Sunday, January 27, 2008

Forced slow down

The snow is whipping around horizontally out the window of the chalet. The ski instructors have promised not to take the kids up too high. The winds are gusting to 80 mph up at 8,000 ft. I just went and bought the kids gaiters that cover every inch of their faces. The inside of Harrison’s coat is damp, but not the outside. I don’t know why. Ella’s cheeks are bright red and one of them looks like it might have the beginnings of frostbite.

Harrison has buddied up with his instructor. The other three boys in his ski class all know each other through a previous connection. I told him to talk to the girls – they’re usually better conversationalists. Ella came to the lunch table with a friend. They already seem inseparable. This girl is also in Kindergarten and knows two of Ella’s friends. The other twelve classmates (a doubled-up class) are boys.

Chris and I have holed up in a corner. We have a newspaper, a couple of books and a spiral notebook. We have spent the morning planning our future home improvements even though we should just concentrate on the things undone. The bathroom addition is still incomplete, as is the new office/bedroom, the mammoth deck with outdoor kitchen and fireplace, and the fence. We found out the hard way that adding porches, etc. cost much more than we expected. We wanted to hire everything out, but it became unfeasible. Chris worked on the indoor projects this fall and winter when he had time, but now has use of only one arm. For 12 weeks. We will be on hold until April probably.

This will be our routine for the next seven weekends. I will ski a couple of the Sundays, but I don’t really enjoy skiing alone for long periods. Chris, of course, can’t do any of our favorite winter activities. I guess I’ll have to step it up and become Fun Mommy. Chris has always been Fun Daddy. He takes them sledding and builds forts with them. He plays “Sorry” for hours – and always tries to let Ella win at least a couple of times. I was talking to him about why they clamor to hold his hand when we’re walking in parking lots, or why they beg to sit next to Daddy in restaurant booths – I was asking why he was the “favorite”. He bluntly told me that I should start doing things with them.

As hard as this is to swallow – I am guilty as charged. I will be more than happy to set up the craft materials for them, but rarely stay too long at the table to participate. When we rent “kid” movies, I always retreat to the computer or go clean something. Chris loves to snuggle between the two and giggle at everything. Kid movies aren’t usually my cup of tea – even when I was a kid. I need to start giving them a chance.

I think these day-long “dates” in the chalet, waiting for the kids during their lessons, will be great for our marriage. The last time we had this much time to talk, without distractions, was last summer when we drove to California. I love to plan our future – and that is usually what we discuss when we know we have time. We talk about bills, financial planning for retirement, our families, the house and sometimes we even talk about fun stuff – like vacations.

Anyone want to meet us in Disneyland? We’re thinking the summer of 2009.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Piece of cake

Ella was invited to a rock-climbing-themed birthday party last weekend. She's five. What happened to pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey?

She was a bit nervous as this was her first time on a wall that didn't have a slide or monkey bars next to it. As you can see, she did great. Most of the girls went twice and then started to get antsy. They wanted to have the cake and ice cream. Not Elle - she kept jumping to the back of the line as soon as she was unhooked from her rope. I was thrilled that she took to it, as was Chris, but now we're worried she'll actually like it so much, she'll pursue rock climbing as a sport. That kind of stuff happens around here. I know people who have saved people from avalanches. I know a former member of the US luge team. I worked with a woman who's husband is the head of the US Snowboard team. It's the land of extreme sports. Our friend's second grader is already ski racing.

We want the kids to be active and well rounded, but I don't think we will push them into some of the activities that seem so commonplace around here. It's a fine line. For example, we had the kids in a gymnastics program last year that a neighbor was in. I signed up so that we could carpool if needed. It seemed fine until I noticed the level of stress among some of the older gymnasts. I learned that many of the pre-teens were training 20 plus hours a week. The gym was run by a former Olympian. It all came clear when Harry's teacher got into a power struggle with him and refused to assist him on an apparatus. I could see the tears welling in Harrison's eyes as he struggled to complete the exercise. He tried and tried - all he needed was a spot - but the teacher ignored him. We never went back. Now we're at a different program - also recommended by neighbors/friends. It's much more low key. Why then, did I question if it was "good enough" for the kids? It's crazy - they're so little.

Sundays they start another round of ski lessons. Their first all day lessons. I hope it's not a mistake to send them "away" for six hours during one of our precious "family" days, as the kids call them. I'm pretty sure they'll love it. They thoroughly enjoy skiing - I'm just not sure if they'll have the stamina for seven weeks. Live and learn.

P.S. Chris is doing well. He had surgery on a torn rotator cuff in his shoulder. Percoset didn't like him - or vice versa, but now it's been a few days and the pain is starting to get more reasonable. He's a trooper - rarely complains.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Do you think it's terrible that I'm surfing for flights to Palm Springs while Chris is currently having shoulder surgery?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Who moved my cheese?

This is the little daughter of a family who joined us at the last minute for Thanksgiving. Her parents moved to Madison, WI from Utah about 10 months ago. This picture proves that Packer loyalty starts fast and young. Ella is trying to tempt her with a typical baby toy, but she will not give up her cheesehead.

I guess I should have known that life would be a tad different when I married a Green Bay, WI native. You see, they have this thing about football. It consumes them. Even the people who claim not to get "into it" too much, still have a loyalty to the Green Bay Packers that seems to be unlike any other sports franchise fan.

My husband claims to be one of these low-key fans, the type of guy who watches occasionally and doesn't "really" care, yet he is currently not spending this lovely Sunday morning with his children and his wife. No, he's nursing a hangover back in Green Bay. He spent yesterday in a cold stadium, with the snow falling hard, in the middle of January to watch a football game. (I guess they won a big playoff game.) He, and his two brothers who live here, and a neighbor, and a guy and his wife Chris met through work, AND a friend they picked up on their layover in Denver all trekked back to the midwest for this.

I secretly am jealous that I'm not a part of the Packer cult, but would never admit that in front of my in-laws. They think I'm Purple and Gold through and through. The rivalry has been going on for so long, I just don't want to stop the fun.

I'm making due this weekend, though. The kids and I were invited for dinner, at friend's, on Friday night. Yesterday we entertained the wife and daughter of the neighbor who also went on the trip. We tried to show our loyalty to the lovely state of Wisconsin by consuming some beer. It was difficult, but we muddled through. Today we're skiing and dining with friend's again. He'll be home tomorrow night -so I guess I can handle it! In fact, I'm really glad he's having fun. It's amazing how people, and marriages, mature if you wait long enough. If he had left for this trip five years ago, I would have been resentful the whole time that I was "alone" with the kids. Now I'm genuinely glad that he's with family and enjoying himself.

I'm so great.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New Year's Day

Chris and I have been getting along really well for the last month or so. Little, to no, arguing or squabbling. Lots of smiling. It's actually kind of weird. He even took the kids sledding so I could take a nap.

Christmas was amazing. I think it was one of the best I've ever celebrated. The kids were SO excited - their anticipation was extremely contagious.

I hosted a great New Year's Eve party with my close friend - at her house - and it was very successful. Better than expected. We asked everyone to wear "cocktail attire" so I could wear my black dress. Some did - some didn't, but it didn't matter. The liquor flowed, the food was overly abundant and everyone enjoyed themselves.

I have a few more days of my break. I'm not looking forward to going back, but know I'll be fine once I get back into the routine.

Happy 2008!
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