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Smelly Socks: Hitting the slopes to beat the winter blues

Jan. 2, 2014 at midnight
Updated Jan. 1, 2014 at 7:02 p.m.

Austin and the Pepto jacket.

Similar to all parents, I desire that every Christmas be a special memory for my family and friends.

In trying to achieve this noble feat, I go the extra mile and attempt to attend to every last detail. I select and wrap the presents, prepare the special foods, decorate my tree as well as my parent's tree and implement all of the normal family traditions that everyone loves but no one likes to put in all of the work that they involve.

While perfection is not attainable, I do love to see the excitement on my children's faces as beautifully wrapped presents appear under the tree.

A smile spreads across my face as I see the boys using the last bit of the sparkle gel icing on their annual Christmas cookies.

Listening carefully, I can hear the slight humming of Christmas carols coming from the kitchen - for a change, the boys are working together in harmony on a project.

Excitement about Christmas is contagious, and I want my children to remember our family traditions and the sheer specialness of the day.

My hope is that one day my boys will carry this specialness with them to their own families.

Finally, the magical day we have been waiting and preparing for came and went. My house quickly turned from my version of a winter wonderland into a disaster area complete with torn wrapping paper and bows littering the floors after the presents were unwrapped with haste Christmas morning.

As I looked around my living room, I cringed and knew that sadly Christmas is over. Right then, my Christmas morning excitement waned, and the inevitable letdown began.

The winter blues have hit, and they tend to hit me hard. All of the hard work, planning and preparation certainly paid off, but now, it was all over for an entire year.

So my husband, John, got a wonderful idea nearly five years ago. In an effort to help me beat my winter blues and to celebrate our late December wedding anniversary, he plans something quite special.

We load up our 13- and 9-year-olds Austin and Jamison, and pack up my four-door Jeep Rubicon outfitted with gnarly tires and lovingly referred to as "The Bloom Bugg" nice and tight. We are on a mission and headed to snow country.

The boys love to see the impressive white stuff that year after year they still marvel at, enjoy building snowmen and can't wait to have our annual snowball battles in. The boys get excited with the body-numbing cold weather and the breathtaking views of mountains and valleys.

Our fearless and careful driver, John, expertly maneuvers the mountain passes and roads all over Colorado. Although anyone who has been in a Jeep or owns one knows that they aren't particularly roomy or comfortable for long distance driving, the boys never seem to complain, as they look forward to this trip all year.

While we head off for our week in snowy paradise, it seems only natural that a couple years ago, a new sport would enter the picture. Before I knew it, and actually before my very eyes, my extremely non-athletic self became hindered with a husband and two boys who all caught the skiing bug.

This year they will once again unwrap ski boots, ski bibs, thermal underwear, ski masks, and ski jackets under the Christmas tree. I am a true believer in giving those practical and necessary presents that are needed and not especially longed for.

On our first trip to Colorado, I just had to try my hand at skiing. I was determined to try my best to be a "cool mom." I dreamed of being the mother who skis with her children as her cheeks slightly flush from a healthy workout in the brisk air.

I witnessed people of all ages out skiing and enjoying themselves. I asked myself, "How hard could this sport really be?" as I saw a little girl around 7, in springy pigtails, zooming down what appeared to be a black diamond slope with a huge smile on her face.

So I jumped in, and I truly gave it my all. After several unflattering falls on the bunny hill, and my near-constant pleading with a giggling ski instructor, I learned something about myself.

The harsh reality is that I am simply not athletic enough to pull it off. My dreams were dashed, but I must admit that I was not terribly disappointed with this realization. I was relieved to not be cleaning snow out of my mouth and out of my ears, wondering if that sharp pain was actually a dislocated knee with each fall, and desperately clutching the Advil bottle as I lay of the bed with every muscle in my body throbbing from years of non-use.

I was quite happy sipping hot chocolate in front of a fireplace and venturing out only to take pictures of the boys tearing it up on the slopes.

Instead of the "Athletic, Cool Mom," I was proudly the ultimate "Supportive Mom." It seems that I can always find a title to support my chosen position.

John and the boys have their ski outfits down pat and look quite respectable out on the slopes. They have their black snow pants, neutral colored ski jackets, boots, and gloves. We do let the boys show their personality with outrageous winter hats that they get to choose. However, since I am the only girl in this testosterone-filled little family of mine, I decided the only way to show some femininity is with my hot-pink, down filled, Michelin Man-like puffy jacket. This jacket is truly enormous but seriously warm. Austin and Jamison lovingly refer to it as "Mom's Pepto jacket."

When the boys are skiing down the hill, they can easily spy me in all of my hot-pink glory perched to take their picture. "Picture-taking Mom" is my new job title because I am no longer disillusioned in thinking that I have any business being on skis. Proudly, I stand at the bottom of the slopes, knowing that Austin and Jamison just can't miss me in my loud jacket. As much as they might try to act like they don't see me, the jacket really can't be missed.

Then again, my bobbing, blond head excitedly bouncing up and down as I cheer them on can't really be ignored, either.

As I was busy packing our bags this year for our annual trek, I got the Pepto jacket out of the closet and placed it along all of the other conservative ski jackets and other gear we were taking. A huge smile spread across my face. Just seeing the bright pink color, the billowing puffiness and the look of embarrassment on my boys' faces as they see the jacket sitting there changes my mood instantly. It is amazing what a little (or a lot) of pink does to uplift one's mood.

Johanna is a proud seventh-generation Texan. She lives on her family's South Texas ranch with her husband and two lively boys. Email Johanna Bloom or Anita Spisak at smellysocks@vicad.com.

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