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.)


What I Like About You


Every year as Thanksgiving and Christmas roll around, people step back and really take a good look at the things they are thankful for. Friends, family, a great place to work and good health. These are all things that make my list annually. I must admit, I’ve been very fortunate in those areas. This year, I’m particularly thankful for my husband Tony, and all the little things he does that makes me smile. In honor of that, I’ve decided to share a few of my favorites:

superhero-tonyThe commercial parrot. We really don’t watch a lot of TV. But somehow or another, Tony’s able to recite nearly every commercial we see, no matter how stupid/silly they are. If you think it’s funny to hear James Earl Jones and that other guy say, “Totes McGoats” and “Hottie McHotterson” in the Sprint commercial, you should hear Tony mimic-ing along, or saying it totally out of context later in the day. It’s a guaranteed smile from me, because let’s face it, Tony’s just not a “Totes McGoats” kinda guy.

All-time best bed warmer. Alex started sleeping through the night (for the most part) around the eight-week mark. Which is totally awesome – unless you’re the mom that still has to get up and pump so that chubby monkey has enough milk for daycare. So every night around 3 a.m. I dutifully get out of bed, go to the couch and magically produce milk. All the while, I’m getting cold, as is the spot I had previously occupied in bed. But one night, I came back to find Tony laying in my spot. I nudged him, thinking “what the hell, this is my side of the bed.” He responded by rolling over, asking how my pumping went and telling me he knew I was always cold when I came back to bed, so he was making sure my spot stayed warm. He’s done that several times since. What a keeper!

funny-tonyShe’s like Texas. It’s been more than a year since Tony and I were married, but it was one of the best days of my life. Yeah, the wedding was nice. We all looked sharp. The flowers were pretty. Food tasty. Party fun. Blah. Blah. Typical blah. (Don’t get me wrong, those things really were great, but I wouldn’t say they bring a smile to my face at any given reference.) One of the biggest highlights of that day, was when the DJ played a song Tony had requested for me. I’m not certain if I had ever heard, “She’s Like Texas” by the Josh Abbott Band before that moment, but I fell in love with it. I love the lyrics. I love the way Tony serenaded me as we danced to it that day. And I love how special I always feel when I hear it. I always smile.

By gosh and by golly. Tony is an excellent cook. He likes to cook/bake from scratch, and since we’ve been together, I can credit the overall improvement of my diet to his healthy tendencies. Not only is he able to whip up a tasty meal, he very rarely sticks to a recipe to do it. Instead, he tastes as he goes and throws in a little of this and that. As a recipient of said delicious food-stuffs, I appreciate his attentive taste buds and ingredient tweaks. But as a wife who very rarely cooks (and when does, has to really pay attention to a recipe), I can’t help but smile and shake my head when I attempt to make something Tony’s done in the past. It never fails that I’ll be going along, following the recipe, when I’ll ask about an ingredient. And Tony will be like, “Oh, I didn’t even use that.” Or I’ll ask how much I should use of something, and he’ll say, “Well, until it looks right,” or, “I don’t know, I just by gosh and by golly-ed it.” I suppose it won’t ever matter if I never master the “by gosh and by golly” method as long as Tony doesn’t mind my limited cooking repertoire.

us-at-iowa-weddingPrivate dancer. (No, not like that you dirty birdie.) When Tony and I first started dating, one of my favorite things was to go out dancing with my friends. Begrudgingly, Tony would come along, all the while complaining about how bad he is at dancing. Low and behold the night would go on, my friends would go dance, and Tony always joined us out on the floor. I always had a lot of fun dancing with him, and never really thought he was bad at it. Fast forward a few years, and our fun dancing at the club days are pretty much over. At this point, wedding receptions are the extent of our opportunities to bust a move. But Tony has a fun way of injecting little bursts of dance into his day, just in effort to make me laugh. Whether it’s while he’s walking in front of me at the store, or dancing a jig to a commercial jingle in the front room, or sometimes just shakin’ it to no music at all, Tony’s great at sneaking in a little rhythmic expression and then giving me a quick glance to make sure I saw it.

Kiss that Cast Goodbye

About 10 weeks ago, I traveled with the Menke family to Steamboat Springs, Colorado on my first-ever ski trip. The first half-day we were in town, I listened to everyone’s advice and took a ski lesson.

At the same time, Tony decided to take a snowboarding lesson. (He’s been skiing for like 20+ years, but had never tried to snowboard.) As I was expecting, he was pretty much awesome. And he enjoyed the challenge. So he decided he’d snowboard the next day too and gain a little more experience before he went back to skiing the black slopes.

About an hour into our first full day on the mountain, Tony fell and broke his right wrist. In typical Tony bone-breaking fashion, he did it to the extreme – a broken bone, a wrist dislocation, surgery, a plate and seven screws. No more time on the slopes for him.

Since that time his poor arm has been in a variety of movement-limiting devices. Immediately after surgery it was in a quasi-cast with a wrap and sling. When we got back to Kansas and they were able to remove the staples, he progressed to a full arm cast that went from his armpit to down past his thumb. About a month later, he moved into the cast you see in the photo above – a much more reasonable half-arm cast that (finally) allowed elbow movement.

Today, Tony graduated from that cast into a brace. I’ve not seen it yet, but I’m pretty sure it’s fabulous. Well, okay, that may be over-selling it. But a brace can come off. And can be (somewhat) washed. And should allow for even a little more movement. And those things mean Tony’s going to able to start being more Tony-like again. And start to sleep better. And I like both of those things because I know he’ll be happier.

The injury wasn’t all bad though. It provided some experiences we wouldn’t have had otherwise, testing our relationship to see how well we could work together through adverse situations. (We did pretty awesome, if I do say so myself. I mean, we did survive the trip back from Colorado where I drove 9/10th of the way home. We won’t talk about that other 1/10th….)

I also got to help Tony out a lot in the kitchen and became much more comfortable (and somewhat handy, I think) with a knife and cutting board. Now I’m almost a pro at cleaning and cutting up sweet potatoes. If that wasn’t worth him breaking an arm, I don’t know what is… just kidding.