We all have a seemingly insurmountable mountain to climb.

Each and everyone of us.

For some it’s getting up and giving a public speech in front of hundreds of people or having the courage to fly in an airplane or facing down a bully or paying off overwhelming debt and mounting bills or trying to mend fences with someone who has wounded you.

Or climbing a mountain.


When you are in middle school and 4’10” and you are a little shy and used to having your twin sister with you everywhere you go….

….your mountain is basketball camp.

kitchen counter

I first heard about basketball camp four months ago.

That’s when she started worrying.

“Mom,” she said.  “I have basketball camp this July and I need to start practicing.  I want to be ready.”

And practice she did.

I’d look out the window and watch her.  Morning after morning she ran and practiced and dribbled and lay-upd  and freethrowed and zigged and zagged and shot basket after basket after basket.  Sometimes her brother would help her, but most of the time it was just her and the morning and the basketball goal.

farmhouse kitchen

Finally the week of basketball camp arrived.

We had endless discussions about it.

Her big blue eyes would fill up with nervousness and she’d ask me question after question.

Could she do it?  What if she was the worst one there?  Did I know that there were going to be boys at basketball camp, too?  What if everyone were watching and she couldn’t shoot any baskets?  What if they laughed at her?  What if she got sick?

And as I listened, my answer would always be the same.  I’d tell her she had this.

That she was amazing.

That she had the one thing that all mountain climbers need in abundance.


kitchen organization ideas

The morning of basketball camp dawned bright and early.

The sun was shining and the birds were chirping and I was driving a basketball player down winding country roads to the school.

We didn’t talk much on the way.

Mostly she tapped the seat and looked out the window and set her lips in a firm line and stared straight ahead.  Finally, we pulled up to the school and she grabbed my hand and squeezed it tight and gave me one last long look of resolve.

Then she braced her shoulders and disappeared into the gym.

recipe wall kitchen

I wish this was the part of the story where I told you she shot the winning basket with two seconds to spare and the team carried her out on their shoulders.

I love an ending like that.  But this is a mountain.  And many times mountains are difficult to climb.

The week was hard.

There were ups and downs and challenges and baskets she made and baskets she wished with all her might would have sailed in through the hoop.

hutch kitchen

The last day of camp was the awards ceremony.

Before she left we talked about it.  We discussed that awards are wonderful and amazing and incredible and if she got one we would jump up and down and celebrate, but if she didn’t… worries.  She didn’t need an award to tell her she was a winner.  She had already won every award that was important.  She had done something that so many people never do.

She had faced a fear.

She had climbed her mountain.

When I picked her up from camp, she came running to the car.  Her backpack was dragging behind her and her blonde braid and tiny blonde curls were bouncing in the wind as she ran up to the window waving a certificate with a smile on her face as big as Texas.

“I got it Mom,” she shouted with the certificate crumpled in her hand.  “I won.  I got an award.”

most respectful

Most respectful basketball player.

There it was in black and white with her name printed beneath.

I couldn’t have been any prouder.

Although, just between us, I think it should have read…..

….Best Mountain Climber. 🙂

 PS  She also got Most Improved Basketball Player, too. 🙂

just us

PPS  I was taking pictures of the kitchen yesterday for an Instagram takeover I’m working on with a brand.

I told her I needed a picture with a celebrity. 🙂

Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.


  1. Image for Rowena Philbeck Rowena Philbeck

    Good for her!!! What a great story about your daughter and I love the picture!! Thanks for sharing with us.

  2. Image for Debra Milam Debra Milam

    As the saying goes" The apple doesn't fall far from the tree". It is wonderful to see your children achieve, congratulations to you both!

  3. Image for Cecilia Cecilia

    You're such a good mom! You helped her face her fears and climb her mountain. I may have teared up a bit. :-) Your kitchen looks beautiful but I love the picture at the end of the two of you. (We twins find it hard to go solo sometimes. We're so used to the other one always being there. My twin still gives me courage although we learned to be solo-ish years ago.) Big hugs, Cecilia

  4. Image for Mary Mary

    Oh how I remember those days! My 3 sons are all grown up now with babies of their own! What a wonderfully sweet story, thanks for sharing it. Good for her for sticking with it and working hard! I'm sure you were as worried about it as she was. Tough business being a mom! You brought a tear to my eye this morning :)

  5. Image for Taste of France Taste of France

    She learned more by working hard and not making the winning points than she would have if she never lifted a finger and was able to sink long-shots. Her grit will pay off. Maybe not in basketball, but in life.

  6. Image for Courtney @ Foxwood Forest Courtney @ Foxwood Forest

    I am not a mom, but I can only imagine how proud you must feel to be raising a daughter who is recognized as being a respectful person. We need more people like her in our world! :)

  7. Image for Leslie Watkins Leslie Watkins

    Precious. Please tell her how very proud I am of her!! And her encouraging Mom who is there be her best supporter ever! I'm sure she has ropes, signs, boots and gloves ready for every challenge. Hope you had a flag to mark that event!

  8. Image for Donnamae Donnamae

    I am so proud of her....she faced her fears! She climbed the mountain! Happiness abounds for both of must be so proud! Great pic too....and with a celebrity no less! Enjoy your weekend! ;)

  9. Image for Loryl Fisher Loryl Fisher

    What a sweet amazing girl you have! I love her determination and spirit, That apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Congrats to her!

  10. Image for Donnie Donnie

    Thanks for sharing such wonderful news! The pride in accomplishing something which seemed insurmountable will spur her on to bigger and better things. Not to mention, she has her own pep squad cheering her on.

  11. Image for Pinky Pinky

    I think that is the BEST award she could have gotten! Most respectful!!! She is a WINNER in my book and sure captured that mountain. You are a fabulous Mom. It takes someone strong to make someone strong!!!! XO

  12. Image for renee renee

    Both of you are adorable! You got one amazing Daughter there!! But She has one Amazing Mom too!! Your house is Stunning! Thanks for sharing!

  13. Image for Gee Gee

    Yeah!! She climbed and planted her flag!! Congratulations to your celebrity!! I luv your beautiful kitchen!! Big hugs! Gee

  14. Image for Michelle Michelle

    Love the story and the way you tell it kept me on the edge of my seat, love the courage and determination that sweet little 4'10" person in your life showed, and especially love the picture of you two together. I know you're proud and it made my day!!

  15. Image for jae jae

    Most respectful is an Awesome reward. Too often common courtesy isnt common anymore! And having the courageousness to follow through with the camp and the hard work prepping for it is an admirable trait which will help her as she grows and finds new mountains to conquer. Kudos to a great junior rockstar!

  16. Image for Ardith Ardith

    Cheers to that lovely mountain climber! She can be proud not only of receiving recognition, but of her dedication (aka, practice) to becoming a better basketball player. XO Ardith

  17. Image for Barb Barb

    A beautiful story about a beautiful young woman, learning, living and challenging life with a strong supportive mother

  18. Image for Nancy @ slightly Coastal Nancy @ slightly Coastal

    Most and I know that means more than "Best Layer Upper" any day...because that one carries through her whole life. Congrats to her that her respect was high enough that it was noticed (a feat not to be underestimated). At the end of 8th grade my son was awarded Most Responsible Student...something that took his dad and I by surprise. It's "easy" to win awards for doing flashy noticeable is so much more of a challenge to win awards for exceeding an expectation. Bravo to her. Have a great weekend friend.

  19. Image for Linda Linda

    Karianne, Your daughter received the three best awards ever...Most respectful, it the world today that is an award to be extremely grateful for. Most Improved, that means she learned and put to use the info she absorbed. But the best award is having a mother behind her like you! Congrats to both of you!

  20. Image for Jolyn Jolyn

    You made my cry... again! It's a proud mama moment when you realize that OTHERS realize what a great kid you have. What better compliment than "most respectful??" Mom and Dad deserve a gold star for that one!

  21. Image for Bonnie Bonnie

    Thanks so much for sharing. Your story brought tears to my eyes. I am so happy for your daughter that she received both the Respectful Award and the Most Improved Award. What wonderful achievements they both are!! I love the picture of both of you together in your beautiful Farmhouse style kitchen. I will try not to be jealous - HA!

  22. Image for Claudia A. Claudia A.

    That story's way better than hitting the final shot and winning the game...that could be a fluke, OK in my case it would be a fluke. Most Respectful and Most Improved that shows dedication,. She had to work long and hard for those. Good On You Girly!!! I can see Moms red lipstick as she's cartwheeling across the front yard!

  23. Image for Jeanie Jeanie

    Please tell her congratulations from Tulsa, Oklahoma! She's got grit and determination. She'll achieve whatever she sets her heart on. You and Twinkle Eyes are raising amazing children!!

  24. Image for Mary Crozier Mary Crozier

    What an amazing story....motherhood-filled with angst, joy, tears, anticipation, saying supportive words when really what you want to do is take them home and protect them from the harsh world.... Such great lessons she learned this week in addition to basketball. You are a great mom!!!!

  25. Image for Sherrie Pfeiffer Sherrie Pfeiffer

    Well, we know where she gets it! What an inspiring story, proud mama! And congratulations on an article in the Louisville, KY Courier Journal yesterday. Way to represent Kentucky! I saved it, by the way. I have a mountain to climb too, and your post today gave me such a boost. Thanks so much!

  26. Image for maureen mawby maureen mawby

    What a great story to share. Determination and grit are so much more important than being the best! Also, this story could make a great essay for a college application down the road.....

  27. Image for Jessica Lardinais Jessica Lardinais

    I am literally teared up over this. What a wonderful story of great parenting, great determination and great mountain climbing! I am going to share this with my fitness group as we all have those daily struggles (daily mountains) on conquering fear and making positive choices. Honestly, "most respectful camper" is the BEST award someone could receive. That type of award takes you through life, rather than just one week of camp. Well done!

  28. Image for Susan Susan

    You've done it to me again...*tears*. I'm sooooo glad your baby girl got along okay at camp...from the awards she received, I can tell she really found her niche there...I'll bet that, not only was she the most respectful basketball player, she was also the most respected. You've done an amazing job raising your children, should get an award for that! And that is the most lovely photo of you and your little mountain climber are both just soooooo very beautiful! *more tears*

  29. Image for Sue Sue

    Karianne,you amaze me. You really enjoy your kids. Every mother loves their child, but some don't stop to smell the roses. When they are older,you will be grateful you had all these opportunities to be a Mom. They are going to pass this relationship on to their children. What a gift.

  30. Image for Pat Pat

    Being a twin, I also understand, at some time in life we go in different directions and are on our own. Congratulations for her awards and determination.

  31. Image for Ellen Ellen

    Such a beautiful story. Now your daughter has savored the view from the summit of her mountain and has the papers to prove it- BRAVO! I think we Mother's enjoy our children's success as much if not more than our own. That beautiful photo has two celebrities!! Thank-you for this lovely post.

  32. Image for christine b christine b

    Thanks for this incredible reminder, mountains are there to be climed. Way to go tiger ! Hey Karianne what sink do you have in your kitchen? In the midst of a remodel. Blessings to you and your wonderful family. Thanks for all the inspiration

  33. Image for PJ PJ

    Congratulations to your lovely daughter! In a world where there is far too little respect, I cannot think of a better honor to receive.

  34. Image for Botanic Bleu Botanic Bleu

    KariAnne, Let me add my congratulations to your daughter for working hard BEFORE the camp. In life, making 3-pointer baskets only lasts for 6-10 years (junior high - college), but hard work pays off forever. You may be the best athlete, the smartest academic student, the prettiest girl in the room, you name it, but the real backbone of our society is filled with hard-working people who may have never won any awards or received any recognition. They are the salt of the earth who can be depended upon when sickness comes to their families, when a friend needs help, and when deadlines have to be met to keep the company afloat. Your daughter exemplifies the qualities of REAL people who will and do make a difference in this world. Way to go, MOST RESPECTFUL and MOST IMPROVED! You are a real celebrity. Climb every mountain, ford every stream! I want YOU on all of my teams. Judith

  35. Image for Vicki Vicki

    Dear daughter of Thistlewood: Congratulations! That is the BEST award you could have ever received! And most improved? Awesome! Your hard work paid off! So proud of you! And that picture at the end --- the best!

  36. Image for Kathleen Kathleen

    A great story, KariAnne ... and a few tears, of course! As the Mom of four daughters, we've been through a lot of mountain climbing, too. I only hope that our girls feel they received from me just a bit of all you give as a Mom. I am honored to know you as a "friend in my heart." I also feel proud of your sweet twin ~ and glad to be able to share her accomplishments through your words. I admire her dedication, perseverance and respect for others ... adults and other players. She will surely carry these and other important traits with her throughout her life. And though they weren't there, I just know her twin and brothers are the same great kids! Great parenting is always reflected back to us in the behaviors of our children. Hugs! kj

  37. Image for Jane Jane

    Congrats to your Mini Me! She's awesome and that's a very sweet picture of you two. My son came over recently. He had been traveling quite a bit, I thought for work. The he showed me pictures on his cell of him standing on mountain tops holding signs with the elevations. I was not only in awe...I was close to hysterical. "What are you doing?" And he said he was climbing mountains and hiking and camping with his dog to face every fear he ever had. I have no words to express my thoughts or feelings on this other than I wish I had his drive. :) Jane

  38. Image for Shirley Shirley

    Such a great story Karianne. A girl I used to babysit just had her leaver's ceremony from her Junoir School. She was presented with the Miss Sunshine trophy. She was so happy & the award is so apt!

  39. Image for Peg Peg

    Hmmm, I wonder where she gets it?!? That apple didn't fall very far from the tree!! Congratulations mini Thistle!!!

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