Friday, February 22, 2013

2/22/13 Ski Week day 2: Disney Day!

Oh my, I think I've had the most fun skiing yesterday and today afternoon than I EVER have! With both my boys!

Yesterday we did 360s, moguls, trees, rollers..lots of laughing, showing off, playing together....Does it GET better than that? Time is so short...won't be long before my growing sons will have nothing to do with old Mom, so I'm determined the make the most of it now!

We really wanted to go to Mt Disney, and did so during Katrina's morning lesson. But it takes a few lifts to get there, and back, so 2 hours is gobbled up fast. Still, the one run we did had us hooked, and we had to go back after lunch.

I couldn't get an all-day ski school reservation for Katrina, so got the idea from another Mom (a French one who lives a few blocks away in Sunnyvale!) to put Katrina into a separate afternoon lesson. But Katrina was not happy about this plan, she wanted to ski with us after lunch. I persuaded her by promising hot chocolate, a taco for dinner, and that we'd do whatever she wanted to tomorrow, and she angrily agreed. "Oh FINE."

After lunch the boys and I took right off for Disney, and headed straight for the backside. We discovered "Donald Duck" to be groomed with just enough snow to keep it from being an ice-sliding traverse, with some fun ungroomed detours. This is wide and predictable, but it's still steep! Julian did GREAT. He gets himself freaked out sometimes, but handles it with courage and aplomb. (Nothing fazes Gabriel!)

Gabriel really nailed the 360 thing, way better than I can. Now he makes it a point of going around multiple times, and more impressively, he can do it on any terrain, like on Donald Duck. Not me! (Not yet! But I will!)

At the bottom of these runs were some "optional routes" through the trees, and you could always count on Julian finding his way there. He doesn't look very steady, but isn't afraid of falling and as discomombulated as he can seem, he makes his way through!

When it was time to head back, we tried a new run: "Nancy's Couloir" or "East Face" -- not sure which one it was. It's right next to the top of the Mt Disney lift and pretty much goes straight down, and it's groomed. It was steeper than I expected, but my Squaw lesson helped prepare me for that and I wasn't scared. Julian got himself psyched out, he needed to stop a lot (always on his rear end), but was never unsafe or out of control. Gabriel....well, Gabriel. Nothing fazes that kid! He loved it.

On our way back, we met up with Katrina's lesson. She'd forgiven me for putting her in it, and seemed to be doing great. She was right behind the instructor, and honestly though she's still very committed to the pizza-wedge, she actually looked like the strongest skiier in the group -- right behind the teacher, moving with confidence, able to change direction easily. It amazes me sometimes seeing my little, little girl just blasting along like there's nothing to it!

In fact, it looked like her teacher was going to take the group down Donner's Way, Sugarbowl's "intro" black-diamond, but the one boy in the class kept falling and the teacher thought better of it.

But Katrina was so excited about having done "half a black diamond" that she was dying to do it again! So after her lesson, she wanted to ski some more, and I said, OK, let's take you all the way down Donner's Way! I thought she could handle it. She was thrilled and couldn't WAIT.

First, Mom gets a precious picture! For once, they cooperated!

Katrina in front of her first black-diamond sign!

And here she goes! Really, very anticlimactic. She had no trouble with it, even though she's still doing mostly "pizza" in her skiing. She WILL learn, and she's been thinking a lot about what her instructors tell her, but it takes a while for that click moment to happen (like Gabriel and his 360s).

But she did GREAT -- no fear, no falling, no complaining -- she was actually chatting happily the whole time. She needs to lose the kid-pizza-wedge thing to advance to anything harder, but she's ready.

Julian joined us from "Steamers," the black-diamond mogul-y run we'd done yesterday, that's right next to Donner's Way, and I got a real treat of a photo: all 3 on the black diamond!

But now Katrina wants to do Steamers tomorrow!!

The easiest way back to the Den where our things were is to ride up a lift again, and work our way down Mt. Judah. This time, the boys didn't complain about having to wait for Katrina, there's not a lot of waiting anymore. Another year and she won't need lessons every time either.!

What a turnaround from the days of being stuck on the magic carpet all day! I just love skiing with the boys, and with Katrina's enthusiam and building skill, it won't be long before I'm no longer "ski-sitting" her either. WHAT FUN!!


Thursday, February 21, 2013

2/21/13 Ski Week day 1: Steamers Day!

We're back in Truckee!!

The kids have this week off, technically called "Recess" but everyone knows it's "Ski Week" -- including the ski resorts who jack the prices up to "holiday" rates.

Though I'm in a serious dearth of time-off of work, and in major crunches for numerous projects, I just couldn't pass up this opportunity to take the kids skiing without "sacrificing" school. (IMO missing a Friday afternoon is hardly a sacrifice but I sure get a lot of sh*t for it!). And anyone who knows me at all knows that I've always prioritized personal life over work -- including some former bosses! In the end, your health and your family matter far more than making that 6pm meeting.

So the kids and I arrived in Truckee super-late last night. I've learned that when we have a late arrival, not to push it in the morning, so this morning we hung out. Katrina went out to play in the snow while her brothers putzed around, but after a late breakfast we got to Sugarbowl for a half-day skiing, including an afternoon lesson for Katrina.

Katrina gets a ton out of lessons, but I also need her to take them because she really is just 6 and can't truly can't keep up with me and her brothers -- yet. I was thrilled that she had the same instructor that she's had twice before -- the same one who I begged to keep her off the bunny hill -- so I knew there was no chance she'd get stuck on short greens all day. Later today, she was filled with marvelous instruction to me, like about turning your inside heel to go parallel. I expect that this "problem" of her not keeping up will last at most another season.

A new development since our Squaw trip: I can really ski with Julian now, mostly. Gabriel and I can still envelope-push beyond what Julian can do, but now the boys and I are all within range enough that we can keep very entertained together. The only problem skiing with Julian is logistical -- will he follow instructions? But today he seemed committed, so I made an executive last-minute decision not to put him in an afternoon lesson, and to ski with him instead.

And boy am I happy I did. I had the best afternoon skiing I think I've ever had!

Aside from the snow being unexpectedly phenomenal, I had so much fun skiing with my sons. Once I found them, that is.

The way this works is, I have to send the boys on their way while I get Katrina set up and into her lesson. Both boys are set up with a "Core Pass" now, so I don't even need to mess with buying and attaching lift tickets for them -- I pay for their lift tickets the first time their passes are scanned at a lift. No waiting on line or attaching a sticker to a metal widget. It's a great system, and lets them ski for half an hour while I get Katrina checked into lessons and get myself geared up, plus it's so easy to tell them to stick to Mt Judah and its terrain parks -- no boredom there.

Katrina had a bad morning, but the moment we were on a lift on the way to her lesson, she said with her typical insight, "I feel so much better in the day as soon as I'm on the lift, Mommy!". Oh my, little girl, me too.... Sometimes it's astounding -- chilling, even -- how much like her Grandpa Jim (my father) she is.

After checking her into her lesson, I found her brothers on Mt Judah, and then we headed over to another lift to attempt some moguls. Our Squaw trip was all about icy moguls, and we thought it might be fun to try snowy moguls for once....! It had snowed a few days ago, and while it was only a sprinkling, it made a big difference in ski conditions.

So today we tackled "Steamers," an intro-black-diamond at Sugarbowl that is easier than most "double-blues" at Squaw. And it was great! What fun!!!!!!!

I was riveted by how Julian is skiing! He loves moguls, powder, trees, anything that is not..well, routine (sound familiar?!).

He often looks like he's about to fall over, but still, he's gotten so confident and aggressive, and he's developing some serious style. He's confident in a very different way than Gabriel, who never ever seems rattled and always has a solid brute-force approach, but Julian has real potential for finesse, despite his clambering. He just went for it, and I just love that! I was so impressed -- this opens up a whole world for me with him!

We also had SO much fun practicing 360s. Julian was doing better than Gabriel at first, but he's so inclined to clown around that he never quite finished a full rotation. Gabriel had one of those "ah-hah" click moments and totally gets it now. (apologies to Facebook followers who've already seen these).

Julian works on his 360s (he did a lot better than this video shows!)

Gabriel nails it!

Mine look mild by comparison, but I'm making it around!

(A few people have asked me why this is important as a skiier, and honestly, it never occurred to me to question this....seems like a good skill to have, and it's just fun!)

Unfortunately, Katrina in a 2-hr lesson means I have to pay close attention to time. When it was getting to be within half an hour of pickup time, we made our way over back to Mt Judah. Of course, we took the interesting route...!

On the way back, Gabriel and I had so much fun on the "roller" hills of the large-feature terrain parks -- so much that we snuck in another run even though I was overdue to pick up Katrina. He tried to explain that 'centrifugal force' was causing the feeling of heaviness on the way up a steep terrain-park-feature-hill (funny I thought was just gravity, but what do I know about physics) -- but I was too busy yelling "Woo-HOOOO!" to care!

This started off as an emotionally hard day, they always have (the whole alone-ness thing on adventures) -- but the worst, toughest, baddest day can be turned around by the total fun and challenge of skiing. A wonderful, and necessary, escape from my real life!.... Honestly I can watch the videos again and again and again -- I'm just SO PROUD of my sons!!


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

2/19/13 Heavy talks

I had to break some bad news to the kids tonight: one of their favorite pets, Scabbers, was really struggling and looked like she was going to meet her end very soon.

OK, so, to some, it might seem silly to spill tears over an elderly rat that isn't even ours, but this dear creature was one of my kids' first attachments to an animal. Indeed, it was rat-sitting that showed me how much my children would get out of having pets, oddly, especially Gabriel. Rats make terrific pets -- smart, social, don't smell, don't bite, very individual, some are trainable, great to play with, fairly allergenic if you're so inclined. And easy to sit for, though I lost that honored status when I adopted two young unknown cats.

So tonight we talked about euthanasia, what that means, how it happens. Gabriel immediately asked a very pointed and logical question: "Can humans do that?" I had to explain that euthanasia is a lot more complicated with humans, between laws and the Hippocratic oath and religious beliefs -- but now they know Oregon is a "special place." This led to yet more discussions about what mothers would do for their babies, how animals honor their babies' lives and humans do too, despite laws and religion and other such intellectual complications.

I saw Scabbers two days ago, and she sure was hurting....stumbling, having a hard time moving around. The kids and I talked about how Nature is, how animals in the wild have to be able to survive on their own or die, and that poor Scabbers would likely have died long ago if she weren't being fed and taken care of by humans.

It's amazing what great lessons animals are, though I made a silent prayer of thanks that our cats are so young and we won't have to experience that lesson first-hand for a while yet. Still, this little animal is responsible for a lot of discussion, affection, learning and experience -- quite a full life for a little rat!

aug 2011


Monday, February 18, 2013

2/18/13 Last camping trip

I'd done the photos, but hadn't posted them anywhere. Finally, months later, are the photos from our last camping trip in August, the weekend before school starts, if anyone's still interested (and Facebook-enabled):

August 2012 Summer Last Hurrah Camping Trip

Blogger just made some long-overdue updates, but they've maintained their long legacy of introducing just as many problems as they solve. They finally updated its horribly inconvenient and ancient photo-upload method, but now removed the choice of size of photos.

It's really time I change this blog anyway; its format is ancient, but I need to look into changing the blog service too. And maybe I should make it invitation-only, with regrets, because I like anyone who's interested to read about the kids without having to join blogger, but I'm increasingly uncomfortable with anyone who's interested being able to read about me. Well, that'll probably not happen until blogger makes yet more annoying changes!


Sunday, February 17, 2013

2/17/13 Redwood park

Nothing lifts my mood, outlook, joy and will to live like getting outside. So what a great treat to go on a nice long hike today with a dedicated, experienced, even more enthusiastic hiker and friend!

"Hike" often suggests "walk," but while there was a lot of walking involved, there was also a fair amount of navigating, scrambling, climbing, navigating and a little bit of teetering.

One great thing about this time of year is the full falls.

A good camera and photographer makes this same falls look a lot different.

Wildlife too, including this intrepid centipede.

My crummy camera and even crummier photography skills never do these parks justice.

Incredible that we live less than an hour away from such state parks, filled with redwood trees, canyons, beautiful views, waterfalls, narrow trails......and can make an easy trek in a few hours, in February. This is a truly wonderful place!

I really love the Sierras, but a serious impediment to a fantasy of living there would be missing redwood trees. I absolutely love redwood trees, they're my favorite, and the forests are I can "suffer" with the local mountains populated with redwoods right now. And it's great to enjoy it with a friend who feels the same way!