Monday, January 1, 2018

Colorado Christmas, part Day (plus Skiing!)

[Continuing on from part 1 a few days ago.]

Christmas Day dawned with 18" of fresh snow from the night before.

It was gorgeous and freezing and the kids slept in until the comfortable hour of 7:30 a.m. Landon couldn't imagine what Santa would bring him because he got everything he ever wanted the night before (hand-controlled drone, k'nex roller coaster, 3D art pen, Under Armor shirt, arts/crafts project paraphernalia - truly, what else could there be?), and was quite tickled to find a surprise magic kit waiting for him. (Along with nine non-fiction chapter books about war, space, and/or mountain climbing, the topics of his heart; he finished four on our drive home.)

Clairebear VERY MUCH knew what she was hoping Santa would bring her - the Let's Play School kit from Lakeshore Learning. She wanted it SO MUCH and SO BADLY and was SO EXCITED to find it waiting for her.

She's taught a class to Cora, me, and her new "Humongous Pua" (a gift from Uncle Eric and always called by his full name).

I love it because I spent approximately one million hours of my childhood doing the exact same thing with the EXACT same school set. There's nothing like telling other people what to do, with structure, worksheets, and a grade book that is all yours.

She had also been dying for a "planner with all the months" which of course she got because how can I resist a planner-buying opportunity?? (I cannot.) And I forced upon her two sets of vintage American Girl doll books (Felicity & Samantha!) from back when they actually wrote about American Girls' lives, families, hardships, and dreams in different times/circumstances than our own instead of fluffy superficial stories that are basically the same for all of them. (I'm a little bitter about modern-day AG wimping out on the books; I remember them so fondly and felt like I learned so much reading about each historical girl!)

Cora received many a princess item the night before, so Santa brought her a bouncy foam pogo stick, roller skates (emoji praise hands to our neighborhood buy/sell group where I got them for $5! Also where I found the AG books!), and play-doh. I hate play-doh, but Cora loves it and Santa indulges.

The boys went out to clear the driveway while the ladies worked on breakfast and mimosas and the kids played.

It was a very Colorado Christmas day.

James started work on an igloo/snow structure with Landon and Claire while Cora found them all ridiculous and stayed warm and cozy inside. I stood in the doorway to take an occasional picture while still wearing my cozy clothes. I was with Cora on that one, though I do enjoy a look at James in his mountain man wear. He looks as good in the snow as he does in a speedo. Dreamy sigh.

At some point we had to drive into town to pick up our ski/snowboard rentals for the next day's skiing (my parent's Christmas gift to all five of us! also, HIGHLY recommend Blue Valley Ski Rentals- by far the best prices and great gear/service) and when we got back, the kids decided to ski down the driveway!

And the whole snow-covered street. Soon we were running our very own private ski resort.

Cheap lift tickets, nice long run down the street, but the lift lines are a little slow.

It was so fun! There was also sledding (that Cora flatly refused, forcing me to go down alone)

and exploring James's awesome igloo.

We were supposed to have a photographer come out to do family pictures, but since it was well below freezing and still snowing, she canceled her drive over from Denver and we rigged up my camera on a ladder in the yard. I thought they turned out great!

Papa & Gigi and the babies!

Rice kids!


My crew.

Seriously, given the temperature and the fact I hadn't brushed my hair or put on makeup, I was quite pleased.

Flying Gigi!

More fun was had. Cora deigned to sit in the igloo and Sky reluctantly sat with her.

These girls preferred the indoors, where Cora could attempt to direct Sky's actions to mimic whatever she was doing and Sky mostly did whatever she wanted. Everyone was happy and Cora LOVED having a temporary younger sibling. Just before we left she asked me, totally exasperated, "But Mommy, WHEN am I getting my baby sister??" I think Claire told her one will just show up eventually. Thanks for stepping in there Sky.

Mommy I will push her, 'kay?"

Later (time had last all meaning) we had an amazing dinner thanks to Whole Foods catering. We put the kids in bed and managed to make ourselves stay awake long enough to learn a new card game involving 7 decks of cards, teams, and math, but it was super fun. I've never met a card game I didn't love.

In the morning, we were up bright and early to go SKI. Except for Cora, who was happily ensconced in the mountain base childcare where, per her report, she played and painted, was "very polite" and "all the kids fought over who could sit next to her at lunch."

For the first time ever, Landon and Claire were going to ski with us. On our past three ski trips we've used ski school to give ourselves a semi-grown-up vacation, knowing someone else was teaching the kids while we enjoyed the fact we already knew how. Skiing (boarding for James) was our day-date, our grown-up getaway-- gliding down the slopes together, sharing the ski lift, getting lunch on the mountain or back in whatever condo we were renting, before picking up the kids around 4 and spending the last few hours of the day all together. It was a perfect family/romantic vacation blend.

But this year our day of skiing was a pure surprise and bonus. We hadn't planned to join my family on the slopes until my parents offered it as our Christmas gift (this trip was a Hurricane Harvey-forced add on since my parents weren't back in their house yet and there was nowhere else for us all to be together; and after this year, we all needed to be together!), so we saw any skiing we got to do as a bonus and certainly weren't going to pay the extra $400/day for ski school for two kids.

And it was SO FUN! Oh we did way fewer runs, and very different runs at that (my first time on a green in many many years), but I smiled so hard my cheeks hurt watching Claire slowly and carefully make her way down the hill.

Though on our very first run, which we belatedly realized was Claire's first run EVER, having never left the bunny hill she confidently conquered on our last two trips, Claire started out slow and steady and then built up a bit too much speed and had a spectacular crash before I could get to her, losing both her skis, and wrenching her knee under her with a scream that made my heart stop from a few yards up the hill. I raced down to her, helped her get up, and then towed her to the lift while she cried and whimpered. Back at the top of the mountain, she cried anytime she put weight on her leg, so we popped her skis and went to ski patrol. They didn't think anything was broken, but we hung out in the lodge with ice on her knee and hot chocolate in her hands for a while. After an hour or so we reunited with James, Landon, and my parents who were brimming with Landon's victorious turn down a blue run.

I switched with James and went out for a quick run with Landon - it was so fun to watch him confidently make his way down the blue slope. We made it back up to the mountain house for lunch and a reinvigorated Claire who felt "much better" and wanted to try to ski again. It was a slow go, but I was SO proud of her overcoming her (very well founded!) fears and making her slow turns down the slope. After a successful green we reunited with my parents for another go and this time she decided to fork off onto a blue run we'd enjoyed with Landon. Some of the parts were steep - Keystone has tough blues - but she scrunched up her little face and made her way down smooth and steady and her joy-filled looks up to us after a particularly tough turn were my favorite thing ever.

Our group formed and fractured throughout the afternoon. Landon got to hang with the big kids (my sister, brother, and brother-in-law) for a long blue run and then my parents stayed with Claire so James and I could race off and do a run together just the two of us. I finished out my day with Landon on a blue, picked up a very happy Cora from daycare, and drank a hot toddy while waiting for James and Claire to finish their last run together, a long blue that Claire handled beautifully at the end of a long day!

It was so great to get to ski together, and so special for the kids to get to ski with their Papa and Gigi and aunt and uncles. They're totally hooked now, though I'm not sure when we'll get back up there in snow!

That night was packing and leftovers and more card games. We left by 7:30 a.m., which was early than expected and had a very smooth ride home, arriving right at 9:30 (losing that hour on the drive back hurts, as does having to stop for lunch and dinner since we weren't able to pack all our meals like we do on the drive up). But we made it, unloaded the car, and then dropped into bed. And that catches us back up to this post I wrote earlier today.

We love love our Colorado trips. It's such a beautiful state, in all seasons, and getting to enjoy a white Christmas for the first time with all three kids was awesome. Add in having my whole family together after a tough year in a beautiful home borrowed from a good friend and it was perfect. 2017 kicked us around quite a bit - the passing of my aunt in January, my grandpa's sudden and massive heart attack in August, and Harvey flooding my parent's beautiful new home right after that, but the strength of our family has shone through at every turn and we're thankful for what we have, while still very ready to embrace a shiny and new 2018.

1 comment:

  1. What fun! Happy you were all able to be together for the holiday.