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Friday, February 27, 2009

First Annual Presidents Day Family Cross-Country Ski Outing

Scene: Presidents Day morning at our our house.

Peter: Adam, do you know what we're doing today?
Adam: What?
Peter: We're going skiing.
Adam: Yes! (For weeks he's been asking, "Mom, when do I get to go skiing? It's right up there with, "When are we going camping?" in his list of favorite questions.)
Jane: NOOOOOOOO! I don't want to go skiing! (Launches into tantrum.)
Peter: That's OK, Jane, because, actually, you're not invited. (We anticipated that Jane would be the lone naysayer and planned this response in advance.)
Jane: I'm not?
Peter: Right. This trip is only for people who really want to go.
Jane (in her pouty voice): Alright, I guess I'll go.
Me: No, Jane, you don't understand. Today we're only taking the people who are really excited about it. We're not taking anyone who's going to be unhappy and ruin it for the rest of us. We'll find something else for you to do today. (This was only part tricky reverse psychology. I was fully prepared to find somewhere else for her to hang out for the morning.)

I'll leave it to better writers to describe the magic of The Great Outdoors in wintertime, but magical it is, and I think the ideal way to experience it might be on a pair of cross-country skis. I'll be forever grateful to Melissa, who back in college suited me up with a spare pair and took me out for my first time in the foothills above our apartment on a snowy day. I'm kind of a lousy athlete, so I was nervous I'd fail miserably, but (hurray!) not only could I manage fine, it was also so. much. fun. The best thing about cross-country skiing was the new world of winter possibility it opened up to me. There were places in the mountains around my home that I'd loved all my life but never really visited in winter before. That I could rediscover those places in their beautiful winter clothes was a glorious revelation.

Long story short, I have a vested interest in indoctrinating my children. So although I played it cool when Jane came and sweetly asked if she could please come along, inside I was jubilant. I was glad too for the small miracle that the little collection of used kids' skis and boots from ebay I've been cobbling together over the years (call it an act of faith) worked to outfit everyone semi-decently.

See Jane's smile?

They all fell down plenty, . . .

except for these two.

Jane and Zuzu really started to get the hang of it.

Hilariously, it turned out that Adam's expectations of skiing were based on ski jumping on the Wii Fit. He kept pointing at the steep mountain face at the edge of the meadow and saying, "Now I want to ski down THAT! And I will go, '[insert classic little-boy-style sound effects]!'" Fortunately, he still managed to be thrilled with trudging and slipping around on the flat.

In the end it worked out to about two hours of preparation at home for about 40 minutes out in the snow. Yes, I hope this ratio will improve in the future, but in the meantime, however difficult the process of getting outside can be (and just getting out the door on a normal day with these four little kids should be an Olympic Event -- it's that difficult) it really is all worth it within seconds of being in a snowy meadow in the mountains next to a stream with the loves of my life.

And now Adam, Zuzu and Jane keep asking, "Mom, when can we go skiing again?"



Vanessa said...

I thanked Melissa also for helping me along with my love of cross country skiing. I am so glad you started a blog. I have been a lurker for a while, but now will actually materialize myself and leave a comment. I even put you on my sidebar. Hope its okay.

Jstar said...

Hooray for fabulous Utah! It looks like a wonderful outing... and makes me a little homesick for Utah snow (41 days in Kazakhstan will do that to a girl)

MelanieJ said...

a*mazing! have i told you that you are my hero? so incredible to have family outings that are positive!

melissa said...

Look at you go Mary! I can't imagine taking even hank skiing and he's 6. It looks like you were in our neck of the woods. Next time I want to feed hot chocolate and marshmellows to your little ones after your trip. I didn't realize how many people I draged out cross country skiing until I started reading blogs. Vanessa mentioned it the other day as well. I am glad you all humored me and went along. Funny how easy it was back then:-) I am loving your blog!

Lili said...

Your family is awesome. I need to have a friend who drags me out cross country skiing. Sigh :)

Betsy said...

Love y'all, love the photos, love the story, love Melissa....

Anonymous said...

Mary loves her family.

I love Mary's family. What joy.

Funny enough, I went cross-country skiing last weekend, in New Hampshire, my first time.

There are some pictures over here:

And here: