Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Chain Gang - "Our Chains Set Us Free"

Last spring our Big Guy decided he wanted to take his love of mountain biking to another level - so he hung up his soccer cleats and joined his school's mountain bike team.


It meant 2 - sometimes 3 - early mornings a week for practice.  From April to October.  Early mornings.  Not late.  Up in the mountains.  With goat heads, snakes.  Dirt and sweat.  And lots of steep hills with frequent crashes, poison ivy, and battle scars.

Plus Mom spent most of the summer with the bike carrier attached to her car hitch. Small price to pay, really.  

Looking back...what an adventure!  Such a crazy experience into a world we've never experienced until now.  There were rough spots.  Like the critical moment where our son decided he couldn't finish his first race - turned out to be a building block for the races that followed.  And then his personal growth over the summer - a lot of maturity from such a little guy.

He's already decided to do it again next year.  

No need to remove the bike rack for the foreseeable future.  

Riding next to his friend, Calder and in front of his friend, Daniel.  He'll join their team next year.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Celebrating Charlie Brown

In between grocery shopping, running kids to practices and making dinner, I cranked out this very non-elegant, Photoshop-edit of our family. Rough around the edges and flaws everywhere, but it was the most creative moment of my day!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Ketchum/Sun Valley 2015

"Never go on trips with anyone you do not love." - Ernest Hemingway.  

I think this was our coldest reunion yet.  Temperatures plummeted within hours of arriving.  So we kept to the sun and only during the warmest hours of the day did we brave the newly remodeled, heated pool.  

Every year this place gets more ritzy and snobbish.  I miss the Ketchum winters of my youth, with horses across the street from our cabin, the hot springs pool on main street and snow banks that would swallow my brother and fill my boots.  Now it's nothing but expensive condos, stiff condescension and looks of shocked disgust when my kids go anywhere.  

I try to upset the system as much as possible in spite of it.  

This is our view of the ice-skating show every year.  Bless my dad - he gets us the rooms overlooking the rink.  And it's awesome!  Jammies, cousins and Olympic ice skaters - fabulous!

We can't ever go to Ketchum and NOT eat at the Kneadery.    

We have started an annual tradition of bringing our baseballs and mitts to Sun Valley.  We usually spend a few hours playing catch during lunch.  We love it!  And we get the oddest looks every time.  One of these days Sun Valley Lodge is going to put up a sign restricting it.   

The last few minutes of the BYU/Nebraska game had every single adult on their phones.  Nobody around us understood why we started jumping up and cheering.   

We now have an annual tradition of getting dinner at Bald Mountain Pizza on Saturday night because you get free tickets to the theater the next day.

And I'll pay for this later, but I had to sneak this one in...

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

"The Most Pretty Lady in the World"

Today my darling Grandmother Hoopes would have turned 99.  

She came to mind almost the moment I woke up - long before I realized it was her birthday.  It comforts me greatly to know she's close to us.  Her legacy is still vibrant and strong.  It is also immortal.  

Towards the end of her life, I drove frequently from Springville to the care center in Salt Lake City where Grandma Hoopes was living.  I would shuffle my two boys (1 & 3yrs of age) into her room and then placate them with french fries and whatever toys were available while I tried to carve a few peaceful, uninterrupted moments with my Grandma.  Those moments never lasted very long.  

Grandma Hoopes was keenly aware of my struggles with infertility and how fervently Greg and I had prayed to have our babies.  In my view, adopting our oldest was a one-time miracle and the conceiving of my 2nd was the icing on heaven's open windows.  I didn't expect them to open again.  In fact, I had reconciled myself completely to raising only 2 children.

Not so with my Grandma Hoopes.

She reminded me often, "A girl is coming, Rachael" and "You will have your daughter".

I didn't believe her.  At all.  I would smile and nod in agreement.  But deep down I thought I knew better.  

When the end was just months away and Grandma's mind began to slip, I couldn't risk waiting any longer to tell her the news I had purposefully kept back in fear I would lose the baby.  I was miraculously pregnant again.  And it was a girl!!  I don't know if she understood my joy or the connection of her previous vision becoming a reality.  By that time her lucid moments were few and far in between.  

I wasn't there when she died.  Our last telephone conversation happened on the front steps of my new house in Connecticut.  She had sounded so clear, so aware again of her surroundings.  I was 3 months away from giving birth and Grandma was concerned about my health and that Greg and the boys were happy in their new environment.  I dreaded the realization that she wouldn't live long enough to see this baby girl she had divinely predicted.

I like to believe she and Pretty Girl crossed paths.  


Grandma would have given her a marvelously big hug.  She would have reaffirmed how much she was loved and told her, "You come right back when you're finished.  Don't you dare forget."  I can picture Pretty Girl's excitement mixed with my Grandmother's heartache at letting her go after such a quick reunion.    
Families are forever.  Grateful the Savior makes reunions possible.  Separations are not permanent.  

And when it comes to Bubbs... well, we like to coin the phrase Grandma Hoopes used with us all the time.  He was "hand picked from heaven".

Monday, September 14, 2015

iShuffle Music

Last month during a mountain bike ride with my oldest, we decided we needed to document our favorite work-out music on the family blog.  (We're finally getting around to doing it).  

This list is definitely not stagnant - especially in his case.  But for the most part, these pieces have helped push us both this past year.  And it's been awesome sharing songs with my ever-evolving, quickly-approaching-his-teen-years, son - I hope the collaboration continues for years to come.  
So here's our Top 5.  We recommend them for all sports, but especially for running, swimming, and any type of biking - some really good stuff that will get your blood pumping...

Our Big Guy - 

#1 – Fall Out Boy – esp Phoenix Light Em Up Irresistible
#2 – Imagine Dragons - Shots
#3 – One Republic - Love Runs Out
#4 – Monster Cat – esp Soldiers New Style
#5 – Muse – esp Supermassive Black Hole & Uprising

Mom - 

#1 – Imagine Dragons - esp Shots Friction
#2 – Fall Out Boy – esp Fourth of July Irresistible
#3 – Led Zeppelin – esp Whole Lotta Love
#4 – Taylor Swift - esp Out of the WoodsStyle
#5 – Instrumental – esp Superman Main Theme and William Tell Overture

Friday, September 11, 2015

Fastest Summer Yet...

My child and I hold hands on the way to school,
And when I leave him at the first-grade door
He cries a little but is brave; he does
Let go. My selfish tears remind me how
I cried before that door a life ago.
I may have had a hard time letting go.

Each fall the children must endure together
What every child also endures alone:
Learning the alphabet, the integers,
Three dozen bits and pieces of a stuff
So arbitrary, so peremptory,
That worlds invisible and visible

Bow down before it, as in Joseph’s dream
The sheaves bowed down and then the stars bowed down
Before the dreaming of a little boy.
That dream got him such hatred of his brothers
As cost the greater part of life to mend,
And yet great kindness came of it in the end.

A school is where they grind the grain of thought,
And grind the children who must mind the thought.
It may be those two grindings are but one,
As from the alphabet come Shakespeare’s Plays,
As from the integers comes Euler’s Law,
As from the whole, inseperably, the lives,

The shrunken lives that have not been set free
By law or by poetic phantasy.
But may they be. My child has disappeared
Behind the schoolroom door. And should I live
To see his coming forth, a life away,
I know my hope, but do not know its form

Nor hope to know it. May the fathers he finds
Among his teachers have a care of him
More than his father could. How that will look
I do not know, I do not need to know.
Even our tears belong to ritual.
But may great kindness come of it in the end.

-"September, The First Day Of School" by Howard Nemerov-
(favorite lines are bolded) 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


Pretty Girl, Pretty Girl, Pretty Girl...

These are her feelings on reaching the age of 8 -

And these are mine -

(Lovely memories of Connecticut with this song and cradling Pretty Girl in my arms around the kitchen - thinking the age of 4 was forever away.  Now I'm on the other side looking back.)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

For My Babies

Here's to you, you were pink or blue. And everything I wanted.
Here's to you, never sleeping through, from midnight till the morning.
Had to crawl before you walked, before you ran. 
Before I knew it, you were trying to free your fingers from my hand.
Cause you could do it.  On your own now.  Somehow.

Slow down.  Won't you stay here a minute more?
I know you wanna walk through the door.
But it's all too fast.  Let's make it last a little while.
I pointed to the sky. And now you want to fly.
I am your biggest fan.  I hope you know I am.
But do you think you can somehow...slow down?

Here's to you, every missing tooth and every bedtime story.
Here's to Barbie cars, light-saber wars, sleeping in on Sunday.
Had to crawl before you walked, before you ran.
Before I knew it, you were teaching me the only thing love can.
Hold hands through it, when it's scary.  You've got me.

Let's slow down.  Won't you stay here a minute more?
I know you wanna walk through the door.
But it's all too fast.  Let's make it last a little while.
I pointed to the sky. And now you want to fly.
I am your biggest fan.  I hope you know I am.
But do you think you can somehow...slow down?

Please don't roll your eyes at me.  I know I'm embarrassing.
But someday you'll understand.  You'll hold a little hand.  
Ask them if they can.

Cause it's all too fast.

I am your biggest fan.  I hope you know I am.
But do you think you can somehow...slow down?

Slow down.

Slow down.

-Nichole Nordeman-