Friday, December 24, 2010

S is for Snowboarding

This morning I took Frost and Alex up to Snoqualmie Pass to try snowboarding. Neither of the boys had done it before but they are at an age where that seems like a thing they could do, and both were enthusiastic.

It was pouring with rain in Seattle but around North Bend the skies cleared and we had sun in the morning and then some overcast clear weather later in the day.  It was around 34 degrees at the base of Summit Central but in the high 20s at the top of the Central Express.  I got quite hot skiing.

Alex with his gear

Frost ready to try Holiday, sort of.

 The boys had a two hour group lesson where they learned the basics of managing a board.  They complained that it was a bit boring and that they kept wiping out because people hit into them.  The bunny slope by the magic carpet (a moving conveyer belt for learning on) was very full of kids and clumsy adults so I understood their feelings.  After their lesson I offered to take them up Holiday - a green run with a two person chairlift.  The only tricky part, I thought, would be the dismount.

Oh, the drama.

Frost was reluctant.  He was tired.  He had not had lunch.  He had fallen over and twisted his leg "almost off."  Alex was very keen.   I agreed and slightly persuaded Frost to go up too.  As we waited for the chairlift in the long line I told the boys that the chair stopped from time to time because people fell over as they got off.  Somewhere along the line this became "fell OFF" the chairlift.   The next time it stopped abruptly Frost became quite convinced that someone had fallen off (30 ft in the air?) onto the snow.  He had overheard someone ask "are you alright?" and seen someone below the chairlift and a seat with only one occupant.  It all made sense.  Suddenly the chairlift became perilous.

"Oh, why did I let you persuade me to do this?" asked Alex, who had been the instigator.

Alex 25 feet up and loving it, a bit.  I learned later that he
thought you had to jump down to dismount.

Frost had to ride with another kid because the seats only take two.
Both boys were worried their boards would just fall off their boots.

I told them they would be fine.  And they were.  Both gripped the seat tightly on the way up and neither did a graceful slide dismount BUT neither actually fell over.  I was very impressed.

Getting down the hill proved more of a challenge.  The bunny hill is a small and marginal decent but even the green run is a great deal more vertical.  You can get up some speed. Frost became very frustrated and lay down in the snow in pain and despair more than I few times.  I said "I can't get you down off this hill any other way." more than a few times.

We despaired together.

Alex fell over many times but also made some speedy progress (generally involuntarily).

Alex waiting for Frost to get up.

Frost lying in the snow thinking about getting up.

On the way home in the car both boys said that "the free end part was the best time!"


While they were in lessons I spent 2 hours on the slopes.  It has been 5 years since I skied and I was rusty.  I did a few green runs and then went down the big blue slopes (intermediate) from Central Express and Golden Nugget.  That was a lot of fun.  If I skied 3 or 4 more times this season I think I would try a black once, just for fun.   My current skis are on the long side and I coveted the shorter tails of the modern carving skis.  I have to really lean forward into my skis to get the weight off the tails during turns.

Heres some snow for you South Africans and Aussies with
your Summer Christmases.

Conditions at the top on my last run - overcast but dry. 

WANTED:  Ski buddy for intermediate joyful skier
sick of being the +1 in the chairlift line (although you get to go sooner).
Still, very happy, very sore and lots of fun.  

Mince Pies
I am very pleased with QFC.  This evening I realized it was almost too late to fulfill all the holiday traditions from my past.  I have been so busy having American Children that I nearly forgot the importance of having mince pies during the holidays, that you need a Christmas Pud on Christmas day and that yorkshire puddings are great with gravy!

Thankfully, QFC at U-Village carries a wide range of British Foods.  The only thing that was sold out was spotted dick.  I tracked down the Christmas pudding on the bottom shelf of the dried fruits section, along with fruit mince.  It was Cross and Blackwell and the mince pies I made (at 10pm) are now cooling.  I plan to take some over to Tara's in the morning when I fetch Frost (who is having a sleepover after seeing a performance at Seattle Childrens' Theatre).

Dad, this is for you - Shortcrust pastry from scratch.  I made it
with freshly milled flour bought at the farmers market.  
Remembering what you said I handled it as little as possible.

MINCE PIES (plus a few huckleberry jam ones for the kids who have
yet to acquire colonial tastes.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Gingerbread Houses

Yesterday, the boys and I decorated their gingerbread houses.  Frost had a kit from Fred Meyer and Wren had one from Trader Joes.  Gingerbread house building is an activity fraught with danger.  The most likely result is that the frosting will have the wrong consistency and not cement the pieces of the house together before the roof slides down or the walls cantilever outwards.  Having witnessed these scenes of horror in prior years, as well as the untenable wait between construction and decoration, I built the houses while the kids were asleep.  They woke to the site of virgin, dry, stable gingerbread houses surrounded by candy and were spared the mess, drama and construction setbacks when the cans used to prop the walls slid of the board and toppled over.

"We will eat candy for breakfast!" they chorused.

It wasn't quite that bad, but certainly a noble intention.

Wren opens the bags of candy before breakfast.

One of the kits came with pre-mixed royal icing.   I used this one to build the houses and had to mix up my own icing (per box instructions) for the second batch.  This failed.  The icing was thin and slimy.  When I piped it in the bag it shot out in pretty patterns that did not hold larger candies in place.

I said a bad word.

Frost told me not to.

I scraped the faulty icing out of the bag (not easy) and added more powdered sugar.  Departing wildly from the quantities on the box, I managed to dry up the mixture until it was more paste like.  Now it wouldn't squirt so I had to smear it on the houses.  Wren wanted me to make icicles but the frosting was constipated so I had to content him with many dollops hither and thither.  The boys were utterly happy and fought vigorously to have the most gum-drops, jelly beans and other rare or preferred candy on their house.

When they tired, they ate candy until they were "done".

The houses looked fanTASTic.

Wren and Frost with their decorated houses

Wren showing how he feels when I told him he could not eat the house until Christmas and
Joshua said "It will be stale by then."

I said "Gingerbread houses are stale when they come out of the box."
"But we can still eat the candy, right?" asked Frost.  Wren nodded and ate some immediately,
in case I said "no."

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Midnight Feasts and Turning 4

Its 11.30pm and Frost and Isaac are eating breakfast cereal in his room.  Its a midnight feast.  I am hoping this aberration in discipline may lead to some sleeping in tomorrow but, if not, it is still okay.  When I was a kid we used to wake up late and sneak around for midnight feasts on most sleepovers.  I am not sure I share the novelty of eating in the dark of night but as transgressions go it is not a very large one.

I hope they go to bed soon.

Meanwhile, Wren has turned four.  He did it with some style and excitement.  After days of counting down to his birthday it was finally here and he had a Harry Potter cake (aka a purple star cake with silver balls on it).

He loved his presents and now carries his Lego rock monster around in a plastic sandwich bag (so as not to lose parts such as the minute Lego jewels encrusting his back).

Wren before the Birthday Table at preschool.

Wren dressed for his preschool birthday celebration

Wren and his friends at the birthday party.

Up close and personal with his Harry Potter birthday cake
MADE BY ME, obviously.

Wren with his ACTUAL birthday cake.  This was
a noel log chosen by Wren at Wholefoods.
He ate the little snowman and I ate the cake, almost.  Tara helped.

I am up late too, having just returned from a joint 50th birthday with Trey and Jaxie.  It was a good group of people fueled by a great bowl of Mai Tai punch.  There was a little note by the punch bowl "This contains rum."  Unfortunately, it did not specify how much Rum.  About half an hour after imbibing a good glass of it I came to believe it contained a great deal of rum and was grateful that there were Very Interesting People to talk to without inhibition.

Later, there were shots of champagne jello with little oranges and whipped cream as well as a twist of burnt toffee.  Delicious.

Now, you must excuse me to go and put those midnight snacking boys to bed.