Sunday, March 21, 2010

Winter Park

Back in early February, we spent a week in Winter Park, CO with my brother Tony, his wife Shelly and their three kids, Molly, Susie and Scott. We had a wonderful week of skiing and enjoyed the time with family we don't get to see as often as we would like!

Except for one day when Andy and I ventured to Winter Park, we spent our time skiing Sol Vista, a smaller and quieter resort. While the harder terrain is very limited there, it is a fabulous place for beginners and our ski students received unbelievable personalized instruction. In fact, on our second day of lessons, there were no less than five instructors working with the seven family members taking lessons. Considering we were paying for inexpensive group lessons, this level of attention was pretty amazing.

(Also noteworthy on a technical level: Sol Vista teaches a non-traditional, direct-to-parallel methodology, so there is no snowplowing involved. After witnessing this, I am not sure which teaching method is better. I think snowplowing can play an important role in helping beginners gain confidence on more challenging terrain, but our students progressed pretty quickly with direct-to-parallel instruction and seemed to develop better technique than comparable lessons using the snowplow. The first few hours seemed less enjoyable, though.)

These noteworthy events occurred:

1) Tony and Shelly skied for the first time in over 20 years! (They last skied when they were five, of course.)
2) Molly, Susie and Scott skied for the first time ever.
3) Will and Sophie rode their first chairlifts.

All the beginners took two days of lessons and were skiing amazingly well by the second day. Will's skills increased greatly during the trip. Scott reached the point where he could ski independently on the bunny hill. His skill level was more than ready to move on to harder terrain, but he found a small "jump" on the bunny hill and was content to perfect his technique on that and catch air! (Those of you who know Scott will not be surprised by this.) Both Molly and Susie skied great, but Susie took to it more, which gave us the opportunity to utilize Molly's amazing babysitting skills, which are always in demand. By the end of the trip, all the skiers over 10 could ski the green "beginner" terrain without falling! Due to her age level, Rof spent less time on skis than the others but definitely benefitted from her lessons and enjoyed skiing, especially when we took her on the chairlift and skied down the bunny hill together.

On the ride to the airport

Tony and Shelly

The whole Flanigan family on the slopes

Rof likes to ski with Daddy!

You would not believe the amount of planning and effort this picture took! (Beginners, while good at getting into unlikely positions on the snow, are not so good at contorting themselves into such intentionally.) Yet the ski instructor, after spending a good 8-10 minutes posing us, apparently could not wait for a clear background.

The Morris Family less Scott (who was busy catching air on the bunny hill)

Does Will look like he knows what he is doing or what???

The Flanigans

The non-teenaged Morrises

Molly and Susie with instructor Deb

Scott with his instructor Estevan
Scenic Sol Vista

Shelly found Marty Stuart on our flight! Since I now consider myself a Nashville native, I strongly discouraged this photo, but Shelly was not to be deterred.

(All of these photos are courtesy of Shelly. I may have a few to post from my own camera, but they are on a different computer.)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sweetie-Head

Will's affectionate name for Sophie is "Sweetie-Head." He has learned about God's and his parents' unconditional love for him, and he in turn bestows it on her by reminding her:

"There is NOTHING you can do that will make you stop being my Sweetie!"

Of course, our mischievous Rof takes this as a personal challenge and tries her best to aggravate him, just to ask, "Am I still your Sweetie?" He growls and sighs, "Yes, you are still my Sweetie."

So, in view of her tests, he has developed a Sweetie-number system through which he tracks our standings. Therefore, she can remain his Sweetie while suffering a decline in Sweetie-number as a result of her irritations.

For a while, my Sweetie-number was always 16, while Sophie's was 100. However, from school he's recently developed a better grasp of higher numbers, so my Sweetie-number is now usually somewhere around 10 to the 12th power, or in Will's words "One, zero, zero, zero, zero, zero...".

Tonight at dinner we had a small conflict as a result of him being rude and demanding. As I scolded him, Will's countenance (as it often does) transformed immediately from intolerant despot to injured victim, complete with tears.

Tonight we were back on good terms and I was getting ready to leave his bedroom. (When it's my turn to get them to bed, after reading and prayers, I put Sophie to bed and come back to say goodnight. And each night, he asks me, "Do you have anything you want to say?" and I tell him I love him or I'm so glad God gave him to me or something similar. Then he'll say, "We're starting the New Usual**." We lay in silence for a few moments, then I say goodnight and leave.)

This time, for the first time ever, after I'd made my final statement of love and pride, Will said, "Well, I have something to say. Even though I was disappointed in you tonight, I don't want you to think it changed your Sweetie-number."

{smile} Before parenthood, who could have foreseen the little declarations that one day would give us joy? Who else can understand the rewards of love that these tiny innocent souls offer us again and again? This night, Will had perceived my flawed humanity and was still offering me his love and acceptance. It meant as much as all the hero-worship I've received over the years as a mom and will never live up to.

** The New Usual became effective when Sophie got old enough to require extra attention at bedtime, and I explained to Will that I could no longer stay "the usual amount" of time with him at night. "There's going to have to be a 'new usual'", I explained then. Since then, the New Usual has come to symbolize a few moments of silent companionship just before bed. There is no talking allowed. In fact, even [my apparently] loud breathing is discouraged.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Inner Beauty

I hear an altercation upstairs, and walk over to the living room to check on things. I notice that Sophie is dressed up in her brand new tutu (thanks, Tia!) and full ballerina garb.

"Wow, Sophie!" I say as she starts down the stairs.

Will watches her from the landing, shaking his head. He has a warning for me: "She's beautiful but unkind!"