Thursday, January 23, 2020

2020 Vision Board

Hi there! I'm not sure what happened, but it appears to be the 22nd 23rd of January. Life these days is such a whirl of crazy-fast and super slow and I'm just trying to soak up the fun among the crazy and savor the peace among the quiet and I'm not sure where blogging fits into that. There was so much more down time when the kids were little; now, there's no naps and no pauses and the days run much longer. And it's great- there are so many days that are just everything I wanted this phase of my life to be, but there is not any time to record the fun and funny and I find myself on the couch next to James at 10:30 p.m., with the option of opening my laptop and looking longingly at our bed and whichever book I'm re-reading instead.

But I'm not done with blogging, I don't think. I think about posting whenever my computer is not around. I write a lot of posts in my head when I'm driving. I love having a record of our vacations and the highlights of the everyday and my brain still turns into a blank blogger page when I'm mulling over something difficult. But the kids are getting older, their stories are less shareable, and the time just significantly more precious. So I imagine I'll find myself here in some stolen moments, capturing highlights and whatever thoughts I'm currently mulling over, and of course reminding you that Maggie loves you.

Because she does.

But moving on to 2020 and my visions thereof. I'm not a huge resolution person, but I do think the start of the year lends itself to some reflection on the things you've done that you're proud of and things you'd like to change or add. I know as our kids grow and we hit new phases of life and parenting, our goals as a family and a couple have changed too. When the kids were little it was about finding time for us, stealing moments when the kids were awake and asleep to stay a couple. Now, in many ways it's much easier to find time together- Landon can babysit for extended periods and we can head to dinner whenever we like, but as the kids scatter and I have weekends where my house is empty and I have to text friends to get all my ducklings back in one place, we're turning our focus to some defined family time- something we never had to do before because ALL TIME was family time. We recalled everyone home last Sunday, instituted a no sleepovers for the next month rule, and had an old-fashioned game night and it was literally the best. Way more of that is the center of my goals for this year. And, conversely to what I just said, now that Landon stays up way later and wants to sit in between James and I on the couch until 9:30, we're simultaneously back to working on preserving some grown-up alone (and awake!) time in our own house too.

Visual representation of our days

Anyway, these are my goals and thoughts for 2020:

1. Limit alcohol to a max of 3x/week I've been surprised by how deliberate I've had to be about this goal. The "glass of wine while making dinner" or "glass of wine on the couch after the kids are in bed" had become pretty deeply ingrained. I rarely ever had more than one glass, but I also had nights when I had no idea why I was pouring that one.

So I'm not. Or not during the week anyway. I think a lot of it was the routine and the idea of my glass as my treat or reward at the end of a day that is somehow always long. I don't really like water, I really don't like juice, and I *hate* all carbonated seltzer type waters, so I wanted something special at the end of the day and that special thing = wine. To fix that hole, I bought several new decaf teas and I make a cup to sip while I cook and another when we head to the couch. I'm creating a new routine and it feels good and cozy drink my tea in the big mug I bought in Chicago and know I'm not thoughtlessly indulging in a habit that wasn't particularly good for me, and given my family's history of alcholism, wasn't one I particularly liked. It's been a pleasant surprise to find that though my newly forming habit is still a very deliberate one, it feels good and isn't one I've been tempted to break.

2. Food. I'm happy with past moves to decrease our processed carbs and refined sugars, eat out 2x a month or less, and try new ingredients. I want to keep all that going. This year I'm more focused on my personal eating habits. I'd like to get back to the "no snacking ever" habit I had up until last year and continue trying new foods I previously thought I didn't like. Turns out, I can enjoy coconut milk, some mushrooms, and even some preparations of shrimp! I can also handle a medium spicy salsa. Who knows what I'll be eating by 2021.

Tonight's Dinner; we're very into bowls right now

3. Personal maintenance
. Couple goals here:

(a)Freaking floss every day FTLOG. Why is this so hard? I'm determined. I'm even marring the clean surface of my bathroom counter top by leaving the floss on the counter so it can yell at me with its silent presence;

(b) Use a weekly facial mask. I already own the mask stuff (a fancy Skinceuticals jar even!), I just never use it. I did last Friday and my skin felt incredible, so I've decided it's part of my Friday routine;

(c) Pick 3 days for my retinol and stick with them. My skin is too sensitive for daily retinol, so I use it sporadically and without a plan and closer to 1x per week than 3. So I'm picking M,W,F and already that's helped me use it the 3x/week I want to.

(d) Use my lash growing serum every night. I'm good with my basic skincare routine, but literally any extra step is erratic at best. I need to convince my brain these other things are also part of the routine.

4. Exercise. I'm still struggling to find my routine now that the kids are older and busier. I'd like to get back to working out 7x/week- It's honestly how I feel best, but I cannot seem to make it work. Mostly because I won't work out very early, very late, or at home, so I'm just going to have to bend on one of those.

My current schedule looks like this:
~Sun: Teach barre @ 1:30 p.m.
~Mon: [Despite the best of intentions, I rarely fit in a workout here]
~Tues: Teach barre @ 5:30 p.m.
~Wed: [Same as Monday; the goal is yoga at lunch, but it rarely happens]
~Thurs: Teach barre @ 5:30 p.m.
~Fri: Orangetheory at 11:15 (I work from home so this is my lunch and usually works out)
~Sat: Orangetheory or yoga (Don't love the two OTFs in a row, but it's where it almost always ends up)

I've decided my goal for the year is to get back to doing yoga at home. I have online videos I could use and I'm a certified yoga teacher for goodness sakes! There is no reason I can't get on my mat for at least 30 minutes on Mon and/or Wed. The time is there, particularly at night, but it is SO hard to do. James and Landon usually hang out together from 9-9:30 most nights (James plays a video game on his tiny old iPhone and Landon watches over his shoulder; there's not a single element of that phrase I understand, which is why I'm usually in a different room reading), so I could do it then. This is both my favorite goal and the one I think is least likely to happen, but I miss yoga and maybe that will be enough to get me there.

My favorite page from last year's photobook

5. Remain engaged until the later bedtimes. I have struggled with this for years. Our early evenings are great- the kids are big, things are easy, and when they're not at activities, they're hanging out and reading or coloring or playing with each other. I cook big dinners with tons of prep and genuinely enjoy it and then we all eat together when James gets home about 7:15. The active part of the evening is not the problem. It's the mental block I have that at 8:00 I should be done. It's like an off-duty light flips on in my head from back in the days when evenings were hard and draining and I've simply trained myself to shut down. And I shouldn't! I barely even parent anymore when we're hanging out together post-work and pre-dinner. And yet, after 8:30 or so, I really don't understand why any of them are talking to me.

Cora goes to bed at 8:00 (which is almost always actually 8:15) and Claire gets to read quietly in the living room until 8:30. So they're on my schedule, but Landon gets to stay out until 9 and then read until 9:30 in his room. And he somehow always pushes the 9 until 9:15 at least and he just wants to chat and hang out and he's so smart and funny and I do love that he's a nonstop chatterbox who just wants to sit between us and talk about our days but OMG GO AWAY.

I'm thinking I might pick two days that I tell myself can't end until 9 and try to really enjoy the extra alone time with our oldest, and then use the other two to do my yoga and not feel bad that James is the one hanging out with Landon while I escape to the TV room even though he's the one who just came in hot from teaching swim lessons to 100 yelling, crying children and he probably needs the break way more than I do. Maybe this year is the year of breaking habits, both mental and physical, and intentionally setting some new paths.

James, trying to explain how to negotiate other players to their own bankruptcies

6. Work/Career. The last year, while an... interesting one as a government employee, turned into a fun and super engaging one for me professionally. I brought three cases in the last 15 months and have a full plate of new investigations that are all deeply interesting and full of new issues and legal and factual questions. I've updated my resume- not because I have any plans on leaving, quite the opposite actually, but because it felt good and motivating to see the work I've done. I really like what I'm doing and I really like who I get to do it with and while I never imagined I'd be in this job at the 8 year mark, here I am, and the combination of substantive work and benefits, the lack of a commute, and the ability to expand and grow in my personal life and this new fitness career I never imagined I'd have feels like more of a miracle than ever before.

So my goals in this category are to reach out more within my organization and outside of it for training opportunities, speaking opportunities, and relationship-building. I've grown and expanded a lot in my personal life, this year I'd like to grow out and up in my day job.

(Somewhat related, I would like to not be on two PTA Boards of Director next year, so maybe some shrinking on the personal side too?)

Maggie wants to grow as well and is sleeping even harder during the day than before.

In other people's goals, James wrote an awesome article for SwimSwam about how he has been able to go two lifetime bests in the last month at the age of 38. The article garnered lots of cheers and comments online and they were so fun to read.

We're super damn proud of him.

If you're interested in more Fike Swim news, he publishes a pretty great newsletter through his Swim Products company

It's 11:30 p.m., so we'll catch up on more family news next time I open blogger. Until then, here's Maggie being brave in her raincoat and sticking her tongue out at the scary raindrops.

Happy almost Friday to you all!

Friday, January 10, 2020

2020: Food, Fun, and our Zoo

Happy 2020! We've been back in Texas for 10 days and somehow the mountains seem SO much further away than that. But that could be because I've been obsessed with finding a swimsuit I like for our Spring Break beach trip in March. Vacations. They are vitamins for my soul and planning for them is sometimes what keeps me going.

It's a skin cancer free kind of sexy 😂

But back to life in the Fort. On NYE we had big plans for our fancy homemade dinner (this year everyone got to contribute a favorite item or ingredient for the meal and it all ended up going together pretty well!) followed by a stop at a friend's house two streets away for her impromptu New Year's party.

Along with the collaborative menu, we had a collaborative playlist that was QUITE eclectic as it bounced between Metallica (James), P!nk (me), Disney Junior Musicals (Claire), Taylor Swift (Cora) and Post Malone and Baby Shark (both Landon).

Baby Shark was the surprise hit of the night, prompting all the children to get up and dance anytime it popped back up on the speakers. In about 10 years a DJ is going to drop that song in a club and the place is going to explode.

After our meal was consumed and cleaned up and Baby Shark was retired for the night, a scratchy voiced James looked longingly at the couch and the fuzzy blankets piled there while the kids and I were excited to go out. So James and Maggie remained behind (though Maggie totally wanted to party, I'm sure) while we headed over to our friends. I was wearing the leggings my sister had given me for Christmas and the tunic I'd ordered on Amazon specifically to match them which had arrived in the mail that day. I would wear this exact outfit for the next five days. These are great leggings (the solid color version has pockets! I now have them too).

May 2020 have as much time as possible with all my mamas, we need each other!

The plan was to stay for the East Coast countdown, something none of our children have ever made it to before, but after we celebrated that, we kinda just kept hanging out. This is what happens when the parent who is a stickler for bedtimes (his own, mainly) isn't part of the entourage.

Next thing I knew it was midnight central time and Cora and Claire were partying hard.

Landon was slumped half-asleep in front of the TV waiting for the countdown. Poor guy had had a sleepover the night before, back when we never thought we'd let the kids stay up this late. He barely survived it, while Cora was having intense conversations with her bestie near the balloons and Claire was out playing basketball in the backyard. I had my mamas and a bottle of champagne and I can't imagine why I actually thought we'd leave at 11.

And then it was midnight! In CENTRAL TIME! Happiest New Year to us all.

The next morning, James and I didn't exit our room until 10 (no idea when the kidss were up, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't much earlier) and we had a very late breakfast of James's famous french toast. In a nod to the occasion he even bought brioche bread to make it with instead of the hearty whole wheat and grains bread he usually insists on. Sprinkles and whipped cream were also involved. Happy New Year!

[Side note, but look at this throwback to New Year's Day 2014. I adore this picture and miss the days when we were so much less spread out.]

From the archives! All the hearts and tears

To make up for the white bread lapse in nutritional judgment, we took a very long walk with Maggie in her stroller and the kids on their bikes. James brought along his skateboard (and helmet! Helmets for everyone always and forever amen) so he could scare me when he goes down big hills.

Once at the park the kids found friends and a big game of Hide and Seek was commenced. Maggie tried her hand (paws?) at some skateboarding and I'm taking her energy, focus, and can-do attitude with me into this year.

And her heart. I would love to love like Maggie does.

I had gone back to work starting Monday, December 30, which was a bummer since the kids were still out of school. Luckily, at least from a logistics standpoint, James's pool closes to match the ISD schedule, so he's home whenever the kids are and can handle life on the home front, but it also makes me wish I was there too. New Year's Day being in the middle of the week was a fun bonus, but it made that Thursday and Friday even stranger. As of this week everyone is back in school and work and pools (except actually not because a pump broke, but that was still kind of nice on the logistics because our after school nannies aren't back in town until TCU starts up next week) and so things feel back to normal, though I can't believe it means that Landon is halfway through his time in 6th grade and Cora is on the back half of her Kindergarten career.

On the Friday before everyone went back to school I spent my lunch in the passport office with the kids getting their passports renewed for March. Five years goes by so fast, and yet when I look at these photos it seems a lifetime ago!

We got those done for our Jamaica trip in 2015 and I can't believe they were so little. They seemed so big and grownup when we went!

Now they scooter gang around the street all by themselves and Cora reads and writes her own thank you notes and we talk at dinner about how Landon turns 16 in 3 years and will probably drive my current car when he does and wtf, none of that math seems right.

Scooter gang member, initiation phase, 2015

Speaking of reading and random snapshots of the home-based half of our winter break, the photo books are a huge hit and I can't tell you how warm and fuzzy it makes me feel inside whenever I catch the kids reading them. Blood, sweat, and tears go into those volumes and I love that they love them.

Landon is reading Catching Fire in that picture. I got him the Hunger Games trilogy for Christmas and he finished all 3 that week they were home and he LOVED THEM. I'm so glad he's accepted fiction into his life because I've got SO MUCH MORE where that came from. He also received the Legend trilogy, The Maze Runner series, and The Lord of the Rings. He's already read all Rick Riordan, the Eragon series, and Harry Potter and I love every time he wants to talk about a plot point. Particularly since that's one more minute he's not asking me to quiz him on spelling bee words...

On Sunday, in an effort to fulfill my New Year's Resolution to schedule more family time on weekends (something we never had to do because family time was ALL THE TIME, which we loved, truly, but is now decidedly not the case), we went to the zoo!

It was a throwback to when we used to drop by the zoo all the time (it's a few miles from our house and we drive by it near daily) and I realized poor Cora doesn't remember anything about when we did that.

It was really fun. We need to go more often, especially since everyone still enjoys it so much.

Every animal reminded me of Maggie in some way, but none more so than the hippos. Don't you just see it? If Maggie was water safe? I feel like she'd be so at home in the herd here.

I'm going to put my resolutions in a separate post so I can refer back to it without having to dig through all the details of our first 10 days of the year. So, instead, here's the food we have eaten/plan to eat so far this year! We've pared our eating out down to only 1-2x a month last year and though it's not a resolution, it's something I definitely plan to stick with this year. I'd love to find some recipe sources, so if you have a favorite recipe blog please pass it along!

A few of mine are:Meals: Last Week and What's Ahead
  • Saturday: Big Salad Night! (ALL the veggies, hard boiled egg, avocado, nuts/dried cranberries, goat cheese, roasted beets, kalamatas) with homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette (balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, spoon of dijon mustard, squeeze of honey, minced dried onion, salt/pepper). I chopped everything up and let the kids make their own, which always delights them even though they use every veggie I would have added anyway (they did forgo the beets because they don't yet appreciate their magic; one day they'll learn and they'll regret).
  • Sunday: Veggie Turkey Chili (I used this recipe as a base particularly for the spices, sub ground turkey, add in diced carrot and red and yellow bell peppers), corn bread.
  • Monday: Black Bean Spinach Enchiladas, served with sliced avocado on the side and brown rice mixed with cilantro and lime juice. Always freaking delicious.
  • Tuesday: Tacos! I introduced the Taco Bell double-decker taco concept with the refried beans spread on a flour tortilla wrapped around the outside of a crunchy shell to the kids and they were amazed. Plus it means the taco can't fall apart when you crunch it! Three cheers for the taco bell concept team.
  • Wednesday: Instant Pot Turkey Meatball and Ditalini Soup (though we baked the meatballs and used a regular pot, along with rotini instead of ditalini). My sister made this for us before we left Boulder and it was so good!
  • Thursday: Cilantro Lime Chicken, Black Beans, Mexican Side Salad. This was great!
  • Friday: Pesto tortellini with grilled chicken, tiny balls of fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, and fresh spinach. Cora and James's favorite meal.
  • Saturday: The kids and I will be in Houston with Maggie and my family; James will almost certainly eat pasta, but who knows, he could go crazy and eat pasta AND a salad.
  • Sunday: Winter Grain Bowl with Balsamic Dressing, crackers. So excited about this one! Various children's bowls will not have beets and/or goat cheese.
  • Monday: Chicken Meatballs with Peppers and Orzo. LOVE this recipe. I toss the orzo with a hearty scoop of ricotta and it is perfection underneath the sauce and meatballs.
  • Tuesday: BBQ Chicken Sandwiches (Frozen chicken breasts, half a bottle of bbq sauce, cook on low 8-10 hours, shred). I have a PTA Board meeting, this will cook while I'm at work, and James and the kids will eat it after swimming with chips, fruit, and pickles.
  • Wednesday: Mexican Fiesta Quinoa Bake, made with leftover shredded BBQ chicken if there is any, otherwise I double the beans.
  • Thursday: Slow Cooker Balsamic Chicken, over whole wheat angel hair pasta and fresh spinach.
  • Friday: I'm going out with a friend, so whatever James and the kids feel like making. Probably tacos.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Christmas in CO, part 2: Ski Demon Bunnies

Happy 2020! I have a New Year's post half-drafted, but I feel like I need to actually think about what I want to do this year, so it's going to marinate a little. In the mean time, now that my house is back in order and, after some slight rearranging, Cora's massive dollhouse has found a home in her bedroom instead of our living room, let's go back to the mountains!

We begin this half of our Colorado adventure on Christmas Day night, with just my little family of five cozily ensconced in my parents' home near Winter Park. Despite big plans of games and movies and wine we did exactly none of those things, picking up our ski rentals in town, eating a dinner of leftover lasagna we had gratefully brought with us from Boulder, and putting all the kids in bed at 8:30. James and I sat together in the living room for a cozy and romantic half hour when he turned to me and said, "want to go to bed too?" At my look of interest he hastily added, "just to sleep!" and I cracked up and explained that's also why I looked so excited at the idea. Christmas Day is a very long day.

And that's how we were ready to hit the slopes bright and early on the 26th! At 6:45 a.m. we were eating breakfast, packing lunches, and noting with some concern that the temperature outside was -20 degrees. We hoped our little beach bunny's tenuous enthusiasm for the concept of ski school would hold out against the cold. As a reminder of what we were up against, this was Cora on our ski trip in 2017, the first time we tried to sign her up for ski school.

And this is 2018 when we tried again:

So we were a little nervous about the whole thing, but we loaded up the kids in the car and through a combination of miracles and advance planning we left exactly on time and got to Granby Ranch 20 minutes before Cora's earliest ski school drop-off time! Which was good, because we stupidly didn't put everyone's ski boots on in the house and spent a full 20 minutes trying to cram them on in the frigid (-15!) parking lot (such a rookie move and we know better! we did keep the boots in the house overnight, but they froze up in the 15 minute drive and I thought I'd break Landon's ankle getting his food inside). Eventually we got everyone suited up and Cora checked in to her "new school" and we left her happily coloring at a little round table. I did get one picture before she went in:

Attempt #3 is a go!

Granby Ranch is a cute little resort just 15 minutes north of my parents house. It has 2 main lifts up the front sides of two mountains, plus a tiny lift in the middle that goes to two bunny trails. It's significantly cheaper than the larger resorts (about a third of the cost for a one day lift ticket) and a great place to get your kids' ski legs under them before hitting the bigger resorts.

I will say that at least for us, we couldn't do more than one day- the runs are much shorter than Winter Park so you hit the bottom in about 60 seconds and go right back up. After skiing every open run what felt like 15 times, James and I were definitely ready to move on.

But it was the perfect first stop after a year away from the slopes. The blues aren't too tough and were a great confidence booster for the kids, especially Claire who was missing her Gigi ski partner.

After skiing the same blue run 6 times in one hour, we decided to try the other peak which had some black trails.

Baby's First Black!

Honestly, these blacks are more like Blue/Blacks we've skied at Keystone and others, but it was a thrill for the kids and such a confidence booster I was worried we'd have them careening out of control down blacks at Winter Park the next day.

One fun thing about Granby's small size is that you can find each other easily whenever you separate and you can wave at your ski schooler throughout the day. And despite our fears, Cora was a beaming ball of smiles every time we saw her:

She also refused to zip her coat or wear her turtle fur because she was "so hot." I'll note the temperature never rose above 10 and in that picture it was still below 0. She is a lady of passionate extremes: snow is either the despicable worst or a "I don't even FEEL the cold" source of delight.

We ate our lunch in a warming tent by the base, pulling slightly squished sandwiches and crisp cold apple slices out of James's hiking backpack. It was a nice rest and then back up we went, skiing nonstop until 3:00 when we could pick up Cora. I'd harbored a secret hope that we could do one run together as a family of five, but it had been a long, fun, and freezing day and I didn't want to push things with our baby skier.

But! When we got her, she was BEAMING. Her instructor said she was a joy to teach and that every time she looked back at her little group Cora would have a huge smile and would shout out, "I LOVE THIS COACH!!" They moved her up groups 3 times during the day because she was so aggressive and caught on so quick, so she ended the day as a 6-year-old in a group of 12 and 13-year-olds. Being a third baby, she was quite comfortable there.

And so, with that good report, we headed back up the mountain to ski our first run as a family of five.

And that run remains one of the best, most joyous experiences in all our family travels.

I can't even describe it. When the kids were young, James and I used ski trips as a way to get a grown-up getaway within the family vacation. We didn't have anyone to watch the kids and we have always enjoyed traveling with them, so starting when Claire was 1 and Landon was 4 we would go skiing, putting the kids in ski school and daycare and enjoying our adult time on the trails and generally being childless until we picked everyone up, ate, and tucked their exhausted little selves in bed a few hours later, when the day (or night) was ours again. Landon was in ski school at least two trips longer than he really needed to be just because we didn't want to give up our time together and we didn't want to start on slower runs when we could ski blues and blacks together all day and flirt on the ski lifts. I mean, he's the only person I know who looks hotter in ski goggles.

But all that's changed (not the part about James being hot like fire in snowboard gear because he IS, and thank goodness he doesn't read this blog because he would be blushing, but the rest of it). The kids are older and it's easier to get time together and I no longer have any interest throwing myself down back bowl black diamonds with James. Skiing with the kids is a joy I somehow didn't see coming, despite how much we love hiking and doing everything else with them. I got a taste of it last New Year's skiing with the big kids, but Cora remained an elusive snow-hating question mark.

But on December 26, 2019 I got a beaming little Cora Bunny on the lift beside me and my whole family at the top of the same slope and I was so happy I thought I'd burst. And then, after she aced dismounting from the express lift, she blew me away with this first run.

She killed it. She killed it and she wanted more and we did three more runs even though we'd been skiing nearly nonstop for 7.5 hours and it was FREEZING and we finally made her stop. Winter Park was tomorrow and we (and by "we" I mean James and I) needed some reserves for the next day.

By now my parents were back at their house and we ordered pizza (that we had to wait 2.5 hours to pick up; resort towns during the holidays) and passed out so we could be up just as bright and early as the day before for our second and final ski day!

We got to Winter Park nice and early, snagging a free parking spot and taking the bus to the village. This time everyone's ski boots were on before we got in the car and everything went smoothly. James wore our backpack, once again stuffed with snacks and sandwiches, and everyone was responsible for their own gear and accessories on the bus. We clomped across the village to check Cora in early for ski school ($20 and worth every penny; fresh snow and empty lifts were waiting for us and Cora enjoys a good hour of color time) and hoped for a day even half as good as the one before.

And it was GREAT.

The weather was gorgeous, the runs were open and empty and we racked up a dozen long blues before I finally made the kids stop. James's binding had broken on his board so he'd gone to the base to rent a new one (though, turns out, the binding wasn't broken at all, so oops on that), but we ran into him at the top of the mountain an hour later- floating over his head on the lift as he was about to go down a run. He waited for us and then convinced us to go up to Parsenn's Bowl at the top of the mountain above the tree line. I do not love bowls, but it was a first for the kids and they seemed enthusiastic, so up we went.

Claire was immediately skeptical.

It was windy, it was freezing, and a snow storm descended upon us.

The kids rocked it though- gamely following dad along the ridge to a fairly gentle black that quickly connected to a blue to take back to the lift.

A lift I assumed we'd pass by, but somehow I got talked into going up again. The snow and visibility had not improved, but the kids were very proud to have conquered a run above the trees and I was glad James got to do his favorite thing.

We ate our packed lunch on one of the peaks and then skied more until I thought I'd collapse. The kids don't need to stop at anymore, so it's just straight down, to lifts that remained uncrowded even as I wished for lines, and then back up to do it again. Per James's tracking app we skied 24 miles and I swear it felt like more.

We went to pick up Cora at 3:30. Her instructor said she did great and was his fastest student. I wondered if she'd be more tired today after another full day of ski school, but NO, all she wanted was MOAR SKIING so back up the mountain we went. This time even Landon and Claire looked mildly less enthusiastic, but the Winter Park runs are longer and tougher and it was really fun to do a few as a group there too.

Even if Cora kept popping into tree paths and freaking me out.

After two more runs we were WIPED (and again, by "we" I mean only the adults, apparently) and we still had a clomp across the village, a bus transfer, and rental skis to return between us and the fuzzy socks and pj pants that we were waiting at home. And so we clomped and transferred and returned and came home to pasta and salad and wine and all the warm and fuzzy things. We toasted to two excellent days of skiing and to a quick and full recovery for my mom who had gone to the village that morning to get her cast put on her very broken arm (poor Gigi, my parents' Christmas gift to us was the lift tickets for one of our days of skiing and they were very sad to not be able to join us).

We were back in bed pretty early (because day-um does skiing wear you out) and up to fresh snowfall and plans for sledding in their neighborhood before heading back to Boulder to see my sister and reunite with our bulldog.

Cora insisted on taking the toboggan with me, which sounded fun, until we flew off the makeshift trail and hit a vulnerable looking tree. Cora flew out of the sled and landed in deep fluffy snow, popping up and cackling, "THIS IS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE."

Probably my second favorite memory of the trip; she's a certified snow bunny now.

The sledding continued, now down the slope that leads to the frozen lake the big kids swam in over the 4th of July this summer.

It was great snow and clear skies and a perfect send off from the mountains.

It was a GREAT trip.

I love a holiday foray into the snowy mountains, it feels so festive and after a week we get to come back to mild winter temps and another week of winter break.

We were reunited with Maggie in Boulder and she'd had an excellent time babysitting my youngest niece and adverse possessing my sister's dogs new bed.

The cousins played and we all ate and we packed the car and everyone went to bed. We left at 7 a.m., stopping twice for gas and potty breaks, made sandwiches in the car and got home at 8 p.m. I knew we had some pasta and jarred sauce in the pantry at home for the kids, but James and I treated ourselves to Thai for our return dinner, but when I went out to get it we discovered my car had a very flat tire. Apparently it's hard to just sit still in the driveway for a week, so poor James, who'd just driven 800 miles, had to go get the Thai food too. But it's really the better division of labor because I had us 75% unpacked by the time he returned. And so, with the kids in bed by 9 and Thai food on our laps, The Witcher on TV, and my new socks from James on my feet that were delivered while we were gone and couldn't make it in my stocking, our Colorado Christmas road trip came to an end.

It was a great one. I'm so happy that Cora has accepted snow and skiing into her heart and I am SO thankful to the amazing ski instructors who have taught all three of or children so competently and enthusiastically.

Landon (4 1/2), Claire (3 1/2), Cora (6)

We look forward to so many more family ski days in the future!