On the first day of vacation, my sister-in-law Sheryl gave me the best birthday present I've ever received: my first facial. And when I say she gave me a facial, I don't mean she paid for it. I mean she did it herself, at the spa where she works. She gave me a hand, arm, and shoulder massage, and then applied various combinations of warm towels, cleansers, and moisturizers to my face. By this point, I was pretty close to unconscious, but as I recall, she also did a scalp massage. Oh, somewhere in there she waxed my eyebrows, which wasn't quite so relaxing. But my brows look great!
On the second day of vacation, my other sister-in-law Lisa drove me into Washington to meet an old friend from high school who found me on Facebook a couple of weeks ago. Melissa still has the same curly dark hair and the same laugh; I hadn't talked to her in over 20 years, but it was surprising how familiar her voice was and especially her laugh.We both fondly recalled the years when we corresponded, after she moved to Washington in our junior year. I've just finished a nice, fat letter to her today, and I hope we'll be pen pals again. There's something so satisfying about writing a letter on real paper, and getting ink on your fingers. If you haven't done it in awhile, you should try it!
On Saturday, we took a five-hour drive through the most gorgeous terrain I've ever seen, into the northern interior of British Columbia. Our destination was a cabin on Greenlake, the same one I told you about last year when Ethan learned to wakeboard. The view was as breathtaking as I remembered:
The Heavens Declare His Glory!
So far north, the sunsets last for hours; it was after 10:00 by the time the sun set each evening. Most nights, Mom took the three boys out for a bedtime swim. When Ethan and Travis hesitated on the dock, Dad threw them in. Meanwhile, I stayed in the house where it was safe.
Allyson's favorite evening pastime was roasting marshmallows for s'mores. Yum!
My favorite evening pastime was playing a card game called Sequence. We played guys against girls, and the ladies got our butts kicked the first night. The next day, we whispered strategies whenever we were alone together. At game time, I threw away my disposable contacts and got out my glasses so I could see the board better. "You know how in the movies the librarian takes off her glasses and turns into a sexy woman?" I asked. Mom nodded. "Well, this is the opposite," I said, putting on the glasses with a flourish. "I'm now transforming into a crazy-smart lady." It must have worked, because we beat the guys three to one that night. They were still up by one game in all, but we went to bed happy (and exhausted since it was after midnight).
If the view was as gorgeous as I remembered, the water was even colder. Allyson and Katie didn't seem to feel the cold at all, but played at the water's edge for hours. Ethan complained, but still swam. I flatly refused to get in. Even out of the water, it was a bit cold for me. When the sun went behind a cloud and the breeze blew off the water, it was downright cold. The only long pants and jacket I'd brought (pictured above) reeked of woodsmoke, but Mom and Dad came to the rescue. I went out on the boat in Mom's cream and aqua fleece pullover and Dad's navy and white track pants. I didn't care how ridiculous I looked:
Allyson (age 4) and Katie (age 6) were two peas in a pod, and for once they made it past the 48-hour mark without fighting over Nana's attention.
They enjoyed tubing, kayaking, jet-skiing, and kneeboarding, but that that's a whole other story.
On our last full day there, the wind finally died down enough to go wakeboarding. The three boys went first, and all of them got right up on the first or second try.
Travis, age 9
Kurtis, age 11
Ethan, age 13After all his struggles last year, Ethan looked like a pro this time. He even learned to jump the wake. Bill and Lisa went out next. Bill looked so good on the board that my heart pitter-pattered.
Lisa didn't look half bad either:
The whole time they were boarding, I was quietly debating over whether to give it a try myself. Seeing Travis huddled at my feet, shivering violently under two towels, almost dissuaded me. But I'd come so close to success last year, and I didn't want to wait another year to see whether I could really do it. I said a silent prayer. "Lord, please help me to have fun, no matter what happens. But I'd really like to get up on the wakeboard AND turn it toward the boat. Oh, and please help me not to get hurt!"
When they started to put away the wakeboard, I said timidly, "I think I want to try."
Bill raised his eyebrows. "You're not even in your bathing suit."
"Yes I am." I peeled off my fleece layers, and immediately goosebumps appeared on my bare arms. I shivered in dreadful anticipation, then dipped both size-ten feet into the icy water so I could force them into the rubber boots. When I finally slipped off the dock, the cold took my breath away, which was actually good since it took my mind off being nervous. I pressed my bent knees to my chest and peered over the board at the boat. "Ready!"
I waited, waited, and let the boat pull me to my feet. Remembering Lisa's instructions, I tightened my abs, put most of my weight on my (soon-to-be) back foot, and twisted my hips. And the board turned toward the boat!
"Woo-hoo!" I yelled. And then I tripped over the wake and did a face plant. I got right back up on my second try, but then fell so hard that both feet were ripped from the impossibly tight boots, the board flying over my head and landing several yards behind me.
"I think I'm done," I hollered. "Lisa, did you get a picture?"
"No, I'm sorry!"
Oh, no! I couldn't write a blog story without a picture. "I'll give it one more try," I said, my teeth clashing together audibly as I wrestled my nearly lifeless limbs back into the tiny boots. On the third try, I forgot to wait for the boat to pull me up, and I fell as soon as I tried to stand.
"One more time!" I hollered.
On the fourth try, I got up and stayed up! I forgot about the cold and actually enjoyed myself on my victory lap. Lisa pantomimed instructions from the back of the boat: straighten your legs more... put your shoulders back... bend your elbows. I tried to follow her instructions, but I'm sure I still looked ridiculous, the way I always look when I snow ski. This was the most flattering picture I could find:
"Takes all my energy just to b-breathe," I answered. He and Bill hauled me up onto the dock, where I shrugged off my cold life jacket and rubbed myself down with a damp towel. I didn't stop shivering until long after I'd put my fleece back on and drunk the hot cocoa Mom made for me. But at bedtime I realized it had been worth it all. When I hugged Ethan goodnight, I told him how proud I was of his wakeboarding.
"Me, too," he said, a sheepish grin lighting his face.
It took me a moment to realize what he meant. "You mean you're proud of me, too?"
"Yes," he called out over his shoulder.
"Were you surprised your 40-year-old mama could wakeboard?"
In the few moments before sleep claimed me, I whispered, "Oh, Lord, this was a good day!" And I basked in the warmth.