Steamboat Springs.

I remember breathing in the fear. Shivering goosebumps, nose wet running, drawing breath and ice down into my lungs. Pulsing with fear. Laced with exhilaration. Anticipation. And the frailest hope that I could maybe, maybe, make it down this insurmountable crest of earth called mountain. Scanning the directionless horizon, the crystalline range shifted into vivid focus as I realized that there were only two ways off this mountain: on my skis or in a body bag.

I remember this feeling it like I remember my own name.

That kind of fear. It's not something you forget.

Luckily, this trip hadn't the faintest whiff of such a purely vulnerable terror. Because I had already conquered the beast, the fear of heights and skiing, three years ago (remember this?),

Skiing in Steamboat Springs, Colorado this year was pure magic, basking in the sugary powered snow and shimmying down the slopes with a free tenacity that made me feel younger and older, all at once. Young and strong, but older and more relaxed in my truth. I wasn't afraid anymore. Instead, I was gripped with joy and gratitude. Getting older, getting a little better at life and, thank goodness, skiing - it's wayyy more fun than being young and chaotically stressed about everything. Like mountaintops. Instead, this vacation was just - SO MUCH FUN. Ever had the time of your life? For me, skiing down the slopes of an impetuous mountain, conquering the fear of swooping between the mythical Aspen trees, even face planting in the snow as I tumbled off the trail (that's what I get for trying to "get air") - I was having the time of my life.

I am so grateful for vacation. Vacation rocks. Vacation was invented by a genius.

Last week, Stevie and I joined his (our) family on a 5-day foray to ski and have quality family time. I was so relieved to strap on a pair of skis again - it had been a minute since my last ski trip. Getting pregnant and giving birth can hold up the skiing progression. I'm sure you're surprised to hear that :) My last ski trip was three years ago so I have been more than a little eager to get out on the snow. The challenge of this particular trip was the Everett factor. We decided to leave him at home with my parents. He obviously wasn't going to spend hours out on the slopes with us, and honestly, I was ready for a little mommy break. It was my first time leaving him for more than a night and it was really hard, but really wonderful. I missed him like crazy, but it was really healthy for me to focus a little more on myself and just have some good fun. I mean, this was not a trip for kids. Every evening when we came in from skiing, we all went straight to the hot tub with a mug of something dandy and we just sunk into the sensation of painful muscles and awesome memories. Painful in that good, sleepy, I-worked-for-this-pain kind of way.

In attempting to keep up with the boys (somewhat), my sis Lauren and I were wiped out! Those guys can obviously outski me but it was fun to challenge myself and experience a progression in my ability, even with the 3-year absence. We spent a lot of time on blue-black and black runs, which was awesomely exhausting, but my particular favorite were the tree runs. In between those snowy trees, there is a lot of hushed quiet.

Word on the street is that Steamboat Springs had a really warm, snow-less February. The very day we arrived, snow began dumping on the city and didn't stop until there was 25 inches of FRESH POWDER. You guys. That is what you call a gift from THE HEAVENS. That powdery, fluffy snow was incomparably sweet and literally made our trip the successful event that it was. Thankfully, we all skied to our hearts content and there were no injuries the whole week. Those mountaintop prayer sessions really work.

But even more than the skiing, I am so grateful for stealing a few days away with these beautiful souls whom I hold so dear. Even though we all live near each other, these days its just hard to connect and spend really quality time together. Having a lot of kids in our family, along with everyone's busy schedules, makes it challenging to have deep meaningful conversations all the time. I'm not making excuses, but it's just real life. My in-laws lead a large church and even though our entire family is involved in some capacity or another, that certainly makes everything a bit busier than it used to be. Sometimes you just want to hang out with your family. And last week, that's exactly what we did. We hung out, played on the slopes, cooked dinner together, and talked a lot - about our kids, about our dreams, politics, about movies, about the meaningful and meaningless. We threw around business ideas and dreamed about the future. It was so comforting, just watching my siblings-in-law and parents-in-law share stories and dreams and the heartfelt richness that they each carry. As I am getting older, I am increasingly more grateful for the bonds of family. I know I am a lucky girl, with all these siblings and nieces and nephews and parents.

Best trip ever. Thanks, Steamboat Springs, you were mighty good to us :)