Chasing Winter

GondolaMonkeys

I’m sure you are totally over winter — as most normal people are. And then there’s my family…chasing winter for the last fresh snow of the season.

Don and I left our Stowe, Vermont vacation earlier this month wanting more. We had such an amazing time and kept saying how we couldn’t wait to take the girls. How they would love the mountain, the ski conditions (no ice!), the shopping, and most of all, that they would be able to go out to eat! There was talk about going next season, maybe a few weekend trips.

And then you have one of those moments when you realize that life is too short to wait. So on a whim, we found a townhouse to rent for the weekend and within five days, we were at Stowe with our monkeys for an absolutely perfect winter family weekend.

FamilyatStowe

For those of you who don’t ski, Stowe Mountain is a much more difficult, challenging mountain than what we’re used to at Loon Mountain. It’s a steeper vertical with more black diamond and double black diamond terrain. I was super nervous that one of my monkeys (not mentioning any names here!!) would head down a double black trail ahead of us. I’m so proud that she didn’t! The monkeys stayed with us, listened, and skied their socks off! Don and I can’t believe how much more confidence and control they have on skis this year; we couldn’t stop smiling all weekend. Can you tell I’m a proud mama?

Whirlaway

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I cooked up a storm last week to get ready for our weekend away (pumpkin muffins, blueberry beast bars, cornbread, roasted veggies, chicken salad). Eating breakfast and lunch at the townhouse would minimize the risk of allergic reactions. As you can imagine, it’s really difficult for us to eat out. Sweet Pea can’t eat at a restaurant that has peanuts in the kitchen and Bean needs a scratch kitchen without flour flying around (no pizza on the menu, not a lot of baking, etc). So happy to report that Bean didn’t get glutened! We had delicious meals at Flannel (Topnotch Resort) and Crop Bistro & Brewery. Both restaurants took great care of us and we were so grateful to relax and enjoy a meal together!

Crop

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We didn’t realize how long it had been since we went away with the girls — not including staying with family. A few years, at least. The girls were giddy with excitement exploring the townhouse, playing hide and go seek while we unpacked and got settled. We rented the “Village Retreat” through Stowe Country Homes, who did an amazing job cleaning the kitchen in preparation of our stay. Not a crumb in sight! We ran the dishwasher and washed all of the pots and pans to avoid contamination. Traveling with these two is no walk in the park…but it’s 100% worth it. We didn’t have to spend much time in the kitchen because I did most of the cooking in advance. After skiing both days, we were able to shower up and hit the town to walk around, shop, and hang out at the coffee shop.

MonkeysMainStreet

There were so many laughs and moments of true happiness last weekend. And even some tears as we packed up Knight to head home. Don and I have always felt a special connection to Stowe, and now we know the monkeys feel it too. They have already asked if the mountain will be open for April vacation. Oh, those monkeys! We will ski this weekend at Loon for the last time this season, then hang up our skis and pray that the snow here in Newburyport melts soon. As Sweet Pea said, “It’s almost hiking season!”

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Trail Map Placemats

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We’re ski junkies. Could you tell? I was trying to think of creative gifts one day, and came up with the idea of turning trail maps into placemats. 

You know I hate crafts, so I outsourced to our local print shop. Then I called Loon and Stowe, our favorite places to ski here in New England, and they mailed me six trail maps each. The print shop did a fantastic job of cutting the map to the exact size I wanted, adding card stock, and laminating to turn it into a placemat. Such a deal at $5 each!

I gave the placemats to Don and the monkeys for a little surprise. We’ve used them every day since! Bean and Sweet Pea quiz each other on trail names, elevation, and random spots from the map key. They want to make placemats from every mountain we conquer.

If you think about it, you could make placemats out of anything: a theme park brochure, city map, kids artwork…the sky’s the limit!  It would be a thoughtful gift too, right? Something different. Don’t forget to pin it!  

Speaking of Pinterest, do you ever make any of the crafts or recipes that you pin? I’m rather new to Pinterest and can see the pins piling up already. I can’t help but wonder if I’ll ever do anything with my pins? Wait — do I smell a challenge?  Let’s make some of our pins!  I’ll even write a post about it: The Pin Challenge. What do you think? Will you join me? This will be fun!

Oh, and here’s Sweet Pea planning this weekend’s adventure to Stowe! We just decided a few days ago to rent a condo and bring the monkeys.  It’s a bit of a production to travel with these allergy girls so I’m scrambling, but we’re so excited to tear it up at Stowe Mountain. Watch out, Stowe. Here come the monkeys!

SweetPeaPlacemat

Whoops!!

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On Friday morning after dropping off the monkeys at school, I gassed up in preparation for our trip to Loon over February Vacation.  The great thing about this winter is we have tons of snow!  The bad thing is that snow hides high curbs really well.  So I hit a curb at the gas station.  Whoops!!   The car drove fine around town the rest of the day, so Don reassured me that the red paint that rubbed off was nothing more than a battle scar for Knight (the monkeys name our cars…Don’s Mini is the evil emperor Zurg).  A little red mark on my car for Valentine’s Day…no big deal, right?

We were all set to drive up to the mountains on Friday after school until little Sweet Pea started crying.  She wanted to wake up on Valentine’s Day at home.  I’m sure you understand why we call her Sweet Pea; she is just the sweetest!  We couldn’t say no, and frankly I welcomed not having to rush up, especially when the forecast was so grim.

On Saturday morning, we exchanged homemade valentines and devoured a Daddy-style breakfast.  We drove up in two cars: Don had to be back for work on Tuesday and the monkeys and I were planning to relax, ski, and hang with family and friends.

We were a 1/2 hour away from Loon when my car started acting up.  First, the wheel was crooked.  Then, the back end started fish tailing.  After the second fish tail, I knew it wasn’t the snow on the road.  Something was really wrong and I had that out-of-control “we’re going to die” feeling.  Sweet Pea was in the backseat oblivious as my heart raced and my body started to sweat.  I was completely terrified as our lives flashed before my eyes.

In that moment, I was thankful for my yoga breathing and for my green tea that stays super hot in my favorite mug.  It calmed my nerves on the slow drive to the next exit, which seemed like forever.  Most of all, I’m thankful for my amazing husband Don, who always comes to my rescue.  We switched cars and he drove my car the rest of the way.  It was an hour worth of back roads all the way to Loon with not one complaint from my monkeys.  I squeezed and kissed these three to pieces when we arrived.  So thankful to be here in one piece!

Apparently I caused some damage to the car when I hit the curb at the gas station.  When I finally felt safe, the guilt set in.  This was all my fault.  I ruined the girls’ February Vacation…our vacation…our precious time together.  The house back in Newburyport is still under construction and won’t be the most relaxing place for a vacation.

I absolutely love escaping to the mountains.  There’s a different vibe up here.  Bean reads a ton while Sweet Pea plays dolls and pretends in the playroom.  We have movie nights and game nights.  We ski most days, inhaling that fresh mountain air that helps everyone sleep better.  It’s been about a month that Sweet Pea has been waking up with nightmares.  I think I could fall asleep standing up at this point.  Oh, parenthood.  We really need this vacation!

Car

Don changed the tire yesterday and the car is no longer fish tailing.  He thinks I bent the rim, which would be much better than if I damaged the entire car frame.  He is calling our mechanic first thing today to figure out if the girls and I can stay up here.  We’ve been looking forward to this week of rest and relaxation with no to-do’s or commitments.  Praying I didn’t ruin our vacation…

Snowed In

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If I didn’t ski, I think I might loose my mind during these snow packed New England winters.  I crave the adrenaline rush, the wind whistling in my ears, the challenge, and the fear.  It must be genetic because Bean and Sweet Pea have the ski bug too.  Our family escapes to the mountains almost every weekend to ski our legs off.  We are so thankful to my parents for the open invitation to stay and call their house our home.

I learned to ski when I was in third grade.  Skiing was one of the greatest gifts my parents have given me.  I’ve always really liked skiing, but never truly loved it until I skied with my husband Don.

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We were set up by mutual friends our senior year in college for his fraternity formal at a club in Philadelphia (with a limousine stop at the Rocky steps!).  That night, we found out that both of us would be up at Loon Mountain over winter break, one of many such coincidences in our early months of dating.

Before I met Don, I never had a boyfriend who skied.  For our unofficial second date, we met up at Loon for a day on the slopes with friends.  I think I can speak for both of us when I say it was love at first swoosh.

We taught the girls to ski at Loon when they were 2 1/2…so Bean has been skiing for 7 years and Sweet Pea for 5 years.  These monkeys can take on any slope on Loon’s trail map, spraying us with snow at the bottom.  We have so many great memories at this mountain.

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We are hoping branch out and try some different ski areas soon.  It’s just too easy to drive across the street to the mountain so we haven’t made the trek yet.  Loon has been good to us and will always be a special place for us (and the outstanding snowmaking and grooming team is definitely an added bonus).  We are not complaining about being snowed in up here today.  Heading out for fresh powder this morning!!  Wish you were here…