Friday, February 27, 2009

"I have a dream." Yes, but, rent the helmets.

I learned to ski in the 7th grade ski club.  My parents had the right idea- sending me off to learn on my own when I was old enough to pick myself up.  I'm not sure at what age my husband learned his way around on a snowboard.  I do remember seeing pictures of him jumping off of rooftops as well as great "air" pic's.  He takes great pride in sharing those memories with me.  Before we were married was the last time I went skiing.  Winter of 1996.  Andy and I met to ski/snowboard together at Hidden Valley.  It was supposedly the halfway point between our homes, though I recall it took me quite a bit longer to get there from Lancaster than it took Andy to get there from Butler. 

This past Christmas my kids opened up gifts from their grandparents (gifts that were highly suggested and actually purchased by my husband) that were a complete shock to me!  They all got boots and a snowboard to share.  That's when the vision was revealed to me.  Andy told me about 4th and 5th graders skiing free in PA and thought Moriah might be free as well certain places since she's 5- so wouldn't it be a good time to learn?  2 out of 3 children were excited.  I was concerned about having to use muscles that have long since been forgotten...

Yesterday was the big day.  Caleb's cyber school was taking a group, we loaded up our family and drove to Hidden Valley.  Thankfully by this time Lily was on board with the whole skiing thing.  It was decided that Lily and Moriah would rent skis and Caleb would use the snowboard.  We pulled into the parking lot and concerns came up.  "What if I fall?"  Lily replied, "I've got band aids!"  Sure enough, she did.  She had packed her bag with proper medical necessities and was prepared to use them. 

 I know that you are more than ready for me to skip to the good parts.  Like when Moriah was crying and refused to put her skis back on 10 minutes after being outside.  Or when any grand thoughts about stealing off for some skiing time alone were squashed after realizing that I would have to stay with Moriah and Lily for their 1 1/2 hour lesson.  I was told by the instructor that they start lessons around age 8, 5 was too young for most kids because of their lack of hip strength.  I laughed.  I looked him in the face and said that she was a very good gymnast.  He said OK, but you need to stay with her during the class to help her.  Lack of strength... my dear little package of explosion who spends 2 hours in the gym each week and countless others at home perfecting her walkovers and handstands, dreaming of the Olympics.  Was I out to prove him wrong?  You bet. 

Many falls later and fortified with food, Andy decided we were ready to progress off of the bunny hill.  This involved moving up from the standing, creeping paced carpet lift to a 3 seater, high in the sky faster lift.  I went first with Caleb who moaned about his foot hanging in the air, wishing it to be over.  We got off but Caleb didn't move fast enough away from the lift before one of the girls crashed into him.  What were we thinking? I was focused on looking for green circle signs.  The easy trails.  Lily announced that now she had to go the bathroom.  We had to get down off the mountain somehow.  Survival mode had kicked into gear for me.  I went first a bit at a time to show them where I wanted them to go and to catch them.  Andy stayed behind to help restart the fallen ones.  More than an hour later (including one potty stop behind a tree for Lily) we finally almost all made it down the mountain.  After falling many, many times, Caleb declared that he wanted to try skiing next time.  Moriah got up after a tearfully hard fall and I expected her to be done.  She surprised me by asking if she could go back to the bunny hill.  Lily was crying the whole way down. It didn't help that right near the bottom of the hill she disappeared into a hole taller than herself where one of the snow making machines was placed.  I was on my way up the creeping carpet lift when I saw her gracefully ski right into the hole.  Andy, who was at the bottom of the hill didn't notice.  I was yelling down at him.  He went up to fetch her, reached his hand down in and pulled her out.  Needless to say, Lily said she was finished skiing and I was bummed that I stopped video-taping right before she slid into the hole.

Funny thing is Lily did eventually put on her skis again and continued up then down the bunny hill until we had to pull her off to go home.  She put into practice the slow (with emphasis on the word slow) controlled turns that she learned in her lessons.  After getting a close up look at the snow making machine she told me she wanted one to have here at home.  Caleb pushed himself despite his many falls.  Determined that he would get the hang of it.  Moriah almost beat her Daddy racing straight down the hill and managed to finally learn how to stay standing up when turning to stop herself at the bottom.  Amazingly hard day.  No, Andy and I didn't get to do much on our own and the main muscles that I worked on weren't in my legs but in my arms from picking the girls up!  There is something incredible about working with your family to overcome fears and frustrations.  It was time well spent in learning valuable life lessons.  It was priceless- the money spent on helmet rentals. 

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