Category: skiing

Got Skis?

Hello local skiers! I am not an avid skier myself. I go a few times a year, and I have a fun time focusing on not falling down, not running into anything, and not getting run into by anyone else. However, my family are ski fanatics. Denisa’s personal goal each year is to go skiing as many times in the season as humanly possible. Last year I think she got something like 342 days in somehow, though it might have been closer to 30. It’s hard to keep track.

In any case, I have been told that each year it’s advisable to wax your skis and sharpen their edges. Waxing (I’m led to believe) is for people who want to go even faster down the hill, no doubt to enable them to slam into me at a higher velocity, thereby increasing their fun quotient somehow. (Am I getting this right?) And skis need sharper edges (clearly) to make sure other skiers can slash out at everyone else on the hill, hopefully hamstringing someone as they speed by on their freshly waxed skis. (Skiing is a lot like Mario Kart, just with less bananas.)

Ski shops charge you a hefty sum of money to wax and sharpen skis. Something in the realm of $50, which leads me to believe they’re doing more than just rubbing candles on the ski bottoms. If you’ve got a family of skiers, $50 a pop adds up really quickly. Soon you’re paying about as much for the ski service as you are for a season lift ticket. (To a small mountain. Not one of them fancy pants resorts.)

Tomas, being the young entrepreneur that he’s always been, is able to recognize a high price when he sees one. He and a friend did a bit of back-of-the-napkin calculation, discovering that the cost of wax and sharpening tools is about as much as it takes to keep a hamster living in luxury for a month. (Which ain’t much. Hamsters have very frugal tastes, even when they’re allowed to run wild.) So they invested in those tools and set up a business to provide waxing and sharpening services to the public at large. It’s name? Wicked Waxers. They’ve even got a Facebook page up and running. They stand ready to get you waxier than an ogre’s ear canal, and sharper than my razor wit.

Which is just to say that if you’re looking to get your skis serviced this season, I know of a place that can do an excellent job for not $40, not $30, but $20 (that’s t-w-e-n-t-y) for the whole package. Although they have limited availability, since they can just do it once a week or so. That’s why they’re starting early this year. If you want your skis wicked shaaahp, then click on over to the Wicked Waxers.

(I tried to negotiate a cut of all their proceeds generated from this ad. They were not amused. I tried to finagle at least a payment for the plug. I was turned down. So I decided to write it anyway out of the goodness of my heart.)

Ski fast! (Just not into me. I’ll be the slow moving, lumbering hulk out there on the mountain, teetering on the edge of my kind of sharp skis, praying that I don’t hit anything in the next few seconds.)


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Relearning to Ski

When Denisa and I moved to Maine, one of the things we both looked forward to was a chance to ski as a family. We have a local hill in our town that provides the chance to ski for a low cost, and it could be a lot of fun. (Full disclosure: Denisa looked forward to this more than I did. She’s always been a much better skier.) Of course, Denisa was also pregnant with DC when we came here, so that plan was postponed a bit. Once Denisa could ski, we were left with the question of who could watch DC. I took one for the team and stayed home with her. When MC came along, we did the same thing.

So the bottom line is that Denisa, TRC, and DC have all had the chance to get plenty of skiing in over the last 8 years (well, 4 years or so for DC), and I’ve gotten . . . 3 or 4 times in? Something like that. Nothing that’s going to turn me into a better skier, that’s for sure.

However, MC is two, and she’s old enough to learn how to ski, which means that we can once again all head over to the ski hill to go as a family. And so we did, over winter break. We get there, and TRC and DC are totally in their element. Denisa is going over the basics with MC, and I did my best to remember what I was doing.

The biggest problem is that the mechanism to get to the top of the bunny hill is the worst possible thing: the rope tow.

I hate the rope tow. It’s hard to get on and off, it’s merciless, and you’re left flailing away on the beginner hill, looking like an idiot.

Or is that just me?

Once I was at the top of the bunny hill, I could ski down just fine. Getting there? I was like a drunk turtle. The rope tow just kept going and going, and there I was, standing beside it, trying in vain to get on without falling down or sliding backward. It didn’t help, of course, that the tow is on a slope, and so as soon as you walk up to it, you feel like you’re going to just start skiing the wrong way down the hill.

At last I fell over, and then I couldn’t get back up. My legs were cramping, and it was all I could do to crawl off out of the way of the more experienced four and five year olds who were going up with no problem whatsoever.

Fun times at the ski hill, no doubt.

It did get better, and I left having had a positive experience, but I’m going to do my best to not have to go back to that rope tow anytime soon. Meanwhile, TRC and DC were skiing in circles around me. Backward. Forward. Sitting on their skis. One legged. Upside down. (Well, maybe not that one.) It was nice to see they all could do it so well, but it’s going to take a while before I’m out there with them . . .

The C-Word: My Son Gets a Concussion

Friday started out as a fairly normal day. TRC had been looking forward to Winter Fun Day at school for weeks–it’s a day when the entire school zips off to the local ski hill to let the kids go skiing or do other winter activities. He’s skied the whole season, and he’s getting pretty good. So the chance to go out and show his friends what he could do was exciting for him.

I get a call from Denisa at 10 or so, saying the school called. TRC is fine, but he had a wipeout on the slopes, and could I go pick him up. He’d hit a tree(?), but nothing serious. “Hitting a tree while skiing” didn’t seem to be synonymous with “nothing serious,” but I chose to focus on the “TRC is fine” bit of the news as I hurried off from work to go get him. When I arrived, he had a cut lip, but he seemed to be doing well other than that. Knew who and where and when he was, could talk and walk normally.

All was well.

Except he wasn’t himself. I felt really bad that he’d had to miss out on most of his winter fun day, so I told him he could do whatever he wanted. Playing Minecraft the whole day was an option. He chose to lie down and read for a bit, and then to just lie down and do nothing. He played a bit of Minecraft, but then contented himself just lying down again. This was not normal behavior. I suggested he watch a movie in the evening. He complained he was feeling bad about 20 minutes in.

And then he threw up.

Now, being a librarian, I had already Googled the heck out of “head injuries” when I found out what happened to him. (The full story? He’d hit a patch of ice and gone sprawling face first into a tree. This reality only surfaced in bits and pieces as I kept asking questions over the course of the day. I have no idea what he’d told the school nurse who checked him out initially. But “face first sprawl into a tree” isn’t in the same zip code as “nothing big happened.” Just saying.) And one thing I knew was that nausea wasn’t a good sign.

Denisa and I went into panic mode, of course. I got in touch with every medical professional I could think of to ask further questions, and Denisa called our primary care physician. They all said the same thing: mild concussion. Keep an eye on him, but he should get better with rest. Report back if things got worse.

He threw up one more time that evening, but he slept the night away. The next day I downloaded Hunger Games on audio book (no screen time for him. Apparently people with concussions are supposed to avoid reading, watching TV, and playing video games–so I’d had TRC do all three after his head injury. I win the Clueless Caregiver Award for the weekend.) He had little appetite, and little desire to do anything other than lie there.

We were still very concerned.

Thankfully. things improved dramatically Sunday. He was mostly back to himself. Played multiple board games, and beat me a fair amount of the time. His attention span didn’t seem to be entirely back, but his personality was. What a relief. (Though he’s still not back at full speed–stayed home today because he was still feeling woozy.)

It’s funny. Watching sports on TV and following teams, I’ll hear about players getting concussions all the time. No big deal, I thought. They’d be back in action soon enough. But there’s a huge difference when it’s someone else’s child and when it’s your own. All sorts of nightmare scenarios occur to you. Or at least they do to me.

I think the most worrisome symptom was how different TRC was for those two days. How the kid I’ve raised and known for almost 11 years just wasn’t the same kid I was talking to and spending time with. I’ve had some experience with this before–my grandmother fell and hit her head when she had a stroke, and she was never herself after that. But still, to see the potential of it happening to my son was more than a little nerve wracking.

In the end, yay for helmets. We always have our kids wear helmets when skiing. Of course, they’re not quite as helpful when you hit the tree with your face, but . . . yay mouth guards? TRC had his in, and at least he didn’t lose any teeth.

Thanks to everyone who offered help and advice. It was all much appreciated. Did this turn TRC off skiing? Not a bit. He’s already looking forward to his next trip–hoping that the ski hill stays open a few more weeks.

Though we’ve had a few words with him about avoiding trails that go through the trees when the snow conditions aren’t great . . .

Skiing at Saddleback

Better Off DeadTook a break from editing today to drive up to Saddleback and go skiing. TRC has been taking ski lessons, and I’d say he’s pretty much better than me by now. (Not that that would be terribly difficult). Denisa has been teaching DC, and by the end of today she was skiing with the help of a harness. (DC was–not Denisa.) DC thought it was the coolest thing in the world, and she was clearly very proud of herself–even singing as she skied. (The tune to Elmo’s World. I have no idea what the connection there was in her head.)

In any case, there were only a few spills (one scary one when TRC and I fell down getting off a lift. I thought for sure he’d broken something for a bit there, but he got over it. Thank goodness). Saddleback has some fun little moguls and trick areas on the easy slopes, and TRC had a great time going off those. It’s been about two years since I went skiing, and it was a blast to do it again. Now that our kids are getting bigger, I’m hoping we’ll be able to go as a family more regularly, especially since it’s so inexpensive up here in our neck of the woods. We paid $58 total for this trip today. For Denisa and me to go to the movies and dinner and get a sitter, we’d pay about the same. Very nice. It helps that we all have our own skis, and that kids 6 and under ski free at Saddleback.

Anyway–I’m home now, and the time has come to go back to the edit. Cut an entire chapter this morning. Thwack. Whole thing. Gone. Saving it for the extended edition. 🙂

Happy Thursday, everybody!

Birthdays, Thumb Sucking and Skiing: A Bryce Family Update

Happy Birthday to You!
Hard to believe that three years ago today, we had our family increase from three to four. DC has been looking forward to today for the last six months or so, continually asking when her “Happy Birthday” was going to come. This morning, she was head over heels with excitement that it was here at last.

So what is DC up to these days? Denisa and I are currently trying to get her weaned from sucking her thumb. So far, it’s been successful. How do we do it? The same way we did it with TRC. We’d tried everything with TRC–the fingernail paint, bribes, admonitions. You name it. Then one day I decided to try giving him a “special glove”–a sock that we put over the offending hand and then safety pinned on to his pajamas so he couldn’t take it off. It stopped him cold turkey (although he now claims he still sucked his fingers–he just did it through the glove. Possible, but it still got him out of the habit.) We’re now doing the same thing to DC, although she needs two special gloves, since she’s been using both thumbs interchangeably. She looks a little funny, walking around on her way to bed with two socks on her hands, but hey–whatever we can do to help her have fewer teeth problems later, right? There’s a carrot at the end of the stick, too: now that DC’s stopped sucking her thumbs, Denisa has gone to get her nail polish at the store. Purple nail polish and a happy birthday, both on the same day? The girl’s going to explode with excitement.
She’s a very outgoing three year old. She loves to jump and play with her brother, and above all, she insists on equality. If TRC gets a piano lesson, then so does she. If TRC can read books, so can she. If TRC gets to play on my iPad, she does too. She loves watching movies, although more for the treats involved than for the movies themselves. (Her list of scary movies includes Follow that Bird, Elmo in Grouchland, Carebears, Beauty and the Beast, Princess and the Frog–pretty much any movie.) She usually comes out of her room around 6:30 each morning when I’m writing, and I send her off to Denisa to sleep some more. She puts anything and everything down for a nap (swaddling channel changers is a first for me), eats anything and everything sweet, and is overjoyed that she’s been able to watch Sesame Street each day now.
And did I mention that Denisa has already started taking her skiing? Tuesday she went down the bunny hill five times. TRC, meanwhile, has already been down his first blue slope. We were going to go skiing this afternoon as a family, but it’s in the single digits with the wind chill right now, so we decided to pass. (We’re dedicated winter enthusiasts . . . but we’re not that dedicated.)
In any case, we’re very happy to have DC with us. This evening’s agenda is some sort of dinner (her choice), flower cupcakes, probably a movie (with popcorn), and presents. She’s getting a pink marble run, a pink doctor set (she loves to chase TRC around with anything remotely pointy, screaming “Flu Shot! Flu Shot!” (well, more like “Fu Shot!”) over and over. I figure the doctor set–with a pretend syringe–should go over very well) and a sippy cup for her dollies.
Girl toys–a new field of research for this author/librarian. When do Barbies start?
Happy Birthday, DC!
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