Friday, February 14, 2014

Learning Something New

Living in Southern California, you will always here people talk about how it’s so great because you can go skiing in the morning and the beach in the afternoon.  Technically that is true.  Well, the beach part we have down.  We all love going to the beach in the summer.  Skiing however…it’s not exactly my thing.  We have been up to Big Bear a couple times with the girls just to go sledding.  Every year we say we are going to take the girls skiing.  It’s so close and now is the time to teach them, right?  I might as well learn something new while we’re at it.  So back at the beginning of November I booked us at a hotel for MLK Jr weekend.  Too bad I didn't know then that we would be in the middle of one of the hottest and driest winters in So Cal history.  But they  make snow, and it still gets cold in the mountains at least right?  So we went anyway despite the fact that there has been no percipitaion since the middle of December.

We left after the girls got out of school that Friday, and I want to say it was about 85 degrees that day here in Burbank.  I had check the local forecast for Mammoth, which is where we were going, and it was to be in the chilly 60s during the day and the freezing 30s at night.  Stop laughing Megan Drew.  Just because your schools in Wisconsin have been closed for four days this winter due to unhealthy below freezing temperatures doesn't mean that 30 doesn't feel cold to some of us still.  I think that is the part that I find most fascinating about this winter.  Here we are in California with summer like weather for weeks, while the entire east coast has been under a pile of snow for a month.  My sister Beth is on her SEVENTH snow day!  She doesn't live in Wisconsin though.  Nope she lives in Virginia.  A place that MAYBE gets two snow days a year.  But Global Climate change isn't happening or anything.  Sorry, I digress.

Mammouth Mountain is about a four hour drive from our house and unfortunately, the girls fell asleep in the car so when we got there at 9:30pm  they were a bit wired and wouldn't go back to sleep until after 11.  Yay.  It's not a bad drive though.  And we definitely didn't need to worry about those chains I brought for the van just in case.  

View from our room.  Note lack of snow, but closeness to the lift!

Andy kept saying how there wasn't going to be any snow and it was going to suck.  I, being the eternal optimist, said none of us knew how to ski anyway and this would be a better way to learn.  Guess who was right?  (It's me in case you didn't get that, but read on to find out more.)

The next morning we got up, ate breakfast and got ready to go to our ski lesson.  I had booked us a private ski lesson for the whole family, because it ended up being the same amount if we would have all taken group lessons.  The girls had never done this and Andy and I have been before, but I don't really count the one time I went skiing over 20  years ago.     So ski lessons were definitely a must.

Funny side story about me.  It was my freshman year of college the last time  I went.  I had never been before and all of my friends who had been skiing their entire lives assured me it was EASY!  I would pick it up no problem!  I didn't need to take a lesson!  I was 18, so you know, I believed them.  They told me as long as I stayed on the green circle runs I would be ok.  So they took me to the top on the ski lift, showed me how to get off the lift and then promptly left me.  I stood at the top of that mountain with no idea how the hell to get off of it.  Eventually, one of the really tall frat boys we had come with, showed me  how to "pizza" my skis. Then he helped me by putting me in front of him and skiing down, much like they do with little kids.  You would have thought that would have been enough for me, but no.  I got down once I could do it again by myself this time!  Only  there was nobody with me to take the ski lift so I did it alone.  No biggie right.  I got this!  Toward the end of the lift,  I scooted my but to the end of the seat like my friends had shown me and went to stand up.  Only I never stood up for some reason, and the next thing I knew I was still sitting going back around to go DOWN the mountain.   Well I couldn't allow people to see me going down the mountain on the ski lift!  That would be much to embarrassing.  So I did the only thing I could think of. 

I jumped. 

Off the ski lift. 

Face down into the snow.


So, that happened.  It goes down as one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. They had to stop the lift to help me up.  I wasn't too far off the ground when I jumped.  Maybe 8 feet?  So I was perfectly fine, except for my bruised ego.  I was done with skiing after that and hadn't tried it again since.  Andy and I did go snowboarding about 10 years ago and I did like that better, but the ski lift still gave me anxiety.  This time I was determined to have someone show me how to ski and try to do it for real. You know face my fear and all that.  

Back to the present!  So we got all of our ski gear and headed to the area where we would be taking lessons.  We weren't having them for a while, so Andy, who has a bit more experience than I do, helped the girls get their skis on and they practiced in a little side area for a while.  There wasn't really even a slope, but we just wanted them to get a feel for it.  They took to it quickly.  

I will be honest here and say I was a bit concerned about taking my girls skiing for a few reasons. Sonya and Lana. Sonya is a perfectionist and if she can't get something right away she gets frustrated and tears follow.  She doesn't want to give up, which will make her more frustrated and difficult to deal with, and that just leads to even more crying.  Lana will try something and if she doesn't get it right away or decides she doesn't like it she will just give up.  And not give two shits about it.  No amount of bribery will change her mind if she decides she doesn't want to do something.  Georgia will just follow whatever her sisters do.  She is very influenced by them and if left on her own would probably try and do well with just about anything.  However, if her sisters aren't doing it, then forget it.  So I had no idea how this was going to go.

The fact that it was 60 degrees was helpful.  They weren't cold.  Cold would have definitely made it worse. Especially for Lana who puts her bathrobe on and complains when the house is at 70 degrees.  

 When it was finally time to take our lesson we were all excited and ready.  Our instructor, Ken, was great and all three of the girls started picking it up fairly quickly.  Turns out I picked it up fast too.  By the end of our three hour lesson we were all on the biggest of the practice hills and Sonya, Andy and I were even picking up weaving in and out of the cones and turning.  The little girls were doing well too and Lana didn't even complain once.  I'm pretty sure that was a first.  

Lana and Georgia Pizzaing downhill.
Sonya getting the hang of it.  

Our instructor told us that Andy, Sonya and I were ready for the Green Circle hill that was right there next to us.  The little two, not quite, although they were getting it.  That particular run was two miles and for new skiers it would take at least 30 minutes to get down.  For  Lana and Georgia it would take about two hours.  He said it would just be too steep for the in certain parts.   

No matter, it was the end of the day at that point and they were soon closing the lifts, so we thought maybe we could try that hill the next day.  

The good thing about being in the mountains on a holiday weekend with not much snow is that it was completely dead.  There was no wait at restaurants and it wasn't packed with people everywhere.  It was great for us, not so much for the people who work there.  The next morning we got up and contemplated going to the other side of the mountain where there was an easier shorter run, but the run we were right next to was so close and the practice hills were better for the little girls.  

We practiced for a bit on the learning hills and then Andy decided he wanted to try the big run.  We asked Sonya if she wanted to go and amazingly she did.  She had been doing better than I thought she would, but she does tend to be afraid of things, so I wasn't sure she would do it.  They left, and for the next 40 minutes I was nervous for them to come back.   I pictured Sonya coming back in tears saying she wanted to go back to the room.   I distracted myself with practicing with the little girls and they started to get better and better.  By the end they were both weaving in  and out of the cones on the practice runs too.  

Lana taking a run, Georgia waiting

Snow/ice angels
Finally I heard Sonya calling for me and I looked up to see her smiling from ear to ear and waving excitedly.  She absolutely loved it.  I breathed a sigh of relief.   She loved it so much she wanted to do it again.  I decided to put my big girl pants on and brave the thing that gave me the most anxiety, the ski lift.  We went and ate lunch first, but after lunch Sonya and I headed right to the lift.  Turns out that thing is really fucking high in the air.  Turns out that I never thought I was afraid of heights, but I think I might be just a little now.  Turns out, my nine year old was less afraid than I was.  She was calming me down,

Me: "Wow!  We are really high huh? Breeeaathhe, juuust breathe...."

Sonya: "Mom (eye roll) it's FINE!"  

Me: "Ok but I have to get off of this thing too."

Sonya: "Oh that part is EASY!"

Oh sure maybe for someone who didn't JUMP OFF ONE 20 YEARS AGO!!!

Good news!  I managed to get off the ski lift just fine.  After that I felt better and wasn't worried about skiing down.  However...DAMN it was a looooonnnngg hill.  Because they hadn't had snow in so long, what was on the hill was not the best to ski on .  There were quite a few patches of iciness.  I had to "pizza" most of the way down.  Sonya was ahead of me a good amount of the time, looking like she came out of the womb skiing.  Since she had already been up there with Andy she knew which way to go.  That was good, because the last thing I need was to end up on a blue square run.  I would still be sitting on the mountain if that was the case.  We got to the bottom and my feet and ankles were killing me from braking the whole way down, but I had made it down and I was incredibly proud of myself and my daughter who had just done it twice! Plus, PLUS!  I didn't fall once!  I was done though.  Didn't need to go again.  

Sonya on the green circle run

Sonya and me on green circle
We found Andy and the girls and he decided he wanted to go again. Surprisingly, Sonya went with him for her THIRD time.  I was kinda happy just to do the practice runs again.  Not to mention I was extremely exhausted.  Then something weird happened.  I thought I didn't want to go again, but I started to get the urge to want to go again.  Unfortunately, there wasn't enough time, because it was the end of the day and the lifts were closing.  Plus Lana had decided about 15 minutes before Andy and Sonya came back that she was done.  Her skis were off and she was chilling making angels in the snow/ice.  I'm pretty sure Georgia would have continued to ski until it got dark.  She was having a blast.

After Andy and Sonya got back we returned all of our ski gear, since we would be leaving the next morning.  Then we went back to our hotel to sit in the hot tub for a bit before getting ready to go out for dinner.  

Later that night  when the girls had gone to bed, Andy and I talked about what a successful weekend it was.  Sure it's incredibly expensive, but I did manage to borrow all of our snow gear from friends, and really what's money compared to an amazing time learning something new with your family?  For me it was one of the best times I've ever had had with all of them.  It gave me a chance to be fun mom who learned something new with them, instead of naggy do your chores and homework mom.  It gave me a chance to actually sit down and hang out with my husband instead of cleaning the house and the kitchen until ten o'clock at night.  So was it the best skiing weather ever?  No, in fact I'm sure most people would say it was the worst.  But as far as I'm concerned though it was the best and I would do it again the same way in a heartbeat.  Okay well maybe a little bit more snow would be nice. 

A family of skiers!

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