We're in the middle of our holiday break, and this year we started with our annual trek to Timberline. We've mixed up the timing of Timberline every year -- but, we've managed to get there for about 13 years in a row (and probably a total of 16 times). My parents joined us this year, which was their first time coming to the lodge (well, they may have been there once before -- but it was many moons ago and not during winter). It was fun to have them there and to share our annual tradition with them. This was Kailey's ninth time at the lodge! She knows all the secret passageways and all it's special treats -- Heidi the St. Bernard, the fabulous hot chocolate, the pizza place tucked away in the corner (which wasn't open this year). And, Alden was old enough to really get into all of the special things about Timberline this year. He loved playing shuffleboard -- and was even pretty good at it (I wish I had gotten a picture of that!) And, he loved running around the lodge, playing in the hot tub, going in the "big" pool (that is heated, but still a bit cold since it is outside in winter time!), and even doing a snow roll with Kailey (there's nothing like a big sister to encourage risks and adventure!) I, on the other hand, did not partake in the snow rolls, but enjoy watching the kids (and Eric) be maniacs.
And, this year, we ALL skied together! We tried to get Alden on skis last year, but at a year and a half, he was too young (and it was a bit dangerous to have a tantrum-throwing toddler on a chair lift!) But, this year, he was into it. He LOVED it. Eric skied with him, of course, but by the last day, he was managing to be upright on the skis himself in the lift line and sliding towards the front of the line (on a flat surface) all on his own. He also skied a few feet by himself on the hill, with Eric braced to catch him.
And, because my parents were with us, I was able to ski with Kai and Eric for the first time. I've been slow learning to ski. It turns out that one or two ski lessons a year is a slow way to learn. But, after 15 - 20 lessons spread out over 20 years, this year I think I finally got the hang of it! Kai, Eric and I were able to ski the Magic Mile together -- something I've heard so much about, but never done. It was so fun!! And, it was Kai's first time down the Magic Mile too. It was great to get to have that experience together. Kai wasn't super happy on the long chair lifts -- but, her skiing is fantastic. She is much better than I am -- but, I was happy to just be part of it for the first time in all of these years of going to the mountain together! I even ended up going down a black diamond (inadvertently -- and badly!) but, I managed to get down with the coaching of Eric. Go, me!
Dinner time at Timberline is always a bit of wild card with small children. Kailey has gotten to the point that she does a great job through long dinners. She colors and engages in conversation. But, Alden is another story. He is not a fan of the dinner table under any circumstance, and formal dinners are among his least favorite. In order to try to get Alden to behave through dinner, I decided to resort to bribery. Alden asks to watch videos about every 5 minutes. And, although he doesn't get videos very often, it felt like the promise of a video might be enough to get him through dinner. He asked early on for a video and I told him he could have it if he was good through dinner. After about 5 minutes, he said, "I'm good!" I told him he needed to be good for all of dinner and he said, "I already did!" He was mad that he wasn't getting to have the video immediately, and not understanding that he needed to keep it up for another hour or two while we ate. So, I switched tactics and pointed to all the people in the restaurant and said, "Alden, all the people are trying to eat. They have to be happy for you to have a video. You have to be quiet so that the people will be happy." For some reason, this resonated with Alden. After a few minutes, Alden spread his arms out and declared, "the PEOPLES are HAPPY!" We agreed and then told him that the people needed to stay happy. About halfway through dinner, Alden had enough and started to protest, loudly. I told him the people were mad and made a mad face. He looked alarmed and looked around and said, "the peoples are mad?" I told him they were and that meant no video. He quieted down and asked if the people were happy again. I told him they were. This back and forth continued throughout dinner. And then, at the end of the meal, Alden said, "the PEOPLES are HAPPY.... ASK them!" I laughed and asked him if he wanted to survey the people and he said, "SURE!" So, off we went to the nearest table where Alden said loudly, "ARE YOU HAPPY?" The surprised patron turned to see a toddler standing at his elbow, imploring him to opine on his emotional state, and said, "what?" Alden asked again, "Are you happy?" Yes, the man stammered, "yes -- I'm happy." Alden beamed from ear to ear. "He's HAPPY! Watch Elmo!" And, so he got a video.
Some how this tactic of keeping the people happy worked for every other meal for the next few days. And, we had a number of mostly pleasant meals with a minimal number of outbursts.
It was an absolutely fabulous year -- thanks for coming, Mom and Dad! Can't wait for next year!