It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Sunday before opening day was the second best day of the ski season. Because the BEST day of the ski season was this past Saturday—Opening Day at Deer Valley.

So, to celebrate, we headed off to the Deer Valley Grocery~Café for breakfast. Seth, our newly-minted reader, asked us what our table card meant, after he read the word. “What’s Daisy?”

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I answered the way any self-respecting Deer Valley skier would: “It’s a ski run!”

Then, I added, for good measure: “It’s also the name of Grandma Joyce’s dog.”

Jeff jumped in with some basic, if slightly overlooked, information for Seth to add to his vocabulary quiver: “It’s also a flower.”

“Right,” I said, quickly, remembering my command of the English language. “I guess you know you’re a skier when your words are defined by ski runs, rather than their original meaning.”

Thus educated, we headed to Snow Park Lodge, where we found tons of man-made snow waiting to be groomed into skiable corduroy. We paused, briefly, to admire the piles of white stuff, then continued on our mission—up the stairs at the ticket office to pick up our Season Passes for Deer Valley’s 2013-2014 season.

I keep all of our old passes, as a tangible “growth chart,” where I can see my boys get bigger (and, of course, track the evolution of my hair style, or whatever).

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This year will be the one we recall, years from now, as the day we took season pass photos while Seth was nursing a black eye, acquired in a crazy loft-bed accident on Thanksgiving Day.  (He’s fine—and we have taught him to say, “You should see the other guy,” every time someone comments on it.)

We were all, of course, in excited moods, as we got our pass photos taken.

And then, when I thought it couldn’t get any better, this text came in:

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Yes, I am that nerd, who registers for text updates on the weather. Just seeing it was enough to make me jump for joy. See you on the slopes!

 

Leaving My Son in the Dust

Nancy and RickSons have a special bond with their mothers. Well, at least when they are little since when most kids enter high school they are embarrassed to be seen with their parents.  I remember begging my mother to park down the street when she picked me up from school so I didn’t have to be seen getting in the car with….gasp…my mother.  She refused, of course.  I dreaded the time when my kids didn’t want to be seen with me.

It didn’t happen in high school with my youngest son, Rick (now 23).  He seemed to actually like having me around. In fact, he would even dangle his arm over my shoulder at…gasp….the mall! I thought we had bypassed the “my mom is embarrassing” stage until he came home from college saying things like “You aren’t going to wear THAT, are you?”  I guess certain things are unavoidable in life.

We came full circle recently when he came to visit. He is now a college graduate and a contributing member of society. He is also a snowboarder but wanted to switch it up and ski with me at Deer Valley.  His last memory of me skiing was not a good one – it was well over a year ago when we first moved here and before all my lessons!  He even took embarrassing photos of me traversing back and forth across the run and falling since my technique was so poor. He and his brothers ditched me after one run.  Who could blame them?

Nancy Rick JayThis time was different.  He was on skis instead of his board and I had been practicing, taking lessons and attending clinics. He started off on the Wide West run using the “magic carpet” people mover to get his “ski legs” since it had been 12 years since he had been on skis. Once he had the basics down, we headed up the Carpenter Express chairlift to Success.

I planned on taking the Rosebud cut off since it would be a bit easier for him for his first run.  He didn’t see me and stayed on Success where the bottom is a tad steeper.  I caught up with him and as anticipated, he had some initial challenges and stopped halfway down.

This was my opportunity – one that rarely comes and I wasn’t going to lose it. You see, Rick is a good athlete, and I knew he would quickly pass me up.  I wanted to show off my hard work and newly found mad ski skills.  So I did what any self respecting mom would do — I executed a controlled sideways slide then an abrupt hockey stop spraying him in the process.

With a straight face, I said, “Let’s face it, I am better than you.”

Then I took off.

Nancy and Rick SPWe had a great laugh as he told the story to family and friends at Snow Park Lodge.  Rick and I skied the rest of the afternoon with my friend Michelle and in no time, he was skiing beautiful turns, enjoying himself and waving at me as he passed me by. His wave, however, was one of respect.

It takes hard work and determination to learn to ski especially when you start after age 50. To be able to spend the day skiing with my son and have him dangle his arm over my shoulder again is a wonderful feeling and definitely worth the effort.

Thank you, Deer Valley.

Being Thankful

As Thanksgiving came—and went—Jeff and I found ourselves reflecting upon how grateful we are to have lucked into a life in Utah.  Our move to Park City in 2001 was hardly premeditated. To be sure, it wasn’t altogether a well-thought-out decision. Honestly, being in Park City on vacation just felt right, and the idea of living here made sense to us in ways that we thought made sense. This was, of course in the B.K. Era—Before Kids—but we had a hunch it would be a great place to have a family.

That hunch paid off—and every year, as the ski season begins, I find myself reflecting on the ways I never realized my life would change for the better as a result of raising my family in Utah. Skiing with my family at Deer Valley is one of my very favorite things to be thankful for.

  1. From the moment my kids put on skis, they felt proud and impressed at their ability to engage in sport. As long as we made falling fun, they had a blast. As long as we let them eat cookies as big as their heads, they felt motivated to keep going. And when motivation flags, there is always a stash of sugar in my pocket to give it a boost.
  2. Watching them go from fearing a run to mastering it is a feeling that compares to watching them learn to walk.  Mind you, with every passing year, as their skills improve, I find myself trying to do the mental calculus about how long it will take before they are better than I am. And then I sign up for more lessons—for me. Which brings me to….
  3. Pushing myself is the best example. The only thing that made me happier than actually skiing X-Files last year was telling my kids that I did something that had previously scared me, and then….LOVED it.
  4. Deer Valley is serious about their family-friendly vibe. When my younger son was a baby, we’d come to the hill every weekend to watch big brother ski. Jeff and I often took turns hanging with the little guy playing sugar packet hockey, and working our way down Success with the big guy. But before we could do that, I had to run the gauntlet of logistics between the skier drop-off curb and the window seat in the Snow Park restaurant. There was a stroller, a giant diaper bag, containing supplies that would last other humans a full week, but will last a baby about an hour. There was the big guy’s gear. And, of course, the big guy himself, whose short, preschooler legs made the distance from curb to table seem insurmountable. Except that we had the good sense to arrive after the initial morning skier rush—and a team of ski valets and greeters would descend upon us to carry extra gear, push the stroller, open doors and joke with Lance to make the long walk fun.
  5. There are no strangers on the ski hill—my kids are comfortable chatting up other folks on the lift line, or on chair-lift rides. And I tell them it’s OK to gloat when they tell visitors we live here. After all, why shouldn’t they be aware that living here is nothing to take for granted.
  6. My life really is your vacation. My friend Miriam wrote about this last year, when I took my son skiing for my birthday . We don’t ski every day of the week—there is work, and the laundry monster must be fed, the refrigerator must be restocked. But the ability to drop everything and head to the hill at a moment’s notice—even if you don’t get to do it that often—is always there. It’s reassuring, even, to know that you could go take a run at any moment.
  7. Meeting up with friends almost always involves some sort of great winter activity—like skate skiing, snowshoeing  or five runs at Deer Valley before lunch. I layered up one recent morning and met a friend for snowshoeing—it was our workout in between dropping off our kids at school and getting rolling with our workdays. Seriously. And, no, I did not care that it was cold out. Back in my New York life, the only thing the snow ever did was ruin my shoes.

Skiing with my family is more fun that I ever could have dared to hope. I loved skiing as a kid—and I’m thrilled to see my kids enjoy it. I’m eager for this new season because my younger son is now 5, and that’s kind of a sweet-spot age for skiing. He’s been at it long enough that he knows the basics, is eager to conquer more terrain, and has enough stamina to explore the mountain a little.