Thursday, January 07, 2010

Ants in our pants and a weekend of 1st's

Leave it to us... We were SO looking forward to a calm, peaceful, relaxing holiday at home for the 1st time in 4 years. What happens? We lasted about 10 days, got ants in our pants and then had to get out of town. The kids were literally chanting in the back seat of the car "we want a road trip, we want a road trip, we want a road trip" (as an aside, their 2nd favorite chant is "we believe in Ben, we believe in Ben" a testiment that a 8 yr old cousin is one up on us as parents in terms of speaking the "truth" in kid-dom)

I guess all the last minute weekend jaunts in India have rubbed off. We were feeling like we needed an adventure and since Hampi, Coorg, Mysore, Kerala and Pondicherry were too far to go for a long weekend, we got a map, closed our eyes, and pointed to a place on the map. Green Bay Wisconsin. Where's that you might ask? (when I related my holiday activities many many people at work said "why'd you go THERE?!?) Its due east of Minneapolis by about 5 hours.

We did our online research and went looking for adventure and "1st"'s we could do as a family. Who knew, but Green Bay (GB) is a plethura of family fun.

1st 1st? Downhill skiing. Yes, really. Have you ever tried to teach a kid how to ski? How about 2 40lb kids and 1 90 lb kid when you are working zone vs man on man defense? No easy feat. Remember the trick that kids used to pull when they were 2-3 yrs old? They'd get frustrated, pitch a fit and make their ENTIRE body go limp as a noodle? Now, add layers of winter clothes, skis, ski poles, a tow rope and other families on the mission, add the noodle trick and thats what it was like. Not fun for us as parents. Great fun for them as kids. They had our undivided attention.

The 1st 2 1/2 hours were hell. Lying on the side of the hill crying, pitching fits at the top of the hill, arguing "if you point your skis downhil YOU'LL go down hill too - dont do that until you are ready", trying to calm down (more me than the kids, they were perfectly happy to pitch a fit for all to see) and explain step by torterous step - here's how to stop, to turn, slow down, get up when you fall, hang on to the tow rope, etc...not to mention... getting stuck in the tow rope and having other people (strangers) witness my lack of parenting skills (ie "get up NOW or I am leaving you here, you are in the way and going to get run over!"). Looking at the bright side, Tom and I did get a nice core workout helping steer an extra 40-90lbs down the slopes; between or legs or with the shirt collar death grip.

We called a truce at lunch and headed in for nurioushment. The kids spent the whole lunch begging to go home. No way. Uh ah. We are here for the duration and this is going to be fun (damn it).

Well, who knew, but after lunch, something clicked. They ALL figured out how to ride the tow rope alone and at least make it down the hill without using Tom or I as a human crutch. They havent quite mastered stopping or turning but who cares?! We were all whooping and hollering and celebrating and cheering each other on. It was a blast. They skied another 2 hours none stopped and begged to stay longer. They were genuinely upset that the hill was closing early for New Years Eve. They keep begging to go again.

In reflection, Tom and I should have been more prepared for the goat rodeo it is to teach your kids to ski. But, it also goes to kids resiliance and the absolute rush they get when they learn something new. Their self confidence just blossomed. I'm glad we didnt "give in" and take them home at lunch. We all would have missed an afternoon of incredible fun, growth and bonding.

2nd 1st - Packer Hall of Fame - Those of you who follow us know that Jimmy has found a new love - Football. Specifically Brett Favre & the Vikings. While I am a die hard Packers fan, it took quite the convincing to get Jimmy to agree to go with us to the Packer Hall of Fame. The ONLY saving grace is that Brett Favre was a Packer for a long long time. His negotiation tactic with us is that he wanted to go "Viked up" - aka vikings pj pants, slippers, Brett Favre jersey and helmet. No way. Not only would I not let him out of the house in MPLS dressed like that, there is no way I am heading into enemy territory yelling taunts and jears. We settled on the Favre Vikings jersey, which got enough attention in and of itself. Our good friends: Laura, Pete, Ben and Alex, were brave enough to meet up with us for the afternoon. This says a LOT considering that as hard core Packers fans they had to drive 2 hours to meet us only to be greeted by a miniture Brett Favre Viking who was talking non-stop.

The Hall of Fame has been recently re-done and is VERY cool. It covers the history of the team; which has the added benefit of basically covering the history of football. We had a guided tour of the renivated stadium and even got to walk through the Packer's tunnel out onto the field. All with the music/cheering of the fans blaring in our ears. It was really cool. It is amazing that the field looks pretty small once you are actually on it. They also have a highly interactive kids area where they can play football trivia games, kick the ball, measure how fsat they can throw, do an obsticale course around the "defense" and try on all the equipment. They can even try for a pint size Lambeau leap. We spent all afternoon there discovering new football trivia and tidbits. I even think Jimmy was impressed and has drank a bit of the green Kool Aid. (The fact that the Packers have won 3 Super Bowls and the Vikings 0 didnt hurt either). We followed up this educational day with a fish fry (yum!).

3rd 1st - Winter horse back riding - yep, as the tempatures dropped to the single digits, we though it might be a good idea to get outside and get some fresh air. We found a really cool place outside of Sturgeon Bay that does horseback riding all year long. Since we had been prepped up to go skiing, we had all our cold weather gear: long underwear, warm socks, hats, mittens, snow pants, the whole 9 yards. None the less, the coordinator of our ride felt it necessary to call us no less that 4 times to insure we knew what we were getting into and did we "understand that its 8 degrees with a windchill of -30?". Yes! we said... nothing could deter us from our adventure. I am sure he thinks we are completely nuts.

We suited up and met our furry partners for the day. After everyone was loaded up we proceeded on an incredibly beautiful and peaceful ride through the woods. The kids did a great job, kay managed her horse (Bogey) all on her own; Billy "drove" the lead horse with Mandy our guide and Jimmy promplty fell asleep on Seirra. Yep, its 8 degrees, feels like -20 and Jimmy falls asleep, on a horse, in the woods, in the freezing cold. It was hysterical. I saw his body start to droop and wondered "what's wrong?" I called gently - "Jimmy are you alright? Jimmy whats going on?" to no avail. Finally, worried that something might relaly be wrong started shouting "JIMMY! WAKE UP!! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!!" this roused the boy from his slumber. "I'm tired Mom". We had to keep up an endless prattle from then on to keep him from falling asleep and off his horse.

Back at the ranch (literally) we had hot apple cider, shot a couple games of pool, sat by the fire, petted a chicken & 2 dogs and played with a new best friend Billy that lives on the ranch. It really was a great time. When we left, the leader said "I have to say, this is the 1st time I've seen anyone go out in this weather and you all did great! It was fun. Be sure to send me pictures as my friends will NEVER believe it!"

Other fun weekend activities & 1st's:

~ Connie Gumper & the Pack - ok, this is an OLD VHS tape that was put together for the Packers about 15 years ago. Favre looks like a kid and it includes the Robert Brooks "Lambeau Leap" rap. The kids must have watched it a million times this weekend, peeing their pants laughing. The hostest (said Connie Gumper) dresses in all '50's Packer influenced attire and talks with a VERY strong Fargo accent "you betcha" "bet on a bannana" "San Dee AYE GOOOOO". We now have some new slang at our house (and Jimmy's drank a bit more of the green Kool Aid)

~ Old home movies - we pulled out movies of Jimmy and Kay when they were babies. It was so funny to remember their sayings and mannerisms when they were little. We had forgotten how big Kay's cheeks were and how she would suck on her 2 middle fingers instead of her thumb. We forgot about Jimmy's "little pig, little pig, let me come in..." rants and how big he was compared to other kids his size (still is). Poor Billy gets the shaft as he was only home a year before we left for India and all our home video "time" started to go into this blog. That's what he "gets" for being the youngest I guess.

~ Listening to the football game on the radio - on the drive back, there was no way to time it that didnt have us missing part of the game. I dont think Jimmy realized that you dont have to watch football on TV, you can also listen to the game on the radio. This was a totally new experience and another 1st for him. He sat in the back of the car and "called" the game/plays/penalities as he heard them. I am sure people driving by us were wondering at all the screaming and rocking our car was doing. Little did they know that the comotion all centered around the Vikings scoring points. It was pretty hysterical.

There you have it, our family weekend in a nutshell.

It just goes to show, adventure and fun are around any corner, if you are just willing to look.

Even in Green Bay (GO PACK!).