Sunday, February 5, 2012

In Search of Winter

It's been a crazy winter, unseasonably warm and very dry. With the roads so clear and the weather so mild, Jeff's been on bike rides every month (although February still hasn't seen him on the road...yet!). This is the year that Jeff and I finally upgraded our 15+ year-old skate skis to brand new really nice ones. And this is the year that we have no snow to skate ski on! It's dreadful!
So when we've had time, we've gone up north to find snow. Three times we've taken the whole family to Harriman State Park (Island Park) to ski. The kids do great, even "Little Legs", our four-year-old Charlotte, makes the 3-mile round trip ski in to the warming hut and back. Eleanor stays with me, more or less, and I stay with Charlotte, while the boys go on up ahead at their own pace. When Jeff comes to spot me, then I get a chance to skate ski a while.

Our last trip on Friday (no school!) was simply amazing. The warm sun and breathtaking beauty of the snow-topped trees just made us happy. When the snow sparkles, Eleanor says that the stars have fallen on the ground. The sparkling snow sure looked starry on that sunny day! Little Legs skis remarkably well, gliding and using poles appropriately, as do the other kids, but she tends to take a little - okay, a lot - more time to cover the distance. So to pass the time as we made our way to the warming hut, the girls and I took turns reciting parts of one our favorite books, "The Gruffalo" by Julia Donaldson (Alex Scheffler did the great illustrating).
Eleanor narrated,
"A mouse took a stroll through the deep dark wood
A Fox saw the mouse and the mouse looked good."

Mom (me) spoke the animal part,
"Where are you going to, little brown mouse,
come and have lunch in my underground house."

Then Charlotte was the mouse,
"It's terribly kind of you fox, but no,
I'm going to have lunch with a grufflo."

And so it went, on and on until we'd recited verbatim (more or less) the entire book.
Then it was on to the next book, "The Gruffalo's Child", with special attention to the parts that went, "Aha, oho, tracks in the snow! Whose are these footprints, where do they go?"

It was just plain fun. Samuel and Oliver, meanwhile, had found a hill up ahead and were gleefully nearly killing themselves skiing down on their cross-country skis, then up, then down, again and again.

We caught up to them, then all headed up to the warming hut (which was closed this time, but has been open in the past) for a snack on the picnic table outside the hut.

Jeff was skiing with a couple of friends - Brian and Dave - who met us at the warming hut. On the way back to the car I got to take some skate skiing time for myself. I absolutely love the exhilaration, the thrill, the pure joy of skate skiing. The feeling of moving through air, across snow, gliding like flying, the sun shining, the woods deep and sleepy, it all makes me feel so alive and free... Until I get tired, then I just feel like plopping down in the snow. It's all good.

Last month, for a Christmas present, my parents watched the children overnight while Jeff and I took a trip to West Yellowstone.

That has to be the best Christmas present ever. The kids love being with the grandparents, the grandparents go overboard on spoiling the kids, and Jeff and I get some time to ourselves. We spent Friday and Saturday skate skiing on the Rendezvous Trails in West Yellowstone.

That weekend were the qualifying races for Junior Nationals, so we got to watch teams from around the region compete in the skate skiing races. It was delightful, especially because I remembered all the excitement and nerves of racing on a skate skiing team when I was their age, too. I never would ever have come close to qualifying for Junior Nationals, but I did have the fun of racing. I have to admit, as fun as the memories were, I didn't envy those kids one bit. It's a lot of pressure and it's nice to skate just for the fun of it.

I've been pretty sick the past few weeks with a terrible cough that keeps me up all night. I'm trying to avoid narcotics - they make me itchy - and just endure until it ends. Thankfully all the aches and sore throat and fever are gone, so other than fatigue I feel fine. My abs have certainly had a workout with all the coughing fits! I've been swimming pretty regularly, taking a swim clinic from an Olympic triathlete and learning tons. The boys are playing indoor soccer "Futsal" and loving it. I actually think they like their neon-bright shoes as much as they do playing. The girls are considering a gymnastics class, but I'm still on the fence with that. The three older kids take piano, the boys have scouts, I'm on the PTO board, Jeff's a just seems like there's already too much to do. Plus I'm supposedly beginning training for my May marathon (being sick hasn't helped). Anyway, I'm grateful for the life we've been given and the many many many blessings God has given us as a family - especially that of being a family.


  1. ya ya ya! finally a new post!

    thank you for the pictures and report, steph! it always makes me home sick for fun in the pool and snow and family! i'm so glad you and jeff were able to get some skiing in without the kids. that book you and the girls recited sounds delightful and so appropriate. eli's logic on the sparkling snow was perfectly sound and i miss you all so!

    get well soon!

    1. Thanks, Jill. I haven't coughed for probably 20 minutes so far, so I think I'm getting better :)

  2. Oh, we love "The Gruffalo!" We've only been skiing once this year, but hope to go again next week sometime. We have our own 4 year old "Little Legs," learning to ski, too. Ms Leah is still riding in the Chariot, but not happy about it. I'm hoping to leave the kids home with Tim some Saturday and have a ski day at adult pace instead of 4 year old pace. Interested? Probably the last Sat in Feb.

    1. That is SOOOO tempting, Sarah! I'll pass it by Jeff, although I'm not sure we'd be able to leave the kiddos (my parents aren't available). Hmmm. That Saturday is a stake meeting I need to attend...Tell you what, next time we go I'll let you know, and next time you go let me know, and we'll see if we can work it out. :) I hope you've read "The Gruffalo's Child", too. It's cute (although I still prefer "The Gruffalo").

  3. I have never heard of "skate skiing" -- what is that? Just another name for cross-country skiing? I guess I grew up in the wrong part of the country (southern arizona) to know anything about winter sports. Just curious.

    1. So "Nordic Skiing" aka Cross-country skiing, can be split into Classic and Skate skiing. Classic is with the skis parallel, the traditional skiing you've seen. Skate skiing uses different skis made for basically skating along a groomed trail. It's like ice skating on cross-country skis, sorta. If we ever get any snow, I'll show you sometime at the golf course, and you'll LOVE IT, whether you want to or not! :)

  4. With the snow and cold here in Kyiv we saw a person get on the bus with XC skis in hand! I thought---that would be the way to get around town just now! Glad you are getting some beautiful winter fun times! Thanks for the post. Loves to all of you

    1. As I've read your emails about the snow I've been jealous! I miss it! Can't wait to come visit you. I've been working on Russian and can now say "milk". Oh yes, "moloko" will get me far. :)

  5. and with all the business you have not neglected the wonderful time together as a family! Hooray for being a family!

    1. Thanks, Nancy. I so wish we could've seen your play, by the way. I bet you were superb.