Monday, June 9, 2014

Mason says...

The thing about vampires...they gotta be careful not to bite their tongue!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Epic Steamboat Springs Vacation

One of the Christmas gifts from my parents to all of us was a ski trip to Steamboat.  I have been looking forward to taking the boys on their first ski trip for years and it finally happened!  Of course, getting there is always an adventure.  Jack LOVED looking out the window at all the planes and special vehicles that help out on the runway. Our flights were uneventful but Jack was surprisingly quite nervous once we got on the plane.  I'm usually the nervous flier, so I had to keep my nerves in check to make sure I was able to comfort him.  He kept telling me he didn't want to ride the big plane and to close the windows.  Once the engines came on he asked me to turn them off.  I told him the pilot was in charge of the engines and that he needed them on because he wanted to go "up, up, and away" - a phrase Jack had repeated over and over while watching the other planes take off.  This time he told me "no, the pilot wants to go down, down, and away!" Thankfully, just like his momma, once we were in the air he was fine.

Yes, that is their silly Aunt Lindsay photobombing. Ha!!

We rented a cool condo near the slopes and it reminded me of the ski trips I took as a child.  Like the condo we used to stay at in Vail, this one had 5 levels (and several bunk beds) which I used to think was so cool!  We even had a hot tub on the balcony to enjoy!

We got in late on a Saturday and the kids were so excited to see the snow.  They've never seen snow like this before (heck, I'm not even sure I'VE seen snow like this)!  Mounds and mounds of it!

Here is Jack checking out snow for the very first time.  He's pretty excited about it and his first instinct was to kick it.  His love of kicking the snow piles remained throughout the trip. Haha - such a boy.  I'm not really sure why Owen and Mason weren't out there right beside him...I think they were too busy inside checking out all the levels of our condo.

Jack wasn't the only one with a love for the snow.  The big kids really loved playing in it and sticking their hands down into the deep powder.  But Mason in particular found his way to the top of just about any snow pile he could.  And naturally, Owen couldn't help but join him! I had to actually get onto them a time or two because they would end up with snow all over their faces, hats, and other accessories that weren't waterproof. Wet and cold is not a good combo!

Here we go to the bus stop on our first ski day!  I'm not sure who was more or the big kids!  I couldn't WAIT to see how they'd take to skiing!  

Again, just like my childhood ski trips to Vail, there was a lovely covered bridge to cross as you made your way to the base of the mountain.  HAD to get this pic!

Owen and Mason did GREAT for their first day ever on skis! I spent a little time watching them on the bunny slopes before us adults headed up the lifts.  When we picked them up at the end of the day, the instructor told me they did so well they had to move classes.  Apparently most kids go from a level 1 (first time skiier) to a 1+, maaaybe 2, on their first day.  Both of my guys made it to level 2+ on day 1.  Our hope for the trip was that we'd be able to take them up the mountain by the end of the week to do some green runs with us.  Of course, we weren't sure if this would happen - we had no idea how they'd do, how they'd like it, how many days they'd want to ski, etc.  There was an hour left before the lifts closed for the day so we took them up the "big lift" (a really, really, REALLY slow moving chair lift).  This lift and run were basically the next step in ski school after the "magic carpet" hill (the magic carpet is a sort of in-ground conveyor belt that the kids stand on to get back to the top).

Owen and Mason were a bit unsure about the lift and the bigger hill but we assured them that their level 2+ class would be doing that same thing the next day, so they decided to try it with us.  And they did awesome!

Here they are (Mason in blue, Owen in orange) on the morning of day 1...still a level 1 skier on an almost flat hill. They were working on stopping.

Yes, the hill behind them in this pic is actually a hill.  Haha!

Here we are on Preview (the green run) at the end of day 1.  This was a big moment for me too!  I had been waiting to share the snow skiing experience with them for so long!

Owen and Mason weren't the only kids who got to ski that day!  Part of Jack's childcare included a 1 hour private lesson.  It should be noted that when we dropped Jack off the first morning for childcare, he was not happy! Why? Not because we were leaving him, but because he did NOT want to go inside. He preferred to stay outside and kick the snow piles.  The teachers there were onto it and quickly fitted him for ski equipment and got him back out the door. Luckily 1 hour of skiing wore the little man out and he actually went down for a nap.  On a nap mat.  In a strange place.  This doesn't seem to fit his usual personality, but I like it!  He also got to have snack time on a ride up and back down the big gondola! 

The instructors carted the littlest skiiers to the hill in wagons.  Good idea!  Those boots are a pain to walk in!  In the 2nd picture below, you can barely see the tips of Jack's teeny-tiny skis poking over the wagon's edge.  Everything about a 2 year old skiing was adorable!  

The instructor gave Jack a truck to hold during the ride. It was quite comical watching him try to grab ahold of it with his mittens on. It reminded me of "Barbie doll hands" haha!

The instructor said he had great balance on skis and even did better on skis than walking in his regular snow (not ski) boots! Haha! We may have a natural on our hands!

He looked so tiny out there!  He was definitely the smallest kid that morning.

Getting ready to load onto the magic carpet.

Skiing under the flags!

Us adults finally made it up the mountain for some skiing!  And even though I've heard good things about the amount of snow in Steamboat, I was shocked to see these evergreens completely white! It was beautiful! And so was the weather that first day!  

A selfie at the top of the mountain.

Granna and Granddaddy after our mid-mountain lunch break.

Group shot!

A hard day of skiing calls for relaxing in the hot tub!  Don't worry, we turned the temp way down so it was more like a bath! 

It took some hard convincing to get Jack into the hot tub. He was certain that the steam coming off the water was because the water was extremely hot. Kind of hard to explain to a 2 year old that it is like seeing your breath when it is cold outside.

The next morning we woke and it was snowing!  Jack found a perfect spot to play and enjoy the falling snow.

And then he found Granna's iPad and a cozy spot to relax.

We headed up the "big" lift after their 2nd day of ski school.  This lift took us to the top of the same green run, only a little higher up (and a LOT faster of a ride)!

Mason, mid fall! 

I made a video of all of Owen and Mason's best moments from their ski trip! I just love it!

After ski day #2, we squeezed in one more activity so Aunt Lindsay could join us before she headed back to Texas. It was a cold evening for snow tubing but it was a blast!

Our first non-ski day was spent at the condo and playing in the snow.  We set out to find a sledding hill but since we didn't have a car (and weren't familiar enough with the bus route) we were only able to go as far as we were willing to walk. The problem was the snow was just SO deep everywhere...and so fluffy! We really needed packed snow and and we couldn't tell just how far we'd sink if we tried out certain spots...and it is doubtful we would have been able to get back to the top of the hill. So we tried out some driveways and finally settled on a snow drift between a road and a driveway.

Granna trying to stay warm while we played on the sleds.

Owen making a snow angel.


I told you Mason couldn't say out of the mounds of snow! Here he is with snow on his gaitor and goggles.

Here's a funny little video I made of our many sledding attempts:

After sledding we decided the snow was perfectly fresh for making snow cream! The boys were in charge of getting the cleanest snow they could find.

Everyone wanted to help at the exact same time.


It sure was delicious!!

Jack decided he had lots to tell his BFF/sweatheart, Emma, back home. We set up a little face time for them...and this is what they did: 

By the time we headed into town that evening, Jack was wiped!

He kept getting lower and lower. Owen thought it was kinda comical.

After a good bus nap, Jack was ready to party in the snow again!

Granna and Granddaddy


Playing tic-tac-toe while waiting for our food.

Mason wanted to learn how to write his name "cool" like Daddy can.

Granna and Jack staying busy at the table.

On our other non-ski day, we headed to town to shop for souvenirs. Jack came home with a "snow clow" (snow plow) and a "snow more-bile" (snow mobile), along with some cute ski themed jammies. 

Playing with the new snow vehicles. Jack kept getting upset with the snow getting stuck in the crevaces of his toys. Ha! Not sure what he expected to happen when he pushed a snow plow through snow!
We happened to be in Steamboat during the week leading up to their 100 year old Winter Carnival. As a result, we got to witness numerous snow sculptures being carved along the main street. These were all part of a sculpting competition between different teams...families, high school friends, staff from local businesses, etc. The most popular theme was animals - we saw an owl, eagle, horse, a fox that doubled as a bench, and my personal favorite, the walrus with whiskers made from icicles.

To cap off the evening, we hit up the local hot springs. I don't know what I was expecting, but it wasn't this! I guess I was thinking really stinky and natural "ponds" or something. This place was really pretty - expecially at night! Almost resort-like. There were 4 or 5 pools of different temps, with the main one being about 98 degrees. There was also a fun waterslide that, fortunately, was accessed via an indoor staircase so the poor kids didn't freeze waiting in line wet in 28 degree weather!

I thought the snow covered, lit up trees were so pretty that I HAD to get a picture. The boys were not that happy with me for making them sit on the side in the cold! I did splash water on them between shots (since it's impossible to get a decent pic in one take)!

One of the many bus stops around town (sure wish they were enclosed and heated) and a funky-fun motel sign in the background.

The boys had such fun swimming for the first time since summer that it turned into a late night. Back on the bus and back asleep! We run ragged on vacation!

On ski day #3, we all headed up the gondola for some family skiing time! Luckily, you don't have to be a skier to ride up (and back down), so Jack was able to ride up with us. My parents weren't planning on skiing that day so they were going to take him back down and head to the condo (although my mom did do one long run with Owen and Mason before hanging with Jack the rest of the afternoon). 

Gondola ride
Jack woke up on the wrong side of the pack-n-play that morning and wanted nothing to do with anything he previously thought was awesome - snow, skiing, and gondola rides (he rode up with his childcare class). We pressed on anyway and, as I suspected, once we got his skis on him he perked up. We all had fun taking a few pictures and letting him ski on the very gradual slope at the top of the gondola. Skis and boots add a good amount of extra weight to a kid, and lugging him back to the "top" of the little hill in my ski boots wasn't exactly comfortable. Ha! But he was happy.

Not really sure what's going on was very bright without goggles so I'm not sure if he pulled this up on purpose or not. Luckily, he wasn't moving!!

He's actually moving in the picture below! Once he gets going, he just chills while his skis carry him down. He's pretty relaxed about it.

Here's a video of Jack's skiing highlights! It is simply adorable!

 After some mountaintop pictures and watching Jack ski, we headed inside to get a yummy treat.

Once we broke off from my parents and Jack, Aaron, the big kids, and I headed out on the mountain. We found this cool area that had a teepee and some other things to ski through...and lots of kid friendly bumps to ski over. They really loved this area and did it several times. The actual lift back to the top proved more of a challenge! The lift was just a little disk at the end of a pole that you put between your legs and lean against while it "skis" you back uphill. I think that was half the fun!

Granddaddy and Jack watching Owen and Mason ski down.

I love the next set of pictures! It was the morning of our last day to ski and the kids were giddy. It all started with Owen just sitting on a hunk of snow waiting on the bus. But as the wait became longer, the kids started goofing around in the snow...

We made it to the mountian and found our way to their FIRST BLUE RUN EVER, which happened on day 4 of their very first ski trip ever! They were so proud of themselves!

Thumbs up in front of the sign!

Working their way down the blue...

Around mid-morning a snowstorm blew in. The kids were diehards! They did not care that it was extra cold, extra snowy, and extra hard to see. All they wanted to do was ski. Here's a picture of the lunch time view. Normally you can see the restaurant in the background (and if it were visible here, it would likely take up most of the middle of this photo)!

Luckily it was lunch time so we were able to convince the kids to head inside for a break and to let the weather pass.

Mommy and Owen...

Daddy and Mason...

Something tells me the next few pictures weren't taken the same day as the funky snow storm. It's just too pretty! Although, it did tend to clear up the further down you skied.

Skiing down through the pretty birch and evergreen trees.

Ducklings following Dad


The 'tuck' for speed! Cracks me up!!

As we were returning our skis for the last time, we came across this St. Bernard named Bear. I'm not sure I've ever seen a St. Bernard in person (what a cool dog!), much less a working St. Bernard complete with the barrel!

My dad took some pictures with his fancy new camera. The scenery is so amazing!

This old barn was some sort of landmark in Steamboat and it was on magnets and Christmas ornaments all over town! Snowy day that day!

Tomorrow we will head back to Texas, and there was just one more thing we hadn't a snowman! The snow was perfect for it...we thought! It was actually too dry to stick together. Aaron had to find chunks that were already compressed to use as a good base for each body section. This resulted in hilarious armloads of snow being shuttled to our build site. Ha!

Working on shaping the head. 
Snowman in progress...

Jack decided he needed his hat back. we gave him some pine needle hair

Here he is with his hat back on for one more picture.

Time to head home. One last picture (in the daytime) with Mr. Snowman! Mommy had to give him a little skin graft before the kids saw the dog pee all over his belly. C'mon!? Who would let their dog pee on a kid's brand new snowman!?

Our big commercial airliner that we walked out onto the tarmac to get to.  It's not very often that you get to see a plane this big so up close!

Overall, our trip was great! It was something I had been looking forward to sharing with my kids for years. The boys LOVED every bit of it as I hoped they would. I continuously heard phrases like "I love skiing" and "this is the best day ever!" throughout the week! I'd say we created some little skiers!