves.  She was humming the chorus of "Angels We Have Heard on High," the glor-or-or-or-ia part.

I smiled deep.

And just a few minutes after that Olivia was making a "masterpiece" that looked remarkably similar to a ham sandwich.  When she closed the lid on the sandwich with the second piece of bread, she put it on a plate, held it high in the air and said to the room, "Look at my glory!"

David said, "Hallelujah."

Tonight in the last rays of a glorious gloaming, I floated behind my two youngest children and told them to hold on tight to the rope, to keep their elbows tucked in and their knees bent, and then I watched them take their first wobbly ski across a dark lake. 

And it was so glorious that I thought I could probably give those angels a run for their money.