We Are Family!

2014 Neuschwander Family Portrait
They say a picture is a 1000 words but it think it is more than that. A picture can tell a story. Sometimes at story hour, the librarian show us picture books without words and we make up the story. Everybody has a slightly different take. Every kid sees and tells a different story based on the same picture book. I guess life is a lot like that. This picture is from our family's recent trip to Crested Butte. It basically captures 2014 for our family:

We are together. 
We are covered in snow.
We are happy
And .....
We are Family 

Igloos. Get Them While Their Hot!

 When we lived in California I had a picnic lunch almost everyday. Mr. Polar Vortex has been cramping my style. I was missing my picnic lunch....
Until one day, my Dad taught me how to build a igloo. Actually, it's a hybrid. Part quincy hut and part igloo. 
Come on over and check it out. I think it's going to be around for a while
I so do wish my videos would play.

Annika Learns To Ski: A Documentary, A Memoir, and A Lot of Hot Chocolate

I've  dedicated sometime over the 2013-2014 winter to learning to ski
  The first time my Mom buckled  up my hard plastic boot I thought she had lost it.  She thought she lost the better part of a $100 bill. $55 Craig's list downhill K2skis and Technica boots, $30 on the Lucky Bums plastic skis (Reliable racing closeout) plus helmet but that will fit for years.

Our first attempt on the kinder ski /cross country ski that fits traditional boots wasn't that good. I took one step the ski stuck in the snow and my boot right off my foot. The bindings needed a bit of adjustment. By that I mean in the the garage, tools out adjustments,  to fit my boots. The whole " Oh you can just strap the plastic skis on and run around your yard" idea so many people share and my Mom hoped for is a bit misguided. The reality of living in Finland, I mean Alaska, Marquette is that you need real deal, old school Eskimo Indian build an Igloo ...wait that is the next blog style snow shoes to get anywhere in our yard with out sinking. When I mention snowshoes I know the image of spandex clad, uber lean racers running on skinny snowshoes comes to mind....Full disclosure, fancy pants light weight snow shoes are for groomed trails. The truth of the matter is if I tried to run around my yard with skis on you wouldn't find me until June. Maybe not as bad as the whole JonBenet Ramsey episode but it probably would not look good for my Mom. Learning to ski was going to take a little bit more effort than running around the yard....unless my Dad gets a grommer attachment for the snowmobile.
He's busy at the moment, using the snow mo for some ungroomed adventures. There is talk though of installing a tow rope in our back yard so I can have my own ski hill ;)

It's taken a smattering of approaches, equipment, and aids. I'm learning both to cross country and down hill the season. 
I borrowed a pair of big girl cross country skis one day and boy did I know just what do do with them.

Skiing is fun...but very exhausting.


My Mom's favorite teaching aid is the co -pilot.

My favorite ski aid is hot cocoa!

I really understand the difference between downhill and cross country skiing. Downhill skiing is all about getting hot cocoa in the cafeteria. Cross country skiing is about bringing your own thermos full of hot cocoa to the warming hut.

 Hot chocolate fail me not.
You've probably noticed some differences in equipment based on the pics. When you go down hill skiing you need to wear a helmet. It is warm and comfy though and works great with goggles. If at first you aren't sure about it, a "Curious George" sticker will help. Downhill skiing requires stiffer boots than cross country skiing . They aren't as comfy but when you go down hill skiing you can get hot chocolate with whip cream so that makes up for it.
The season is far from over and I am already King of the mountain!

Winter, Not in The Midwest

When you have a Michigan address people from the East Coast or the West Coast always comment that they are from or have family from the Midwest and say they "know what it is like". I don't know what goes on in Ohio, Indiana, or Illinois but I'd be willing to bet there are not a lot of 200 mile sled dog races.  Officially, I call my region, the Superior Land and officially I met the mascot for the U.P. 200.

What's that you ask? Oh, just me hanging out with a celebrity sled dog friend. What? Your YMCA does not sell post swim sled dog hats? Shame really. Fashionable and functional. So how does one view a sled dog race in style and comfort?
Voila! As shown above. Paci necessary? It was late, it was -5. That's fahrenheit friends. Celcius?...It's for the weak really, stating it is zero when it is so...so not even cold yet. Similar to ones stated weight sounding oh so much better in kg than pounds right? Ask anybody who weighs 100kg they'll totally agree.  In addition to paci, Snoopy, and of course your sled, dress as usual for indoor. Layer with fully insulated and fleeced lined snowsuit, top with JJ cole bundle me bunting. Yes, the one advertised not requiring a jacket underneath. Too bad that claim wasn't a money back guarantee.  Purchase it while you are still living in Santa Monica from the Giggle store on Montana Ave. Mention it is for a weekend in Aspen and let the staff speculate which celebrity your Mom is nannying for. If you tell them your buying it for your upcoming moving to the Upper Pennisula they won't understand why you would need a bunting like this in Cincinnati, Cincinnati is in the midwest and it must all be similar right.

I digress, back to the races. When the race starts you better be ready. Those dogs are fast, excited and they go by in a blur. In fact so fast the photo was just a blur.

It sure is something. I can't really imagine setting forth on a 200 mile journey at 8:00 p.m. in my minivan much less on a sled pulled by a team of dogs. They must be very brave and have a lot of hot cocoa. That reminds me, I forgot to tell you I am also wearing my mittens. I am holding on to my Snoopy dog, wearing my mittens. I insist on wearing my mittens whenever out. "I need to wear my mittens or my hands will get freezy".Wow that was an exciting event. Thanks to my Dad for keeping me warm. Warm and Snuggly.


 Valenitine's Day is not just some made up holiday to sell cards and roses.
 It is a great opportunity to make your own pink glittery play dough
 and do crafts.....
 I love crafts...
 Maybe I went overboard
 Who can blame one for generating a little indoor warmth and love when it "polar vortex" outside
Well in about 6 months , we might actually use that screened in porch.

Home for the Holidays

This Christmas was our first year in our very own home.
I was all about decorating the tree
I did it with pride and care.
I really like this alteration to my ride. BTW, have you ever seen a photo of a beautiful Huskey dog asking a runner "How heavy was your sled?" Good work doggy dog but I think my Mom has got you on that one.
I'm glad I don't have to haul firewood.
My Mom cheaper out of "Elf on the Shelf" and thought she could get by with this old Christmas bear
He was nothing but trouble...
Too much eggnog.
I like velvet dresses.
I love my Grandma's,  my tutu, and my new artist easel.

My Mom is super excited to ride her new fat bike . She's really going to have to use her imagination since all that came so far is the handle bars. Hey, it keeps the bike lights.
I got 2 tutu's for Christmas. I'm not big on sharing, but my Georgie is something special.
My Dad got a lot of Carharts clothing. It's great wear for removing snow. We have a lot of it.
Modeling my new robe from and testing out the mattress. I am not supposed to be doing this! I'm sure I was redirected to the floor shortly after the photo was taken.

Ahh...Christmas dinner . Hard to beat.