The 2018 Ski Trip

Last week we went with the entire Kansas-based Menke family to Granby Ranch in Granby, CO for our ski trip. It was great, and if you’re looking for a family-friendly place to go skiing, Granby should be on your list. The condo was awesome (we had our own hot tub – score!). Lessons were affordable. And the slopes weren’t very crowded. All in all, the makings of a solid week of family fun.

It’s always crazy an adventure to take the kids on a 10+ hour drive. Honestly though, we nearly have that down to a science thanks to Tony. He always makes sure we have plenty of drinks, snacks and movies that are easily accessible, and he’s willing to make copious bathroom stops.

The thing that really stood out about this particular ski trip, is that it was the first time we’d have the entire family up on skis at some point. Leo is an old pro, but it was the first time Alex would get to attend lessons, and Kate was finally big enough for us to get her out on the bunny hill for awhile.

We enrolled Leo in two days of intermediate ski lessons, although he skied all day, every day, regardless of whether he had lessons or not. He complained about having to go to lessons (cousin Carson didn’t have to – it’s not fair!), but after two days he had made several friends in the group, so I think it was a good investment in his time and our money. Because Leo’s quite adept at skiing and prefers to ski terrain parks and narrow trails, I didn’t get any photos of him. It’s a sad but unfortunate result of being better at skiing than his mother. Instead I’m including a photo of Kate and Alex looking over the balcony of the base lodge, trying to find Leo.

We also enrolled Alex in ski lessons. We opted for three days for him since it was his first time in lessons, but only half-days. Initially, we were a bit disappointed he’d only get half-days, but as it turns out, those ski school people know what they’re doing. Alex loved lessons until around 10:30 each day. Then he was tired. And done. So we would inevitably get a call from ski school, and either Tony or I would have to go down and cheer/console/bribe Alex in attempts to get him to finish the remaining hour-ish of time.

Kate was not old enough for lessons, so we took her out for about an hour one afternoon on the bunny hill. Alex tagged along and showed Kate how to ride the magic carpet. Initially, Kate didn’t really want to stand up on her skis, and couldn’t quite follow along with what was going on. But it was only a matter of time and that girl figured it out. Before I knew it, Tony had her skiing down the bunny hill all by herself, and Kate was giggling the whole time!

In addition to skiing, we also spent some time playing in the snow and building a snowman. As it turns out, the fresh powered didn’t pack well so we had a non-traditional triangle snowperson instead of the typical three-ball configuration.

For Tonythe skiing wasn’t particularly challenging. Granby had an entire mountainside that was exclusively blue and black runs, but they weren’t terribly long and several still weren’t open (while it snowed 6-9″ while we were there, they hadn’t had a whole lot before then). And let’s face it, Tony really likes the super steep, super fast, crazy stuff. I know he had a good time though, watching the kids and getting to spend time with his dad, sister and brother, along with various assortments of the cousins, going down the green and blue runs on the other mountainside.

Tony also invested quite a bit of time helping me try to take my skiing to the next level. After seven years (although technically I’ve only been skiing five times), I’m still trying to make the transition from relying on the wedge (pizza) to slow down and turn, to going all parallel, all the time. It isn’t a tough concept physically (although it does take some work), but mentally, you have to trust yourself and take the risk… and that’s something I struggle with. After a few rough moments (and one afternoon where I wasn’t on speaking terms with Tony), I think I finally got there. By my final couple of runs, I was pretty good at doing parallel turns. (We’ll see if it sticks for next time.)

All, in all, I really do enjoy skiing, and I especially enjoy skiing with Tony around… I don’t really like many other folks around because a crowd makes me really anxious, but I’m pretty comfortable with him there.

I’m so thankful that I married into a skiing family and that I get the opportunity to take my kids skiing. I can tell they’re all going to love it. (In fact, Leo declared the other day that he’ll probably be most likely to go to the Olympics in skiing, lol.)

 

My Valentine’s Gift

I should probably start by saying Valentine’s Day isn’t something we really celebrate in our house – at least not in any over-the-top fashion. Tony and I may exchange cards and we might make a special dessert or something, but rarely does it go beyond that.

This year will be a bit of an exception. What started out as an idea to abstain while observing Lent, has turned into something else altogether. Although I’m not doing it directly for my kids or for Tony, in the long run it really is.

For Valentine’s Day, I’m giving up my decade-long love of Dt. Pepsi and plan to quit drinking it for good. That’s right, no more Dt. Pepsi for me… You may not be able to tell, but this is going to be very hard for me.

How is that a gift?
Well, initially, I’m nearly certain it’s not going to feel like a gift. To anyone. I’m going to be cranky. And tired. And cranky-tired.

Do they make a version of Snickers’, or, in even more recent pop culture, Choe Kim’s “hangry” for “I’m pissed off because I need a Dt. Pepsi?” Maybe “Dt. Pepissy?” (If that goes on to become a common phrase, you read it here first.)

And all of these cranky/tired feelings are probably going to come out on the people closest to me… so sorry in advance family, friends and co-worker’s for the next few weeks of abnormal bitchiness. I promise I will regain some sense of humanity and function closer to normal after my extreme caffeine and artificial sweetener withdrawal wear off.

So again, how is this a gift?
In recent years we’ve discovered there is some level of Alzheimer’s in our extended family. While I admittedly don’t know a ton about Alzheimer’s, I know there are a couple of factors thanks to the good ol’ Internet:

  1. Aging. I’m getting older, and only will continue to do so. Boo. I know the risk isn’t really great until you’re over 65, but I’m being proactive. I want to live a long, long time. And be active and remember shit the whole time.
  2. Family History. It’s in my family. To the best of my knowledge, I don’t have a first-degree relative (parent or sibling) with it, but my mom does. So it’s close enough that I’m not comfortable ignoring it.
  3. Gender. I’m girl, and since us ladies tend to live longer, there are higher rates of occurance in Alzheimer’s than with guys.
  4. Environmental Factors. What are they? Well, honestly I don’t know, but I’ve heard a lot about the artificial sweeteners that go into diet sodas. They’re not good for you (especially when consumed in excess, like I tend to do) and have been linked to all types of health issues, like cancer and Alzheimer’s in some research… couldn’t tell you how credible that is, but it’s scary enough that it’s on my mind.

Bottom line, I want to be around for my family for a long time. I want to go on lots of adventures with Tony and to be a big part of my kid’s kid’s lives. I want to do it all and remember it all. And that’s my gift. To Tony. To my kids. To myself.

Now please help me remember this during the course of the coming weeks and months when I’m begging for a Dt. Pepsi.

2018 Goals

I’ve spent several weeks thinking about these, trying to come up with a well-rounded list that included a tangible tracking mechanism so it would be easier to determine success. Without further ado, I present Alissa’s 2018 Goals:

  1. Listen to 15 audiobooks.
  2. Post on my blog bi-weekly (or at least average two posts a month).
  3. Run in three adventure races with Tony.
  4. Go on one big adventure.
  5. Make more memories doing stuff. With the kids. With Tony. With my parents. With my sister. With my brother. Focus less on things.
  6. Help DARI hit it’s 2018 sales goal.
  7. Decide where we’re going to live and make it happen.
  8. Stay within my lunch budget each month.

Some of these will be pretty easy to do. (I’ve already listened to two books this month.) Others will require work – training, writing, thinking. And my favorites will require quality time, something that I’m cherishing more and more as I get older.

Update: I decided to add an additional goal to my list (see #8 above). It seems like a simple one, but it’s going to be a challenge… I always like challenges.

2017, How Did I Do?

As 2017 was winding down, I revisited my list of goals (I keep it on my desktop for easy access) to see how I had done. I had started the year with 5 pretty simple goals:

  1. Get rid of all the baby stuff. Check!

    Thanks to a very successful garage sale in May, I can say that almost all of the baby/early toddler days stuff (clothes, contraptions, toys, etc.) is gone. There are still a few items remaining that Kate’s continued to use (crib, stroller and high chair, specifically), but I’m not going to rush her out of them. When she’s ready, we’ll get rid of them too. I’m certainly not in a hurry for her to grow up though.

  2. Spend more quality time with each kid each week. Check!

    This was a somewhat subjective goal. I didn’t put any measurements in place to hold myself accountable, but I was especially mindful of this goal in particular and worked really hard to spend more quality time with the kids. I’m certain I did better with Leo and Kate than I did the year before, but Alex… well, he’s such a daddy’s boy that it’s a bit harder for me to get one-on-one time with him. That is something I’m going to work on though.

  3. Improve my strength and general fitness level. Check!

    I intentionally didn’t set specific criteria for this goal. I honestly didn’t know what was possible or how I wanted to focus my efforts. Regardless, I’m certain I’m stronger and more fit than when I ended 2016. I’m playing competitive volleyball on a regular basis. I ran in a couple of adventure races without totally embarrassing myself or wanting to divorce my husband. And I was finally able to get back to playing softball at a level that I felt good about. My daily steps goal (as tracked by my Fitbit) was 7,500, and according to my annual data, I actually averaged closer to 8,500 steps. I still feel like this is an area where I can improve, but I feel great about the work I’ve put in during 2017.

  4. Listen to/Read at least 12 books. Check!

    I totally rocked this one. I didn’t keep track, but thanks to my commute, I think I listened to (and finished) around 20 books during the year. I covered a wide span of genres from tech to biographies to non-fiction. If you know of a great audiobook I should listen to, let me know. If you’re looking for a good book, just ask! I can give you a few ideas. As for reading… well, if you count children’s books I read a BUNCH (many over and over again), if we’re talking actual adult books… well, not so much.

  5. Push DARI to marketing success. Undetermined.

    I feel like I could give myself a “Check” for this one, but because “marketing success” is somewhat ambiguous, I’m leaving it at undetermined. 2017 was a big year for DARI. Our system sales grew significantly from 2016. We had some great PR, brought in some awesome new clients and are starting to get some brand recognition in the performance market. I launched a few websites, created new reports and marketing materials, developed strategies, got feedback from clients, implemented feedback from clients and a whole host of other things. I guess the biggest reason I’m not considering this a “check” is because I know there’s so much more to be done. DARI will be big. 2017 was about building a foundation and getting our ducks in order. 2018 is where things will get really exciting.

So now that leaves me to think about my 2018 goals and what I want to accomplish. I have a solid starts on a few ideas, but I’m giving myself another week or so to flesh them out a bit deeper. Look for another post on that coming soon.

A Sad Goodbye to the Birth and Women’s Center

A final photo of the Birth and Women's Center of Topeka, at least as I know it.September 30th marks the end of an era in Topeka as the Birth and Women’s Center (BWC) will be closing. I’ve known it was coming for a few months, but it’s been difficult for me to wrap my brain around. When I think about it, more often than not, I have to fight to hold back tears.

The obvious source of my emotion for this place is that I delivered all three of my babies there. Leo in 2009. Alex in 2013. Kate in 2015. All three births were assisted by different midwives, all of which felt like surrogate mothers/grandmothers to me. Each birthing experience was unique, and great, and totally perfect.

So of course that’s why I get sad about BWC closing…right?

When I think about it, even that doesn’t completely make sense. I know Tony and I are not having more children, so it’s not like I’m personally losing an opportunity.

Yet still I’m sad… And so I’ve thought about it, and thought about it.

There is more to those baby-having experiences than just producing small humans. Every time I came out of that old Victorian house, I emerged as a stronger, more empowered version of myself. There’s something about the confidence you gain from in being in total control, yet also completely surrendering to your body and letting mother nature do what it’s supposed to do. It’s like you’re a vessel for awesome superhuman powers. It’s one time you can truly see that you’re fully capable of completely amazing things.

So in the end, maybe that’s it. I’m sad because this place that’s meant so much to me won’t exist to serve that role for other women. And I think every woman should have the opportunity to experience that type of empowerment.

Thank you Birth & Women’s Center (and all of the nurses and midwives that have worked there through the years). I cannot adequately express my gratitude or explain what you have meant to me. You will always be one of my favorite places, even if it’s only in my memories.