And really, these posts are becoming downright routine -- our 5th ski trip of the year. This one is a little different since it is "just" a weekend, and is dedicated more to skiing than to hanging-out or playing in the snow.
But what timing....just as I figured I could pull this trip off, Mom Nature rewarded me with actual precipitation. As a result, there was actual snow on the slopes today, instead of that hard shiny slippery stuff that we've skiied so much on.
Since we're so familiar with Sugarbowl and all have scannable cards for lift tickets, we went back there again. I have it down to a science: we arrive in the morning, but not FIRST THING (snoooze....), in time to drop Katrina off at a group lesson. I unload the car, kids and boots at a convenient close place ("The Den"), get Katrina into her lesson, then while the boys are suiting up, I go park my car. Then the boys and I go do our own thing for just under two hours, pick up Katrina, have lunch (which I bring now, it saves a ton of time and money), then we all ski together in the afternoon.
That all sounds well and good, but there are always problems. Today I had to deal with an now-rare Katrina tantrum/fit. She was very irritable after lunch, bursting into tears when I said lightly that we should make up a name for us as a "ski team" since we four fit on a lift chair together. She suggested "unicorns" and her brothers denigrated that immediately, and it all went "downhill" from there. Then she was horribly offended at my suggesting we do "Donner's Way," her first black-diamond two weeks ago, saying it was too BORING and EASY. It took over half an hour to get her out of the fuss, and I was very very very frustrated at the waiting and the misery -- we have such short time to do this together, I didn't want to waste it with a tantrum. In another place, I could just ditch her and say "OK, I'm DONE, bye!" but you just can't abandon your 6-year-old on a ski slope, even though I know many parents wish they could sometimes.
Promising her to try "Vanderbilt," a short but genuine black-diamond on Mt Lincoln got her out of it. My relief was short-lived however, since as soon as we turned to head toward the lift, no Julian. He knew where we were going, so after some searching and waiting, I decided, "that's it, we've lost enough time as it is, we're going." So Gabriel and Katrina and I got on the substantial lift line to go up Mt. Lincoln, though I was distracted and worried.
Then when we were two chairs away from getting on the lift, Gabriel suddenly said, "Look! There's Julian!" He was on his way, but out of earshot. By then we were committed to the lift, so had to get on it. Yelling to him made no difference, but it looked like he was talking to someone in a red jacket...Ski Patrol. Great. Now they're going to chew me out for abandoning my 9-year-old.
So Gabriel and Katrina and I did Mt. Lincoln, where Katrina booked down Vanderbilt, a mogul-y ungroomed black diamond, as though it was nothing. She was so proud of herself, but I was worried about finding Julian to gush with her right away. At the bottom, I asked a lift operator to call Ski Patrol to see if they had him in custody....then Katrina had to go to the bathroom. It's just one thing after another.
Gabriel and Katrina and I took off our skis and walked a fair distance to a (luckily) nearby lodge, and then -- Ski Patrol showed up on a snowmobile with Julian. Thankfully, they'd responded to my telling the lift operator where we were, though oddly calling me on my cell phone never came up...? I thanked them profusely and defensively explained my anti-separation strategies: always know which is the next lift, stop at every sign marking at intersection. They were very understanding. Julian even admitted he'd heard us talk about which run we were going to, but he'd just ... I don't know, he didn't think it applied to him or something. Typical Julian: we all knew we were turning right, but inexplicably, he turned left.
The afternoon wasn't lost though. After reunion, we had just over an hour -- so I decided to go for Mt. Disney with all three. This mountain has a side with only black diamonds -- not Sugarbowl's hardest or longest, but the whole area warns off beginners.
The boys and I had done this many times on our last trip, but this was Katrina's first. And she had no problem with these runs either! The now-good attitude made a huge difference. "See Mom, no falls!" she exclaimed. I told her falling was fine, we all do it, but she still was insistent that she hadn't fallen.
We did "Donald Duck," which is groomed, and then took "Market Street," which isn't groomed but isn't as steep. By the time we got to "Market Street" though, it was getting crusty and icy, and it's a narrower U-shaped run, so Katrina had a harder time on it than she had on the others. But still, she did fantastically.
Gabriel isn't a problem to ski with, despite tendency to cut me off and ski right into my path. He and I did "Carl's Nose" today, a short double-black on Mt Lincoln, that was totally doable thanks to the snowy conditions. I wasn't nervous at all, though I think it was steeper than anything I've done. What a difference snow makes, I had a much much harder time at Squaw on "blue" runs, because it was so icy then.
The kids' advancement opens up a huge world to me -- that means I can actually ski with all of them....sort of. Actual ability and level isn't the problem, but things like a 6-year-old tantrum and a 9-year-old ignoring instructions can really dampen the day. What's it like not constantly waiting, shouting instructions, reminding, hurrying them along, re-directing, always having your radar on, and just skiing? I'm sure age will make a big difference -- next ski season they'll be 7, 10 and 12 and that's a whole other world. These past two trips have really drilled in their skill and interest, and next season they'll all be poised for real expertise.
We all ended up having a great day, despite the challenges. That's what being with kids is all about!