Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Back to School, Back to Blogging

All the cool kids are doing it.

That is, hittin' the books again. 

Last Monday I piled up the school supplies, divied them up, labeled them, threw them in a bag and then we hit the back to school night like pros.

Luke, in 3rd grade, is in a new building but since it's designed exactly the same as his old building all we had to do was find his classroom and desk. No problem. We met his teacher, signed the party sheet (Christmas), and put away neatly in his desk (the only time ever his desk will be this clean) his school supplies. That's when I realized I sent him to school with zero pencils sharpened. Oh well. The pencils will get sharpened, broken, sharpened, chewed on, and eventually will be left in bits at the bottom of his desk. He's come home with papers completed in pencil, so it looks like that has resolved itself. 

Ben, in 6th grade, is also in a new building. Before we left, Bill asked Ben if he had gone up earlier to find his locker and try the combination. Hah! No. With Audrey I was on top of the locker thing and finding all her classes. With my second child, I'm, well, not in such a worked up state. We found his teacher, his locker, practiced two times and left.

Back to school is easier the older your family gets.

Audrey had no official back to school night. She went in earlier that day for student council work and had already been at school the week before for marching band. Plus she's a junior. In 11th grade. She has two years left in high school. We assume she found her locker and all her classes and has the appropriate supplies. In fact, she had to leave earlier than the boys the first day so I have two separate pictures of the kids. Being a junior feels very busy. 

The question always is "How did this happen?" 

It just does. It's supposed to.

I'm not going to lie to you. Seeing them grow and change makes me oh so happy and ache a little all at the same time. I don't want to go back and I won't ever, ever prevent them from going forward into more and more of who they were made to be. I think my heart just can't keep up sometimes.

As you've noticed, I took a big break. My writing this past year slowly dwindled away with bursts of posts here and there and then finally stopped altogether. But now, I'm back. I think. It took me two days to write this.

Thanks for sticking with me this long.  

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Memphis, Missouri OMA Harescramble

It's racing season!
Technically, racing season has already begun but we haven't gone to any of the races yet because they were farther than we wanted to go and also it's been colder than we wanted to deal with this year. That being said, we might go to farther and colder races by the end of the year but that's how we felt at the start.

This race was held near Mephis, Missouri the Saturday right before Easter. It was only Bill and the boys while Audrey and I stayed home to recover from prom/my race and to get ready for Easter. They took the camper the night before since OMA sign-ups are earlier than our regular IERA races.

Sign-up can take a long time so there's time for all sorts of shenanigans in line.

Luke pre-race with the Go Pro on his helmet. We later watched his race and he could talk us all the way through the race about what happened here and there. Also, and this won't come as a surprise to those of you that know him, he talks to himself while riding. Little phrases and so on. It's the greatest!

At this point, he is still riding the Honda TTR. It's not the fastest bike on the course but it handles smoothly (and is easy to maintain). Bill is slowly working him to a KTM 50 which is a lot more sensitive (and a pain to upkeep.) Luke had a very consistent race and I could tell even from the video how much he's improved from his rookie year. Will he get any podium finishes? Who knows? It's not so much about that as it is about challenging and growing. We are not disappointed in him. He's out to have fun and riding is fun.

Sometime during the day they had an Easter egg hunt for the kids. Luke said he found a couple but they had girl toys in them so he gave them to the girls. I love little touches like this that groups and clubs go out of their way to do. 

Ben is lined up here somewhere, I think third bike from the left as looking at the screen. I'm not sure of Ben's personal goals for this year other than to get faster and go against faster kids and get sponsored. (If any of you know how to make this last one happen- lemme know!) So one of the reasons Bill picked this race was to hopefully go against a couple of the OMA kids that run it regularly but that didn't happen.

Here's the text I got later that morning. I shared on Facebook that I had emotional whiplash because even though we can read it all now, it came in pieces to me. 
Let's see if I can recount what happened correctly. Ben got the holeshot, which usually means the first one through the first corner or other bit out ahead but then fell behind to second going into the woods. From there and from what I understand, Ben and the other kid took a wrong turn and ended up off course and down in a little creek bed or ravine of some kind that took them quite a while to criss-cross before finding a way out. Once they did, they had to re-trace some of the course they had already covered. Ben got back to the start/finish at the end of the lead lap. During the rest of the race he picked the other riders off to come back for the win!

Bill also raced and finished fourth. His goal this year is to get faster in his class and probably more important, stay faster than Ben!

Audrey and my race goals include taking better pictures, not getting chiggers (leave your best bug bite tips in the comments), keeping our race boys properly fueled and hydrated all while looking stylish. Or something like that.

Audrey's Sophomore Prom

 I mentioned in my Zumbro pre-race that my race and prom happened to coincide. I didn't mention how Audrey was asked to go to prom a week before we left for our Spring Break skiing trip and how all week long she kept saying we needed to go dress shopping and I kept reminding her that Lutsen doesn't have any formal dress shops and we would have to wait until we got back to go shopping! It was a long week. 

Once we made it back from Lutsen, we made a day to go shopping. We had tried the one consignment shop that sells formal dresses but with such a short time frame, we didn't find anything that would work. A friend mentioned that a formal store was having a sale on dresses so that was our first stop. We looked and pulled all sorts of dresses off the rack and Audrey started trying them on. The first one she stepped out in was so gorgeous- it took my breath away. I poked and prodded and fussed about the fit which was near spot on. Then I looked for the price tag- it took my breath away! In a very controlled manner I asked if this was the price because I wasn't sure if the sale dresses were marked as such or how. The nice sales girl said yes it was but because it was over a certain amount they would be willing to take some money off. I thought "Honey, there is no way your manager is going to take enough off that would convince me to buy this." No other dress Audrey tried on was nearly as great as that one but she said she couldn't even begin to think of spending that much on a prom dress so we drove away. (My sister spent some time online trying to find it at a better price but with no luck.)

We made our way to other stores and tried on more dresses. We had Luke in tow and he was a good sport about the whole thing. After three more stores and two dressing rooms, we had found one that we liked. By that time Luke needed some attention so we refueld with a big pretzel and a drink and Audrey and I discussed what to do next. Should we hit another shopping area or go with this one? We were both really happy with this dress and decided to call it a day; jewelry, shoe and accessory shopping would have to happen another day.

I've talked to several mothers and here is the resounding lament- good and reasonably priced dress shoes are hard to find. Maybe we're not shopping in the right places- leave me a comment as to where you get your best shoes. Maybe we are too picky- she doesn't like an ankle strap, I don't like 4 inch heels. Maybe our/my expectations are too high. This might be true. I've talked with a friend and mentioned maybe Audrey could use these for another dance. She laughed in a knowing way which meant "We always think that but it has never happened." 

Finally the weekend for prom/my race arrived. My mom came down to be with Audrey while the rest of us were gone for my race. My sister arranged for the three of them to get mani/pedi's the night before. A sister of a friend did Audrey's hair, which looked super great. It was braided to the side and then the ends were curled.
She met up with the group her and her date were going with for pictures. After the grand march, they headed out for dinner in Des Moines. By the time they were done with dinner we were home and so Audrey and Rick stopped by to say hi. Then the dance. Then after prom which lasted for the entire night!

She had a lot of fun with her date, friends and the entire evening. So happy for her! 

All these pictures are courtesy of someone else. Thank you.

Friday, April 18, 2014

For the Joy

Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God's throne. Hebrews 12:2 

Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external from, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death- even to death on a cross. Philippians 2:5-8

What a Savior I have. 
You suffered. You endured. You emptied. You died. 
The world's rebellion against your Father, your greatest love, was heaped upon you and you willingly took it because YOU LOVE ME! 
I do not deserve. I have not earned. 
But the cross, the tool of death, it was the instrument to life. 
This welling inside me,
You knew and endured,
For the Joy!!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Zumbro Endurance Run 17 Miles, Post-Race, 2014

Running and completing the Zumbro 17 mile race was such a thrill for me! It was my longest and hardest distance yet. I fought new challenges physically and mentally and came out on top. I learned a tremendous amount about myself, my running, my mental strength and more. It is said that the training or journey is really what is important and while that's true, toeing the line to this race and seeing how it would play out was just as important. 

Saturday, April 12, 5:30 am: I wake to hear what I believe to be rain on the roof of our camper. "Nooo!", I silently scream and then force myself back to sleep.

6:30 am: My alarm goes off but I'm already awake. I stay huddled in bed and stare forlornly out the window. Maybe it will only be a light sprinkle and the trail won't get soaked. I poke around, getting ready, eating some yogurt. I've got to get things digesting so they will be done before starting.

7:00 am: Packet pick-up for the 17's opens. I head over to the shelter where everything is set up. I see Jessica, a Des Moines Capitol Turkey runner, helping out. I'm sure my face is similar to deer in the headlights. She assures me I can do this. Bill is volunteering as well, but I force him away from his duties to hug me and help me decide how to layer up. There is no cell/signal reception on the bottom and no one seems to be able to give me any other kind of weather report other than it will probably stay the same as now which is overcast and rainy. I grab a cup of coffee and head back to the camper. It's still only sprinkling.

8:35 am: I make a mad dash in the driving rain to the shelter. I look down and there seems to be hail covering the ground. My feet have been soaked splashing through the unavoidable puddles. It's lightening and thundering. Bill hugs my shivering body as my mind is pretty much blank. I only wonder if I have the right socks on.

I'm smiling but it's forced. Plus, what looks like snow in the background is actually driving rain. 
8:50ish am: Beyond bad. That's how the announcer describes the course conditions. Alrightly. 

9:00 am: As we saunter over to the starting line our feet become increasingly wet. I guess I was in the general vicinity of the start line when I barely hear him shout "Go!". We are all light-hearted. We head into the trail and pretty soon things log-jam. The mud is making slow going as we haven't come up with our plan of action for mud yet. Fairly quickly we start climbing except this isn't a regular trail climb. This is a single track slippery mud fest going up and coming down. It takes a while for the trail to widen and for us to be able to loosen up and run.

Start to Aid Station 1: I'm laughing at the ridiculousness of the rain and mud. My layers consist of a short sleeve tee and arm sleeves, a light long-sleeve and my green rain jacket. I've got a hat on with the hood of my jacket pulled over top. Lightweight capris since the forecast did have it warming up by afternoon. I chose my Injinji socks because they are a proven water warrior for me, lightweight and wicking and the water will flow through them better than my warmer but thicker Smartwool socks. I'm wearing my Altra Superiors because the wide toe box still works great for me. Plus, I have worn holes in the sides, so I'm thinking the extra drainage will be helpful.
Snapped this to show how muddy it was. Hah! Keep reading.
The climb in this section came right away and it didn't seem too bad, aside from the mud. Since I haven't run this course before, with Bill's help and the information from a day of hill running at Ledges, we put together a guess as to how each climb would possibly feel. At this point, I felt like each climb was going to be doable and was cautiously optimistic. I got to the top of the first climb and it overlooked the campground and river bottom. It was beautiful. But it was still lightening and I decided one pic would have to do since I didn't feel like getting zapped.
I had divided the race into five sections and given each section a word to go by. My word for this section was Pace. I had to remember to keep myself in check- don't go out too fast or climb too hard or get too anxious.
The first A.S. had assorted foods and water and a portable (Hurray!) plus very friendly, helpful volunteers.
Overlook to campground

1 to 2: Although the storming had ceased, it was still raining and the trail was either a giant puddle, a mud trap or in some parts a small stream. In the latter instance, the best way to navigate it was to run through the middle of it and get it over with. Later as I pondered this strategy, I wondered how the 50's and 100's would have dealt with it since the condition of one's feet by several loops in makes all the difference. I felt so good during this section. I would run with the course let me and work to be Patient, my second word, when I couldn't run. This was a longer section of little ups and downs before getting to the main climb. That's what I remember taking so long to get to the main climb. I had rehearsed the main ascents as beginning, end, beginning, beginning, which helped me keep track of when they would come in relation to the aid stations. But before I could get to the second aid station where I knew Bill would be waiting for me, I had to navigate this downhill mud slick. Ladies and gentleman, running uphill seems daunting and it is (though I power hiked most of them) but going downhill is much more difficult. You have momentum and gravity and unsure footing to contend with. Add to that mud slicker than a pig grease and you've got yourself a hoot of a time. How I did not completely fall and wipe out is beyond me! I got to aid station two and declared that was the most mud I've ever had in my entire life! The aid station was pretty upbeat which is such a good thing. I ate some banana and a small Slim Jim before taking off again. Bill said it was just a small 3 mile loop and I knew the climb was at the beginning so off I went.

Now this is more like it!
2 to 3: I would loop back to the same aid station for this one. My word was Persistent. I was feeling so good. I hadn't looked at my watch for my time or the time of day or how many miles I had done or even my heart rate. It was on my wrist collecting all the data and that was it. It was funny to get to the top of an overlook because my phone would start dinging with all the texts from family and friends. After going up and then coming down, we reached the sandy bottom. There had been sand before but it wasn't as deep and with the rain and runners pounding it, it was sort of compact. But this wasn't the same. This was much deeper and sucked your energy. As I started getting a feel for how to navigate this section, I opened up the throttle a bit. It also had this little whoop section which consisted of about two steps up, two steps down, two steps in between. It wasn't all that fun; it was more annoying. I finished this section strong even though my right IT band was start to tweak a little. A quick little stop at the aid station and off again.
These weren't even the big rocks
Like running on a beach except in Minnesota and minus the whole warm temp and ocean thing

3 to 4: Bill wanted to hike up a portion of this with me and it was nice to have him to chat with. I had had very brief conversations with a couple other runners but only one other runner was willing to talk it up with me. I was kind of disappointed in this aspect. Maybe 17 miles is still too short and still too competitive to get into the kind of commaraderie I had heard so much about. Anyway, we got to the first overlook and Bill took a picture of me. I told him to hurry up and take it before I started full out crying. It was such a momentous things for me to be where I was and doing what I was doing and to have only 7 more miles to go. After that, he turned around to take a short cut to aid station 4 but reminded me that this was the climb that seemed like it was done but it really wasn't and that this was the stretch of trail with rocks that Ben said were bigger than his bike!
Me and my man! He is simply the best!
I could see how this is easily Ben's favorite place to ride. It was really beautiful even in the last dull of Spring with overcast skies before the land bursts with newness.
Another overlook!
I soon discovered that while my right IT band was tight and twanging my left IT band was making itself known. This has never happened to me. I've always had fits with my right side- my right knee, right shoulder, right foot. The left side was brand new and taking over the spotlight. The climbing was easy and did not hurt my knees. The descending, though, was when it hurt and I had just finished the majority of the climbing. This was a dark and slow time for me. I couldn't navigate the rocks, mud and knee in a fast manner. I kept going but it was my slowest pace. 
I started pulling from my mental reservoir, which I had been stockpiling. I used my word Persevere. I came out onto the access road and knew I had to walk. Walking had always been the trick for my right side and it would have to be for my left as well. I started finding ways to challenge myself. I had finally looked at my watch and noticed my walking pace wasn't too bad and started to really power walk, which became a new challenge to conquer. I've practiced running and a little power-hiking (could use more practice on that) but not power-walking. 
Friends, many of you think walking is the wimpy person's exercise. I'm here to tell you it is not. You don't have to run to be strong. You have to move to be strong. You don't have to do 17 miles. You have to do what you can and keep doing it. Stop comparing yourself. Find your own awesome!
After walking a bit, I would test out my running. It wasn't great. In fact, I think I might have been faster walking. I was passed by a couple people I knew I could beat if only I was able to run. Letting all of this go on this flatline section was difficult. One woman was the one who chatted with me the most. She cracked that one almost doesn't know what to do with when its flat and dry. I smiled. I knew what I would have done. I would have let the gas open wide and blast through it, blowing my heart rate to bits. It was a gimme and I couldn't do it! I cheered on the other woman who passed me. I had to run my own race and not be-grudge who were doing well also. I hobbled into aid station #4, used the bathroom again, fueled up and left Bill standing there.

4 to Finish: This was my battle. I wasn't going to quit. I had less than three miles to go. I wanted so bad just to run but my knee would not let me on the down hills. I made myself go. Press. Press to the finish. Press to the next tree. Press through the mud hole. I was getting a little weary of the mud but splashed through the puddles and muck just the same. I took an assessment and realized the only thing bothering me was my left knee. Where is the mind over matter thing and how do you do that? I realized I was probably doing it as long as I didn't think about how to do it. This was a huge victory for me. I didn't walk much but what I was doing barely qualified as running. It didn't matter. The finish line really would be coming up soon. 
I crossed a little stream, upped a little lip in the trail and suddenly I was at the campground! I was at the campground!!!!! I ran! I ran and ran and I didn't care if I was going to hobble maybe even stumble at the finish line. I ran because I did it! I ran because I wanted to be done! I ran because I was going to run the last part! People cheered me on and told me "Nice job!" and "Way to go!" but I let it all stream past me. I was getting to the finish line. (Thank you awesome cheering people. I'm sorry I didn't acknowledge you. You stopped what you were doing and took time to cheer me and I'm so thankful you did that for me!)

I crossed the finish line and all I wanted to do was stop. I wanted to smile but the tears were coming. I wanted to cry but I was gasping. The guy who hung my wood medal around my neck asked if I was okay and I wanted to say yes but all I could do was nod because I was a mess of everything! I think everyone there would have completely understood had I broke down because they have been there before. It was surreal. Had I really just run through pouring rain, lightening, thunder, puddles, streams, mud, boulders, sand for 17 miles in the most elevation change of my life?! And my finish time was not awful?! Euphoric is the word! Unbelievable! I had done it! 

Add caption
I'm due for some new shoes anyway.
I grabbed a cup of soup and a cup of coffee and shivered back to the camper. There I jabbered away to my captive audience. Ben untied my shoes for me then watched in fascination as took off my shoes, peeled off my socks, and picked at the mud dried on my legs. Luke told me that I had done a good job and was thoroughly encouraging to me. I took a quick shower and then we were back on the road. I wish we could have stayed longer so I could have connected with other runners but we wanted to get back in time to see Audrey before Prom started. 

What the inside of our camper looks like
I talked the whole thing out with Bill on the way home (between texting with Audrey, once we had a signal). I mentioned that for running for almost 5 hours, it went quite fast.   It really did! I'm still reveling in it! Thanks for reading along and for your well wishes and encouraging words. Now its time to rest and recover and get my body healed up. I've got another race in five weeks!!

If this guy gets any hotter, I'm going to have to carry a fire extinguisher with me!

The graphics for this race and the Superior Trail Race (my next race) are out of this world. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Zumbro Endurance Run 17 Miles, Pre-Race, 2014

I think I ought to let you know I'm running a race this Saturday. I've been alluding to it here and there and it's finally happening. It's a little hard to sit here and even type this out because it makes my stomach jumpy. 

I'm running the Zumbro Endurance Run 17 mile. It's near Theilman, MN, which is a bit north of Rochester. You can look it up on Google maps if you'd like. This race has three different distance- the 100 miles, the 50 mile, and the 17 mile. Each lap is 16.7 miles long so the 100's do six laps, the 50's do three laps and obviously I do one lap. 

Here's a screen shot of the course and below is the elevation for one lap. If you want to look at it in more detail, look here on the website

I've been wanting to do this race since I heard about it a couple years ago when Bill discovered it and told me about it. I had hoped to do it last year but found out that it ran the same weekend as the high school productions which Audrey was in. Since the race is always the second weekend in April, I figured I wouldn't be able to run it until she was done with high school. However, this year Ballard moved the date of the play to the first weekend and after double checking with the director, I signed up. It wasn't until about a month ago, when Audrey was asked to prom that we discovered Ballard prom is the same day as the race. Prom wasn't really on my radar yet because she is a sophomore and can only go if an upperclassman asks her. It wasn't a tough decision about letting her go; it was the right decision but we all knew it conflicted with my race. I have cried and been sad about missing her first prom but also knew I was going to run. So I will run, Bill and the boys will come with me to support me, and my mom will come down to help out with Audrey. 

I will share more about that decision in the prom post and the post-race post(s), which will probably be long-winded. If you want to catch up on my training through Instagram or Twitter, I've used the hashtag #mindy2mn2x in all those posts. When I sit down next week, which I intend to quite a bit, I'll fill you in on the details of all.

My race starts at 9 AM Saturday morning. I'd love it if you gave me a shout out of encouragement. I don't think the butterflies will stop until I'm near finishing.  

(My bib is #886 but I don't think there are live updates.) 

Monday, March 24, 2014

So Now We Ski

About a month ago, 3M offered a family deal for a day of skiing at Seven Oaks in Boone. Except for Audrey, who had a band contest, our schedule was clear for us to go. We invited a friend of Ben's to come along. Ben and Luke had never been skiing before so we figured this was a great time and place to introduce them to it. I had been skiing once, but that was back in high school and honestly I couldn't remember the actual skiing part either so it was a good introduction for me as well.

Ben's friend has skied quite a bit and had his own gear which was quite nice since getting the four of us fitted with boots and skis is an ordeal the first time around! 
We let the boys go on their own. Gage taught Ben and was patient while Ben got the hang of it. 

I caught Ben once at the top of the practice hill and that was probably the last time I saw him until the end of the day.

Bill stuck with Luke and taught him. Bill had gone skiing during college with The Salt Co, in Colorado so he was a good to go. I should have stuck with him, but decided to try my luck with the instructors. Here's what I learned: three different ways to get up if you fall down. Awesome. So I got myself to the top of the practice hill, decided it was trial by fire and went for it. I didn't need my "how to get up lessons" until later that day when I attempted a regular hill.

Anyway, back to Luke. The beginner way of learning to control your speed and stopping is directing your skis in a pizza wedge. You can see Luke demonstrate this very well. In fact, we now call this Luke's signature move. You can spot him coming down by the toes in, elbows up, hands down. It's automatic- like airplane landing gear (sort of).

 Seven Oaks also has a hill for tubing and I took Luke down a few times before the day was over. For him, this was the best part of the day. The whole process- how they hook the tube up the tow rope and you ride your tube to the top, the "half pipe" you slide down to release the tube from the tow rope and the "G's" you must be pulling as you fly down the hill. Luke said he thought he was going about 12 G's! 

We definitely had a good first experience and it snowballed from there. 

When we got home, we discussed more skiing options and suggested going somewhere for Spring Break which was in two weeks or so.

We are all in love with the North Shore of Minnesota. Even though there are other beautiful places in the U.S. to visit, we can't get away from the North Shore. We've now visited three years in a row but it no one ever complains about going there. This time we were going to try it in a different season. Lutsen Mountains and the rental companies were offering some good deals on multiple day stays and lift tickets. Bill ended up finding us a gigantic house for a great price. We don't really need a space this big but there was no other reasonable option, so okay, it'll do. 

The interior of this house was all pine with a smidge of stone. Pine flooring. Pine paneling. Pine furniture. It was adorable in a large pine tree sense. I felt a little like Goldilocks in the three bears house.

We spent our first night hanging out and relaxing. I wrote the blog post about the Leprechaun 10k before diving into Sophie Hudson's A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet. Book review: If you want good story telling with a Southern twang that all have a huge dose of humor (laughing myself into tears in one chapter), a huge amount of tenderness and love for dear people in your life (crying and deeply reflecting in many, many parts) and a realness that is so tangible this could very well be snippets of your own life, then you would enjoy this delightful book.

Audrey cuddled up with her own book. Notice the giant pine everything?

And Bill taught the boys to play poker. It didn't take on them as they didn't ask to play it any other time. Probably because Ben won. 

 The next day, after we rented all the appropriate gear, then purchased some more gear, bought and secured all the lift tickets, we took a nap. Because that was again, an ordeal. It wasn't hard- but we are still novices. Only Bill knew a thing or two and the rest of us had to learn all of the lingo and so forth.
Alright- we didn't nap. Ben would have none of the napping. We were here to ski so let's get to skiing. We practiced a bit more on their practice slope before heading up Ullr Mountain where we stayed the rest of the day trying different slopes. Audrey had a pretty good wipeout and we were thankful she had a helmet. She skied a bit more then called it a day. We were worn out but not any less enthusiastic about our new adventure.

This was the gearing up scene for the next two days. 

We didn't all ski together all the time. Bill spent time with each of the kids, helping them gain confidence and skill. I stayed with whoever was leftover. We all took one run down Moose Mountain but only Ben found it thrilling. The rest of us decided it was a little too much for us even though we all did it and we headed back on the gondola while Bill and Ben stayed to ski more runs. 
The way my children learn and respond to things is so amazing to see and at the same time so typical of them (in good ways). Ben: must learn, must master, must go up and down as many times as possible. We are here to ski, so ski we will. Luke: timid at first. Has to be patiently coaxed. His "sensations" first start out with scared and eventually he loves it (or he doesn't). One time, during the third day, after he had fully fallen in love with skiing, we were at the top of Eagle Mountain, just having gotten off the ski lift and were skating our way to one of the runs when Luke yells out "I can't believe this is real life!!" and then he takes off- swish, swish, swish- with all his little might.

 Audrey loves new things and she's so good at adapting to new situations without hyper-ventilating or freaking out (unlike her mom). But she does have at least one thing that causes panic in her and this trip forced her to deal with it over and over- heights. 
 Some of the chair lift rides to the top weren't so bad and then some were. The wind at the top of the mountains was bothersome to her also. She's my sweet girl who can throw out a casual "Not a fan." about certain things but then try it anyway. We only had one time where she was beside herself but then she did it. 
I'll confess- I'm a lot like her. When I was on my first chair lift ride in Boone, I was so nervous. I would seriously rather run up those hills than try something new and ski down them. It was a tremendous learning moment for me. To be brave and to try something new. When we discussed skiing as a family, I wanted to go to Lutsen because I was hoping to get a run on the Superior Hiking Trail before the race in May. They were snow-covered and I couldn't. I'm comfortable running. After a full day of skiing, I would go out for a run on a gravel road instead and it was like my body was saying to me "Now this is what I know." That's a good feeling. But I never would have discovered that had I not tried something new. Had I not decided to be an adventurer. To be brave. 

I heard this from Jon Acuff in a podcast and it has stuck with me.
"Bravery involves a lot more crying and wanting to throw up than people want to admit."

It might seem I'm making this a bit more dramatic than what it is- a black diamond out of a bunny hill- so to speak. After all, this is just skiing and people do it all the time. It's just that it fits. Can you relate at all?

So here we are all sunshine and smiles and ski gear and to quote Luke "I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS IS REAL LIFE!!" 

Where would you suggest we ski next?