It was a lot nicer to sleep in and then not be so rushed in the morning to get to the gondola. We parked at the Solaris parking garage again and headed to the lift line. Once again, the line was extremely long. We even got there when the gondola opened but it didn’t matter, there were just so many people at Vail who wanted to ski. It took us about 20+ minutes to get through the line again but this time at the top we all stuck together and decided to ski together for the day. We headed up the Wildwood Express Lift and decided to all ski down Hunky Dory together. Madeline did great on this true blue run and even did the harder pitch towards the bottom. From there we headed up the Mountaintop Express Lift and went a short way down the Timberline Catwalk before attempting a new run. Peter went down the black Northstar run while Abby went down the blue Northwoods run. Emma apparently went all the way down the catwalk, so Mike went after her while I attempted to do Northwoods with Madeline. There were two steep pitches that she did fairly well getting down. The second steep pitch she fell over and I had a little trouble getting her upright and started back up again but really, she did awesome on that hard blue run. I was super impressed with her mad skills. We met Mike, Emma, and Abby at the bottom. Peter was already in line to head back up to the top, so we told him to ski it again and meet us on the Highline Express Lift but then later just had him meet us at the top for lunch. We got to the top right when our reservation to eat inside was ending. We didn’t anticipate how long it would take to get through the lift lines. Fortunately, I had cute Madeline with me and when I explained that we missed our reservation and if they could just find us a table for even 5 minutes, he took pity on me and he found a table for all of us for a new reservation. It was glorious to sit inside to eat lunch and relax for a little bit. After lunch, we headed down Boomer and then headed down Flapjack all the way to the bottom. We made our way over to do Swingsville a few times and then Madeline was kind of done so Mike took her and Abby and headed down on the gondola while I went with Peter and Emma and skied down Riva Ridge. Riva Ridge was a fun run, but definitely hard in some spots. We went through some more groomed steep sections and then some deep mogul runs. It was a blast and a great way to finish off our amazing ski weekend at Vail.
We got up super early to get everyone ready and out the door by 5:30am. We did pretty well and actually left the house at 5:50am. Since I-70 was a mess we choose to drive the back way through Breckenridge. The roads and weather were actually pretty good until we got closer to the pass before Breckenridge. The roads became snowier and everyone seemed to be very cautious, so it took longer to get to Vail. We got to the parking garage around 9:30am only to find that it was full. Luckily, the Solaris parking garage was open and only $10 more per day so we opted to park there. We must have gotten there at the perfect time because we were able to park close to the front of the garage. We got on our gear and headed to the line at Gondola One. The line was extremely long, and it probably took us at least 20-30 minutes to get on the gondola. At the top, Mike took Abby and Madeline while I headed off with Peter and Emma to see if we could ski some of Blue Sky Basin on the backside of the mountain. By the time we got all the way to Poppyfields, I could tell this time would be very different than our last ski trip. There was so much snow it was almost harder to ski. I felt very uneasy skiing on so much powder with so many people that didn’t seem to know how to ski on powder. We opted to ski all the way down to the Tea Cup Express but were surprised to see the line was uncharacteristically long. We actually took off our skis and walked around to get in line since the “official” line before the bottleneck wasn’t moving. It was kind of a nightmare but after a few minutes of waiting in that we heard lots of cheering and massive amounts of people in line left to head over to the Skyline Express Lift because apparently Blue Sky Basin was opening up. It was marvelous to not have to wait so long to get on the lift. We headed back up to the top and then skied down Sourdough to try and find Mike and the girls. After getting in touch with them we realized that we could ski all the way down Flapjack and up the Highline Express lift and then meet them at the top for lunch. Apparently, Madeline and Abby had been having a great time skiing on the front side of the mountain. Madeline didn’t seem to have any trouble with more snow on the runs and at one point she fell and before she got up, she said to Mike, “I think I broke my legs.” She was ok and didn’t even cry but it was funny what came out of her mouth. We all met at Two Elks Lodge and had to eat outside because we missed making an inside reservation. We all skied together the rest of the afternoon and had a great time. We ended our day skiing down Swingsville a few times. Peter and Emma took Riva Ridge down the mountain for their last run and Mike and I took Abby and Madeline down the gondola. However, Abby got separated from us and when we got to the top of the gondola steps, she wasn’t there. We headed down the gondola thinking she had already left but when we got to the bottom she wasn’t there. Mike headed back up the gondola and found her at the top waiting. The rest of us headed to the car and started to pack up our ski gear. Then we headed to our hotel for the night and got settled, ate dinner, and watched Ponyo together.
We usually get a few random warm days in February so when I saw that the weather was going to be in the 60’s, Madeline and I headed to the zoo on one of her days off from school. She was so excited to see all of the animals. She talked constantly about the giraffes and how she wanted to feed them. The giraffe exhibit is the first thing you do when you go to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. I paid for 2 giraffe feedings and when I went to hand over the lettuce to Madeline, she wanted nothing to do with feeding the giraffes. I think their dominance in height sort of frightened her, so I fed the giraffes instead. She eventually warmed up to the giraffes and was talking to them from a distance as we made our way around that exhibit. Then we headed towards the elephants and found a few roaming around outside. It wasn’t long after we got there that Madeline was already keen on leaving so that she could go and see the snakes and birds. We walked to the Australia Walkabout section and saw the red necked wallaby’s, the alligator basking in the sun, the tree kangaroo, and the many snakes and lizards. From there we saw a black bear, tiger, seals and baby moose before heading into a new section of the zoo called Water’s Edge: Africa. In this new section we saw African penguins roaming around outside, the Nile hippopotamus roaming in the waters, and some warthogs. Then we walked into the primate world where we saw the gorillas, orangutans, and siamang monkeys. The gorillas were massive and interesting to watch as they were either picking at their nails or regurgitating their food and then eating it. The most interesting animal in this section was definitely the baby siamang monkey. That baby monkey was so tiny, yet so full of energy. We stayed and watched as it tried to swing from rope to rope. It was quite marvelous to watch. As we left the Primate World, we headed down to the Skyline ride and took the chairlift all the way to the Mountaineer Summit. Most of the exhibits at the top were closed so we decided to get back on the lift and head back down to the bottom. We stopped at the gift shop on the way out of the zoo where Madeline decided on a baby giraffe figurine. It was such a fun day at the zoo with Madeline.
VAIL SKI TRIP . DAY 1 (JANUARY 1)
VAIL SKI TRIP . DAY 2 (JANUARY 2)
VAIL SKI TRIP . DAY 3 (JANUARY 3)
VAIL SKI TRIP . DAY 4 (JANUARY 4)
ABBY'S SWIM MEET (JANUARY 22-23)
MURAL FUN RUN DOWNTOWN WITH DIONNE (JANUARY 29)
EXERCISE IN JANUARY (JANUARY 30)
EMMA'S BIRTHDAY (JANUARY 30)
SLICES OF LIFE (JANUARY 30)
PETER’S CAMPBELLS SOUP SWEATSHIRT
JANUARY 1, 2021
One of the only things Peter has been asking for all year long has been a Campbell’s Soup sweatshirt. I failed to purchase one earlier in the year and since they are difficult to find online, I was so happy when I stumbled upon one before Christmas. I ordered it knowing that it wouldn’t get there by Christmas Day. Peter’s grandpa was so excited to give it to him for Christmas and when it finally came in the mail Peter was so excited.
MADELINE’S HAND KNIT DOLLS
JANUARY 5, 2021
Madeline got some hand knit animal dolls from Cuddle and Kind for Christmas from her grandparents and from mom and dad. She has been so cute lining them up and playing with them every day. They are some of the cutest little stuffed animals I have ever seen and I’m so glad that she loves them too.
ANDREW’S MISSIONARY PLAQUE
JANUARY 10, 2021
I know Andrew’s missionary plaque has been up near the Bishops office at church for a little while but since we leave after church rather quickly every week I don’t ever remember to go and check it out. I loved spending time after church looking at his plaque and all of the other awesome kids that are in our ward that are also serving missions right now. It just put a smile on my face to see the wall of missionary plaques.
LITTLE JAPANESE MADELINE GIRL
JANUARY 10, 2021
Abby is one of Madeline’s best friends and I love it when she dresses Madeline up and plays with her. The girls found the Japanese kimonos and Madeline was so excited to play in it. Abby even did Madeline’s hair. It reminded me when Abby and Emma wore these same kimonos so many years ago. It made me a little homesick for Japan.
JANUARY 13, 2021
I have been slowly collecting some of the classic games that we either didn’t have anymore because they had been destroyed by many years of use or didn’t ever have in the first place. After purchasing Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders for Madeline, I found Mastermind for the older kids. It was hilarious watching Mike and Peter battle it out.
JANUARY 23, 2021
One of my college roommates from my BYU days and a good friend who went through the accounting program with me was in town and came down to Colorado Springs to visit me for the day. Julie and I headed over to the club to eat lunch and chat and then I took her to Garden of the Gods to show her the coolest place in the Springs. We had a blast catching up and talking about our lives.
THE ALWAYS WILLING TO HELP SON OF MINE
JANUARY 26, 2021
I can always count on Peter to shovel the driveway and sidewalks for us when it snows. Unfortunately, our snowplow is on the frits, but Peter honestly doesn’t mind doing it the old-fashioned way with a regular snow shovel. I’m so grateful for him and how he never complains when we ask him to do things to help out the family.
BLOOD PRESSURE CHECKS
JANUARY 28, 2021
I have been known to have periods of time where I have random spikes in my blood pressure. It’s been a very long time since I have had problems with my blood pressure but after getting it checked at a recent appointment and seeing that it was rather high, I decided it was time to do regular checks. I was so relieved to see a good reading one day after I exercised.
MADELINE AND SARA’S SWIM LESSONS
JANUARY 28, 2021
Madeline has been in private swim lessons for a few months now and she has been loving it. I decided to start up my own private technique lessons at the same time she has her lessons. I have already learned so much from my awesome instructor Jan. I hope that with some more training on my technique and form that I will be able to swim more efficiently in the water so I can be more competitive in my future triathlon racing.
PETER'S NEW BASS GUITAR
JANUARY 28, 2021
In Advanced Jazz Ensemble, Peter plays the trumpet. However, the band lost their bass player and so Peter was filling in using the bass feature on the electric piano. Then Mike ordered a bass guitar for Peter so that he could practice. I was amazed at how fast he picked it up. It has been fun to hear Peter and Mike jam out on the guitar together.
MIKE’S ENT SEGMENT ON TV
JANUARY 29, 2021
Mike and his work partner had two segments on the local news. The first one was about their practice, Pikes Peak ENT, where they were able to talk about some of their services and to just get their name out there. The second segment was all about the Inspire Sleep Apnea implant that Mike has been implementing into their practice. Mike is currently one of the only ENT physicians in the front range of Colorado who is trained to surgically deal with this awesome implant. The segment was all about one of his patients and how well it has improved this patient’s quality of life. He also had such awesome things to say about Mike as a physician.
EMMA’S BIRTHDAY DINNER
JANUARY 29, 2021
Since we weren’t celebrating Emma’s birthday until the day after her official birthday, we decided we had better do something fun for her birthday dinner. Mike ordered ramen from Menya and brought it home so we could all enjoy an excellent Japanese dinner with Emma. Emma was beyond excited.
CADEN’S MISSIONARY FAREWELL
JANUARY 31, 2021
It was so fun to be at church to hear Caden McDowell’s missionary farewell talk. Afterwards, Peter stuck around to talk with the boys. After getting a photo together, Caden’s mom asked Caden who the blonde boy next to Caden was. She had no idea it was Peter since she hadn’t seen Peter since his hair had grown out during COVID. It’s so fun to see Peter bond with friends who are mostly his brother’s age. He has a soft spot in his heart for Caden who he really looks up to.
Since January is one of the coldest months during the winter in Colorado, it is extremely important to keep up with a good exercise routine. It was too hard to bike outside most of the month with the frigid temperatures and snow lined roads, so running remained one of the only things I did for exercise outside. This month I was able to run with Dionne and Caryn doing some of the Striders workouts, the Incline, the Cheyenne Canyon hill run, the Bear Creek tempo run, and a fun run at Red Rocks in the snow. I had such a blast dividing my time between fun, easy runs and some more challenging runs. There is nothing better than running with friends when it is the hardest to get yourself outside to run.
Emma wanted to do an anime inspired theme for her birthday this year. She choose to base her theme from the movie, “Kiki’s Delivery Service.” We found an awesome cake on Pinterest and went to work gathering all of the supplies to try and replicate it the best we could. It definitely was a team effort to put together this awesome cake and fun Totoro cupcakes. We had fun cutting out the fondant pieces together. We even found the best homemade chocolate cake recipe. Emma was so happy with her awesome cake and fun gifts. Peter bought her an advanced paint by number canvas which she loved, Abby bought her a cute anime cottage craft kit, Madeline gave her a puzzle from the anime called, “Howl’s Moving Castle,” my parents gave her the cutest Totoro mini backpack, and Mike and I gave her some new anime movies and a brand-new laptop computer. Grandpa Al’s gift was some new clothes that she could pick out online. It was kind of the perfect little birthday party for a 15-year-old who loves anime and all things Japanese.
Dionne took me on the coolest fun run downtown Colorado Springs where we saw over 20 murals in 4 ½ miles. After running downtown over the last several years, I never even noticed or knew that there were that many murals painted all over the city. Some of my favorites were the 3D multicolored mural outside of the library, the buffalo, and the girl in the cotton fields. Dionne and I had so much fun videoing ourselves running away from the buffalo. I love that we could just do a fun run together and not worry about pace or distance.
Abby’s second meet with PPA occurred over the weekend. On Friday night she swam the 100 freestyle and did great. I was able to watch her swim from the outside window on Friday evening. She had a really great start, and she was in the top 3 in her heat until the last 25 where she lost a bit of steam. Abby is a really strong freestyler and would be more competitive if she improved her starts and turns.
On Saturday, Mike went and watched Abby swim in her other events. Abby was confident and swam well in the 100 IM, 50 breaststroke and 50 freestyle. She had a strong stroke in the water and only seemed to lose time on her turns. What was interesting to watch was how the other parents acted. Mike was so disappointed to hear such crazy rambling from some parents who were swearing outside the windows at their kids who were swimming. We are so glad that Abby loves to swim and that she has a good attitude about it. She always tries hard and that is good enough for us. We don’t care if she is the fastest in the water. The only thing that matters to us is that she does her best. At the end of the day, parents who go so far as to swear at their children because they aren’t swimming fast enough are missing out on truly supporting their kids who are working hard.
On our last day of skiing at Vail, Mike went with the older two down Poppyfields to ski Blue Sky Basin. The kids took him on Poppyfields East and West and he loved it. They spent most of their time skiing Grand Review and The Star runs off of Pete’s Express. Apparently, the snow wasn’t as good as the day before. I took Madeline and Abby and we skied down Boomer a few times before taking Flapjack all the way to Northwoods Express Lift. At the top Madeline was a little cold and hungry so we stopped at Buffalo’s Henry’s Hut to use the restroom, warm up and have a quick snack. Then we decided to head down Swingsville. The first half of the run Madeline did well but then her legs started getting tired and she fell. She was ok but I could tell she was a little shaken up. I kept a close eye on her the last steep pitch. After I made it to the bottom, I looked behind me to see where she was, and she had fallen again. I took off my skis and jogged in my boots up to her. She started crying because her leg got twisted and she was just tired. She cried for most of the wait in line to get on the chairlift and most of the ride on the Mountain Top Express Lift. After some soothing songs her spirits were lifted, and she made it down the Timberline Catwalk without any problems. She was so excited for lunch and we took off her boots so she could relax. After lunch I headed off with Peter and Emma while Mike, Abby and Madeline headed down the mountain back to the condo. Peter, Emma and I headed to Blue Sky Basin and skied down Cloud 9 which was about the same as yesterday. We went down Grand Review again but it was much too icy so we decided to head on some of the blacks where there would be more powder. We did Hornsilver first and that was a pretty good run with plenty of powder and lots of moguls. Then we decided to try Resolution. We learned about this run with Andrew the last time we were at Vail. This is probably one of my favorite black runs because it is a good mix of powdery moguls at the top and a fun powdery run at the bottom. By this point, our legs were pretty tired, so we decided to head down to Tea Cup Express and head back to Two Elks Lodge and head down the front side of the mountain back to the condo. We took Flapjack all the way down, then headed up Northwoods Express and then took Riva Ridge all the way to the bottom. It was another great day of skiing. We walked the 5-7 min walk back to our condo and just relaxed, snacked on cheese and crackers and vegged in front of the TV. Mike and I headed out a little later to eat dinner at the French restaurant right next door. The food was beyond delicious and it was nice to just spend the last night on being able to hang out together.
This morning I got to go ski with Peter and Emma at Blue Sky Basin while Mike took Madeline and Abby to ski the easier stuff. After getting up to Two Elks Lodge we headed down Poppyfields West to the bottom of the Skyline Express Lift. We were so excited to head up to Blue Sky Basin but realized that the lift didn’t open until 10am so we headed up Tea Cup Express back to the top and skied down Poppyfields West again and then took Orient Express so we could ski Poppyfields East. Poppyfields was such a fun back bowl run and I’m glad we got to ski it three times while we were able to get first tracks. We then headed up Skyline Express Lift and took in the amazing views at the top before heading down Cloud 9 to the bottom of Pete’s Express Lift. We did Grand Review several times since it was groomed, and the snow was pretty good. I was able to get some great video and photos of Peter and Emma bailing down this run. Those two are great skiers. Then we went back up the mountain via Orient Express and met Mike and the younger girls at Two Elk Lodge to eat lunch. We made a reservation to eat inside and that made lunchtime so much more enjoyable. Before lunch Mike, Madeline and Abby skied all over the front of the eastern side of the mountain. After lunch we decided to all ski together. We skied Flapjack all the way down to the Northwoods Express Lift. We loved watching Madeline crush every run with her amazing turning skills and her cuteness when she went through the wooden signs. She took every turn like a pro, even with some turns looking more like parallel turns. Then we decided to take her on an official blue, even though some of the other green runs she did all had steeper blue pitches at the end of the runs. We took her on Ramshorn which had an easy start and then got progressively harder. There was one steep pitch that I was so nervous for her going down so I popped in front of her so that she would follow my wide turns. She made it down rather well and didn’t freak out or stop at all. When I looked back up that section looked more like a black than a blue. We finished off the day with our last run down Swingsville.
We spent our first day all skiing together in the morning. We took Madeline with us up Gondola One to the middle of the mountain. We decided to head up Wildwood Express to take Madeline on The Meadows run which was the easiest green run. Peter and Emma went down Hunky Dory twice in the time it took us to go down the long Meadow run. Madeline did really well on her very first real green run. The Meadow had too many flatter sections, so we opted to head up the Mountaintop Express Lift to the left side of the mountain to try all the green runs over there. Peter and Emma headed over to Game Creek to do some harder runs while the rest of us took the Timberline Catwalk all the way over to the Sourdough Express lift and spent the rest of our morning taking Madeline down the Boomer and Sourdough runs. Madeline amazed us with her awesome turning and fearless nature. After a few runs we headed up to Two Elk Lodge to eat lunch. We found a table outside right away and waited for Emma and Peter to show up. It was a bit cold, but we managed. After lunch Abby and I took Madeline down some more fun green runs and Mike went with Emma and Peter over to Blue Sky Basin. Madeline ended up loving the Flapjack run and she crushed it, even the steeper sections. We had initially planned on just heading down the mountain, but when we realized that we got headed down an annoying catwalk, we decided to head back up the mountain on the Highland Express and take Flapjack down again, head up Northwoods Express, down the Swingsville run and then ride Gondola One back down to the bottom. We had several people ask how old Madeline was because people just couldn’t believe that she was only 4 years old. She crushed every run, was happy doing it, took all her turns like a champ, and hardly ever fell. It was quite amazing to watch.
We took our time getting up and ready to leave for our ski trip. We made it to Vail in the early afternoon and unpacked the car and settled into the condo we were renting for the next few days (Vail Core Condos). We knew this place would be much smaller than the last condo we stayed at in Beaver Creek, but we were all pleasantly surprised at how awesome it was. The kitchen was plenty big, the living room area was cozy, the master bedroom was spacious, there was enough storage space for our boots and skis plus a washer and dryer, and the kids had the coolest area to sleep in up in the loft with two bunkbeds. What was even better was the kids had their own bathroom up in the loft. This condo had clearly been updated which was awesome and the walk to Gondola One was only 5 minutes away. Mike and I ventured out to walk around the village and we were shocked at how many people were there. Most were wearing masks, but there were plenty that failed to follow the mask mandate. We found an ice-sculpture path and walked all the way to Gondola One and the Riva Bahn Lift. On the way back we saw a really cool pirate ship playground that we knew Madeline would enjoy. The village was so cool to walk through and it made us feel so lucky to be staying right in the center of the village.
NORTH POLE BREAKFAST (DECEMBER 6)
BEAVER CREEK SKI TRIP . DAY 1 (DECEMBER 18)
BEAVER CREEK SKI TRIP . DAY 2 (DECEMBER 19)
BEAVER CREEK SKI TRIP . DAY 3 (DECEMBER 20)
BEAVER CREEK SKI TRIP . DAY 4 (DECEMBER 21)
CHRISTMAS EVE (DECEMBER 24)
CHRISTMAS DAY (DECEMBER 25)
ANDREW'S MISSION (DECEMBER 29)
SLICES OF LIFE (DECEMBER 30) - not posted yet
After leaving Texas the beginning of the month, Andrew flew from Houston directly to London. Then he got on a bus with the other missionaries who left Texas and headed to Preston, England to quarantine for 2 weeks at the Preston MTC. He was put in a room with Elders Felt, Helmer, and Sumison. Although he missed his friends back in Texas, he had a great time with those elders. They were low key and funny and compared to his first companion in Texas, it was a heavenly situation. Their Frankfurt mission president, President Hammon, contacted them in the MTC and spent some time getting to know them with one on one interviews. President Hammon is incredibly passionate about missionary work, and truly loves all of the missionaries. Andrew and the other missionaries were able to tune into some of the Frankfurt zone conferences and Monday morning prayers. President Hammon told the elders to really hit the German study hard, as it would be very possible that they would only have 4-5 weeks of training before they were on their own training other missionaries.
Upon arriving at the MTC, they were put into rooms of 4 with strict rules. They had to stay in their rooms unless they were going to their assigned bathroom. Food came 3 times a day and they had to stay in their rooms while the food was being delivered. Mayonnaise and cheese sandwiches were not one of Andrew's favorites. It said it was by far the worst lunch idea he's tasted in a long time. On the flip side they got plenty of Nutella packets with their meals, so they used them to trade for other food items with each other.
They were allowed outside time twice a day for 30 minutes, but had no room to really exercise. The classes that were recommended they attend online were basically MTC classes so Andrew and his roommates skipped most of them and practiced German on their own. Although it was easy to get bored, they had nearly daily devotionals from the area 70 which was uplifting.
Due to some changes in the UK their quarantine was shortened to 10 days. Although they still had to stay in their rooms when the food was delivered, they had unlimited outside time and were allowed to go throughout the entire MTC campus. They had the opportunity to visit the temple grounds daily, and went on runs through the town of Chorley. It rained most everyday but they had one or two days of sun and no rain.
On December 18th, Andrew flew from Manchester to Frankfurt, Germany. He was greeted by President Hammon and his wife. He then headed to the mission office building where he quarantined for 5 days. He was able to take a COVID test which was negative and was then sent on a train to his first area in Darmstadt. It was an interesting train ride with one of the sisters that was also heading to Darmstadt. Andrew met his new companion, Elder Jenks (District Leader) and the two other Elders in Darmstadt, one of which is the Zone Leader. One of the members fed them on Christmas Eve and they all sang "Silent Night" in German at the end of their evening. This member gave Andrew and his companion really cool pens in a wooden engraved Darmstadt case. On Christmas Day, they spent time during the day at two different member's homes. It was nice that they had somewhere to go on Christmas. The work moves on, even during COVID. Although there haven't been a lot of service opportunities, the members have been awesome. Andrew really loves the people he has met in Germany.
LAST DAYS IN TEXAS
ORIGINAL MTC DISTRICT ALL IN ENGLAND
1ST AREA - DARMSTADT
It doesn’t matter how old you are because Christmas morning in our house is still a blast. Even Peter who is getting ready to head off to college next year was still excited to run down the stairs to see what Santa brought him. Everyone’s reactions to their big gifts were priceless. Peter couldn’t believe that he got a 3D printer, Emma was so surprised by her turntable and vinyls of her favorite artists, Abby was so happy with her new electric piano, and Madeline was just happy as could be with her new rainbow teepee and all the chocolate in her stocking. Everyone actually had fun on Abby’s piano and thought that was the coolest thing ever. After eating some chocolate Madeline saw that Santa had eaten the cookies and left a note. She tried reading it by herself. Then we got a call from Andrew from Germany. We each took turns talking to him and those that weren’t talking to him were in the kitchen eating cinnamon rolls. The kids were getting anxious to open up presents so we finished our conversations with Andrew and headed to the family room to open up all the presents. It was a mass of presents being opened left and right. Abby got to open up the first present since she found the pickle ornament first. The thing I love most about Christmas morning is watching the kids’ excitement every time they open up a gift. One of my favorite moments was when Mike opened up his gift from Peter. It was really more of an inside joke and we all loved watching Mike’s face when he opened it up. Mike had previously told the kids about how his dad bought him a plastic boat for the bathtub when he was 13 years old and how ridiculous that present was. So, Peter and I found a similar boat online and wrapped it up for Mike. It was such a fun moment to watch. Some of the other fun gifts that people got were the Nintendo Classic Lego Set for Peter, Diagon Alley Lego Set for Mike, Studio Ghibli DVD’s for Emma, Calico Critters Department Store and hand-knit animal dolls for Madeline, a Japanese heated toilet seat for Sara (oh yes), and LED rooms lights and Audio Technica headphones for Abby. It was a rather bounteous Christmas for everyone.
Christmas Eve in our house is usually a day spent cooking and playing games, very similar to Thanksgiving. Mike, Abby and Madeline helped a little in the kitchen which was very nice. Madeline loved helping me with the pies kept sneaking the apple slices meant for the apple pie. Apparently, she likes green apples better than red apples. Who would’ve thought? After most of the morning cooking was done, Mike played a quick game of Life with Madeline before we all got together to play Monopoly. I forgot how long this game can take to play. Poor Emma was not having much luck in the game and kept landing on everyone else’s properties and didn’t have any of her own. I ended up bailing out of the game after about an hour of playing and it was just Mike, Peter and Abby left to finish the game. Of course, Mike won the game not without a total upset by Peter who really thought he was going to win. After that game was over and done with Mike and Peter headed into the dining room to work on Mike’s Lego from last Christmas…Stranger Things. It ended up being one of the coolest Lego’s we have ever seen. As dinner time drew near, we were all excited to stuff our faces full of good food. Our dinner consisted of ham, sweet potatoes, deviled eggs, jello, homemade rolls and sparking cider. For dessert we had chocolate pie and apple pie, although we were so full that none of us ate any of the pies on Christmas Eve. After dinner was all cleaned up, I went to work on making our cinnamon rolls for the morning and Emma made the sugar cookies. The rest of the crew went back to the dining room to finish The Strangers Things Lego set. While the cinnamon rolls were rising, we got our pajamas on and read the scriptures. After family prayer, we grabbed “Twas The Night Before Christmas” and sat with Madeline while the story was being told by Grandpa Al who pre-recorded himself reading it several years ago. She liked it so much that we listened to it twice. Then it was to bed for Madeline. The older kids sat in the dining room chatting it up and laughing with Mike until the Lego set was finally finished. Then it was off to bed for the older kids so they could dream away at what would be waiting for them the next morning near the Christmas tree.
Today was our last day of skiing at Beaver Creek. All of the girls had lessons again. The older girls took off with their groups from the day before and Madeline had another 1-hour private lesson in the morning. After we dropped her off Mike, Peter, and I headed up the mountain. The soreness above my ankles was so bad that I just skied all the way down to where Madeline was having lessons. Her instructor was having her follow her down the longer magic carpet and eventually Mike made it down there as well. We asked her instructor if she was ready to head down the green catwalk to the bottom and she thought she might be ready. Mike and I followed them down that run and were floored with how well Madeline was following her instructor. She kept turning and following her instructor and didn’t fall at all. It was amazing to watch. When she got down to the bottom, she was so excited that she wanted to keep on skiing. So, I let Peter and Mike go off and ski and I took her back up the gondola so that she could ski down the Cinch run and take the Highlands Lift back up to the top. It was the perfect little run for a beginner, and she skied it like a champ. We met everyone again at the same place for lunch and then had fun skiing the remainder of the day. I went up with Peter to the top so that I could take video and photos of him skiing. I tried to lean forward more in my boots and that seemed to help with the leg pain. Then I skied the rest of the day with Madeline. It was so fun being able to ski with her. She was just so excited to be able to ski all by herself and get on the small chair lift. It was an awesome breakthrough to get her to this point and it made the rest of our ski trip so much fun.
Today we decided to put the girls in ski lessons. Abby skied with Level 5 and Emma skied with Level 7. Madeline skied with us in the morning until her lesson at 1:00pm. Since I took Madeline first the day before, Mike started out with Madeline and Peter and I headed up the mountain before the crowds came. We skied down most of the runs on the Red Buffalo Express Lift. I had a hard time keeping up with Peter since he seemed to be faster on his new skis. My new boots were extremely warm with my new boot liner heaters, but I was having problems with pain in my ankles, so I took it easy today and skied at a slower pace. Although Beaver Creek is very family friendly and a quaint place to ski, there aren’t that many blue runs. Everything is either green or black and since many of the black runs were not open yet, we ended up skiing more greens than anything else. We skied down Gold Dust again to meet up with Mike and Madeline and then I took over with Madeline so Mike and Peter could see for a little bit. We all met down at the bottom and ate lunch outside in a nice cozy area with a firepit next to the outdoor ice-skating rink in the plaza. Emma and Abby ate lunch with us as well. One of the biggest changes in group lessons during COVID was the fact that the kids didn’t eat lunch with their ski instructors. I actually liked that we could all eat lunch together. After lunch the older girls went back with their groups and we dropped off Madeline for her 1-hour lesson. They didn’t offer group lessons for the 3–4-year-old group this year so we opted for a 1-hour private lesson. Mike, Peter and I headed up the mountain to ski for that hour before heading back down to pick her up. We were amazed how much she learned in that one hour. Her instructor was awesome, and she did so well that he graduated her out of the 3–4-year-old group into the regular Group 1 where she would now be able to go up the gondola with her instructor. We were beyond excited. We decided to head back to the condo and drop off Madeline and then head down to Christy Sports to see if someone could help me with my boots. They gave me some heel lifts so I could wear them the next day. Then we headed back up to get the older girls from their lessons. The kids stayed at the condo while Mike and I headed over to the Park Hyatt for our reservation time to use the water sanctuary and to get massages. It was a nice treat that Mike surprised me with, and it did not disappoint.