Thursday, February 24, 2011

Skiing, sledding, and snowshoeing

We just got back from a ski vacation with Jon's family. This is something they do every year, but it's the first time that Isaac and I went long. It was a lot of fun! The resort is geared towards families, and there is a great little ski school where Anna took her first lesson. She loved the school and the little practice hill, and was excited to go skiing the next couple of days. I wasn't sure how she'd take to the sport, but she has shown no fear. After practicing on the bunny slope Jon took her on the ride (her term for the ski lift) to the top of the "big hill" and they went down a few times. He holds her between his legs, and off they go. They even did a few jumps in the terrain park, at her request. As a bonus, she also went skiing with her auntie and grandpa, using a harness. I'm so glad she enjoys this most Colorado of sports, and next year I'd really like her to learn how to stop.

Jon spent a day a different resort with more challenging runs. He's a fantastic skier and I was happy that he could go. I'm told the weather was perfect and the views were great. He hasn't had a chance to really ski since we moved here so this was a perfect opportunity.

The accommodations were comfortable with a hot tub* in each room. The latter was quite useful for getting the kids to wind down after a fun day with the cousins. [Alas, while it may have helped the kids fall asleep, it did nothing for keeping Isaac asleep. He hated the pack 'n play and either Jon or I ended up "sleeping" with him in the adjacent big bed. By "sleeping" I mean he got up every hour to scream, kick, play, pull hair, cry, giggle, or wiggle himself dangerously close to the edge of the bed. At home we were finally able to let him cry it out. After 45 minutes of sobbing (both him and me), he zonked out. And slept until 7 a.m. Nice.] Our socialite daughter wanted to spend all her time with the cousins, and considered this event a giant sleepover. The only difficulty was that she was unable to understand why her older cousins (all boys) declined to play "princess."

Isaac also liked all the people and excitement, and especially the two Hot Wheels school buses that he promptly found and hugged to him for the duration of our stay. He loves wheels, that boy. I can only imagine what madness the age of Lego will bring.
In the mornings, while everyone else was out skiing, I would take Isaac to the sledding hill. The resort keeps a nice little slope with some tubes and sleds, and near that is a huge pile of snow with tunnels, a.k.a. large pipes, that kids can climb through. Isaac enjoyed sledding, until Mommy made the mistake of turning the sled by putting down her boots. After a face full of snow, he decided that the little snow mountain was more his speed. Actually, I think his favorite thing was just to wander around looking at all the skiers, the lifts, and the people. He was quite the picture of cool, in his Laplander hat, snow suit, and sun glasses. This is a little man who seems to be biding his time, planning his one day assault on the slopes.

Myself, I was able to go snowshoeing a few times, which is a few more times than I expected. Between the odd trail marker and some guess work we forged a trail through the trees, on the outskirts of the runs. Although snowshoeing on groomed trails is okay, I prefer a bit of powder and an incline. Otherwise it feels more like hiking than shoeing. I look forward to the next time, which at this rate will be next year.

The one unfortunate thing was that Jon's skis de-laminated, which means the two planes came apart. I think that's the term. Anyway, they broke. He took great joy in tossing them in the dumpster while remarking to onlookers, "We're supposed to return the skiis after renting?"
So the question is whether he buys new gear, and it's a big question because of the implications. Ski gear isn't cheap, and if he buys new stuff it will be because we've decided that skiing is one of our family "things." That is, it's an activity and a skill set that we will invest in as a family and take time to do. And make no mistake, it is an investment in terms of money and time. If you ski, you already know this.
It would also be a sacrifice on my part. I don't really enjoy downhill. I did it from the time I was in junior high school until mid-way during graduate school. I've skied in warm weather with the sun on my face and in bone chilling cold down to -25 C. I've skied on glorified hills, in Canadian Rockies, and in the Sierra mountains. One day I just realized I didn't like it. Maybe it was the cold, maybe I just didn't learn properly, maybe I hated waiting in line for ski rentals, or maybe it was the adrenaline (I have so much running through my veins already). Whatever the reason, I stopped skiing and started snowshoeing.

So here's the plan. I will take a lesson with Anna and we will (re-)learn together. In a decade or so, once the kids are up to Jon's level, I will again don my snowshoes and take off into the trees while they scream down the chutes and moguls. Or maybe by then I will enjoy downhill again. After all, it can be a family activity. I mean, how many sports can grandparents do with their grandchildren? Not many. So yes, I will get with the program. We live in Colorado, after all. Skiing may even be a law here.

[Mom: I feel I should assure you that the tub is cleaned between occupants, otherwise I agree that it would be gross.]

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

No longer bored

Last January, I wrote about the winter doldrums and how January is the longest month. This year I've barely noticed January and now February is half-way through. How times have changed! Between preschool, Anna's class at the rec center (which she hated), her drama class (which she loves), my woman's bible study, and working out at the gym, the time has passed way to quickly. Somewhere in there I also managed to host a Super Bowl party, organize a family Valentine's Dance at our church, and geared up to host a workshop (in the spring) on preventing childhood sexual abuse. Meanwhile, Jon is coming home late today after his third business trip in four weeks.
In short, this is why I have not been posting with any frequency of late. And by all rights I should be cleaning up the dishes or sweeping the floor or folding the laundry or unpacking the Target bags or dealing with the swimming stuff from this morning or answering the myriad e-mails that need attention.
But instead I had a chocolate caramel and sat down here - aren't you glad?

Yes, I am feeling a little burned out and tired. All the things we've been doing are good and/or fun, but I do need a minute now and again.

Anna seems to be enjoying these many adventures. She is always up for an outing, although perhaps not getting ready for that outing. She has declared a hatred for winter due to the necessity of outerwear. I also abhor the outerwear, simply because it is yet another thing she must do before we head out the door. Anna has become quite the daydreamer, and if she isn't spending time making faces in the bathroom mirror, she is singing a made-up song about shoes, or perhaps exploring different ways of putting on her jacket. Lovely, funny, and a little frustrating if it is Time To Go. I think I've hit upon a solution, though. I set a timer by the door and give her some amount of time to get ready to go. If she takes less than 5 minutes, she gets to dress a princess on the computer. If it takes 5-10 minutes, she breaks even. Longer than 10 minutes and she loses dessert at dinner time. She hasn't taken more than 5 minutes to get ready, all week! And then she makes faces or sings songs for the remaining time. Win-win.

Isaac continues to be the tough nut these days. At 21 months he is frustrated in a way that Anna never was, due to his lack of verbosity. He's not behind, she was just that much ahead. So I feel under-experienced here. I suppose it's also annoying for him that our adventures are Anna-focused. Yes, he gets to run around the community center during Anna's drama class, but the novelty is wearing thin and he doesn't quite remember why I'm shoving him into the car to begin with. Diaper changes are another challenge. Each one becomes a wrestling match, and he feels it's a wrestle to the death. I'm hoping his anger at the change table will somehow translate into early potty-readiness. Time will tell.

At the same time, 21 months is so adorable. That elfish grin! The way he says "dump-cah" instead of dump-truck. The extreme love he has for all things with wheels and all stuffed animals everywhere. His ability to play by himself (!!). The cute way he says "bite" whenever he wants to taste my food. (Well, that was cute. Now it prevents me from eating breakfast or lunch at the table.) Watching him admire and emulate his sister. His interpretive dance and ability to execute a mean pirouette. How he soaks up a cuddle, melting into your arms.
Yummy yummy toddler.