A few weeks ago, I came up with the idea of taking the girls to Utah so that Clara could have her first experiences with skiing and I could see my nieces, especially 9 month old Kaitlyn & Brigitte who I hadn't seen since last July. Both Paul and I grew up skiing with our families during the winter and it's something I want the girls to be able to do as well. I have so many wonderful memories of ski trips and being in the mountains whooshing down the slopes. I had even talked with a couple of families in our ward who ski frequently about skiing options near Tahoe, but after considering cost and logistics, realized that if I drove to Utah, not only could we go skiing, but we could also see family, for about the same price as skiing in California. And then we just happened to have a break in winter storms where the forecast looked clear for driving, so we made last minute plans and packed the car and the girls and I headed out early on a Friday morning in early February to do the drive all in one day. The roads were dry the whole way and the girls were absolutely wonderful. They enjoyed movies and snacks and took naps and we rolled into Farmington just as the sun was going down with maybe 2 minutes of total fussing time out of Rose right around naptime.
The skiing was excellent. The days were clear and warm (the second day we skied I even took off my coat and just wore a pullover because it was so warm) but the snow was still fresh enough that it wasn't icy. Jennie came up with her family on Sunday for dinner and let the three older girls stay at my parent's house so that Lily could do ski school with Clara on Monday. Emma said that she didn't want to do it so on Monday morning, my dad, Jessica, Clara, Lily and I piled into my parent's truck with all our gear and headed up the mountain. Clara and Lily had fun playing with Aunt Jessica's braids on the drive up while she was on a call for work.
The girls were excited about the prospect of a day of skiing (not really knowing what they were getting into) and went right into their morning class with no problem.
So my dad, Jessica and I got to spend the morning enjoying the more difficult slopes on our own, which was awesome. It has probably been 10 years since I have skied at all, and even then it was only for a day or two. I haven't done any "real" skiing since I was a teenager, which is sad. So I was a little nervous about whether I would be any good or whether I would be falling and going slow and feeling awkward all day. But it turns out I am a much better skier than I remembered being! At least in my head, I looked about as good as most of the people on the mountain.
Around lunchtime, we skied down to the lodge and met up with my mom who had brought up Emma and the little girls, Rose & Adelaide, along with a picnic lunch for all of us. The resort wasn't crowded at all (there wasn't a single line to wait in to get on the chairlift), so we didn't have a hard time getting a picnic table outside where we could enjoy the weather and music that was playing and watch skiers coming down the slopes while we ate. Jessica and I went to pick up Clara and Lily from their class and Clara was already sitting in the kids' gathering room crying. I was told that she had been "missing her mom" but that despite that she had done well and advanced from Level 1 to Level 2. But had opted to skip the last run with her class and wait in the gathering room because her legs were tired. And I don't blame her because I remember my legs feeling like jelly when I was learning to ski and "snowplowing" with my skis all the way down the bunny hill. Lily came back in looking all confident and happy though. So we went back to lunch and had a great meal of fresh, homemade rolls, lunchmeat, cheese, fruit, chips, and donuts that my mom had picked up that morning for a treat. The girls, especially Lily, Adelaide and Rose, entertained us during lunch by dancing to the music that was playing on the patio.
When it was time for the girls to go back to class, 45 minutes later, Clara immediately started getting teary and whimpering and by the time I was checking her in she was shaking her head and wailing "no! no! no!". I felt like a pretty terrible parent. But I knew that really it was all about her attitude and she was honestly just fine and the staff were encouraging so I just gave her a big hug and then left her with the staff. Lily was more calm going in but I could see that she was starting to have a quiver in her lower lip as well. After helping carry the lunch things down to the car, everybody went over to the base of the bunny slope to watch the ski classes come out and let Rose & Adelaide play in the snow for a while. Oh, and Emma had decided to try skiing for the afternoon, but only one-on-one with Jessica, not in a class, so they were off renting equipment for her.
When Clara & Lily's class came down the slope, which they had already been on while we were packing up the car, there was no Clara and Lily was crying and saying she missed her mom. Their instructor said that Lily was doing fine, just feeling a little emotional and that Clara had asked to stay behind in the gathering room and "rest" some more with some of the staff. So I trudged back up to the kids' area and found Clara sitting up in a chair with her head lolled back, fast asleep. But when I called her name (not really realizing for sure that she was asleep at that point), she stirred and looked up and started getting tears again, so I went over and hugged her and asked her if she was ready to go outside and join her class if I stayed class.
She bravely nodded yes, so we got her sit up and then I basically spent the rest of the afternoon hovering near her class, trying to keep a little distance and sometimes skiing down to encourage Lily or help Jessica with Emma while staying within eyesight of Clara, who ended up doing great for the last 2 hours of instruction and being all smiles after her (apparently much-needed) cat-nap. Poor Lily, though, cried through all of the afternoon class, even though she did great at actually skiing. I think she was just overwhelmed and exhausted and once the tears started she couldn't get her emotions back in check. But by the end of class both girls had leveled up to the next level and were skiing in an independent snowplow without the little attachments on the tips of their skis that held them in place in a snowplow.
Clara and Lily in line to board the chairlift, or "Big Swing" as they call it.
I was happy with the student-to-teacher ratio for Levels 1-2. There were 4 kids in each group with a main instructor and what looked like a helper on a snowboard. Which was great because the kids were falling left and right and needing help getting upright again. And one of the instructors could go after any loose cannons who lost their snowplow and headed too fast down the mountain.
After class was over, I took Clara on one more run for the day and she did great. So much better than I had expected her to after only one day of skiing.
Later in the week I took her again with just me and my dad since Jennie's girls were back at their house in Spanish Fork. Rose stayed home with Grandma Cece and played and took a 3 hour nap and helped with some baking.
Clara did much better in her morning class, having some familiarity by that point with how the class worked and what the instructors were like. We spotted her on the bigger green slope (not the bunny hill) right at the tail end of her class and we spied on her for a bit until she spotted me and started crying. But honestly she did great and was even moved up one more level to Level 4, which is where they are working on turning back and forth. After lunch she just skied with me down the big green slope a couple of times (complaining much of the way but honestly doing pretty darn amazing for only her second day!). She wasn't super cooperative about practicing turning, but every now and then she would throw one in and when she was feeling like it, she could follow me down the mountain by staying in my tracks pretty well.
Of course, on the drive home Clara fell asleep.
Here is a really long and probably boring video compilation of some of the clips I took while we were skiing:
We had a number of fun visits with Renita, Judy, and Grandpa & Grandma Johnson who came over in the evenings after work and ate dinner with us then read books and played with the girls.
We drove down to Spanish Fork - my mom, the girls and I - on Tuesday and spent Tuesday through Thursday staying at Jennie's house, which was so much fun. We had never done that before because usually Jennie would just come up to my parent's house while we were there visiting, but now that she has the five girls and the twins are in cribs, it was so much easier just to go to her place. And it was fun seeing her girls in their own element and Clara and Rose loved playing with their cousins and enjoying dress-ups and new dolls and animals to play with. While we were there we went to the Provo City Center Temple open house, went swimming at the Provo Rec Center's indoor pool, did gymnastics with Emma & Lily at their gym, and just enjoyed hanging out talking and playing. Jennie made minestrone soup and bread the first night, which was perfect since we went swimming and were able to go straight home to a hot, delicious dinner.
Clara and I slept on an air mattress in the downstairs play/living room area and each morning the girls piled onto the air mattress and played while it was being deflated. On the first morning, as the air was going out, I heard Emma holler out: "QUICK! THE AIR IS ALMOST GONE! HAVE AS MUCH FUN AS YOU CAN!!!!!" and the girls ratcheted up their squealing and giggling a notch. The next morning, I heard them adding a storyline about being mermaids and there were sharks in the water around them. Then over the yells and squeals, I hear Clara pipe up: "Let's pray for help!" and the girls all quieted down and Clara asked Heavenly Father to protect them from the sharks, to which they all chimed "amen" and then began squealing again and calling "Jesus, help us! help us!" before Clara took it to the next level and proclaimed "LOOK! AN ANGEL! Jesus sent an angel to save us from the sharks!" It was so hilarious and I was just dying in the adjacent room where I was getting ready for the day while listening to them.
Unfortunately, gymnastics didn't go as well as I had hoped. Clara got in a funk about it and kept coming over to where I was and saying she didn't want to do gymnastics anymore. Which totally isn't like her at all. I think it was a number of factors, mostly that it was late in the day (5:00 p.m.) and she was tired, and the gym was different than she was used to and they took a different approach that made her feel like things were harder than she was used to or something. I also wonder if it was the idea that in her current class, Clara is kind of a "big fish" - she is the oldest, tallest, and fastest. But in her cousin's class, she was one of the youngest (Emma is a year and a half older than her and Lily, who is almost the same age as Clara, is the youngest in the class). So not only did Clara not seem to know the routine, but I think it seemed easier for the other girls than for her. No idea what it was really, but the girls were sure cute together in their leotards. Oh, and by the way, Lily is already looking like such an amazing little gymnast. She is super strong, but she has something extra - she shapes her body to look skillful, with pointed toes and a tight, strong salute at the end of a move or keeping her legs properly straight and together where other girls look more limp and noodly. It's kind of amazing. Afterwards we went to Cafe Rio for dinner, which was fun.
Another fun thing I got to do while we were visiting was going with Jessica and my dad to the Dual Mogul Freestyle World Cup Event at Deer Valley and watch incredibly talented skiers destroy their knees racing down a mogul course and doing crazy jumps and spins and tricks off ramps along the course. It was pretty incredible.
I took this picture of my dad on the drive up and I kind of love it because it is so him. Cruising along in his truck.
And that was pretty much our trip! My mom and I got manicures and pedicures together one afternoon while my dad stayed home with the girls and watched "Snow White", but I don't have any pictures of that. It was so wonderful to see everybody and have so much fun, but we felt bad that Paul didn't get to go with us. Instead, he stayed home and worked his tail off at both his job and then at night he installed the finish work around all the windows and doors with the more decorative trim work, which he then puttied and caulked and sanded and painted. It looks wonderful and we were glad to get back home to him on Saturday after another long, but uneventful and easy drive with the girls, who are proving to be excellent little travel companions.