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Saturday, January 10, 2015

just like learning how to ski

We are skiing!  I cannot even tell you how amazed and excited I am about this!

I feel like we have been waiting 10 years (as in, since we became parents) for our kids to be old enough that the four of us could do something physical outdoors that we would all enjoy.  We have tried to hike and that has always ended with someone crying.  We've tried family bike rides and snow shoeing as well and they all end with some level of unenjoyable frustration. 

Well, the reign of super small children who can't use their bodies out in nature without complaining or being carried is over!  (Well, pretty much.)

This is the winter we are becoming a ski family!

First stop, the Ski Rack for a season lease of skis and boots for the girls.

Christmas brought helmets and goggles for the girls from their grandparents so they were set to go.  Sandi had never skied so she needed the full setup.  I had skied before but it had been something like 18 years (and the last time I had been on skis I had to come down Sugarloaf mountain in the medic sled due to severe hypoglycemia).  I failed to get back on the horse and it has taken me some time to really want to do it again.   I had some decent ski boots but my skis needed replacing.  After a couple of rather painful trips to the Ski Rack, the four of us had what we needed.  

All that was left was for 3 of the 4 of us to learn how to ski.  Insert ski lessons at the local small ski mountain.  Sandi took one private lesson and was good to go (no great shock) and the girls took their first group lesson last weekend.  
Maya's skis are as long as my arms.  

It is so gratifying to watch kids learn to ski.  If you need to feel like progress is happening somewhere in the world, go visit your local ski mountain during lesson time.  The absolute beginners go from looking completely awkward, walking like ducks with mattresses on their feet and then, an hour later, they are skiing in "pizza" position (snowplow) down the slow slope.  

We decided to go ahead and get season passes to the mountain so that we could come and go as we wanted.  It was clear that lots of practice was what we would need and that given the need for the girls to build stamina we might not ever be able to maximize a several hour ski pass.   So, with our kids only halfway through their first ski lesson, we bought them season passes.  

The next day, in a questionable parenting decision, with children who had not yet skied on any slope,  up the mountain we went.  We had season passes burning holes in our pockets.  Sandi, who had been up the chairlift twice, was responsible for one child and me, who hadn't skied in 18 years, was responsible for the other.  It is just the way we do things.  

The chairlift went smoothly, and I was grateful that skiing apparently is like riding a bike and my body did not forget.  However,  the first trip down the easiest slope revealed the most shocking insight to our children.  They were not yet pro skiers after that one class.  They could not move like Olympians nor did they fly down the mountain with alpine grace.  Despite being informed of the inevitability, they fell and got faces full of snow.  They were almost offended that it wasn't immediately easy.  

We were alongside them yelling, "Pizza! Pizza! Slow down!" which just made of them very angry to be told what to do and the other one couldn't hear anything since she has a hearing loss, was not wearing her hearing aids and instead had a layer of fleece and a padded helmet over her ears. 

It was awesome.  

Two days later we got right back to it and went night skiing. I have never done that and I must say it was a scary thrill.  Like everything that I did before children and now do with children,  the experience was strongly impacted by the amount of parental worry.  First off let me say that no one fell and the kids were so comfortable on their skis and moved with such ease and frigging SPEED that it was unbelievable.  What a difference just a little practice makes. 

I was the "sweeper" while Sandi was up in front with the kids in between.  I was watching them fly down the slope thinking, "I am so proud of them!  Look at them go!  WOW, what a  huge improvement!  Look how confident and smooth they look!! But YIKES! It is dark out here and if they lose control going that fast they will end up in the dark woods and be hard to find!  It would be so easy to break a leg!  Night skiing is fun but, man, they could have more lights couldn't they?  Hey, you skier merging way too fast onto our slope do you see my 43 pound peanut steaming down the trail??  BE CAREFUL AND DON'T PLOW HER OVER!"

Yes, that is what skiing as a parent looks like.  Before it was just me versus myself, trying to stay up on my feet and make it down the mountain.  Now I have 2 additional people to worry about.   (No, I don't worry at all about Sandi.  She may already be a better skier than I am.)

All in all, though, it is just so much fun.  In my experience, the best way to withstand the very long winter Maine offers up every year is to get outside.  Snuggling up by the fire and watching movies is great but you can't do it all the time and expect to feel good.

This morning the girls have their second ski lesson and Sandi and I plan to ski together, which is why we now call it ski babysitting.  Pretty nice way to spend a Saturday morning.

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