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I’m The Winner

I grew up skiing. I don’t remember how old I was the first time I put skis on, I’m guessing I had x-country skis on my feet as soon as I could walk. When I was teenager I swapped my downhill skis, for a snowboard (it was limitedly successful with a broken arm on my first run – but I kept with the sport and married the guy who gave up an afternoon of ski club with his buddies to play cards in the lodge with the girl in a cast, so it wasn’t a total bust!)

Later, I convinced Kevin to take up snowboarding, and we would make day trips area ski resorts. After Rayleigh was born, we made a few trips with grandparents who hung out with her while we got a couple of runs in on the slopes. However, I quickly realized that if I wanted to keep playing in the snow, I was going to need to have kids who could ski.

I set out to teach 3 year old Rayleigh how to ski at our local mountain. Armed with some second hand skis (for her and I) and a pocket full of M&M’s we hit the bunny hill. The photos from those early days are… not easily found. But by March 9th, she was riding a ski lift with me. Riding ski lifts with toddlers is not for the faint of heart!

And since when you have more than 1 child, the younger ones always benefit from the older siblings. If I was going to teach one kid, I might as well teach two! Here is a freshly minted 2 year old Dillon skiing for the first time.

This is what a proud 2 year old looks like, Dillon skiing at age 2.

A few weeks later Kevin came to the mountain and gave him some motivation and encouragement.

A 2 year old Dillon skiing to Kevin’s arms.

The next winter… is a blur. I was pregnant with Ainsley, Rayleigh fell in late January and broke her elbow and Kevin had sinus surgery in February. We lost an entire year of downhill skiing.

But in the winter of 2015/2016 we were good to go again! I had an infant with me on the bunny hill who bounced between being worn inside my jacket or bundled up on a sled. She has always been my outdoor kid.

A sleeping Ainsley being pulled to the bunny hill in her sled.
A collage from a winter day in 2016 at West Mountain, packed lunches, nursing babies on the slopes and lots of smiles.

These early days were exhausting, dinner was usually pizza served about 4 pm and bedtime was before 6pm everyday we skied.

By 2017, I was pregnant with Grayson but I had a toddler who was ready for the slopes.

A 1 year old Ainsley on skis.

She spent most of that year just learning to stand, stop, and turn in ski boots that came up to her knees. There were still plenty of sled rides for tired legs.

Rayleigh skiing while Dillon and Ainsley got a ride on the sled back to the lodge for cocoa.

By 2018 I had 3 kids on skis, but was back to skiing with an infant strapped to my chest. It’s a little bit of a miracle there are any photos from this year at all.

If you look close you can see Ainsley’s skis sticking out between mine, underneath a sleeping Grayson.
Ainsley and I posing for a photo at the bottom of the mountain.
Lunch, ski boots, and ALL the fleece headed into the lodge for a day of skiing. (not pictured me carrying a sled, an infant, 4 pairs of skis, coffee, and diaper bag and the all the outer gear for the fleece bunny on the right).

But soon enough Grayson was old enough for skis in 2019. But that meant another year on the bunny slope for my ‘big’ kids. Rayleigh used this opportunity to learn to snowboard. Grayson would spend half the day in skis and half doing ‘homeschool’ work in the sled. He has always loved books.

Dillon, Ainsley, Rayleigh, and Grayson on the mountain in the winter of 2019.
Grayson on skis, January 2019.

That winter I felt like I could taste the finish line. I was soon going to have 4 kids who could ski.

Grayson, Dillon, Rayleigh, and Ainsley all on the mountain on skis.

In February, Dillon requested a ‘big ski mountain’ for his birthday. So we went and skied ‘The Beast of the East’ with a family trip to Killington, VT. Ainsley at all of 3.5 years old skied the whole mountain, the not yet 2 year old brother did not ski that day.

Dillon at the top of Killington.

In the early months of 2020 (the year that shall not be said) we were able to ski. With 4 on skis the world opened up a little bit to us. A ski day at Gore now meant we could all ski down (gondola’s allow for even 2 year olds to get to the top safely).

Grayson skiing all of Gore.

The photos above were taken March 4th, 2020. I thought we were set!

Little did I know we were going to lose all of 2021’s ski season to COVID. But we are back at the mountain this year. And after a few weeks of refreshers, I do… finally… have 4 kids who can ski with me. It’s been 9 years of weekly trips to the bunny hill, pockets full of ‘power pellet’ candies, and too many lost mittens to count. But this year I get to use the whole mountain with my kids and I can say it has been worth all the exhausting days on the mountain.

Rayleigh, Dillon, Grayson, and Ainsley winter January 2022.

We’re holding out hope for a few more bluebird days with fresh POW this year.