Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Lighter Side of Learning to Ski

The theme of this past year of my life has been to live life, not sit on the sidelines. CrossFit has opened so many avenues of activity for our family...Being fit is a total game-changer. I went camping last summer for the first time ever, and went tubing in a chilly river for about 4 hours. It was loads of fun. I went kayaking with my kids for the first time ever last summer. Also, loads of fun. This winter, conditions have been perfect to learn how to ski, and this is the most fun I have ever had in my whole life. Exaggerating? No. I'm serious when I say this. I have literally gone head-over-heels crazy about skiing. Literally. Head over heels.

I'm not entirely sure why strapping two flat boards to the most uncomfortable shoes I've ever worn and careening down a mountain is so much fun, but for some reason, it is. I've heard people say that they hate skiing...the cold, the snow, the speed...Okay, but most people I've talked to really like it, and so I banked on those reports.

I sincerely wish I had a video report of my first day skiing. I would love to have watched myself as I managed walking with those feet or got off of the lift for the first time. A friend of mine told me "keep your thumbs in when you hold your poles" because her roommate in college broke both of her thumbs when she fell and her poles bent her thumbs backward. I opted not to use poles, so as to avoid the broken thumb scenario. So we went through the lesson and I fell a couple of times..I did not understand what he meant when he told me how to stand up. Off with the skis. Second try. That little bunny hill was steep, and long, and scary. Then the instructor took us to the top of the bunny hill and I had to get off the lift. I got off the seat and whoa! there was a steep ramp and I flew down straight off of the lift. I landed in a pile at the bottom and would you believe it, sprained my thumb! I landed on my right hand and my thumb bent backward under me. It's still getting better. I managed to make it down the bunny slope a few times alive, and by the end of the lesson was able to stay mostly on my feet.

After the lesson I ventured up to the green-dot slope next to the lesson area. It was fiercely steep and miles long. I got off the lift and didn't fall immediately. I started down the hill, careened wildly down the slope and fell spectacularly. I lay there face down in the snow to gather my wits and heard my daughter call from behind me, "Mom? Are you okay? MOooOm!? Are you okay?" I got up looking like the abominable snowman, I'm sure. I asked the eight-year old daughter (who was zipping along everywhere she went like an old pro after one lesson) "HOW ARE YOU DOING THIS?" She showed me the little snow-plow maneuver when she picked up speed. It didn't work for me. I wiped out again, this time under the ski-lift just at the moment when my friend and her daughter were floating overhead, laughing behind their gloves.

Even so, I got back on the lift and went again. I still had a grin pasted to my face, despite the fact that I spent half the time in the snow as opposed to on it. The lift operator asked if I was having a good day and I burst out at him, "YES! I'M HAVING A BLAST" and he kind of recoiled and raised his eyebrows and said, "Oh, well, good!" He probably turned to his colleague as soon as I was out of earshot and said, "Freaky lady."

After that first venture to the slopes, we went again, exactly two weeks later. I stayed on my feet a little better. I learned how to turn on my skis a bit more. I learned what an "edge" was, how to feel the weight on your downhill ski, how to get your skis parallel, and and how not to take your class group out like bowling pins by skiing right into the middle of them. Yes, that happened, and yes, I was the one skiing. I learned how to fall and "spin out." It's less fun than skiing but less painful than falling without any choice in the matter. I learned that sometimes the ski lifts go fast and you'd better be ready or you'll watch your little girl get swept away without you. I learned that they always stop the lifts for cute little girls who can't reach the ramp and get off in time. I learned that hand warmers are really necessary if you plan to ski all day in 20-degree weather.

We have found the most amazing burger place, to top all of this off. Elevation Burger in Frederick, MD is about 20 minutes' drive from the mountain, and I have to say there may be nothing better than a burger, fries and milkshake after a long day of exhausting exercise. My son ate a triple-patty burger with just everything on it. This is us, windburned, tired, but really happy about our food.

So far this is my skiing journal. We go again this week on Thursday, and I can't wait, though I realize I am taking my life in my hands through the entire experience, but isn't that really living? Here's to staying on my feet!

Let me just offer this piece of advice...don't wait until you are in your mid-forties to learn to ski. Do it yesterday. I'm sure you'll be better off!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Trying New Things in the New Year!

In light of my "Resolutions" post from a few weeks ago, I have been away from blogging and quite busy doing exactly what I set out to do.

I am happy to report to you that in spite of battles with tremendous anxiety, I have taken the kids to go skiing not once, but twice! This is a lesson in trying new things, which for me is always a challenge, but I forged ahead and did it. My question is "What part of homeschooling says we have to stay home and read books every day?"

our perfect powder day...

As I grow in our educational journey, I realize more and more how the particulars of their education will sort themselves out. I need them to be able to read, write, think critically and do essential math operations and higher math as needed. I feel deeply called to give them a strong foundation in history, faith, and freedom (and by that I don't mean flag-waving American rah-rah, but rather true, spiritual freedom). I want them to look back on their years of being in our house and think of school time as quality time with me and with each other that enriched them mentally and emotionally. I want them to look back and remember days skiing, sledding, boogie-boarding, beach combing, hiking and camping. I want them to consider political and financial positions that we take and think critically as to whether they are wise and fruitful. I want them to be problem-solvers in their lives and in the world around them. 

Trying new things is good for them, and it's good for me. It's good for me to model that even in one's grown-up years we can still be learners and can be willing to fall on our faces and feel foolish once in a while. I definitely have had my practice in falling lately, and had my share of snow in my face. So be it...I can't remember ever having more fun with my kiddos!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

A Prayer


Help me to remember that he is small—that his very life began inside my body, and that being close to me is his source of comfort.  Help me to remember that every time he says mama, it’s because he trusts me, needs me, wants me, loves me.

Help me to remember that he feels safe with me, and I can destroy that sense with a look, a harsh word, or a strike of my hand. Help me to keep my head, but when I err, help me to say “I’m sorry.”

Help me to remember that his heart is tender, and to be honest with him. Show me what he needs to know without corrupting his innocence. Our world is such a perilous place for the mind as well as the body—help me to teach him to keep his mind pure and his body safe.

Help me to remember that I am his parent, and that he needs me to be strong. Help me to set clear boundaries and be consistent in discipline, so that he will not question my authority, for this will help him to be obedient to you when he is a man.

Help me to remember that I, too, have limitations and will never be perfect. Help me to look to you for strength when I feel I have no strength left. Give me grace to be gentle when I don’t feel gentle, and wisdom when I don’t have the answers.

Help me to remember that his future lies ahead of us, and that our home is the soil in which his roots will stay. Help us to teach him by our example to be honest, wise, kind and gentle, and to season the world around him with goodness.

Help me to remember that someday, he won’t be small anymore.  Give me the wisdom to let go when the time is right and to joyfully trust that you have guided us in raising him into a godly man.

© Kelly Mine 2014

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

What I'd like to Think My 2014 Resolutions Are...

I don't make new year resolutions. I send Christmas cards, sometimes late, but I do not make resolutions. My experience has been that they are typically an exercise in human striving against a perceived failure or flaw, and battles taken up against myself and in my own strength are rarely won.

As I sit down to write this, I am in the middle of a frantic tidying of my house in order to make it presentable for friends who will come and hang out with us tonight. So of course it is the perfect time to sit down and write a fairly thoughtful blog post.

I came down with a fairly miserable flu-type virus last Monday, two days before Christmas. I had a fever and from there developed a horrible cough. I had not wrapped even one present yet. I had cooked nothing, baked nothing, and the house was dirty. This was not my idea of how Christmas was supposed to unfold. It has taken me over a week and some antibiotics (which is a huge admission of defeat for me) to recover from this. But God had one of the most restful Christmases in store. He blessed me with a concrete reason to say, "I quit. I refuse to do anything." And I didn't. I slept a lot. I didn't exercise once. (This is also a terrifying reality because I will be in agony when I go back, but that's a different story for a different blog.) I enjoyed being with my kids. I didn't care that the house was dirty. I didn't mind that meals weren't perfect. I just wanted to get better, and resting was what was required.

A lot of thinking came of my week of quiet nothingness. My thoughts (not resolutions) about this year have so much more to do with what I am going to do less of rather than what I am going to do more of. It boils down to worry less, enjoy more.

1. Worry less about cleaning, enjoy playing with my with family. 

2. Worry less about money, enjoy doing things with it. 

3. Worry less about school work and what the kids are learning, enjoy setting the kids free to learn what they want and yes, see resolution 1.

4. Worry less about no, enjoy saying yes, whenever possible, even if it's messy (back to #1).

5. Worry less about comparing my life to other people's and enjoy making mine what God means for it to be, in His strength and in his time.

I've always said that stress is to the mind and heart as pain is to the body. There is good pain--the kind that lets me know my muscles are growing and getting better and stronger, and there is acute pain, the kind that says, "Stop and let me heal." There is good stress--the kind that means I am growing as a person, and deeper stress that says the very same thing that acute pain says, "Stop and let me heal." When Christmas came I had reached that point, and it was time to stop and heal the body and the soul.

The first night I felt better, I suggested to my husband that we take the kids on a surprise family date. We told the kids to dress warmly and be ready to go when we said it was time to leave. We refused to give them clues as to what we were doing, which drove my son crazy, but in a fun way. We took them to the city (or just outside, actually) and took them to our very favorite burger place. Then we took them to an outdoor skating rink and went ice skating together along with three-quarters of the population of the state. They played Christmas music and "snow" drifted down on the rink making the perfect Christmas-card scene. Little Girl fell and banged her knee, so we took a break and snuggled close and sang a song...then skated some more, hand in hand. We came home with happy kids who were thanking us over and over for such a fun night together, and this made it all worthwhile.

I want more moments like these, so I'll try to keep it simple this year...

More yeses, fewer nos.

On a lighter note, I have some other things I want to do in 2014:

1. wax my eyebrows more often so it's not so painful every time.
2. buy new bath towels for my bathroom (been saying this for years)
3. do laundry every day instead of all weekend (been saying this for years, too.)
4. plan the weekly menu better so we're not asking "what's for dinner" at 6:00 p.m. (yup...years in the making, also.)
5. buy some new makeup (makeup just doesn't make it high on the priority list with me.)

And that is about it. These are the resolutions I may or may not get around too. I'll probably be sitting here next year saying, "yeah--that eyebrow thing didn't happen..." It's only a priority when they are actually ripping my face off...then I quickly forget.

Here is to a low-stress 2014. May all of your priorities be where you need them to be, and may your family be blessed because of it. Happy New Year.