Christmas Traditions

24209137_1413034562098078_169668152_oWe have no kids home for Christmas this year. Not a one. It’s the first year that has happened to us, but it’s okay. We had warning, and celebrated on the Saturday after Thanksgiving instead (Santa owed me some favors so we had official approval on the switch). That way, we were able to embrace some of our family traditions, and we celebrated with Mom and 4/6 of our kids.

When the boys were young, they would sometimes get a box of Popsicle sticks as a gift. Armed with glue guns, those sticks turned into many hours of wondrous creativity (some of it a bit dangerous, I have come to learn — apparently one son made a shield so strong that he encouraged his brother to come at him with a knife so he could ward it off (ACK!!!!! Thank goodness for the angels that guard my boys! And I’m also super thankful the shield did its job. Whew!) )

This year I was feeling a bit nostalgic (Zeb kindly (and rightly) pointed that out to everyone when they opened their gifts and looked up with puzzled eyes). Knowing they were traveling soon, I chose our Popsicle stick alternate. The one we used for car entertainment when the kids were little (in retrospect, one of our more brilliant parenting moves). We gifted them with pipe cleaners. You can make a million things with them, and they are easy to travel with. No glue required. Also, I now realize they are a lot safer since they cannot be turned into bona fide shields.

A few days after they all returned to their lives away from us, Mollie sent us the picture of her pipe cleaner creation. I loved it enough to want to share it with you all. Isn’t she creative?

Soon I’m off to our candle-light Christmas service then will snuggle in for movies and junk food with Mom and Chris as I watch the incoming snowstorm from the coziness of our house. How perfect for a second Christmas.

We hope you all have a truly blessed holiday season.

Snow Surprise Saves our Season

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Three. That’s the pathetically low count of times we were able to go snowboarding this past year. We’ve been spoiled enough to average 5-7 times a week for the past few years so it’s been a bit rough this year. With the move and our travels and such, we just haven’t had time this year. Our deteriorating muscles and expanding bellies attest to the fact that this is not an ideal situation.

Now it’s the time of year where you can get annual passes for next year, and snowboard for the rest of this year as part of the deal. As much as our hearts are with Swain, it’s too far away now that we have moved. So we planned to get passes for Greek Peak. And that was exciting.

We were supposed to go last weekend. Timing was critical since the snow has been rapidly melting. To our great disappointment, I was ill and couldn’t garner the strength to hit the slopes (all good now. It was just a nasty cold).

Then this east coast storm came down from heaven and gifted us with fresh powder the day before my weekend (I work Saturdays through Wednesdays). Greek Peak got 28-inches of fresh powder, so we grabbed hotel room and planned a two-day slope getaway. Wahoooo!

As I wrapped up the work week on Wednesday the 15th, Chris pulled our boards out in the hallway, and they looked really happy in their escape from our basement. The entire visit was perfect.
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December 23, 2016
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March 16, 2017
We had been there the day before Christmas Eve with Hudi and Zeb, so happy memories assailed us as we pulled into the parking lot and got ready to hit the lift. It was windy, but the temps were in the upper 20s F. Much better than the near-zero-degree-F temps of last weekend. A face guard, helmet and decent coat kept us warm so the air that did manage to hit our faces actually felt invigorating. And I got to wear my new snowboard boots that I picked up in Utah. So happy memories of time with CJ and Zeb there as well.

My boots and Chris about to go down the hill. Beautiful views.

The views were amazing, and there were enough bumps and jumps and powder pockets to keep Chris entertained while I boarded on the side, practicing my s-turns and squiggles. My snowboard was so happy it started doing some tricks I’ve been working on for years. All by itself! It just seemed to flow, bless its little board heart.
If you look closely at my board, you can see that I had a Wapuu on for the ride as well 🙂 (actually there are two, but one is under that snow on the front of my board)
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When we got tired (definitely as out of shape as we thought we were), we headed back to the hotel for an in-room picnic and movie-time. No rush, no fuss. We knew we were going back the next day.
And that day was super fun. It was St. Patrick’s day so we got to listen to Irish music as we loaded onto the lift. The sun was shining, the wind had dissipated, and the skies were super blue. Paradise. After a few hrs of boarding we headed to the car for a hot chocolate break, and I soaked in the sun.
I don’t know if we will get out again this year, but that getaway already gave me a lot of things to dream about for next year. That snow storm was such a gift.

Sun, Sons and Snowboarding

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After Friday night’s snow who would guess that we would be sipping coffee on the deck Saturday morning? Even better, we were sunbathing by the afternoon. It was over 50 degrees. We slept in, yakked, read, took naps and basically took the day off as a quasi spa day. Pure luxury.

In the evening we headed over to Zeb’s to check out his new home.

Zeb is in a pretty fun living situation now. He’s with CJ’s pre-marriage housemates who also happen to be delightful young men from the area where our boys grew up. Aaron and Thomas and Zeb made some delicious coffee (can you tell we are big on coffee?) and yakked with us until Robert and Anthony came home. Then we chatted a bit more and started playing a game called QuipLash. Anyone with Internet could join our game if they had to code, and the guys decided to call Hudi (back in NY) to join the fun. That made me really happy — knowing my boys wanted to hang out together, even long distance.

After a really enjoyable evening we headed home to get a good night’s sleep. The next day was busy. We went to Lauren and CJ’s church (a church with a view!) then grabbed some pizza and headed off to Solitude for some slope time. It was interesting since we were on borrowed/new-to-us equipment, but we adapted pretty well and had a fantastic time. The road getting there was winding and kinda crazy. There were definitely rocks in the road on the way down that weren’t there on the way up. And it was wild how we had snow, but half an hour away, there wasn’t any.

As the day wound down, we settled in with some nice drinks and tv time.

Monday was our last day there 🙁 And we were far from ready to go. But the good news is that we plan to travel back next summer. Sadly, CJ’s car had been backed in to over the weekend so Chris and CJ spent most of Monday finding repair shops to get quotes. Lauren and I worked on websites, read and yakked.

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She made me one final drink (a mint hot chocolate thing this time with white mocha or something. Yum!) then we headed to a burger place they enjoy as we headed back to the airport. Our flight left at 11:59pm, and Chris’ birthday was the next day – beginning one minute into our flight 🙂 The screenshot of the plane is when were were pretty close to flying over their home on our way back to NY.

That trip was fortunately uneventful, and we were home in plenty of time to unpack, plow out the driveway, clean the house and have a birthday celebration thanks to Mom Pollock.

I took the next few days as AFK so we had time to rest up and get our life back in order. And here we are. Back in the flow of our reality, and loving it. With a ton of new fantastic events stashed into our happy memory arsenal for times when we miss our kids and want to look back on times together.

 

Utah Trip Day 1

img_0680I got waaaay behind on sharing our Utah trip, and I’d be willing to put money on the fact that most of you would fully support me on that. It’s because I was having so much fun relaxing with/enjoying the company of CJ, Lauren, Zeb and their friends. And even some of my friends 🙂

We arrived in Salt Lake City late Wednesday night. With only one slight incident. As we gazed in awe of the lights of the city, we noticed that the airport seemed a bit close for our altitude. Right when we should have been descending rapidly, the plan dropped suddenly then swiftly began an incline. Weird. It was enough to get an audible gasp and/or “whoa” from nearly everyone on board. For about five minutes we were stymied as we watched the airport slip behind us as we inclined. Then the pilot came on and announced that the landing was too tight so we were trying again with more room. Whew!

I had warned my husband that in a particular book he was reading there was a deep analysis of an airplane crash, and I recommended that he not read that part in flight. Apparently he forgot and was right in the thick of that chapter when the excitement occurred. Talk about timing!

CJ and Lauren were there to meet us, and they gave us a night tour of their world as we drove to their home about 45 minutes away.

Now CJ is a ski instructor at Deer Valley and he taught enough lessons to people with altitude sickness to realize that we might want to stay off the slopes our first day there. It was so delightful, sleeping in and chatting while we sipped Lauren’s amazing coffee.

Late morning, we headed back to Salt Lake City to check out a very pretty mall. It was right around the corner from where I had gotten my tattoo two years ago. I stopped in to see if I should have it touched up (that had been recommended to me by the artist two years ago).

While my artist was not available, her co-workers agreed with me that it still looks great and doesn’t need touching up, even two years later. Well done, Mina from Cathedral Tattoo!

At the mall we signed up for a Virtual Reality appointment at the Microsoft store, gazed at fish swimming near stores, enjoyed a fountain display.

Then we spent some time playing with Virtual Reality at the Microsoft store. It was truly amazing. I felt like I was petting a whale, I created 3-D drawings that I walked through, and I shot lasers at incoming alien robots that were attacking me. I’ve done VR in my living room, and this definitely took it to a new level for me. Fun!

After we went home, we played a bit more with our own living room games, and Chris and I took turns riding on a VR roller coaster. Curazy! Love it!

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We topped off the day by picking up Zeb from his house ten minutes away then going to Cafe Rio, where we met my fabulous co-worker, Velda 🙂 We were having so much fun that they practically closed the place down around us. As we said our goodbyes, CJ and Velda traded some Pokémon.

What a glorious kick-off to our almost-a-week of vacationing with our progeny.

Love to All – Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

This holiday season has given me a mind shift and mental reboot, which I hope will lead to my being a better contributor to the human race. After a wonderful day of snowboarding with my family (yesterday), I now sit here and write in front of a lit tree, with a fire on the TV in front of me (I pretend it’s real), “For Unto Us a Child is Born” from the Messiah on my Pandora, our dog, Star, at my feet and a son by my side. Dinner is in the crock pot, smelling fabulous, and church is in two hrs. Pure Bliss.

Our world has shifted radically this year, and I’m starting to come to terms with it, I think. There are steps I’m making to implement changes that reflect the shift. I’m sure I’ll be sharing some of those with you over the next few weeks. For now, though, I’d like to leave you with the warmest of thoughts and two of my all-time favorite holiday songs. From Pentatonix and Straight No Chaser:

May you all be blessed in this upcoming year.