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Now, THAT was a good day.

It’s exceedingly rare to encounter a day in which the fine line between total chaos and excellent outcome is walked with incomprehensible results in the positive. And even more rare is for ME to get in a good ski day. Our first day, all FIVE of us up at Alpental ALL day long absolutely ROCKED. It couldn’t have gone better, though we leaned very nearly to derailing into utter craziness on multiple occasions, which is just how it goes with three very young kids. But all-in-all, an exceedingly enjoyable day. So I should back up and preface: Matt and I both teach skiing at Alpental in the winter. This is my 11th season as a ski instructor, Matt’s 3rd. Long gone are the days of hitting it hard from first chair to patrol sweep. One, two, now three kids tend to through a bit of a wrench into our everlasting vows of “for better or for worse, in big snow years and in drought,” but never the less, we are just as strongly set to instill in our children a deep love for the outdoors and to fall in love with skiing. That, of course, means Matt and I rarely get a chance to ski together (though last year we had an amazing day together in the Backcountry). We know this season of life will pass and soon all 5 of us will be ripping down the hill together.

This year we have decided to put Araiya in Alpentykes, the special Three year-old program they offer, which we had to hound the gal’s in the Ski School office about starting last June to get a spot, as they sell out within the first few days of opening up registration. So we have been prepping Araiya for her first taste of childcare/preschool/ski school as she has so far never been exposed to anything like that. She, of course, has been pretty excited about this day, asking continually from Thursday (when we took a trip out to REI to pick up her new ski pants we ordered) on if TODAY she got to go to Alpentykes. So the story of our day starts there. Well, actually, it starts at 4:35 AM when Araiya and Tallis come pattering into our room, asking if it was time to go to Alpental yet. We were able to coax them back to bed for another few hours, thankfully, as enduring the rest of the day with tired toddlers who got up out of their unrelenting excitement far too early would have spelled disaster. 

That of course, threw Mom & Dad off, who managed to both get up far later than intended (me sleeping through several rounds of being shaken, poked and shouted at). But we made it out of the house, albeit late, even with a good breakfast of toast, eggs and hash browns in us, pulling into the parking lot (scoring a carpooling spot) about a half-hour later than I should have been arriving. At that point, I had to ditch Matt to fend for himself with two of the girls as Pia, me and my ski stuff rushed up to check in. Putting on Ski boots with an infant attached to your chest is not an easy task, though I think I left my good pair of Keen’s in the middle of the lodge. Matt arrived just in time for me to hand off little P, and I scrambled off to meet my class. 

The consecutive week program I teach in is one of the longest standing lesson sets at the mountain. It’s more importantly an awesome group of people who run it and are involved. However, it is not without it’s hiccups, like today they assigned the kid’s levels in reverse to the instructor’s- so I arrive to my class to find a group of kid’s who had never been on ski’s before and the instructor who had been prepped to have a lower level class was pretty stoked the kid’s he thought were his could ski the whole mountain. A quick and confused switch of Instructor numbers and we all got out on the mountain not too behind schedule. After some re-arranging and hashing out of class levels, I ended up with 5 rockin’ high school gals I had skied with last year. High School girls are hilarious- I remember far too keenly what it was like to be one. So we hit the upper mountain a few times before I let them go for the morning.

But on my way down, I meet up with another instructor, who had taken all the rockin’ boys, and he had a kid get hurt in his class. Hurt kids is never a good thing, so I jump in to help him out, switching roles with my supervisor and earning myself the coveted cut-in-line program lead armband for the rest of the day, heading back up to facilitate a few other groups in sorting out which kids go in which class based on ability. Those poor kids ended up getting about a half-hour additional lesson time, all of which was standing around.

After that I hook back up with Matt, who has Pia in the Beco and carrying Tallis under one arm, who has developed a bit of a phobia when her boots touch the snow. The four of us head to eat lunch in the lodge, and we quickly learn to aim for either an early or late lunch, as our spot we had sanctioned off with our gear was occupied leaving me no place to sit and nurse Pia, which was far less than convenient.

Then I headed up to pick up Araiya from her lesson, catching her as her instructor is taking her up the lift one last time. Now, Araiya has been on skis since about 18 months old (I skied with her on the magic carpet when I was 38 weeks pregnant with Tallis, hoping exerting that much energy would put me into labor, but nope, Tallis was a week and a half late), so she is pretty used to being in gear, scooting around and riding the lift. While I was glad to see she wasn’t corralled in the oversized snowy playpen, I was quite surprised they had spent pretty much the whole day with her on the lift, far exceeding my expectations for the first day. Plus, her instructors informed me she is just about holding a wedge on her own, which is pretty darn good for a young Three year old. The funniest part was how she didn’t want to part with her Alpentykes vest because she simply didn’t want to leave. The whole way back to the lodge was filled with whining about how she wanted to stay in Alpentykes and keep skiing on the lift. In fact, she informed me she wanted to eat dinner at Alpental. 

After a quick family lunch (in a now empty lodge, as everyone had cleared out after the lunch rush) I headed back out with my group of instructors for some free-skiing… er, clinics. See, the great thing about teaching in the program I do is that our afternoons often consist of skiing together as a group all over the mountain (we even hooked up with my 5 gals in my awesome class who weren’t too cool to spend their afternoon with a bunch of dorky adults). We hit the upper mountain together a few times, really hard. Well, hard for me, now 5 months post-partum having done nothing in the realm of training for ski season. This is my second day out and last weekend only got one run down International. Today I hit about a handful, all while ‘Working’. That is at this point of my life, now what I consider a hard day of skiing. By 2:30 PM my legs are more than done, which was unfortunate because my supervisor had offered to hang with the kid’s while Matt and I got a few in. Tonight I am looking forward to leg cramps and spasms and it will likely take until Friday to not be ridiculously sore anymore. 

I ran into Matt just getting ready to bring the girls’ back out, as the older two both wanted to go skiing. Tallis sat on my lap, unwilling to actually put her skis on, telling me she wanted to ride the lift up the hill with Mommy, near melting down when I told her we couldn’t go up there without skis on our boots. Araiya, too was rather upset she couldn’t continue to ride the lift. By 3:00, 15 minutes until Matt needed to be inside for the start of his Level 2 Certification Clinics, Both girls are melting down because they wanted to ski MORE. Matt and I couldn’t help but smile at the near-irony of the sympathetic looks we were getting from passerby’s assuming our kid’s were screaming due to being wet, cold, tired and miserable in their ski gear. I think we cut that 3pm time a bit too close, as I had to singlehandedly get girls who were very upset with me making them leave the Summit packed up and to the car. My supervisor is awesome and helped me get kids and stuff from the lodge to the car. It was only at that point did I realize my missing shoes, but was far too set on relieving my aching feet from my ski boots to care much about walking around the car in the snow and driving all the way home with only socks on. 

Araiya put up quite a protest as we pulled out of the parking lot and then onto the Highway, still set on wanting to stay and continue skiing. She wanted to do Daddy’s Clinic with him. It only took 3 minutes for all three of them to fall asleep, Araiya briefly waking about 10 minutes from home to demand I turn the car around and go back to the Mountain before conking back out. I nearly did, as I realized Matt had moved the keys to the house from the center console where I had left them, then dearly prayed he had enough forethought to lock them in the glove compartment with my iPhone instead of simply sticking them in his pocket (thankfully he did, or we would have ended up at Tougo’s, me shoeless, until about 7pm when Matt got back).

Home met us with it’s warmth, including the indulgence of some Hot Chocolate and a hot bath (with all 4 of us) as I tossed some Smoked Ham Hock and Hominy Chili on the stove. Now the timer for cornbread beckons, as does the down comforter on my bed in a few short hours. A great end to a great day. And like Araiya, I am really looking forward to next Saturday, when the routine of it all sets in a bit more aiding in the (hopeful) continued ease of juggling kids and recreation.

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