April 12, 2016

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Freelance Flashback: Snow Bunnies

Happy  holidays! After a sleet-filled ride from New Jersey back to Maryland, we are home. We spent Christmas with my husband's family. Christmas Eve Italian style is my favorite meal of the entire year.

(My favorite dish: pasta with walnuts and anchovies. The New York Times featured the recipe.)
Pizzelles are a traditional Italian waffle cookie.

My side of the family -- my parents, brothers and their families -- are enjoying winter white. They are holed up at my parents' cabin in the Catskill mountains, where a foot and a half of snow fell last night.
Photo: Snowing Still
My sister-in-law shared this photo from the back deck of the cabin.
When I was growing up, my family spent our holidays on the slopes. I had to stop skiing after knee surgery in 1985, but here is a Baltimore's Child article from 2009 about another ski-crazy family.

Family Adventure - December 2009

Life’s an adventure for The Laras

By Laura Shovan

Paul Lara was used to working long hours. A mechanical engineer for the federal government, he would leave his wife and young daughter at their Laurel home every morning at 5 a.m. and wouldn’t return before 5 in the evening.

But that was before an extended family adventure last winter made him rethink his lifestyle. From late December 2008 to late March 2009, Paul, 35, his wife, Jennifer, 39, and their 3-year-old daughter, Olive, skied and snowboarded together in Colorado, California, and Nevada. During that trip, Paul and Jennifer, an education professor at Anne Arundel Community College, telecommuted to their jobs and focused on family time and teaching Olive how to ski.

Olive learned to ski and the Laras learned to slow the pace of their lives. Paul now works from home twice a week.

Happy Trails

Jennifer grew up in south Florida, but left that warmth behind to earn her bachelor’s degree at Michigan State University. She then attended graduate school at the University of Colorado at Boulder. After teaching stints on the Navajo Nation and in Ecuador, she moved to Bowie, where her sister lived, in July 2000.

Jennifer met Paul—who was born in Ecuador, but grew up mainly in Silver Spring—at a salsa dance class at the University of Maryland, where he was finishing his engineering degree. 

They soon learned that they both loved sports—snowboarding, skiing, hiking, biking, running. In 2004, they eloped outside of Jackson Hole, Wyo., and Grand Teton National Park, where they also were snowboarding.

When Olive came along, they naturally wanted to share their love of the outdoors with her.

“It gives us something that we can do together,” Jennifer says. “Here we are outside, getting fresh air, doing a sport. Skiing is great exercise in a beautiful environment.”

Rather than catch occasional weekends at a local slope, Paul and Jennifer wanted to immerse Olive in skiing. 

Having introduced Olive to skiing at age 2, Jennifer says she realized, “If we want Olive to be a really good skier, she really needs more than one week a year. We both said, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we could live in a ski town for a season?’” 

So that’s what they did.

Paul and Jennifer found affordable multi-resort ski passes and organized long-term condo rentals in Lake Tahoe, on the California and Nevada border, and in Breckenridge, Colo. The couple then convinced their employers to allow them to work long-distance via the Internet.

“I would work in the morning until Jennifer and Olive
woke up,” says Paul. “Then we’d make breakfast together” and plan the day. “I spent a lot more time not only with my daughter, but also with my wife.”

Jennifer describes a day on the slopes: “One person would work and ski with Olive, and the other person would do some adult runs. After a month, she could go down a real run.”

“Skiing is everyone equally participating,” she adds. “That’s not what you get when you go jogging with a kid in a stroller.”

Videos of Olive show her gleefully tackling a ski run. She glides down the mountain in a sky blue parka and pink helmet, laughing as she skis past the camera.

“When we’re out there, she just smiles and she tries new things,” Jennifer says. “Even now, she talks about Colorado and Lake Tahoe.”

The slower pace and beautiful scenery helped Paul realize “how different life is out there. You don’t get up and commute 30 miles in traffic to work.” 

Jennifer says, “Being away for three months proved to him that ‘I can work from home.’”
The time away also shifted Jennifer’s thinking. 

“When you’re away,” she says, “you can be present in the moment without feeling the need to multi-task.
You’re not torn by all the things you should be doing—you’re not surrounded by it.” Now, when she’s playing with Olive at home, Jennifer focuses on fun and puts chores out of her mind.

The Laras are planning their next ski trip for January, and Olive is already eager to get back on the slopes. 

Jennifer adds, “Now that it’s cold out, she said to me, ‘Oh, Mommy, I can’t wait to go skiing.’” 

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