Friday, March 31, 2017

We Take to the Slopes

In January, I planned a ski weekend for my family with my brother, his twins and my parents. (My sister and her kids couldn't make it.) I'm very lucky that we have family who has a house by a ski resort within a few hours of where we live, so we had a free place to stay. My brother and I priced out how much the skis, lift tickets and classes would be for us all, and we went for it!

I first learned to ski when we were on a trip to New Hampshire when I was probably 8 or 9. I remember... bundling up in my furry gray and white coat... how difficult it was to move around in skis... the lesson I took with my sister... how lost I felt when I slipped off the J-bar behind the trees when no one else was around... and the exhilaration of sliding down the hill while in control of my movements and speed! I loved it! After that, we went skiing pretty much every year at one of the ski resorts close to where we lived.

Londo used to ski, but he didn't grow up skiing like I did. Then, he hurt his knee pretty bad the last time he went skiing,--which was why it was the last time he went skiing. Londo really enjoyed skiing prior to that, and he supported taking the kids to learn to ski. In fact, he would have gone on the bunny slopes with us, except he got really sick with a cold and couldn't be outside and/or active. But he did come up for the weekend and stayed at the lodge with my parents while my brother and I took the four kids out to the slopes.

The Pumpkin was VERY excited to learn to ski. She was almost 10, and I felt she was ready to ski. When I first mentioned it a couple of months earlier, she immediately said she wanted to learn. The Pookie was not so sure. He is two years younger (7 and a half), and these days he gets anxious about learning new things or trying things outside his normal routines. But I showed them both a video of some little kid doing the pizza wedge (I grew up calling it the snowplow) down a bunny hill, and that got him interested. He thought it looked pretty easy and maybe even a little fun. He agreed to try it.

My brother's kids were only kind of interested, but they don't always want to try new things either. However, the twins are about to turn 11, and my brother wanted to make sure they at least attempted to learn at this age. He loves to ski as much as I do, so he wanted to share it with them. In order to preempt any arguments about it, he outright bribed them. He offered them each $10 if they at least tried the lesson.

We rented all our gear (with Londo being our hero and running across the entire resort to get us goggles even though he was sick); however we had to wait a while for the next class to begin. So my brother and I showed the kids how to put the skis on and take them off. We showed them how to move around on the flattish ground, but it is not nearly as easy as it looks! Still, the Pumpkin seemed to pick it up pretty quickly, and the Pookie fell a bit but seemed okay. My brother's son fell down constantly, but he got back up every time and kept trying. I was rather impressed with that grit! My brother's daughter struggled to move herself on the skis. I think she was getting pretty frustrated.

My brother and I took the beginners lesson with the kids (which turned out to be SUCH a good idea). When it started, the instructor had us take off our skis and go up the "magic carpets" to the top of the bunny slope.

When we got to the top, I learned that my brother's daughter had opted out. My brother made sure she understood that she would get $10 if she did the lesson, but she was uncomfortable and did not want to continue. (Luckily, the resort let him return her skis later for full reimbursement.) His son then asked if he would get the $10 even if he fell during the lesson, to which my brother said of course! So his daughter went into the lodge with Londo and my parents, and his son continued on with us.

The instructor was great, showing us how to move without our skis actually on. Then we tried with one ski on, then the other, and then both. The Pumpkin seems to pick up on it pretty well, and the Pookie struggled a bit but was making progress. My nephew was still falling a lot, but he continued to get back up and try again!

Then we started moving downhill. The instructor would go across the hill and a little ways down. Then she would signal the next person to come down, and then the next. Sometimes, she would come back up and help a person down (most of the class were kids, and it was everyone's first time, except my brother and me ). I watched as my daughter went down, doing pretty well for her first time! Then I went down... boy, it had been a long time since I've skied! Last time was before kids, so over 10 years ago!

And then I looked up to see my son hesitant to come down. I had been helping him quite a bit at the top of the hill, and I realized too late that I should not have come down before him. The instructor went up to help him, but I felt my heart in my throat when I watched him. He was nervous. He was not steady. Here was my boy up the hill on skis while I watched from below. He held on to the instructor's pole, which she held out horizontally, and came down with her.

The next two passes across the hill were as shallow as the first. The Pumpkin was still doing great, and I went down with the Pookie, with my pole out for him to hold. Then, the instructor went farther down the hill than she had before. I watched my brother, nephew and daughter do fine. Then, I went with the Pookie.

He was really anxious about this pass, since it was steeper than all the others. But I took him slowly, and he did okay. His biggest problem was keeping his skis in a wedge without crossing them, and I realized he would have done a lot better with shorter skis (lesson learned for next time). When we got to the stopping point of this pass, he fell over. I sat on the ground with him and pointed out that we had only a few more passes to go.

His eyes went wide.

"No, Mommy! I just can't do it!" He said to me, pleadingly. And I realized that was as much as he could do. He had done great! He had made it through the lesson itself, and we were just practicing pizza wedges to the bottom. He hadn't complained, he didn't have any meltdowns (something we are dealing with lately), and he really did try hard the whole time! He simply did not have the ability to keep his legs far enough apart in a wedge to keep the skis from crossing.

I looked up at my brother, who quickly said that he could go down with the Pumpkin and his son. She was doing really well and didn't need much supervision. I thanked him and took off my son's skis and my skis. I carried all the skis and poles, and the Pookie and I walked down the last part of the bunny hill.

Londo was at the bottom, and I watched the Pumpkin ski right up to him! She did great! When the Pookie and I walked up to him, I knew he was worried that our son had thrown some sort of fit, so I quickly explained how well he did and that we just walked down the last part. And we all went in to the lodge for lunch!

After lunch, we started talking about what we were doing next. Most people were ready to go back to the house. Just as I started to agree that we should all go back, the Pumpkin piped up, "I want to go back out and ski more! Mom, I wanted to ski with you."

YES! There it is... the thing I was hoping for... the beginnings of a Ski Buddy!

I've needed a ski buddy for years. With Londo not skiing any more (in fact, he stopped before we even met) and most people busy with their kids, I need someone to go with--ideally without leaving Londo with both kids for a weekend. And my kid wanted to go with me! I quickly agreed, and since we took two cars from the house, it worked out well.

This post is too long already, so I will write up my wonderful time skiing with my new ski buddy later.

But here was the after-lunch tally:
- Caramama: Happy to have a ski bunny and going back to the bunny slopes.
- The Pumpkin: LOVED skiing and going back to the bunny slopes.
- The Pookie: Tried skiing, but struggled enough for one day and going back to the house.
- Londo: Really quite sick and going back to the house.
- Brother: Going to the more advanced slopes for some time to ski by himself.
- Nephew: Tried skiing and did alright, but ready to go back to the house.
- Niece: Got on skis, but did not try skiing and very ready to go back to the house.
- Mom: Going back to the house.
- Dad: Staying in the lodge (working on his computer) to wait for us and drive us back. (Isn't he a great guy? This was totally his choice, too, since either my brother or I could have driven back.)

More to come...

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The Beginnings of a Ski Buddy

After lunch, my daughter and I went back up the "magic carpets" to the top of the bunny slopes. She wanted to keep skiing! With me...