Saturday, December 26, 2015

Cross country skiing with kids

Cam recently finished his PhD and so has had a bit more flexibility at work. Since it has been so rainy, I checked the forecast and noticed that amidst the weeks of rain there was going to be one sunny day. We capitalized on this sunny day by taking the girl's cross country skiing at Cypress mountain in North Vancouver. This was Julia's first time in the chariot and she rode like a champ. This was also Etta's first time cross country skiing (i.e. not in the chariot) and she ski'd like a boss. Here is how we made our trip a fun and exciting adventure. 

1. Pack the night before
Cam put all the skis, including the chariot, in the car the night before. We put hot chocolate in the thermos so that all that we had to do was add hot water in the morning. We also organized all our snacks and lunch food. In the morning all we had to do was organize the warm clothes for us and the kids. 

2.Get excited during the drive 
Etta is a very talkative 2 year old and can project her voice really well. (This is a nice way of saying she can be quite loud).  Etta does not like sitting in the car. I would say that she dislikes it more than the average kid and this has been true since she was born. Julia is quite different and usually is happy to sit in her car seat beside her super cool sister, Etta. 

In order to entertain Etta during the drive we talked about how much fun we were going to have in the mountains. We talked about how excited we were to go skiing and see the snow. 

When we got really desperate we resorted to code Dora. Since we recently started reading a Dora the Explorer book to Etta our life has been one big Dora adventure. For any parent who has a kid who likes Dora, this is what we did. Throughout the car ride we solved the trolls riddle as we went over bridges and then we picked bananas from the trees that we passed. We also stopped Swiper the fox from swiping various items we had with us by saying 'Swiper no swiping'. 
The girls hanging out in the backseat.

Driving over the Lions Gate Bridge on our way to the mountains. 

3. Speed 
In order for Julia to enjoy being pulled in the chariot we had to keep moving. If you stopped for too long she started to fuss. This is great motivation if you are trying to get into shape. I am always thankful that Cam is a bit of an endurance athlete and a strong skier. He is able to pull the girls (~45 lbs) faster than I can pull myself. When we do outdoor endurance activities I often feel like we have entered a battle and I am telling Cam to leave me behind to keep the girls happy as I haul myself up the mountain. Some other examples of when I have told Cam to leave me behind are (but not limited to):
- when we were hiking down during our back country tip with Etta and I was really sick. See Back country hiking with a baby: A bad game of Oregon trail
- When we almost missed our Ferry in Sweden to travel to the island of Finnham. See The ACE family 5 point travel day game plan

By the time I thought to take a picture, it was time to get moving and that is why this picture is so poor. However, I really wanted to get a pic of Julia in the chariot. 

4. Treats
We gave Etta some yummy snacks during the hour and a half she was sitting in the chariot and being pulled. We also promised to stop after a little while so that Etta could try her skis. She was really excited when she saw the skis we rented, and talking about them kept her really excited. We really enjoyed our ski as it was mostly free of tears and whining!

Etta loved drinking her Hot Chocolate and Julia enjoyed lounging in the snow. 

5. Enjoy the adventure
On our way home I was telling Cam about how I have been enjoying our adventures more than usual. This does not really make sense since we now have two kids and you would think that things would be more complicated. I think that I have embraced the chaos and have recognized that our adventures are a little bit different. I enjoy the time I get to ski and also the simple things like when eat lunch and have hot chocolate outdoors together.

6. Encourage and persist
Etta and Julia do not sit perfectly and quietly the whole time we are out skiing or hiking. I could take that as a sign that I should of no longer take them outdoors. However because we have been persistent, Etta gets excited even when we talk about the mountains at home. This time we skied for an hour and a half before we let her try on her own skis. Because she had watched us, she was super pumped to try the ones we rented for her. She was so determined when she put on the skis she turned to her dad and said "let go, I do by myself". Cam let go of her and gave her a few instructions ('put your hands on your knees' for the little downhill slope). We had a blast watching Etta have a great time trying out cross country skiing for the first time.

(See the video below of Etta's first time skiing. Etta even fell a few times and her determination kept her getting up and trying again.) 

I want to note that we try very hard to not take the fun out of outdoors activities for our kids. After we take Etta and Julia to do something that we like to do in the outdoors, we try our best to do
something in the outdoors we know they will love, whether it is a swim in a lake after a hike, playing 'explorers', or letting them try the activity we are doing. I have no idea if the girls will grow up wanting to spend their weekends hiking mountains or skiing but I do want them to know that we will always have lots family fun time in the outdoors. 

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