Tuesday, December 2, 2014

rainbows and...mouse attacks

Sometimes I marvel at how much easier it is to move about the world with our children, now that they are post diapers, post napping, able to walk, and generally less likely to injure themselves or die of starvation.  I look back on those days of being on constant vigilance against the rogue fever or car in the parking lot and think, well, lots of things.  But let's go with, for the sake of this story, phew.

A trip cross country skiing these days is so much easier.  There is no pulk to pull a carefully timed napping baby behind me.  Jonathan can stay vertical on skis better than he could a few years ago and he ends up upside down, off the trail, with his skis tangled around a tree far less frequently.  And all three kids are skiing independently.  And really enjoying it.  We have two, Nicholas and Julia, who are nordic skiing as a sport this winter.  

One would think, therefore, that a family trip cross country skiing with our completely bizarre and beautiful and therefore perfectly timed Thanksgiving snow storm up here, would be all rainbows and unicorns.


And generally, it was.  There were rainbows.



We followed the snow and took them to my favorite place to ski from when I was little.  The Jackson Cross Country ski trails in New Hampshire.  Strangely, it is half as far from us as the bigger Nordic Centers here in our own state.  Still trying to wrap my mind around this, and my ignorance of this for the past few years.

The Center there gave us a (much needed) dose of even though my parents do strange things and these things are often very different from how my friends spend their weekends, or even how they ski (alpine), this place is actually kind of cool factor.  With the warm beautiful modern lodge and the friendly helpful staff and the ski shop with all things brand to make the kids lust and see there is signage appropriate to this sport too.

I made them giggle with my telling of my favorite Christmas gift from my parents when I was little: knickers with matching knee socks and a wool sweater.  Awesome.

We had a beautiful ski through the woods, across covered bridges, following the river.

And then it began.  The soundtrack of idyllic music that was playing in our heads, screeched to a stop abruptly.  People.  Began.  To get.  Hungry.



I quickly scanned the map, and saw that just up the snowshoe path was something called a Waffle House.  I know this was unlikely to mean that there was a charming woman there stirring freshly made batter and flipping fresh waffles, though I was willing to be pleasantly surprised.  But I hoped it meant it would be someplace warm for us to stop and warm up and eat the snacks we were carrying on our backs.



Nicholas almost refused to follow us off into the woods on a path that was intended for something we were not wearing on our feet.  Elliott amused himself by intentionally stranding himself from ski tip to ski tail on two small hills with the valley down below.  Over and over again.  And Julia skied on, silent, perhaps crying a bit, but moving forward.  We eventually came to the Waffle House.

Nicholas gestured toward the nordic trail that came through the woods and led straight to the hut.  See?  We could have just stayed on our ski trail.

Whoops.  I bet once you have had a snack you will think this is funny.  I answered, with a bit of a question in it.

I doubt it.

All was well again, once the food hit their systems.  Nicholas and Elliott ran around the hut hiding in the woods.


And then, in order to remind us that it is in fact still about about feeding, resting, and toileting, just as it was when they were babies, there was a need for a bathroom.  In true Waffle House style, it was there.  




Even the outhouse was charming.


Julia went in.   Julia came back out.  Looking a bit scared.  There was a weird scratching noise, she told me.  She could not be convinced to go back in.  It's ok.  I'll wait til later.  She shifted her weight from one foot to the other.


And so, I went in.  And saw this, above the toilet seat.  See it there in the corner?  A nest of dry and fluffy leaves?

I have taken on terrifying bathrooms in the past.  There was a stage of toilet training in which automatic flushing toilets were a particular problem.  I decided that as long as I stamped and sang and generally made a racket, that whatever was living in there would stay in there.

I convinced Julia, but she remained skeptical and gave me her best I am going with you on this but I know you are wrong look.  I know it well.  And she followed me inside and shut the door behind her.  
That's when they stampeded.  And stampeded is the right word for it.  At least ten mice came rushing down, over the beam and down the wall and ran straight at us.  

We screamed.  Loudly.  Fumbled with the locked door.  Threw it open.  And ran.  

And then, Julia started cackling.  Howling with laughter.  Well.  That was a bonding experience, she said.

Not long after that, Nicholas took a fall and snapped one of his pole in half.  And we decided it was time to head back.

A quick stop back at the lovely ski shop and he was back in two poles and Julia, Nicholas, and I did two laps of the field just outside the Center while it began to get dark.  While Elliott and Jonathan went in search of hot cocoa.  I grew up classic skiing, the straight in front of you swishing left and right style of nordic skiing.  Julia and Nicholas skate ski.  And they are fast.  We decided to do two loops.  They lapped me twice and then turned around at the end to double back and ski along side me for my last loop.  I tried to swallow my gasps for air when they approached me.


So, along with snacking, resting, and toilet guarding, I have decided that my next parenting mandate is going to have to be to learn how to skate ski.  Just so I can keep up with them.

And stay ahead of the mice.

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