(Pre)School’s Out For Summer!

This might be one of my best inventions – it bought me at least ten minutes of down time 😉

Teaching Kids and Toddlers to Ski

Trenton and I love skiing. The winter before I got pregnant with Owen, we went skiing every second weekend, both on day trips and ski trips with friends. So it was quite a change after baby when we could no longer go! We’ve been super excited about the idea of introducing the kids to something we love, and in the last month it finally happened!

It’s been a pretty cold winter, but a week after Owen’s fourth birthday, it was finally warm enough to take him out. The wait was worth it–we went on a beautiful bluebird day, warm enough to do a few runs on the bunny hill and then have lunch together on the patio, and Owen loved it! Friends have told us it’s worth waiting until kids are at least four years old to teach them, and I can see why. Owen was already coordinated enough to get on and off the magic carpet by himself, and because skis are longer and more stable than skates, he thought it was way more fun than his skating lessons.

His little bro, however, will not be able to wait! Max wanted to try so badly, he was climbing onto Owen’s skis! So we went back to Sport Chek and bought a second pair of used skis in the smallest size we could find, and the smallest boots they make. Of course he’s not really skiing at this point, just being held between Mom or Dad’s legs as we sloooowly make our  way down the hill, but it’s still good for him to get used to the feeling. Most importantly, he was stoked to be part of the action!

We’ve only gone twice so I’m in no way an expert, but here are some tips for teaching kids to ski, some of which have been passed on to me by other parents:

1. Take breaks BEFORE the kids get tired so that the experience stays positive. Do a few runs and then have a snack. Then if the kids are up for it, try a few more runs afterward. Introduce skiing slowly and keep it fun!

2. Some ski hills have free bunny hills, which takes the pressure off. If you feel like you’re skiing for “free” (minus all the gear!), you won’t be tempted to keep trying even when kids are tired. And they’ll feel more comfortable learning at their own pace. We love being in the mountains, so even if we only do a few runs, it’s worth the drive just to be out in the fresh mountain air with the kiddos.

3. Find the smallest pair of secondhand skis possible. We didn’t do this with Owen, and he’s learning on 100cm skis. I’ve definitely noticed this makes it tougher for him to learn how to pie! However, they will last longer, so maybe it’s a tradeoff.

4. Use a “wedgie” to keep ski tips together. This will help your child get a feel for making a pie. At first Owen went straight down the hill, but now he’s learned he needs to do a pie to slow himself down, and the wedgie is a huge help.

5. To use a harness, hula hoop, or nothing? This one is personal preference because I’ve heard advantages and disadvantages to all options. There are harnesses with handles that allow the straps to be adjusted to different lengths so that Mom or Dad can basically “steer” the child down the hill and teach them to turn. Some parents have said harnesses prevent kids from learning on their own because the harness holds the child up, so a hula hoop is the best option. Other parents say put the wedgie on the kids skis, tell them to put their hands on their knees and make a pie, and then ski backwards or walk down the hill in front of them. We’ll probably try everything! The first time we went I wore boots and Trenton wore skis so we could try different approaches.

6. Enrol your child in ski lessons. Sometimes kids learn better when someone else (anyone else besides their parents!) teaches them. Private lessons can be good for the one-on-one help, but I think it could be good for kids to see other kids learning and succeeding because it makes them want to try too. At least, it worked when Owen was learning how to put on his own shoes! We’ll probably try a lesson next month.

Keep it fun is probably my best advice. The most important thing is that everyone is outside being active and having fun together!

Finding time to write

I’m at my dining room table, looking out the window at the tiny birds toddling across my front lawn, the swing hanging from its pine tree softly swinging in the breeze, and the sun-soaked flowers in the neighbour’s garden. This has been my writing view for the past month.

Every Friday, I write.

It’s so nice to have this weekly ritual, this precious time to sit down and do what I love. In fact, carving out this time is a necessity in our crazy busy household! Owen and Max’s current game is to take all the pillows off the couch, stack them up into a tower, and then hurtle themselves off it and onto the next couch. Max just turned 16 months.

But on Fridays, the house is quiet. Trenton drops the kids off at daycare on his way to work, and I gather up all my writing essentials—coffee, laptop, breakfast, COFFEE—and make my way into the dining room, where I might sit down and immediately feel inspired, or I might spend a half hour trying to find the right music playlist.

Some days, I easily write 2500 words. Some days the people walking past distract me and I let them distract me. I used to think I had to push myself to write a certain number of words a day (Stephen King aims for 1000), but now I recognize some days are more productive than others, and that’s okay.

When I first started writing, I used to force myself to sit and write when I wasn’t in the mood, and the result was I got very little done. Now I give myself permission to relax. I find that if I give myself that break, the words will come more easily the next day. And when they do, I put the kids down and madly type whatever idea was percolating while I was driving to a friend’s for a play date, or riding the train at the amusement park, or changing a poonami.

Fridays are for writing, but the writing process isn’t just about getting words down. It’s about letting creativity flow—giving your imagination the time and space to allow creativity to flow.

I’m so thankful that I have this time every week to dedicate to my writing and to myself, and I highly recommend all writers give themselves this gift. We all live hectic lives with jobs, family, and other commitments, which means we don’t find as much time as we’d like to write.

TGIF everyone! I hope you find time to do what you love this week.

Welcome Baby Max

Me and Max

Hey so I disappeared there for a bit because…you guessed it…I HAD A BABY! I’m back in the land of no sleep and constant diaper changes, only the diapers are even TINIER than expected because he arrived 3 weeks early and we had to get the premie ones. Max was born on April 16th at a healthy 6 pounds 7 ounces and is now close to 9 pounds because–like his older brother–the kid eats constantly. Constantly! I can’t walk into the room without him getting a whiff and crying for the milk bar. As I type this he’s in a carrier, his little head bobbing as he tries to extract milk from my collarbone. The cutest thing: he’s a twin of his older brother at the same age. In the hospital I kept experiencing crazy deja-vu and calling him Owen.

And speaking of our tantrumy two year old, I was kind of worried about how Owen would take to having a baby brother, but he loves Max with a fierceness bordering on aggression. We’ve had to peel him off Max on more than one occasion…

Owen and Max first kiss

Owen brings Max clean diapers, dresses him in clothes and shoes that are too big for him (see above), and refers to him as ‘Owen’s Baby’. It melts my heart!

If any of you are wondering how Tex is faring, I’m afraid it’s him who has regressed… He’s taken to sleeping in the bassinet, climbing onto the breastfeeding pillow, and asking to be cuddled in the carrier. Photo evidence of this last one actually exists.

My Diapering Future

The other night I was adding items to my hospital bag, and I got all emotional about the tiny newborn diapers, kind of like Lily and the sock in HIMYM. I grabbed one of Owen’s size 6 and took a photo of them side by side. So much cuteness! Soon I’ll be cursing diapering for two, but for now I can just be amazed by how quickly Owen has grown and how wonderful life is at this moment, living in complete ignorant bliss 😉