Friday, March 12, 2010

3/12/2010 Winter Wonderland

Typing from Truckee....we're up here getting ready for our first big ski day tomorrow!

Somehow today the boys and I did a little "calibration" ski, with them doing a regular 2-hour lesson that comes with a rental/ski-lift package. I'm glad we did, it helped us sort out problems with gear and know how to be prepared for a whole day tomorrow. I also did a lesson, same lift/hill as the boys, and got to ski with them a little afterward. They're both doing great, though Julian needs a lot more supervision. I'd wait for him and help him down, with Gabriel long since having made his way down, then look up and discover Gabriel on the chair lift on his way back up again!

Katrina couldn't ski today (the lessons we did start at age 4), and she was SERIOUSLY P.O'd about having to leave the ski area after the boys and I were settled. Dave dealt with a massive tantrum until she fell asleep, and then lots of fussing and complaining the rest of the afternoon. She saw her first snow today though, and there's no going back. She is extremely adament about skating and skiing and all sports cold. We may turn into a winter-sport family yet, though in my heart I'll always be a water-sport person. Still, despite the incredible hassle and logistics of rentals and lessons today (the boys can't quite handle their skis), the actual skiing part was fun for me too. I'm glad I got re-acquainted with the basic Level 1 lesson I did today, I'll be ready for more tomorrow.

I'm told conditions don't get better than this for skiing itself -- it snowed on us all afternoon, making visibility very very poor and the drive back to our cabin harrowing. Fortunately, having ridden motorcycles with Dave and knowing how he is about driving and safety, I had complete confidence that we wouldn't go careening off our steep windy snowy road down a cliff or into a lake, and, we didn't.

Tomorrow is what they're calling a "powder day" -- we're going to get spoiled!


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

3/10/2010 Ready -- or not!

Usually I pre-prepare for a few days before a big trip, mostly to get the little annoying things out of the way. That leaves the big stuff, clothes and food, to focus on right before leaving. This time, I have almost everything to get ready for tomorrow, and a meeting with the landscaper tomorrow morning too. 'Cause, you know, when you're leaving at 3pm on a (for us) major trip, you have all kinds of time in the morning!

So what did I do tonight? Shopped. Worked. Did I pack, run around the house collecting stuff, make lists of things not to forget? Nope. I work better under pressure. Tomorrow will be the real test of that.

We're bringing a laptop, our cabin has Internet (so it says), so we might be in communicado. I might even post pictures...if I remember to bring my camera's cardreader.


Tuesday, March 09, 2010

3/9/2010 Most Improved

It seems crazy, zooming out of work at 4:30 on the dot, calling the CDC on the way to ask them to get the boys ready, pick up the boys, zoom to the skating rink, get Gabriel dressed and ready, leave the boys there, zoom some more to get Katrina, the usual negotiations and cajoling to get her going, zooming back to the ice rink where most of the good parking is now gone, and then freeze while the class runs a full 15 minutes over its half-hour alloted time.

Such is the life of a hockey mom.

Maybe I should have been a soccer mom. I always swore I would never be a soccer mom, but little did I know about the hardships of a hockey mom.

Soccer moms are a lot warmer. Soccer moms also have a much more pleasant place to hang out and wait during practice, where their other children can play and not freeze while waiting. Soccer moms can chat with other moms instead of shouting over the awful acoustics at a noisy ice rink with the one or two dads who stay to watch. Soccer moms also don't risk getting whacked in the head constantly by hockey sticks with tens of kids wobbling around on skates waving said sticks in the staging area, and soccer moms don't need trunk-sized wheeled duffels and extra car-top carriers to get all the gear around. Soccer goalies especially are darned near naked compared to a hockey goalie.

And then there's the lipstick problem.

This is making me look forward to being a baseball mom, as baseball on the whole seems far more convenient and played in a far more agreeable setting.

Except for one thing. Hockey is just so darned fun.

Our skating practice last Saturday really paid off - Gabriel certainly earned himself a "most improved" award today. He wasn't blown away by the whole class this time -- not that that bothered him last week -- and he held his own in most of the exercises. He was skating well enough overall that he really got something out of the lesson, instead of scrambling to keep up the whole time. So far, most of the lesson is hockey skating, no stickhandling or puck yet, but they are getting used to skating with a stick in their hands. That counts.

Gabriel was confident and almost aggressive today about getting to the head of the line as best he could. Last week he was last for everything; this week he shoved ahead as much as he could.

(Hard to see him in this photo, but he's just under and to the left of the two kids whose black helmets are together, at the left edge of the purple pillar, about 6th from left starting from the coach.)

Hard to see him in this flood of kids, but it's a drastic difference from last week, as he's mid-pack. It's hard to pick him out, but it gives you an idea of what he's in (a kid trips right in front of him, he skates around -- look for the little kid in the blue jacket and jeans).

Gabriel had a few trips and falls today too, but it seemed everyone was falling around him.

(They even practiced crossovers today, and for this Gabriel was actually prepared, as I've taught him basic crossovers and he's comfortable with the concept, though his execution is in its infancy.)

Another exercise: skate in a circle, pushing off with your outside foot. What a fun lesson, I wish I could do it too! Watching this now, it almost shocks me to see how well he's skating compared to just last week.

The only part he was way behind the group again was for the backward skating, something I haven't been able to teach him (no expert myself, but it's very easy to move backward on skates). He knew how to go a few feet, but this time he had to cross the whole rink. He did great the second time he went across.

I think he really enjoyed this lesson, and was pretty tired afterward too. Good! For me, the zooming around and being cold while waiting and having to deal with Katrina's fury over leaving the rink (again), the hassle -- entirely worth it. The feeling of beaming pride at watching my tenacious little son growing and learning by leaps and bounds in front of my eyes is an unmatchable reward.

And lucky me, I get to do it again soon for Julian. I only hope I like watching baseball as much.


Monday, March 08, 2010

3/8/2010 Behind again

And so, another Monday evening...homework done, children bathed and in bed, bare-bones laundry covered, lunches made and fridged, dinner consumed and cleaned up, floors swept, garbage taken it's 9:15 and I've had it. I'm sure there are at least three or four emails that highly deserve an answer, but my head is too full and too fuzzy for it to pop up. It's nothing short of miraculous that I ordered 6 new pairs of jeans for Julian last night -- who all of a sudden has only one single pair of jeans without holes in the knees.

Apologies groupwide to all who deserve thanks or response...I hate always saying "I'm swamped!" 'cause everyone always says that. It's just my head that's swamped.


Sunday, March 07, 2010

3/7/2010 March mittens

Silly me, trying to find things like mittens in March. The summer swimwear stuff is almost on clearance already! Well, leaving everything to the last minute, including the actual ski trip itself, is just like us. I knew I should have done this months ago, but of course that didn't happen. Maybe if I'd thought about the availability problem...ah well.

We went to REI today, which actually did have some stuff, but no kids' mittens or ski goggles. Julian also had a playdate; Gabriel and Dave did some soldering in the garage while Katrina played on her bicycle, and I went running. It's shocking how much effort and planning and decisions went into this apparently innocuous afternoon. Once again, we still didn't all get to the phone to call my mother, which I'm mortified about. Somehow, some way, tomorrow.

And now, some updates on yesterday.

I had to get the first-skate photo, despite the challenging circumstances. It was PACKED, and Dave was really shaky too, and embracing new challenges without complaint is not high on Katrina's list of qualities.

It took Dave a few laps around the rink to regain whatever comfort he had from the 13-week class we took together about 3 years ago, and able to confidently maneuver enough to hold Katrina's hand. That wasn't enough for Katrina though -- she had to have both of us on each side of her, and brothers don't count (they both gamely tried). I was really hoping to get some video of her first skating experience, but she got pretty mad every time I broke away.

She also kept insisting on sitting down. I give her a pass, it was her first time on the ice, and the instability and slipperiness is a pretty big shock.

Fortunately, the boys are completely independent, except for lacing skates. Gear 'em up and send 'em off.

Julian had a great time, despite hockey skates (new to him) that we discovered later rubbed raw a nasty 1" square patch on his left ankle. Here he showed me his "trick" of turning around...sort of.

His pants were wring-out-able soaked later.

Gabriel, meantime, is gobbling up the ice and getting more and more confident and brave every time on the ice. He needs it, because his next hockey lesson is Tuesday!

It occurs to me watching these that he's establishing a lifetime of ability on the ice. He may never be a great skater, but even just a few years of learning at his age will always stick with him to some extent.

Now if only his ability to stop would catch up with his increasing ability to take off.

The boys together, though I didn't think Julian was skating as comfortably as he usually does. Now that I've seen the awful burn on his ankle, I know why, though he never complained. At the time, anyway. Tonight he was trying to make a case for why he should skip school tomorrow.

A parent taking video of her screaming tantruming toddler wreaking havoc and blocking narrow walkways at a crowded ice rink invites dirty looks and shame, but I had to get a few seconds of it anyway.

I wish my memory of Katrina's first ice-skating, and our first family skating outing, didn't include her outrage, tantrums, demands and insistence on sitting down on the ice and hundreds of times bending down to pick her up, but overall it's good. She really loved it. Still, I'm looking forward to when she can skate on her own so I can "play" with her the way I do with these two little characters.

We'll borrow the remaining missing gear, or buy it when in Truckee. It'd be ironic if our family got as hooked on skiing as we apparently are on skating -- winter sports in a summer climate.