I mentioned that we ventured out for a week-long winter holiday to a well-known spot just an hour and a half away. My mom also volunteered to come for some of it, which was important because Ben was only coming for a few days. I confess it was still a pile of work, this easy holiday of ours, but we have the satisfaction of knowing we showed our kids a good time. Also, without the distraction of the house and this here computer, I read almost two books, knit a hat, and had some time with Ben.
We kept ourselves busy with almost daily and much-loved (if unseasonal) swimming. We brought Lego and books and cards and board games, including a couple of new-to-us cooperative ones (like Bambino Dino), which were alternatively played with beautifully or put away because the boys argued so much over them (ahem).
Culinary adventures also took centre stage. By the time we booked, there were only suites with kitchenettes available, and my mom and I brought along a sandwich press, an electric wok, and a rice cooker (which can boil water) to make do. Our first morning there, I blew a fuse in the kitchen because I plugged in the sandwich press and the kettle into the same socket. When the maintenance man arrived, he told us that the resort frowns upon cooking in the suite because it can set off the fire alarm. I looked at the grilled cheese sandwiches, considered his view of what cooking meant, compared it with what we had planned, and kept quiet. From then on, we cooked in the bathroom, which had a fan and a door. This kind of guerrilla cooking takes some imagination and more guts, but we did it and ate a lot of good food, including stirfries, soups, and channa masala. It was infinitely better than eating out all the time, the kids participated in cooking and clean up, and no fire alarms were harmed.
Of course, we had on the brain some capital W Winter Activities. Then I noticed that our short walk from our apartment to the pool took half an hour with prompting because the kids kept playing in the freshly-fallen deep snow along the path. Following this lead, when our swim was done and we had rested a bit, I hauled myself up, handed the baby to my mom, and took the older boys for a late afternoon walk. A steep hill wove down to a ravine behind our apartment, and we trekked the white wonderland, with the boys excitedly looking for tracks (thank you, holistic curriculum at their school). Nat noticed a dead tree, after which we looked for other dead trees. This led to many questions from Nat about death, and I felt I should answer them, and so the two of us discussed death while Sam listened in (probably aggravated) silence.
We fell to our knees to eat snow and make snow angels. We bounded around. It was woodsy and private and magical, and although in a way I wished I had my camera to capture it all, I was more glad I hadn’t brought it along. I was really present with the boys on this journey, and a camera in this setting would have divided my attention. I can remember perfectly well how beautiful everything was, how much I loved being with the boys. And practically speaking, it was helpful to have hands and body free to plow trooper Natty up the very sleep incline on the way back. The walk is probably my favourite memory of the trip.
Which is something, because there were other fun things too. First, we all went tubing. Well, not Rami. And not together, because Ben and I had to take turns caring for Rami while the tubing went on. It ought to be noted, that Rami did like the cafeteria.
Well, this was fun. Sam was tall enough to go down alone, and as the worker pushed him down for his first ride, she turned to me and commented, “he’s so brave.” It apparently never occurred to Sam to be frightened coursing wildly down the steep, huge slopes, but it did to me. As I reclined in my own tube and hung onto Nat’s beside me, I thought about the end of things (like my back) if these tubing runs went awry and I hoped Nat would be okay with it. I squealed as we were pushed off the edge and looked over at Nat as we whipped down the hill: there he was, wearing an easy smile of contentment as if he were the Buddha himself.
And the skiing! The boys went for the first time.
[Confession: Ben and I secretly hope the boys do not like skiing or are bad at it. This is for many reasons, including:
a) neither Ben nor I ski
b) skiing is difficult to access in the city
c) skiing requires a log of equipment
d) skiing is expensive, and
e) I never go skiing without seeing someone get carted off in a stretcher.]
However, we don’t want our kids growing up in a Canadian bubble, and we were a stone’s throw away from great children’s skiing, so we bought a bunch of lessons for them (by far the biggest expense on the trip – see d) above). And they were good! Sam jumped to level 3 and graduated off the bunny hill to the big slopes in his first class. And Nat’s instructor said he couldn’t believe that it was his first time skier, that he had great balance, and was a natural.
And they had fun! Mostly. The day of Nat’s second lesson had been mild, but the next day, the wind had really picked up and it was so much colder. I’m afraid even if his snowsuit, Natty wasn’t dressed properly (who is in charge of such things, anyway?). When I picked him up and asked him how he was, he said stiffly, “I’m cold.” I asked him what part was cold. ”Every part,” he replied. The instructor said that at one point the children were on the conveyor belt taking them to the top of the slope, when along came a heavy gust of wind, and all of the children were blown off the belt and fell to their sides in the snow at the same time.
And Sam said he wasn’t feeling well on the morning of his second lesson. But it seemed a shame to lose the opportunity to use the (paid for) ski lesson, so I encouraged him to go, hoping he would perk up in the cold air. He made it through the lesson, although the instructor did mention he was trying to sleep on the chair lift. Then we got back to the apartment, where he barfed in the vestibule. Immediately after this, Sam said something like, “I hope you’ll listen to me next time.”
The kids’ skiing escapades were therefore not without their kinks. But it did seem to us that they had a good time overall.