Tuesday, January 3, 2012
(I started writing this nearly a month ago and am just finishing it up quickly because if I don't hit post, it will never get finished. I'm missing all kinds of good stories... but, something is better then nothing.)
I think we finally figured out how to do the holidays this year. It helps that Eric has a ton of vacation and that my work closes the week between Christmas and New Year's, so that we can take the last two weeks of the year off. Last year we did that, but Eric started the bathroom remodel and was re-plumbing the entire house during his "vacation". This year we actually vacationed the entire time, and it was fabulous.
It also helps that Kai is an amazing traveler, allowing us to do an epic roadtrip that took us from Oakland to Hillsboro to Timberline to Vancouver to Portland to Chico to Yosemite and, finally, back home. It was many hours in the car, all of which was utterly pleasant and devoid of whining. I was amazed. She played with the iPad some of the time, but a lot of the time she made up stories and babbled away to herself in the backseat. On the journey from Portland to Chico (which is about 9 hours in the car), we took only two breaks. One 30 minute lunch break and one 5 minute stop for gas. That's it. 9 hours. Two stops. Leo and Soren were with their parents and Amy told me that towards the end they commented that they could not believe that a 3 year old was managing such a long road trip without completing melting down. It really was amazing.
Not that Kai didn't have some meltdowns during our travels, but overall, she was excited about each leg of the journey and had so much fun. We took off on Friday night after attending her daycare holiday party and drove to Yreka, which is only about a 5 hour drive. We made it to Grammy's house the next afternoon, and Grammy had a "zoo" set up for Kailey and a vet bag filled with everything Kai needed to pretend to be the vet. She loved it and has been carrying her doctor bag around with her doing check ups on her animals ever since.
After Grammy's house, we headed to Timberline for our yearly ski trip. I am not much for skiing. I don't like heights, speed, or sliding around on my feet. So, in the past, the Westrey's and Eric have skied, while I watched Kailey in the lodge (and Eric never skied much -- we would spend a lot of family time in the lodge too). I love lodge living... reading books, playing games, sitting by the fire, spending time in the hot tub. It wasn't as relaxing when Kai was a baby, but still a nice break and one of the highlights of every year.
But, this year, Kai was old enough to attempt skiing (well, barely old enough... not too many 3 year olds were on the slopes!) I really wanted her to try it. Partly because I don't want her to grow up afraid to try new things or to be adventurous, the way I was when I was a kid. I was often on the sidelines, and I don't want Kai to sit out (although, historically, Kai really hasn't had my disposition when it comes to thrill seeking... the child has been scaling walls since before she could walk). However, it wasn't clear leading up to our trip if we would be able to convince Kai to try out skiing. She kept saying leading up to the trip that she did not want to ski. In an effort to convince her, I told her I would try it with her. I thought that if she saw me trying new things it would encourage her to do the same thing.
And, if I'm being honest, it had absolutely no impact on convincing Kai to ski. When she saw me putting my boots on, she set her lips in a straight line and said she wasn't doing it. She screamed when we tried to put her boots on. It wasn't working. 5 minutes into our discussion about skiing, Leo walked into the rental shop. He turned to Kai and said, "you should try it, Kai. It's fun. I'll ski with you." And, that's all it took. She put her boots on. She put her skis on. And she and Eric were off. The first time down the hill, Eric said she was nervous. On the chair lift back up she said she didn't want to do it again. Eric told her that was fine, but that sometimes it helped to try things twice. She was intrigued, so they took another journey down the bunny slope (Eric was hunched over, holding Kai under her arms with her skis in the middle of his skis... super comfortable way to ski). The second time back up the hill Kai told Eric it was fun, but that she was done for the day. Eric said that was fine, but maybe she should try it three times since she was three. This logic never fails to work on Kai. So, off they went a third time. And, as it turns out, three really is a magic number. She was hooked. Eric and Kai skied together the rest of the day day. Every time I saw the two of them, she was yelling "FASTER" and "LET'S GOOOOOO!!" It was hilarious.
It also turns out that I had fun skiing. Dave was a great instructor and by the end of two days, I was managing turns down the bunny slope and stopping all on my own. Pretty good for an old lady! I think I'll try it again next year.
It was an amazing trip to Timberline. We had adjoining rooms, including a fireplace room. Everyone was in good spirits the whole time. There was lots of skiing, lots of swimming. It was fantastic. I am already anticipating next year (yes, we already have reservations)!!
One of the other things I noticed this year is that Kai also has gotten really good about saying thank you for gifts, which is quite a change from last year. Last year we had an epic battle when she refused to say thank you and over the last year, she has become very appreciative of gifts and always says thank you. These sorts of examples just amaze me --- she has grown up so much in the last year. She now anticipates events, has amazing patience, a great ability to reason (and argue), and such good manners. She's such a big kid all the sudden!
The rest of our adventure was pretty awesome, too. After Timberline, we were at my parents' house. We took my mom to see the Nutcracker on her birthday. Kai got a little tired of it in the second half, but she adored it. We've been playing Nutcracker around these parts ever since the show. She is usually Marie. Eric's almost always Fritz. I tend to not have much of a role, but sometimes get assigned the role of the godfather or the Rat King. Three year olds and make-believe. Seriously. We are always role playing. Kai will be in the middle of some game and she'll do something she isn't supposed to do and we'll correct her saying, "Kai, don't do that." She immediately corrects us back, staying in character, "you mean Marie?" Sigh.
We ended the trip with Yosemite and had absolutely fabulous weather for our "snow" camping, sans the snow. It was in the 40s every day. The nights were cold, but we had plenty of blankets. Kai went on a 2 mile hike, trekking the whole thing by herself (well, nearly). She also had a great time scampering on rocks. She was less thrilled with the nights and each night would ask us when we were going to go home. Also, by the time we got to Yosemite, I think she was starting to get worried that we were never going home.
As awesome as the trip was, coming home was equally exciting. Kai let out the shrillest holler when she saw the house and then started giggling uncontrollably and exclaiming, "it's my HOUSE!!"
Home Sweet Home.