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A Day in the Life [ski day]


05:15 :: Wake to a barely rising sun, move through a still and quiet house laid out with preset piles of ski clothes and bags in their expected positions, awaiting the inevitable bustle of what is about to come.


05:30 :: Start making breakfast. Actually, scratch that. Start making coffee first, then preparation for baked eggs and toast follows after I set the water on the stove to boil. The pile of eggshells catches a glean of orange sunlight slanting through the front window, stretching deep into the house and across the stainless steel prep table where I have discarded the shells. I know we are in for an absolutely beautiful day on the mountain.


05:45 :: Go in to wake the girls, their room, tucked away on the far side of the house, still engulfed in a cocoon of quiet darkness. Tallis sits up right away, instantly awake at the creek of the sticky door opening against the door jamb. Araiya, my carbon copy, burrows down farther into her pillow, trying to keep the disturbance of waking up at bay just a little longer, savoring the feelings of sweet sleep.


05:50 :: By the time I get the girls out of bed, to the potty and into clean undies the sunrise has burst forth across our orange living room wall, setting the house aflame with light. Bright, happy and energized by the morning sunshine and the excitement of going skiing, the girls now bounce up to the table, ready to eat.


06:00 :: We all sit down at the table to eat: Sourdough toast with baked eggs, with yolks just runny enough to dip toast in. And coffee. A full, steaming french press.


06:05 :: The usual jabber fills the house. Girls are discussing and deliberating over who gets the pink skis and how many runs they are going to take.


06:10 :: Noise of conversation and the clanging of dishes making their way into the dishwasher at the clumsy hands of toddlers awake Pia, who, after a diaper change, is the first into her ski base layers and rests on the living room carpet with her bottle as I begin to help the other girls into their ski clothes.


06:45 :: It still amazes me exactly how long it takes to get three kids and two adults ready to do anything, even something that, by now, we should have down pat. Packed bags make it into the car. Kids make it into the car. Matt even manages to tighten the bolt on the windshield wiper that had come loose, rendering one wiper useless for several weeks, though he misplaces the plastic cap covering the bolt, which requires frantic searching before it turns up in his pocket.


06:55 :: We’re off, navigating the routine of city streets which has become our pattern, our path, from the Urban neighborhood in which we dwell…


07:00 :: …across the liquid expanse of lake bordering the city, signaling our exit out across the water towards the mountains…


07:25 :: …which gently rise up from the lowlands, following the wide, winding black ribbon of highway away and up.


07:50 :: Until, finally, we diverge from the highway, wrap ourselves around towering peaks, veer into a dirt parking lot, and arrive at the opening of a wooden bridge, our last threshold, a dominant ‘A’ announcing arrival at our destination of Alpental.


08:00 :: Schlepping. Schlepping our newly gifted, all-encompassing, carry-all, wonder-bag-on-wheels, across a gravel parking lot and up the wooden planks of the bridge. I feel we look far more suited to be hurrying off to catch a plane than participating in a rugged outdoor sport with this thing. However, one bag is far more convenient than the 5 we’ve become accustom to, once dubbed Mamma Sherpa with my hands, back, shoulders and arms adorned with bags, children, gear and boots.


08:15 :: Drop our stuff in the instructors locker room while the kids instantaneously climb into the mini-caves of the cubbies, laughing and pretending they are bears. We wait a few minutes, while our supervisor comes back from upstairs with her morning coffee, then check in by adding our names to the list of available instructors for Private Lessons. Nothing lined up for the day, so we start getting the girls ready to go outside, holding them still enough to beging lathering them in sunscreen as a first priority.


08:30 :: Lifts open so Matt heads up to get a first run in by himself. I continue to adorn the girls- jackets, gloves, hats, sunglasses, helmet- items I soon will end up holding as they are discarded due to dislike and overheating. The sun is out, warming the mountain. By 10:00 the conditions of most of the lower runs in direct sunlight are akin to Slurpees. No matter, we still are set for having fun regardless.

09:45 :: Check into the office to see if any lessons have shaped up for the morning. Nothing, so we resolve to make our way outside, two toddlers clonking around in ski boots on the brick deck and Pia, covered in a sunhat and Baby Banz, strapped in the Beco on my back.


10:15 :: After Matt meets us at the bottom of the main run, right outside the lodge, he and Araiya take off for a round up the ‘Black Chair’, leaving me and a crying, jealous Tallis just off the lodge’s deck, between filling racks of skis, where I get the usual comments and questions of ‘how old is she?’ to ‘poor baby’. We claim a table and subdue the whining with a Granola bar, secretly stashed in my pocket for the expected meltdown unaware of it’s existence to screaming child, who is far to easily placated by the lure of chocolate chunks. Matt and Araiya come cruising into sight down the face of the mountain, Araiya now skiing top to bottom completely on her own.


10:25 :: Matt and Araiya head up for another lap, Tallis settling for wearing the Blue Skis as we trod around the snow just off of the deck.

10:45 :: Check in again, still no lessons. Spend some time conversing with my supervisor, talking about Whistler, rotator cuffs, program changes for next year, kids. Other people come in and own, many familiar faces. Tallis has another granola bar and uses the potty.

11:00 :: Matt and Araiya make it down from lap 2. Tallis begs for a turn, so she and Matt go off to the Bear House, which likely just serves as storage shed for mountain operations but has been dubbed such by the girls. A grinning Tallis can be seen from afar, sliding up and down the gentle incline along a groomed path through the trees. Araiya, Pia and I take a potty break and converse with another instructor who has arrived, then put the camera away anticipating the lack of extra hands for lunchtime.

11:20 :: Araiya, Pia and I make our way upstairs to accrue lunch. I have $15 worth of prize tickets received from the mountain, ticking away their time in which to be used as the season winds down. Today they buy two Taco Salads, but with our employee discount and lack of ability to get change, also wind up with a Soda, Sour Gummy Worms and M&M’s on our tray. Araiya, bouncing with excitement at the prospects of candy, helps me carry all our food, teetering just out of reach of a grabby Pia, down onto the deck to enjoy lunch in the warm sunshine.

11:30 :: Pia, now conked out for her morning nap on my back, looses the pacifier out of her mouth, which goes rolling across the brick deck. Some nice person picks it up for us. I suck off the dirt and germs and have Araiya stick it back in, in classic unfazed mommy style. Matt and Tallis join us and we eat on the deck, ending our meal with an entire bag of Gummy Worms, split between the four of us.

12:45 :: Check in again, still nothing. Ski School Director is in, chat with him. We go back out to ski and play in the snow more.

13:30 :: Come back in so Mommy can finally put her ski boots on and go for a run with Araiya. After promised Mommy run has been stated, someone comes in the office for a lesson- plains foiled. An upset Araiya must be consoled as I get ready to teach, rather than take her skiing. 

13:55 :: Leave the girls with Matt to go teach a 1-hour private.

15:05 :: Make it back from my lesson, change jackets, take a potty break and head back up the lift, this time with Araiya.

15:10 :: We rise up the mountian, a chatty 3 year old telling me all about her prior runs with Daddy, pointing out all the bigger runs she is going to ski when she grows up. I am filled with awe at her, at her passion and at her understanding of this sport. She hops off the chair, almost by herself now, speeds around the lift to the top of the cat track. She tells me I get to follow her. 

15:15 :: Araiya is now skiing the entire Cat Track, even the rolling pitch down around the lift, which by the later afternoon has become a mogul field. She is trying to jump off the bumps. We cruise down the cut path, peering down into steeper runs, to which Araiya informs me are Black Diamonds. I ask her if she wants to ski one. Um… she thinks about it… not right now. So we cruise on.

15:20 :: Almost reaching the final pitch down to the lodge, Araiya finds a gigantic ball of snow, the biggest snowball ever. Somehow I get talked into carrying it down the rest of the mountain to bring to Tallis. I wonder what we must look like to the other skiers riding up the lift over our heads.

15:25 :: We make it down to a waving Tallis, Daddy and sleeping Pia. Check in for the last time, now signing out for the day. After switching gloves, then resolve to hit up one last run before calling it a day.


15:35 :: Araiya and I stand at the top of Miester, the first of three advanced pitches which peel off the cat track. I was showing her the Black Diamond run that stretched out below us, point out a little boy who was about a year older, arms flailing as he wedge turned down the slope with his Mom. Wanna do it? She scoots herself forward, then slides her skis over the lip of the cat track down into her first Black Diamond. The first half, the steepest half, she has no problem. Then she decides to stop turning, power wedging, her legs as far apart as she can get them, bracing herself straight down the hill. Eventually her legs get too wide to support her and she falls back onto her butt. I stoop down next to her, explaining again how making turns down the hill controls her speed better, how it is especially needed on this steeper slope. Her stubbornness digs in it’s heels, she just wants to go straight down.

15:40 :: We continue down, me continuing my encouragements for turning, her resolving to go as fast as she can. We ski through the Gut, a bottle-necking part of the mountain that is just plain difficult to navigate. She snakes through the moguls, nearly as tall as she is, down onto the flats.


15:45 :: The five of us sit in the late afternoon sun, eating ‘Turn Beans’ in celebration of Araiya’s accomplishments.

15:55 :: We head back inside to repack our stuff, passing the Ski School Director on his way out, who had passed me and Araiya going down Miester. He congratulated her on what she had done, excited for his own 3 year old to start skiing and have a ski buddy in Araiya. We talk about coming up the following weekend, as it seems at the end of each Saturday we continue to be spurred on for more.

16:05 :: Dragging the bag, who’s wheels are already torn up, we retreat back across the bridge and arrive back at the car, standing alone at the far end of the lot. Driving away, we glance back up at the mountain, the lifts now still, sun dipped behind the ridge line, and comment what a good day that was. Within a few minutes of winding down the highway, all three kids are asleep in the back seat.


16:55 :: Pulling up in front of our house, which seems like a world away from Alpental, Matt and I carry sleeping girls up the front stairs, start reheating soup and grilling panini sandwiches, eager to spend time as a family as we wind down a full day before the girls’ bedtime at 19:30. We reflect on the season, on our family, on the activity we have chosen to commit our family to cultivate, so thankful that Saturdays have been a day, even for the girls, to look forward to with such joyous anticipation.

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