Sunday, July 7, 2013

Enter Summer...

Okay, so I'm waaaaaaayyyy behind.  Like four months behind.  Luckily, I'm pretty sure no one's life depends upon my blog, so I think I'm okay.  No excuses, just a crazy life.  So, I think this  post will be pretty much a catch-up on what we've been up to...

March ended with a surprise trip to Disneyland for Spring Break.  The family has been earning money for it for the past year and the kids thought it would happen this summer, but with fire season stealing Colt each summer, we decided to surprise the kids with it for Spring Break.  It was not nearly as organized as it would have been if I hadn't been working full time, but we saw palm trees, Mickey, Shamu (SeaWorld), Optimus (Universal Studios) and swam in the ocean so I guess it was a success.  We dragged Grandma along as well, and she luckily survived our family's craziness.  We cannot find the FULL memory card of pictures I took from the trip, so the bummer is I can't share all of the great photos that I know I took!!! )0:
SeaWorld wtih Grandma (one of the few pics we have!)

My Dancing Queens
April and May came and went with a blur.  May brought the three-year celebration of having the girls in our family.  It coincided with the girls' dance recital, so there were flowers and treats aplenty! Sometimes it is hard to believe that there ever was a time that they were not with us!

The last day of school came at the end of May and was a "psyche" for the kids as I worked all the next day and have continued to work.  My hours are less and of my own scheduling now, but there is so much to do and I know I won't have time to do it once school starts that it's now or never.  Part of it is just my desire to have it organized better, part of it is discovering that there has been a lot that has not been done due to the lack of a librarian having time to get to it.  Last spring I spent 30% of my time in the library, all the rest I spent helping teachers in class.  Not that I don't love the time spent in class, but the library needs more than 30% of my time to be a library that the students deserve.  Hopefully this next year will bring the librarian back to the library...

So, summer has entered the scene and brought with it the craziness of juggling kids' activities, 5K's, triathlons, fires and traveling.  Both Noah and Wyatt are on the Craig Swim Team, and Noah and Tsegereda did tennis lessons for the month of June.  Tennis is Tse's favorite activity and she is getting very good at it (could use some private lessons from a State Champ though...hint hint Uncle Marty!!!).  Noah was very good at hitting, but needs a little more help with the aiming part!  Rodas has swim lessons and soccer.  Wyatt is playing soccer on a U16 Team, which is a little daunting for him, but he's holding his own.  An older teammate who is an outstanding ball-handler is an awesome role model and coaches Wyatt while they play, so it's been a great experience for him so far.
Hiking by Elkhead Res. with Aunt Joan  (0:

My dear friend, Joan, came to visit in June and it was wonderful to see her again.  She was a great support during the rocky years when we were trying to adopt, and it was very special for the girls to finally get to meet and know "Aunt Joan."

After Joan's visit, the kids and I attended an African-Caribbean Adoption Camp for three days in Denver.  It was fantastic!  I nearly started crying when the kids first went to their groups...for the first time, my girls were not the only brown-skinned kids around.  Wyatt, Tse and Noah made some great friends and Rodas enjoyed playing with other little girls that looked just like her!!! Finally, they weren't the "onlies" as I call it.  If only we could provide that for them every day.

The girls had their hair braided by two very sweet Ethiopian women, one of whom was from Mekele, where the girls are from.  We discussed hair and speaking Tigrinya and bringing the girls to Denver to get their hair done and learn more of their culture.  It is so important to me that the girls do not forget where they came from and have that link, especially as they get older and struggle with deciphering their identity in this crazy world.  Denver has a large Ethiopian community, and an Ethiopian Community Center devoted to teaching youth about Ethiopian culture, of which we are now members.  Suffice it to say, the camp will now be a yearly family occasion and our trips to Denver will increase as we try to keep our daughters' heritage alive for them, and teach the rest of us more about Ethiopian culture.

The Mortenson runners.
He seriously IS the Energizer Bunny!
May brought the first of many races with the Hayden Cog Run.  Supposedly the oldest running race in Colorado, the Cog Run consists of a difficult 8 mile run up "the Cog"--a really steep hill outside of Hayden--and a 5K.  Noah and I did the 5K while crazy Wyatt ran the Cog (with Dad riding along on his bike).  He did awesome and had some help from a middle school friend (Tse's best friend's older brother) who is a phenomenal young runner as well.   Wyatt came in in the middle of the pack with a time of 1:06 (I think).  Pretty awesome for a 10 yr. old.  Noah did great in the 5K and left Mom way in the dust! (0:   Another 5K in Craig put Wyatt and his siblings in the local newspaper  (, which they loved.  Wyatt won first in his age group and came in sixth place overall with a time of 21:26. Noah also did a personal best time and came in 20th. Tsegereda and Rodas ran the mile kids fun run with the boys, Tsegereda coming in first in her age group.  Both Tse and Wyatt received wonderful wood carvings for their prizes.  Noah got lots of treats, which made him happy!

My Tri Dudes!
The boys also did their annual Meeker kids Triathlon at the end of May, and both took first place in their age groups.  Way to go, my Tri Dudes!  The whole family got up at 5 a.m. to drive them down and cheer them on. (0;

 So now the 4th of July has come and gone, and I can already see summer slipping away.  I fear it will be gone before I have time to truly savor it...but I'm beginning to realize that that is life with kids.  You savor the moments and the seconds, and the Oreos before bed, because that's all you have time for! (0;

Colt and the kids floated the Yampa

It's time to cut the hay (Wy spends every moment watching them cut our fields)

Rodas floating in swim lessons

Happy 4th!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Odd Synchronicity of Life

So, I'm late getting my post done...I'm thinking we're lucky it's being done at all given my life at the moment:  CRAZY!  You see, one week I was your normal, stay-at-home Mom just trying to wade through laundry and put food items in a pot, hoping it would turn out edible...the next week I was working full-time and digging out the "nice" clothes from the back of my closet.  The cool thing is?  IT'S AWESOME!

Colt and I agreed when we started our family that when the kids were home, one of us should be home.  I stayed home and figured that when all kids finally enter full-day school, I would look for a job.  With Rodas headed to Kindergarten next year, I've been pondering on how to find a job that would fit our crazy schedule of kids constantly on the go--summer and school year--while also doing something worthwhile,  economically beneficial, and Craig, Colorado, no less.  Hmmmm.  Tough one.

As so happens with the odd synchronicity of life, the right thing comes along at what seems like the wrong time.  Turns out, sometimes what seems like bad timing is just our limited vision.  The principal at Hayden Valley Elementary, where our kids go to school, mentioned to me that they were in the process of hiring a new librarian--a position I had actually mentioned months before casually to Colt while doing my "what to do with my life but still take care of kids" ponderings.  I have always loved reading and books and have thought being a librarian would be something I would really enjoy doing.  I have a masters in Natural Resource Sociology, but my brain is so far removed from that life I feel like that knowledge just dissipated.  Jobs in that are limited here, too. Go figure. (0:  Anyways...

Plop, into my lap the opportunity falls.

Eek.  Wrong timing.

What do we do with Rodas, whom we have not wanted to go the daycare route because of attachment reasons.

How do I get everything done--laundry, cleaning, dogs, girls looooooong baths, exercise, helping Mom sell her awesome crafts--on top of a full time job?  I couldn't keep up with it as it was, how would I do it minus 40 hours each week?

Seemed doomed.  But perfect.  What better job...for next year, that is...I'd be home when the kids were home: summers, weekends and breaks, and working while they were at school.  If I applied and was hired, it would just be really rough until the end of this year.  Daycare for only a few months...surely that might not be too bad?

To make a short story long, we decided to go for it.  I lucked out and got the job, being interviewed then hired on a Thursday (doing all I could to stay afloat a midst a wonderful migraine) and started work the following Monday.  WHIRLWIND!

The first few weeks were rough, getting into the new swing of things.  Rodas seemed shell-shocked for most of it and was very tired at the end of each day, but it wasn't as bad as I thought.  As we're in the rhythm of it now, I see that it was probably serendipity starting this job now.  Rodas is acclimating to the full day of activity that she will have next year in Kindergarten, and her daycare provider is great.  She has her hands full of kids and thus is not able to provide Rodas the full attention that she would want--forcing Rodas to socialize with the other children.  We have been working hard getting Rodas to socialize in Primary and Preschool instead of monopolizing and following around the teacher, and were worried about it in Daycare.

So, now I'm still wading through laundry and trying to figure out what to make for dinner, but it's a whole lot more complex, but that's okay.  I like what I do, where I'm going and the new clothes that I can now justify are pretty cool, too! (0:

Our February in pictures:

Nordic Dude Wyatt

Old Man! But we still love him!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Child of God

So here we are, January is almost over...can you believe it?  I'm still a bit shell-shocked over the fact that it is 2013!  I look back over the past month and see it so packed full of things, yet how did that added weight not slow the time down?  How is it that the older and grayer I get, the faster time slips by?  Now that I know better how valuable each second is, why does it seem to sift through my fingers so much faster?

It's not fair.
Yet, it is what it is.

I mentioned before about doing a post on raising our children LDS (Mormon), when I am not a member of the Church.  Since I am at home with a sick Noah while Colt is at Church with the rest of the kids, the theme of religion seems appropriate for the day.  Before we were married, Colt and I discussed raising our children in a religion.  Colt is a very devout Mormon, but holds it close to himself.  He does not deny or hide his Church, but has often endured many a scathing anti-Mormon comment from the very non-Mormon world he works in.  In marrying me, he risked many things that loved ones expected or hoped for him (such as marrying another member and being sealed in the Temple)--but he had also established, long before I ever came into the picture, that the path of his religion would be one of his own making.  While all of his brothers completed missions abroad, Colt went through a different rites of passage fighting the monstrous Yellowstone Fires.  So much like his father, I can't help but see other ways that Val left his unique brand of religion on Colt.  Colt has mentioned before that where his mother was very traditionally devout, his father would often spend a Sunday in the mountains--claiming he figured God was there as well as in the church house.  With Colt being on fires for 21 days at a stretch, church became something that he had to carry inside of him as it often wasn't an option to take a Sunday off in the middle of a hitch and head to church.  There were times when he was able to have a make-shift sacrament meeting with fellow LDS co-workers on a fire, but such occasions were rare.

My experience with the LDS church had been pretty black and white until I met Colt.  A dear childhood friend of mine growing up was LDS, but we were so young that religion didn't enter our thoughts or friendship.  We grew apart as we grew older, so I remained relatively ignorant of the LDS Church.  When I moved to Utah to work in Dutch John, a prominent LDS family there stirred in me a strong bias against the Church through their arrogance and extreme "thriftiness."  This was not second-hand knowledge--I felt their condescension clearly and perfectly and it left a very bitter taste in my mouth for the religion from which their loftiness flowed.
Soon after meeting Colt and his amazing family--and many others that were LDS--it became obvious that I couldn't paint the lot of them with the same brush as I had before.  The Mortenson's and the Steele's (Coreyne's family) and so many other dear LDS friends are such good people.  Truly good people--that serve others without a second thought or hint of begrudging.  Colt taught me about his Mormon Church, from the point of view of one who has looked at his own Church from the outside-in a time or two.   There were, and still are, beliefs of the Church that I have a hard time with and feel I will likely never accept, BUT I admired so many more things about the Church.  The focus on family, service, agency and seeking the good in all things.  The emphasis on CTR--Choosing The Right way to live. I wanted my children to have the stability, the solidness of character, that the Mortenson boys have.

In the swamp of cliques, peer pressure, needles and bongs that loom in our children's future, I wanted them to have something to hold onto to help them stay strong and wade through the muck without being dragged down into the mire.  It is so hard out was rough when I was a teenager, and I wasn't one to bow to peer pressure (just the opposite, in fact), but today, this day, it is a battleground.  The fact that pot is now legal scares the heck out of me! My children will likely be bombarded with some offer to do drugs, smoke a cigarette or drink beer before they're even out of elementary school!  Is that not scary or what!?

So, I agreed that we should raise the children in the Church.  I wanted them to have that iron rod to grab onto.  Perhaps it is a bit hypocritical, raising my children in a Church I don't fully believe in.  However, there is no other Church that I believe more in.  And I will do all that I can to give my children every tool possible to get through this world successfully.  I take the children to Church whether Colt is with us or not.  I read scriptures with them every night.  We say our prayers.  We go to Scouts and Activity Days.  I do not do things half-way, and if we have decided to raise them in the Church, then they need to KNOW the Church.

My one caveat is that I do not shield my questions or doubt from them. I want them to have faith but I also want them to have their agency and choose to believe what is right for can they choose to be a member, or not a member, if they don't know everything they can about what their supposed to be believing?

So, by raising our children in the Church we are giving them a spiritual law to hold onto, to be bound to...a reason to say "no" when they might otherwise be unsure.  But they also have a foundation from which to build--or rebuild--as they grow into adults.  They will hopefully know that it is okay to question--to search inside for the truth--and find your own faith, as their parents have done.  The LDS Church is the belief that guides their father and is what we want them to hold onto until they are strong enough to find their own, should it be different.  They will be loved and accepted no matter what path they decide to follow.
Our little tree in the front yard...usually so forlorn, but dressed in snow and lights she is beautiful.

Can one ever have too many Barbie's? 

Super Skier!

She's 11 now!

The owl the kids and I found snowshoeing in the back pasture.

The owl tree...can you find him?

Wy and Colt skiing (carefully!)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Aftermath....

So it's been hard to sit down and do another's like I'm putting Val on the shelf next to all the old posts just sitting there, gathering dust.  I don't want to do that.  But the necessity of those of us left in this mortal coil is that we have to move on.  Life is about moving on.  Doesn't mean we have to forget, and we don't, but we have to move forward.  As I watch Colt mourn, the good moments are starting to outnumber the bad...but there are still times when I enter the room and catch him stopped in the middle of doing something with tears rolling down his face.  He was so close to his father and Val's death has hit him so very hard.  It is hard standing by and knowing there is no way that I can make it better.  We wives just have to stand by and let time--that incessant moving forward--ease their hurt.

November trudged on, not stopping to honor the fallen unfortunately.  We did have some moments of joy, though.  Rodas, Noah and Sage (13!) celebrated birthdays and Noah was baptized into the LDS church.  The baptism was beautiful, and a sweet balm on the open wounds we all felt at missing Val.  I think it helped us all, a bit, with that moving on part.

I want to do a post on being a non-member raising my kids in the Church, but my one brain cell is not up to it tonight.  It will be coming though...

Thanksgiving was beautiful, and spent with my folks in Grand Lake, CO.  It was nice to spend some time with my parents and also gave my Mom and me time to hatch a new business concoction:  selling her incredible handmade moose, snowmen and santas on  So, if you have noticed the new addition to the blog's sidebar (scroll down, you seriously can't miss the monstrosity) you'll find an "I sell on Etsy" link that goes directly to the shop called Mountain Thyme Collections that I have opened to sell Mom's awesome crafts.  She really is incredibly gifted (none of which drifted into my genome) and I simply love her creations. I hope they begin to sell well, especially since many of the items have taken over our spare bedroom. (0:  Eleven things listed...two hundred more to go.  Seriously. (0:

October was just as eventful as November, with Wyatt celebrating a birthday and Colt having some pretty intense knee surgery.  It's been 8 weeks now since the surgery and he has been without crutches for two days.  He looks like a baby taking his first steps and it is hard to not help him, but the doc says he needs to put weight on it now.  He has had trouble with his quad "waking up" and so has been in therapy for the last three weeks where they have been working it and giving it electrical shocks to get it going.  It's going now, but the progress is still slow.  Colt's been pretty patient and done fairly well, but I have to say that I SUCK at being a nurse!  And, I HATE COMPRESSION SOCKS!!!!!!!!!!!! (0:

As Christmas careens closer, we finally seem to have entered winter.  It is white all around, I've been stuck in our driveway twice today and shoveled three times (though you can't tell), and Jasper is merely two ear tips swimming through a sea of snow.  Finally!  We so desperately need the is a wonderful early Christmas present!  We went to get our Christmas tree Saturday after I worked in Steamboat at the World Snowboard Race to the Cup (I was a gate judge halfway up the ski hill and it was pretty cool watching close-up some amazing snowboarders from all over the world).  It was white-out conditions and we only had an hour before dark, but the kids and I donned snowshoes (Wy went on his XC skis) and boogied to find a good one.  Within 30 minutes we had found a beauty, cut it down and had it loaded.  She's an absolutely beautiful sub-alpine fir (my favorite, Colt's least favorite) and fits us perfectly.  Now she is lit, decorated, and finally, 'tis the season.

From our family to yours:  Have a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2013!  May it be full of good health, laughter and love!!!!!!!!!

Mr. Crutches

Happy Halloween!  Complete with Harry Potter, Hermione, a  Dementor and SpiderGirl

Rodas has now surpassed everyone in the family--including Colt--for the largest  gap in her mouth (three teeth lost this Fall and counting...)

Jasper stared intently at the Thanksgiving stuffing for five minutes, willing it to come to him.  It didn't.

Crazy little dudes ran the Steamboat Springs 4.6 mile Turkey Trot.  Brrrrrrrrrrr.

Little Princess turned 5!

Tse and Jasper with my parents' dog, Tinker.  Pretty awesome front yard, eh?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Val J. Mortenson

Bronco rider,
Sheep shearer,
Never met a stranger,
Boots on all the time,
Loved Diamond,
Cola drinkin',
Latter Day Saint,
Rarely smiled for pictures,
Hard on tools,
Easy to feed,
Preferred not to eat olives,
Loved mutton,
Black bananas and vanilla wafers,
Outdoors man,
Never wore new,
Took a few tumbles,
Had a few helicopter rides,
November 8, 2012,
Guardian Cowboy Angel.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


I think the most difficult aspect of motherhood, for me, has been loss of space.  My space.

I like my space.  I like room to breathe and space to move.  I'm comfortable being alone.  I prefer to fish alone, just me and my rod and my imperfections and tangled line.  When I am in pain, I want to be alone.  Sometimes, I simply need to be alone.

That doesn't happen much in my current life.  Even now, as I type, Rodas is on the arm of my computer chair in her pj's asking four hundred questions to try and delay bedtime. Speaking of which...

...okay, book read and Little One is tucked in.  Computer chair is free for the moment.

Oh yes, I was rambling on about space.  Don't get me wrong, I love my children...heck, we went half-way across the world to find two of them!  But everything worth anything costs something.  And for me, the cost wasn't monetary, simply a matter of personal peace.  I'm willing to give up my space, but that doesn't mean there are times that I don't miss it.

Some mothers are very good at giving all to their family and not feeling spent in any way.  Somehow their bucket just keeps refilling.  One of my dear friends, who has just had her fifth adorable child, home-schools them all, makes homemade bread and bunk beds and has a husband who is gone as much or more than mine, is one such sweet soul.  I don't know how she does it, when after two weeks without respite I tend to become crankier than Archie Bunker.

Even harder is the fact that two of my children, and my four-legged shadow, Silver, desperately need to be within my personal bubble as much as possible.  And they deserve it.  Oh, how they deserve it.  And, I work hard to allow welcome it...but it is so incredibly tough.  And sometimes, I fail.  Sometimes I just shut the bathroom door, closing both Silver and Rodas out for a few brief moments of respite.  Sometimes I ask Tse to move her head just a little bit away from mine so that I can see the words of the book to read them.  I can read the words fine...I just needed to breathe.

And every time I fail, I feel so guilty because I know they deserve so much more.  Children today often are raised by helicopter parents whose lives revolve around their kids.  They end up raising children who get a rude awakening when they are older to realize that life actually doesn't revolve around them and when they demand that it does, they don't get a paycheck.  We won't have that problem, I don't think.  My needy munchkins have such a different circumstance that even if Colt and I gave them all that we could, it still probably wouldn't be quite enough to overcome what walked away from them years ago.  But we have to try.

So, I dream of the days when there was room to breathe...but I am blessed to have incurred such a loss.

So, on to what we have been doing this past month!  Colt has been gone for most of it, spending a few weeks in northern California on a fire and now has been in Idaho (just north of our old home, Salmon) for over a week.  Below-freezing nights in a tent, working 16+ hour days managing a 340,000 acre fire.  That's my man! And we are so proud of him!  Don't have to worry about not having enough space with him, unfortunately! (0:  Anyways, our month in pics:

It's autumn on the Elkhead!
Noah and Uncle Jackie (my brother) playing on the tramp.

My creative children took turns making each other into block robots.  Too cool!

Tse's in there somewhere...
Wyatt (blue shirt, red shorts), Noah (striped hat) and Mom starting the Leaf Cruncher 5K.
The only time Mom can keep up with Noah...when he has a side-ache!

Speedy Wy, off to win his age group.
Wyatt, Rodas and Tse at the start of the Leaf Cruncher 1-mile Fun Run.  
Rodas begged to run the 1-mile race and Wyatt wanted to help her.
I said "yes" but knew it wouldn't be wasn't.
...but he got her moving...
...and smiling...

...and finishing!  I'm so proud of both of them! 

Vice versa day at school--hmmm.  Thinkin' I like it the other way around!

Tiger, our friendly neighborhood cat, taunting the dogs.
Life can be so unfair!

My Hahn's Peak runners!
Noah coming in for the finish of the 1.5 mile kids race.
Rodas wanted to run again, this time big sister helped
keep her going!  Way to go, girls!
My 1.5 mile runners!

Wyatt at the start of his first 10K (6.4 miles).
He ran it solo, and it was an extremely tough 10K.
1200+ft elevation gain and decline through timber, meadow and scree slopes.

I began to worry at 1 hour and 30 minutes.
What was I doing letting my 9-yr. old run this alone?
But, he's wanted to do a 10K so bad.  He's ran 7 miles with Dad on rough trails.
Even if I ran it, there was no way I could keep up with him...
Please let him not have fallen with no one to help him...
Please let him not get lost...
The first runner came in at 1 hr. 47 min.
He said the little guy was doing well last he saw...
Fifteen minutes later, the second runner came in...
a little red-clad body wearing a huge smile!
What a kid, eh?