Birthday celebrations…

This is how we celebrate a 15-year-old when they have to go to school on their birthday.

Lunch of his choice. We offered to pick him up but his lunch is short so he decided to have me bring him Cane’s.

He had to act surprised as he opened all the presents he already knew about. It’s tough when you get to the age where you would rather get exactly what you want (sizes/colors) than be surprised. But he was a great actor.

He had some friends reach out to me and ask if they could surprise him when he got home from soccer. Unfortunately, Hunter has been fighting bronchitis for weeks. He’s missed tennis matches and soccer games and a lot of practices because he struggles to breathe when he exerts himself. He was looking forward to getting back on the field last night and was struggling yesterday so he missed yet another soccer practice. But we had to do something to get him out of the house since his friends were coming over – Hallie to the rescue! She took him to go grab some birthday treats. I think he was bumming it was his birthday, he’s been out of sports for weeks and top of that, his friends couldn’t go grab a treat with him (because they were in his bedroom).

He was in a much better mood when he got home to find his friends had surprised him with kind notes, treats and presents. They went to so much effort and were so excited to surprise him. And truly after the last couple weeks it was just what he needed. He felt loved. Steve and I sat in his room after every one left admiring the kind gesture of some good friends – we are so grateful for every single one of them.

Sickness aside – his birthday turned out pretty great.

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Birthday boy…

We celebrated this guy today and he is so fun to celebrate.

We sat around this morning at breakfast telling memorable stories about Hunter. This kid has simultaneously kept us on our toes and laughing at the same time. He’s usually one step ahead of us and always planning his next joke/prank. Whether that’s hiding in our shower or planning an elaborate alarm clock heist.

He’s just fun to have around. Typically in a good mood. Optimistic.

He challenges himself and sets goals – and then works to accomplish it. For example, earlier in the year he was in a high school level spanish class while in 8th grade. He set a goal to spend a certain amount of time in duolingo every day and when that was no longer challenging, he decided he wanted to learn how to pray in spanish. And after practicing and feeling confident he prayed in spanish multiple times in family and church settings. He has proven he knows the formula for setting and accomplishing goals.

I usually scan through my old photos to post some for birthdays but I only made it through 2023 before I had enough to truly capture what his life looks like right now for him.

His year summed up in one word…ACTIVE. He goes and goes and just when I think he can’t possibly fit anything else in – he manages to surprise me.

He’s managed to fit in soccer, tennis, snow skiing, wakesurfing, cross country, scuba diving, and hiking. On top of that he’s focusing on education, temple trips, service, family and friends.

He never ceases to amaze me. Happy birthday kid!

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Briggs came down this morning with pants that were just a couple sizes too small. Not sure how long it took for him to squeeze into those babies but he was only mildly concerned when he struggled to button them. Clearly we missed a pair of pants in our last donation – luckily he found the exact same pants three sizes larger shoved under his bed.

We had our church primary program today where the kids stand at the pulpit and recite their parts and sing songs. Both Briggs and Cannon got to choose what they were going to say by answering a specific prompt.

Briggs’ prompt was “One miracle I have seen in my life is…” When I asked him what he wanted to share, he sat quietly for a minute and then without much hesitation he said, “When Hunter wasn’t seriously hurt when he dove into the water at Lake Powell.” I couldn’t agree more – it was a beautiful miracle he only received surface injuries to his face.

We talked about miracles a little more and he was reminded of a personal miracle for him. He decided to share his miracle today, “One miracle I have seen in my life is when I was stung by a scorpion and my dad gave me a blessing of healing to help manage the pain.”

He had it memorized, spoke loudly and clear for everyone to hear.

The following song was “The Miracle” and I can’t seem to listen to that song – especially when kids are singing – and not get emotional.

Jesus is a God of miracles
Nothing is at all impossible to Him
But I know this:
Of all His miracles the most incredible must be
The miracle that rescues you and me

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Dog days…

Here’s a not so quiet secret…I’m not an animal fan – specifically cats and dogs. Like not at all.

And yet, they are a fan of me and I don’t know why! I don’t pet them. I don’t give them attention. I speak ill of them. But they don’t seem to mind and they just won’t leave me alone.

I’m not usually vocal of my disdain for animals (unless we’re really good friends) so it’s always a little dance of me avoiding the dog while trying not to let the homeowner know how uncomfortable I am with their dog putting their wet nose on me. Some houses I enter, the dog immediately jumps on me and it takes everything in me to not knock it down mid air. Instead I twirl around and walk a different direction and hope they lose interest in me. They rarely do.

I have to laugh at this picture Hallie snapped as I was carefully trying to avoid the dog at my feet. He didn’t even go near Hallie but wouldn’t leave me alone. He was trying to lick my toes which made me throw up in my mouth just a little bit and I was having the hardest time focusing on the conversation I was in. Hallie burst out laughing and I quickly realized I was not hiding anything as I danced around their dog doing everything I could to not have him touch me. Why don’t they leave me alone? And why am I not better at hiding just how uncomfortable I am?!

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Grand Canyon 2023…

Steve and Hunter hiked rim-to-rim of the Grand Canyon last year and when Steve got home he was hobbling around the house and declared he would never hike it again.

And just like childbirth, the pain and discomfort of the hike started to fade away and early this summer he started talking about the hike again. A large group from our neighborhood was planning another trip and Steve was looking forward to training again. Unfortunately, with club sports, the weekend everyone decided to go wasn’t going to work for our family. So Steve crossed the idea off the calendar. But he didn’t want to cross it off! He wanted the motivation that comes from preparing for a large hike. He was able to find a weekend that worked with a few friends and the hike was back on the calendar – but modified. Instead of rim to rim, they planned on South Kaibab to Bright Angel trail – a solid 17+ miles in one day.

Steve trained a good amount. Hallie was planning on joining and during her training (running bleachers) she quickly realized her tennis injury to her hip two years ago was not going to hold up for the hike – she bowed out. Hunter is playing two sports right now and did absolutely zero training. Bennett was originally on the list to go – but he’s been dealing with some foot issues so we figured it was best for him to stay back. But he didn’t want to stay back – he felt he could do the hike and last minute was added back to list when a girl his age joined the group with her dad.

These are the views that entice someone to come back year after year!

They arrived Friday evening with just enough time to enjoy the beautiful sunset over the canyon.

Early the next morning they were up and at the shuttle. They started out great – they basically ran all the way in – easier on the knees to run downhill than to walk. They saw animals, marveled at the scenery, and felt pretty good about their overall pace.

But you can only feel so good while hiking, right? Bennett started to get frustrated and wondered why he fought so hard to join this crazy party. But he kept hiking. The teenagers were in better shape than the adults and they started to pull away as Steve slowed to the pace of his friend who started to struggle. And the struggle just got worse. Dehydration. Vomiting. Cramping. Stopping for frequent breaks. They were expecting to be in the car driving by 3pm and they were no where close. At this point I was getting text messages from Steve…2 miles left. Over an hour later…1 mile left.

Around this same time I got a text from one of the adults saying he had made it out with Hunter and Bennett and the girls. Hunter later informed me one of the girls started struggling the last mile and a half so Hunter was carrying his pack, some of Bennett’s water and he threw her pack on his front. All that tennis and soccer is paying off!

They were able to get showers and clean up while waiting for Steve and his friend to make it out. And almost an hour and a half later, the whole group was out of the canyon. Nothing short of a miracle for how much our friend was struggling mid way through the hike. Steve was genuinely worried about him. To be clear – this hike is not for the faint of heart and especially not for the untrained heart. These teenagers are all athletes and even for them it was difficult.

To say everyone was pretty sore would be an understatement. Hunter is by far the least sore in our family. His quads were tender but overall feeling okay. Bennett is still struggling to walk normal! The morning after the hike we all went to church and none of them could hide their aches and pains. And walking up the stairs to their bedroom was just comical. Bennett has already sworn off ever hiking it again. Hunter has already committed to next year. And I’m not sure where Steve falls on the spectrum!

After hearing their stories I was satisfied with my decision to stay home and shuttle kids to their games.

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