Monday, February 16, 2015

Celebrating birthdays and mini-vacations

My oldest son turned 11 last week. (Yes, two years from teenager. Yes, 11 years since birth. Yes, I'm still wrapping my mind around this crazy, warp-speed life called parenting.) We decided to forego the gift giving and go on a family adventure instead. He loves to snowboard and the rest of the family, minus the baby, are skiers, so we headed to Steamboat Springs for three days and two nights of mountain fun. I planned a scavenger hunt for him to uncover his gift because he looooves scavenger hunts so it was fun to see him run around the house and yard like a crazy man in all of his excitement. It appears that was a good idea for a birthday gift since Isaac proclaimed it the best birthday ever about 426 times and hugged and squeezed us nonstop for a few days.
Our three happy snow birds
As an aside, we like to do fun stuff as a family, but we don't like to spend a ton of money. Of course what we consider a lot of money is different than what other people consider a lot of money. We like to hike and ski and spend time outdoors and visit new places, but we have to do it on one income and without carrying credit card debt. Thankfully, aside from skiing, most of our favorite outdoor activities are free, but there are still sacrifices. We don't drink coffee or wine, we don't go out to eat much (although we have been going more since moving here since we love the little local restaurants, but we're cutting back), my cell phone costs $10/month, most of the kids' clothes are hand me downs or from thrift stores, I own fewer clothes than anyone I know, Jim holds way back on his love of technology for the sake of our family, and our cable is $20/month which I consider a lot since we used a free antenna in Minnesota, but they don't work in the mountains. Those are a few things that work for us and allow us to do some of the things we want without the stress of credit card debt or spending more than we have. Of course we'd like to travel more, but we are also teaching the kids that you can't always do what you want right away, but if it is important, you can save up for it. Delayed gratification? What? :)

Anyway, our little trip wasn't too expensive because the rest of the family has passes to Steamboat with their season lift tickets. They haven't gone yet because it's 2 1/2 hours away, a bit too far to drive for one day of skiing, so we thought it would be great to use their free days of skiing. We scored a smoking deal on a condo for mid-week and brought groceries. Plus we went from Wednesday to Friday because we're homeschool snobs who don't like dealing with lots of people on the roads or slopes.

We got there in time for Jim and the big kids to ski for a few hours on Wednesday. Asher took a little nap and I unpacked groceries and read a bit. We could see a chair lift and some of the ski runs from our dining room table. When I pointed this out to Asher, he spent a bit of time shouting at his siblings while he watched little dots make their way down the hill. "Audy! I-I! Ot! Dada!" Once the kids returned, they relayed all of their fun over Isaac's birthday dinner and it was decided that this is their favorite spot to ski. (So far, of course, There are so many spots we haven't been yet.)
They loved their bunk house.
The kids were up bright and early on Thursday, or maybe 5:30 am is dark and early, to pack as much skiing as possible into their day. After breakfast they took the 10 minute shuttle to the village. Asher and I joined them for lunch, but didn't get to see Isaac since he took a full-day snowboarding class. The skiers scarfed down some food and headed right back out for more. Aside from our little lunch date, Asher and I spent the day singing "The Itsy Bitsy Spider," snuggling on the king-sized bed, taking a walk to listen to birds chirp and snow melt, and dragging chairs around to turn lights on and off. It was pretty perfect.
The view from the base of the mountain. This resort has over 150 runs!

Happily warming up with a shared hot apple cider

ski goggles and dimples. . . one happy boy! 

Jim, Audrey, and Elliot are ready to hit the slopes for more.

Time for a walk with my little buddy. He especially loved seeing the "tweet tweets." (his word for birds)

snuggles and singing

he discovered the unparalleled joy of lights on and off and on and off. . . 

Then Friday Jim was on Asher duty while I hit the slopes. More on this later. I will say it was a beautiful day and I am really proud of my confident, strong little skiers and snowboarder. They know their way around the slopes and it was so fun to see them in their element. Friday was much busier as families arrived for a long President's Day/Valentine's Day weekend of skiing, so we were glad to pack up and head home before it got nuts. Well, Jim and I were. The kids would have stayed forever.
I nursed Asher and then transferred him to dada where he could continue his nap

ready to catch the shuttle

Audrey, my best cheerleader, and I on the chairlift

Ready for another run down the mountain

view #1 from lunch at gondola lodge

view #2

view #3

It was a really fun mid-week adventure celebrating our new 11-year-old, Isaac!


  1. AH! I haven't been skiing in a long while, but chair lifts always give me a little anxiety. I know I wont' slip out, but man do I get nervous!

    1. Just as we were leaving we heard about a little girl who fell off of a chairlift due to an inattentive lift attendant. I'm fine on the lifts, but I freak about my kids so I'm always telling them to sit back and they're like, "Mama, I'm fine." :)

    2. Just as we were leaving we heard about a little girl who fell off of a chairlift due to an inattentive lift attendant. I'm fine on the lifts, but I freak about my kids so I'm always telling them to sit back and they're like, "Mama, I'm fine." :)