10 Lessons When Skiing with Kids

This winter I took it upon myself to get the kids outside for a “learn to love winter” experience . With a father who despises cold weather and does not participate in any winter sports, I knew it was up to this Canadian mom to introduce the kids to all the character building and fun activities in the land of ice and snow.

Last year, 2 out of 3 kids took private ski lessons. They had a great time, bonded with cousins and found a sport that they both were pretty good at. With the little guy turning 4 years old, I figured why not try him on skis and see what happens? So I investigated ski schools, nearby hills, whether to purchase a membership or just private lessons. We even hit the ski show and the swap shop to get the girls their own gear. It was with awe when I walked into the local ski/snowboard shop for the first time overwhelmed at the choices for baklava and toques.

By early January (albeit it with little snow at that time) I booked lessons at Chicopee in Kitchener, Ontario about an hour from where live. Sundays became ski day. I packed up the van early Sunday morning with skis, bags, helmets. Threw some snacks into a Ziploc bag and filled the water bottles.

“How are you going to carry all that and get all 3 kids in their gear?” A befuddled Mr. L asked one chilly Sunday morning. I shrugged. He is talking to a mom of three kids. We are pros at being pack animals.

“I’ll figure it out.”

As ski season winds down, here is what I learned:

1) If it takes you an hour to drive to your ski destination, give yourself two hours. Why? Because you can’t account for traffic, parking mayhem at a ski hill, washroom breaks for kids and line-ups for rentals.

2) Rentals. Don’t purchase the gear until you know if your kid is going to like it. Most rentals for little kids are half the price of adult rentals or included in the cost of the private lesson. Ask your ski hill the options. I chose to buy gear this year for the older kids because they had a year of lessons and I knew they enjoyed it. In Jacob’s case, I had no idea so why spend the money?

3) But, if you want to buy any gear for your kids, purchase the helmet and goggles. Rent the rest.

4) Gear can be an incentive. Jacob desperately wanted a pair of his own goggles after the girls got theirs. The deal, two lessons without complaining and give it a real chance and if he liked skiing, he got goggles. Also, if you have mixed gender siblings, try to buy skis, goggles and helmets that are gender neutral colours. Easy to pass down to the next kid.

5) Choose a hill that’s a good fit for your family. Where you go may not be the most popular one or even the closest to you. Do your research or try out a class at the hill, check out the facilities before committing to a batch of lessons. We drive an hour to get to the ski hill of our choice. Why? Because the instructors are experienced but young enough to have fun. The beginner hills are not intimidating. It has a cafeteria, lockers, washroom and chalet all at the base of the hills. Parking is close to the hill. Important factors when you are carrying all the gear trying to watch three little kids in a busy parking lot on your own. In one word: convenience.

6) Get your kids packs for their boots and let them carry their gear! My standard phrase is this: you want to ski? You have to learn to carry the equipment. I’m a five foot two person. I cannot carry 3 sets of skis, 4 helmets (if I’m skiing) and your boots. The kids can help if we teach them in their early years to be responsible for their own equipment.

7) Take snacks and dole them out as you snap on boots and helmets. I’m on my own each weekend with three little kids getting gear on. They have time to wolf down a banana or granola bar while I get another kid dressed. This ensures they aren’t starving and gives them something to do.

8) Adjust your expectations. Unless you are an experienced skier (which I am not!) or have other people to ski with don’t bother taking your own stuff. You won’t have time to hit the hills in between snapping pictures, bouncing between hills to watch each kid come flying down the hill at least once, run to the bathroom (because it’s your only chance alone) and maybe grab a coffee. I know after an hour of lessons, my kids are done. That may change as they get more experienced but an hour of skiing is a lot for young kids.

9) Consider private lessons for new skiers. I found private lessons a great resource. It really helped move the kids along quickly and they benefitted from having one-on-one attention with an instructor. Jacob was really nervous this past Sunday on his second lesson. He was okay with the bunny hill and magic carpet but did not want to go on the chair lift. His instructor knew exactly how to handle him and made him very comfortable. He needed that one-on-one to build up his confidence.

10) Walk away if you’re feeling nervous. Mr. L does not believe his children are on their way to becoming good little skiers. “They’re so young!” He states again and again. (Remember, this is a guy who does not ski.) One lesson he attended, he grimaced watching the girls easily hop onto a chair lift riding to the top of a larger hill without looking back. I told him to walk away and let the instructors do their job. Then I did the same thing last week when Jacob’s instructor cheerily said to my 4 year old, “Let’s go on the chair lift.”

My immediate response, “But he’s only 4 years old, it was a big jump to get him on the bunny hill last week. Do you think he’s ready?”   The instructor calmly looked at Jacob and said, “We can try, right?”

With a hesitant shrug and high-five the instructor took his little gloved hand shuffling to the chair lift. I walked away. He was right, I shouldn’t stand in Jacob’s way but let him try and I need to trust the instructor.

Lastly, just a note. Plan something fun afterwards. Hot chocolate. Lunch out. Whatever it is, reward your kids for doing something that a lot of people are afraid to do. Getting outside in winter and actually having fun.

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Post-Race Round Up

It is hard to believe but autumn is upon us! The first official day today and the weather has gone from balmy humidity to crisp fall air in a microsecond. All I am thankful for is that I finished my first mini Tri race last weekend when it was cool but not crisp outside!

Yes, I finally reached my own personal fitness goal. The race was swam, cycled and ran last Sunday at Lakeside, Ontario organized by MultiSport Canada. A four-hundred meter swim, ten kilometer bike and two-and-a-half kilometer run all in one shot. I reached deep into my own stubborn nature and pushed my training the last two weeks getting ready determined not to let my first race intimidate me. How do you train with three small kids? In truth, pockets of time are so precious that more and more thought goes into how I spend any time I can carve out for myself. This race took precedence over everything else. I had committed to it and was determined to finish it. I went swimming at night after I had kissed my babies good night at a local health club. I ran in the dark the last couple of weeks. I cycled on the weekends as Mr. L napped during a mandatory quiet time in our house.

We managed to fit it in my training and Mr. L was supportive, for the most part. I tried to run anywhere I could. My little guy, still at home with me most of the week, would jog with me to the park his cute little laugh echoing down the quiet streets once the older kids went back to school. At times it was tough to fit in training. Family events, a friend who needed a shoulder for support, Mr. L’s insanely busy schedule. They all took precedence over the training because for me, my training does come second. It is as important, but being flexible and creative organizing my time was paramount. I had to be okay if my Sunday morning planned run was delayed because we decided at the last-minute to squeeze in one more family outing. I still did it, just later that day.

Two out of three kids with me at starting line.

Two out of three kids with me at starting line.

Race day came. I plunged into crisp lake temperatures on a gray day as my family looked on cheering. I ignored the weeds at the bottom of the lake and used whatever stroke felt right swimming to the  finish line praying I would not have to pull the cap off and wave down one of the nearby aides. I shook off the stiff fingers as I pulled socks over wet feet and tried to do up the laces on my shoes ignoring the others bypassing me in transition as I stumbled over what shirt to pull over my wet bathing suit. I groaned but kept pedalling up the rolling hills of the Ontario countryside cursing myself for only road bike training on the flat and safe streets by Lake Ontario. I threw my bike onto the rack and hit the pavement during the run ignoring my feet that had gone numb from the cages on my bike and let my legs do their job. And I finished, not last and not feeling like a truck hit me. My family was at the finish line cheering me on as I sped up and I felt great. Great for finishing and then cold. Asking for a sweater to pull over my quickly cooling body, my sister-in-law asked, “Wasn’t that fun?”

Finish Line. Photo by Zoomphoto Inc.

Finish Line. Photo by Mike Cheliak My Sports Shooter

Fun? No. No it wasn’t. Challenging. Satisfying. Absolutely. I had set a goal and accomplished it. But fun? It was not the first word that came to mind. My hip hurt, a residual post-pregnancy ache that will probably haunt me whatever I decide to do next for the rest of my life. I was tired. I was cold. I was hungry. It was absolutely nice to see all the encouragement from my family, the other racers and the great spirit of camaraderie at the event, but for me, fun? Not really.

A week post-race where I indulged in massage, chiropractic care, a facial and even a new pair of running shoes (Hot pink Saucony pair much lighter weight than my old clunkers. This alone is new behaviour!) where my only exercise was chasing my kids and a couple of much-missed yoga classes (something had to give during training and it was yoga which I desperately missed), my hip is still aching. I got some writing done for my new class I started as well a couple of weeks ago with my new free time. However, as much as I resist, the fitness mama has been born. My body used to the regular activity and exercise craves a run down by the lake or a few laps in the pool. Even a quick bike ride. Something that gets my body moving. I know something has shifted, slightly, when yesterday morning during the girl’s tennis lessons, instead of hiding drinking another cup of coffee typing on my laptop, I asked Mr. L if he wanted to play tennis instead. I needed to move.  To help my hip, I have to balance light running with training to give it a chance to rest but my body is starting to scream…no! Get out before it snows. This alone is a new outlook for this parent who craves a good nap, warm bed and good book.

So what is the lesson learned from this experience? Do it. If you’re thinking about it, go for it. It may be fun, challenging or a goal but whatever your reason, if you want to do it, you can.  If I can find time to train for a mini tri, you can find time if that is what you want to do. I did this as a goal and truthfully, to get my behind moving knowing I needed a bigger goal than “let’s go to the gym” to reach for helping create what is I hope a regular lifestyle choice for me that includes some fitness. The biggest question people have asked me this past week, “Are you going to do it again?”

Without hesitation I answer, “Yes. I want to better my swim in open water.” Even six months ago, I had no idea I would say something like that and mean it. Than I usually add, “And maybe have some fun next time.” Because, at the end of the day, if you cannot find the fun in what you are doing, what is the point?

Looking for fun.

Three weeks. That is how much time is left until the kiddies are off to school. After our mini vacation to Niagara Falls, the rest of this week was much like a brisk autumn wind. Chilling my skin and waking up my senses.

The nights are cooling off as we cross out each day on the calendar realizing the end of summer is near at hand. I can already feel my pulse quickening as the inevitable drop-dead date of getting my crew prepared for back-to-school creeps closer. Quickening in anxiety as I try to mentally figure out when we are going to fit in shopping for new shoes, school supplies and clothes. Quickening in excitement as we reach a point in our family where this Mom of three will have two whole days to herself. What does that even mean? I have no concept yet. 

One of our regular babysitters had some free time this week so being a mom who will take advantage of an opportunity, booked her in for a few hours so I could focus a little bit on my own personal care including squeezing in some road biking. The Try a Tri I am training for is approaching and although my body is starting to become tired craving the slower pace of a yoga class, I am proud that I have made a semi-regular habit out of running, swimming and biking this summer. There is no set routine as I am at the mercy of other’s schedules but with a willing sitter, I was able to squeeze in a bike ride. Having to forgo the swimming this week (due to a random case of mysterious pink-eye I contacted) I am ignoring the discomfort of dry and itchy eyes and at least sticking to biking and running. Even now I am waiting for Mr. L to return from his weekly radio gig to take my borrowed white bike out for a spin followed by a brief run. My second “brick.” It is wonderful when one learns a new language! 

 

Combined with an impromptu ladies martini night out and fabulous adult dinner hosted by my husband’s business partner and his wife the last two nights, my heavy head would love to hit my soft pillow for a nap, but a bit of food, (Only one piece of chocolate was included in my afternoon coffee break! I am thinking the pita chips/hummus will be much better on my body.) and coffee later I will be ready to go. I hope! 

The accomplishment that I pushed myself past my innately lazy self to get moving will be a great way to start this upcoming week! Running around cleaning the house this morning before a planned visit from an out of town friend and her daughter my five year old stated, “Mom, you’re no fun!” I cringed hearing those words. 

So I go. I will ride on on the breeze of Lake Ontario and then run on the shoreline in the hopes to leave my tired self behind in the hopes that after a good night’s sleep I will awaken tomorrow morning with a clearer head in order to have “more fun” with my little brood. After all, it is a new week with planned adventures for us. What is more “fun” than that? 

 

Running through summer.

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Running. Fitness. Goals. Not me, generally. However, this past spring I took on a bunch of new fitness goals. Why not? The pockets of time I possess need to be filled with something. My casual saunter through life needed a bit of direction. My mother thinks I should rest. “You’ll wear yourself out!” she says. To be fair, being on the petite side she was always afraid I was sicker than other people or not strong enough to compete or would get hurt. Becoming a parent I realized, those are her issues. I was not sicker than other children. I kept up with those bigger than me. I even played field hockey and was a decent wing player. So, I reassure her I am fine and head out the door to run 5K after my wee ones are tucked into bed.

Others applaud me on. Mr. L encourages me and does not bat an eye when I tell him I am heading out to run, again. He has learned to back off the coaching. At first he gently nudged me to get my yoga, nap-loving, television show catch-up butt out the door. He would email me work-out plans and sign me up for races I could not hope to finish. He would frown when another chocolate cookie was popped into my mouth after dinner with a sarcastic comment. We both quickly learned although well intentioned, him being my coach would not work. I appreciate his input and ask him for opinions but his way and my way of welcoming fitness into our lives are different journeys.

After all, he did it about a year ago. He went on a fitness life change-over that I am extremely proud. He changed his eating habits and how he spent his free time. I love looking at my buff husband and glad he has found something of his own besides family and work.  However, I am one of those people who just has to figure out her own way. The kids take up a lot of my energy and I am generally exhausted at night. When I took on my journey to a more fitter Mama, I had ease myself into a routine that I felt comfortable with and celebrate the smaller milestones. I am not trying to lose weight. There are no apparent health reasons for me to get moving. It is a lifestyle choice to welcome regular physical activity and fitness into our lives and our children’s lives.

Life is also full of schedules, (other peoples) that interfere with my own. Being the main caretaker of house, home and well, our lives, there were some weeks if I got out to the gym or for a run it was an amazing feat of creative scheduling. But I kept plugging along, ignoring that little voice telling me “why bother?” June was crazy with end of year activities, school wrap-up, planning and packing for our family trip. I ran on the beach in Israel. Loved the camederie of seeing other runners sweating in the blazing heat at eight am. One of my favorite, personal memories of our trip is going for a run and then spontaneously going for a swim (yes, in my running clothes) in the choppy waves of the blue Mediterrenean to cool off. I was by myself and felt wonderful, powerful even as droplets ran down my legs walking back to our apartment. But in that moment I felt for the first time that I could do this. I could reach my fitness goals and maybe even learn to like it.

Upon our return home life slowly returned to normal. The kids were driving me crazy and we were all suffering from jet lag. But I kept going out even when my body was up at 4 am, I would be out by 6 am running by Lake Ontario seeing the sun rise knowing I have my first 5K run this Thursday so had to “ramp up” my training. I had forgotten how beautiful Ontario can be in the summer.

Sun rise over Lake Ontario

Sun rise over Lake Ontario

Four days until my first race of the summer. I have run the course twice, bettering my time by shaving four minutes off the total 5K. I can finally see the improvement Mr. L and others have told me about. My lungs do not burn and my legs keep pumping. Will I ever learn to love running? Who knows. But I can say, I have learned to appreciate it.

Dancing around the maypole.

“The wind is tossing the lilacs,
The new leaves laugh in the sun,
And the petals fall on the orchard wall,
But for me the spring is done.

Beneath the apple blossoms
I go a wintry way,
For love that smiled in April
Is false to me in May.”
–  Sara Teasdale, May

Has spring actually finally arrived in my little piece of Southwestern Ontario? Within less than five days all the spring flowers have bloomed, the trees are budding, birds are chirping happily building nests and my children are running for the warmth of the sunshine like butterflies eagerly awaiting the warm temperatures. It has been a long wait this year, but with confidence I think we can state, it is spring!

A person can feel their mood lifting with the onset of constant sun. This week is the longest stretch we have had consistently warmer temperatures and sunshine in a few months. I can already feel my whole being sigh with relief and my house is welcoming the open windows.

Last weekend we packed up the family for an hour long trip to a very close friend’s house. R and S are like family to us and we lament that they live so far. Last year we started an annual family sleepover tradition all having young kids still requiring parental supervision where the adults can enjoy some drinks out on the threadbare patios and the kids can giggle and do well, kid-stuff. The girls bunked with their little girl and Jacob bunked with us. It was glorious. The first real taste of a warm spring. A nice change to our little pocket of Ontario where we left gray skies and lower temperatures down by Lake Ontario.

Beauty in the sun.

Beauty in the sun.

This week my two girls have been obsessed with fairy houses and have been diligently writing note after note hoping for the fairies to visit. Currently our playset in our backyard is being turned into a fairy playhouse. Some of my cherished moments are of hearing them playing in harmony instead of the petty bickering that inevitable arises when there are multiple children in a family. I have learned the art this past month of taking a step back and firmly encouraging them to work it out themselves. A constant phrase is, “Is this an emergency? Have you tried to work out? Talk to your sister about it.” A phrase I hear echoed in the classroom and it is with hope I leave them to it turning back to a household chore or chasing a little man who has decided to empty a bag of rice chips all over the kitchen floor.

With spring also comes the reality of taking stock of the winter damage to your property. Gardening, washing windows, finally putting away the winter gear. We also realized that our stone steps although lovely to look at have loosened and sloped to such an extent that measures need to be taken to rebuild or replace them. Add it to the project list. Do they every truly end?

After sneaking away in early April to a writer’s retreat and a renewed dedication to finish a fiction project I am working on, I spent last month forgoing other activities (including this blog) to re-focus myself on finishing a project in the pockets of time I am able to grasp in between family life. A routine has been set-up and to my delight, a fiction novel has developed and I am nearing the last quarter of the story. I can see the finish line!

Now I cannot pretend a lot of hard work is in store as I re-write and edit but the story will be complete which is an accomplishment for this newbie writer and busy mom. On top of that,  I also implemented a new fitness training routine to help prepare for some goals later this summer and truthfully, am feeling stronger each time I pull myself to the gym and leave feeling that natural high that comes after a good work-out.

So what is in store for May? Outside time with the kids. Baseball season starts next week for the girls so I will be trekking to fields across the 401 highway in between spring concerts at school and packing for a big family trip in June. Fitness is on my mind this month. Now that I have a base routine in place, it is time to amp it up and with that figure out how to include the kids.

What are your plans for May?

My dance around the maypole continues.

Adventure and Relaxation – a parents dream! Part One.

Imagine, standing on a ski lift similar to a moving sidewalk and around you is the magic of large, fluffy white snowflakes gently drifting. The sky is awash in misty grays with streaks of blue. Your white ski helmet is covered with snow and it is cold out. You know it is cold because the bite of the wind on your uncovered cheeks. However, the rest of you is pleasantly warm snuggled into ski pants and jacket. Around you are other people, all on skis and snowboards, enjoying the winter wonderland and joy of skiing on such a wonderful day.

It is fairly silent with the freshly fallen snow insulating most of the noise except for the occasional “swoosh” of a nearby skier who has come close to the lift you are riding. Around you are hills and mountains peppered with trees lifting their branches as a child would to catch a snowflake. Then you hear it, “DAAAADDDDYYYYYYY!!!” It is the screech of a child’s voice from the bottom of a nearby hill. Again, “DADDDDDYY!!” echoes and you look behind you to see a fairly young child on skis stomping his two feet the best he can, fairly mad that his Dad has not yet reached the bottom of the hill. The person behind you (that you cannot really see as you cannot move on the lift) starts chuckling and then another and before you know it, a line of people are all laughing so hard at this little spitfire watching as his Dad skis down the hill his hands and poles raised in the air in apparent exasperation as the child continues to yell. Wiping a tear from my eye with a thick waterproof mitten I casually say to no one in particular, “and that is why our children are at home.”

Thus starts our adult weekend away skiing at Blue Mountain in Collingwood.

Ski Weekend

Ski Weekend

In general I enjoy taking my children with us to new places. I also enjoy a night or two away to recharge and sleep. Mr. L and I do not get away very often but when the opportunity arose with friends to go on a spa and ski weekend, we could not turn it down. Over the years I have found that getting away once in a while really helps Mr. L and I catch-up as a couple. Being parents to three or more, you more often than not are outnumbered and generally exhausted. Most days Mr. L and I manage to have a brief conversation before he escapes to our make-shift at-home gym while I write, play catch-up on everything and prepare for the next day. By the time we are both done our respective activities, one of us are dozing or in bed trying to re-charge our batteries. We have tried at home date nights and movie nights but as parents to young kids, oftentimes we are interrupted by someone in need of a hot water bottle, glass of water or who is not feeling well. We try to fit date nights in when we can. So, a night or two away is a delicious treat and indulgence that we fit in not too often (as our youngest is only two years old) but often enough that we have come to rely on them to help “save our sanity.” We look at these opportunities as a chance to relax and try new things together. This time it was skiing.

We are fortunate to live near some very nice but not too intimidating ski hills. A very popular resort town is simply called, Blue Mountain located in Collingwood, Ontario. A four-season resort town  in Northern Ontario, it has grown over the past ten years into a very pleasant weekend destination for singles, couples and families.

Mr. L is not a winter sports enthusiast. He weathers winter like an animal in hibernation, happy to stay indoors and very rarely participating in winter activities. He has yet to build a snowman, does not see why a winter walk is a good idea and counts the days until the weather is back up to a pleasant 15 degrees celsius. This year we took the kids tobogganing for the first time and he enjoyed it. Building on this momentum, when a ski weekend was suggested complete with lessons for all of us he reluctantly agreed caught up in the enthusiasm of the other three participants. He bought ski gear and hiding his nervousness concentrated on the other things he could enjoy like the restaurants, couples massage at a nearby spa and adult only time.

Arriving last Friday, our first planned activity was snowmobiling through Blue Mountain Activities. The bitter winds coming off the coldest couple of weeks this winter season, we were very appreciative of the snow mobile suits and zipped ourselves in after checking in and receiving mandatory helmets. Although delayed due to mechanical issues, the  hour ride was pleasant for first time snowmobilers and Mr. L (in the driver’s seat) managed on the well utilized path following the lead snow mobile. Although pleasant, next time I will take my own vehicle to avoid the jerky turns and bumps a back seat passenger endures! Our friends had done this activity a couple of years before and expressed disappointment the route wasn’t through the hills that had amazing views. The snow-covered fields though practical for less experienced drivers, was a little boring after the first thirty minutes and lower lying areas were awash in mud puddles from a recent thaw.

On the snowmobile!

On the snowmobile!

After snowmobiling, we drove a short distance to the Scandinave Spa. A series of hot and cold pools, this nordic day spa is popular for its water therapies. We had booked couples massages and arrived early, as recommended, to enjoy the full benefit of the therapeutic waters. Dusk was descending as we arrived and the steam from the hot pools floated lazily across the outdoor spa grounds. Wooden huts peppered the area and the silence was very welcome after the loudness of the snow mobile engines.

Scandinave Spa

Scandinave Spa

The reception was timely and friendly inquiring if we had come directly from snowmobiling. When asked how he guessed, he slyly smiled and said, “There is a certain aroma people carry after an hour of snowmobiling.”

Turning to each other we shrugged and then a certain odour became apparent. Gasoline fumes permeated off the four of us and seemed etched into every fold of our clothes. Grabbing our towels and robes, we headed to the large change rooms to disrobe, air out our clothes and get into the pools.

The water therapies at the Spa are  “widely recognized for their energizing and relaxing properties, there are many benefits associated with baths and hydrotherapy. In addition to cleaning the body, they improve blood circulation and promote the release of endorphins, known as the “well-being hormones.” More specifically, endorphins can help improve one’s physical condition and enable attainment of a better quality of life.” (Directly from the Scandinave Spa)

We were instructed to hit a heat source (hot pool, steam room or sauna), followed by a cold immersion and then a rest period in one of their relaxing rooms.

After finding hooks and disrobing we hurriedly got into the first hot pool. Chatting together, we were soon warned by the manager our voices were carrying and as the spa was for relaxation and silence we needed to significantly lower our voices. Glaring at Mr. L (who has a naturally loud way of speaking), we resorted to whispers or simply floating in the warm waters watching as dusk quickly turned to night. The only sounds were very low whispers of those people we could glimpse in between the constant patches of fog and steam rising from the water and the soothing hum of the waterfalls. Trying to follow the spa etiquette closely, we all decided to take the full experience of the spa and attempt the cold plunge. Interestingly, one is not too cold first coming out of a hot pool on a freezing evening, until your toes hit the coldest water making you wonder if it is possible to get hypothermia when in this water for even a minute. As you continue to immerse yourself, your body is in shock. Fighting my body’s initial flight response away from the icy dip, I pushed myself into the pool waist deep breathing deeply, splashed my face and arms and quickly grabbed my robe and slippers muttering obscenities under my breath in the quietest way possible. Careful not to run or allow my teeth chatter to bother another patron, we headed into one of the relaxation rooms.

The relaxation rooms were warm with rows of comfortable muskoka chairs. Encased by large  windows one could rest while looking out into the woods or simply drift into sleep. These heated rooms allow a rest period and let your body absorb the benefit of the hot/cold therapy.  After a period of rest, you repeat the cycle trying to ignore the frozen bath robes and towels as you move from a heat source (hot pool, sauna or eucalyptus steam room) to the cold immersion to a rest period. After our third cycle, it was time for our massages. Heading to the massage rooms, we all relished in the warm beds with heating pads and drifted off for a nap under the expert hands of our therapists.

Overall the Scandinave Spa was a very enjoyable experience and we will definitely return. One can only imagine the magical effect a place like this can have in aiding in relaxation and rest to its patrons. It certainly was a restful way to end a busy day. Next time, I may recommend (during the winter months anyway), a heating rack for people with robes. An icy and wet robe is not conducive to relaxation or warmth in the cold Ontario winters!

New things to do – finding time.

January 17, 2013

Large snowflakes are lazily drifting off and on all day. It is as if the sky cannot decide whether to completely open and save us from the frozen brown ground since the rain last week or is just teasing us with a winter kiss, reminding us how snowflakes can be magical.

Jacob and I were having a lazy day at home. Well, not lazy in the sense that I’ve managed to get a lot of domestic chores done and there is only a handful of presents left to find places for. Jacob was having so much fun during our “time to get the dusters out games” peppered in between with story times or an impromptu dance party, that he refused to leave for our tykes yoga class. An epic battle of coats and boots later, we were late. As we entered the class, I then had to chase him down as he proceeded to grab the lunch bag carefully hidden underneath my coat, yelling, “Hungry!” I caved and we sat outside the class while he happily smushed pieces of ham into his little mouth gripping the plastic container in case I dare suggest we put it away until after the class.

Finally his little tummy stopped grumbling enough to participate in half the class and I realized how unrealistic my expectations were having our third child be able to eat on the go. When we signed up for this class I was a little wary of the 1145 am start time knowing he runs like a clock at meal times, but figured we would try it. Mental note:  planning an earlier lunch with snack afterwards may ensure we have a good time at our class.

Today, I will be interviewing a potential babysitter in between bus pick-ups

When interviewing candidates, I ask all the standard questions, request references and confirm hourly rate. But my real test are the kids. How do they interact with them and how do my kids respond to them? I will hire a babysitter who essentially ignores me and plays or talks to my kids rather than one who just kind of waits for the kids to come to them. That means their focus is on the kids, where it should be.

Some interview questions are standard such as, asking about family background and their experiences. I also like to try to get a sense of how comfortable they are with handling three or more. A lot of babysitters are not experienced in the juggling of three or more children under the age of six. Some days Mr. L even admits he can’t handle it.

We will see how it goes today.

January 18, 2013

My first Zumba class in a long time and  I am feeling great! After a rush to get the three kids to their destinations, I drove to the health club Mr. L and I joined this past fall and which I’m lucky to make it to once a week, for a Friday morning class.

Hip-grinding music with a room full of generally uncoordinated people trying to shake all they got not caring who sees and something that gets my heart race up. I’m all in. I arrive a little late but after a few seconds, start shimmying to the latin beats along with the other women in the room and am so glad I dragged my tired self here this morning.

ZUMBA

ZUMBA

Last night (as in many nights) I went to bed way too late getting sucked into reality television after my brain felt strangely alert from writing. Of course, I get hungry so have a snack at nearly midnight and then I need to read before I go to sleep to relax. Being an avid reader, books are piled throughout our house and currently I am near the pinnacle of the latest Kate Morton book, The Secret Keeper. The part where you need to know what happens next! It is only when Mr. L pleads with me to turn the light off do I reluctantly put the book down to get some sleep. There is no way on these nights that I can wake up earlier than the kids so it is always a bit of a rush to get them and myself ready. I am actually stopping myself right now from just bailing on everything to go and finish it. But I don’t.

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

Back to exercise. Mr. L has been on a huge “get healthy and fit regiment” since last spring. I try to be as supportive as I can. I buy all the special foods he only eats and try not to make anything too unhealthy. After all, less carbs never hurt anyone. It has simplified our eating quite a bit as I focus on protein and vegetables for our meals and throw in homemade pizzas or Mommy’s mac n cheese to keep the kids happy. Currently he is into bodybuilding and I must say, he looks fabulous! He is trim and toned with more energy and it gives him a hugely needed personal area of his life to release any stress.

I am innately lazy. Although I love Zumba because it’s fun, I dread weight lifting, don’t see the point of running but will go to a yoga class any day of the week. Yoga helps with building strength, stretching out the most sore areas on a Mom, neck/back/shoulders and at the end I get to take a nap. In the fall, Mr. L, wanting to share his newfound hobby, put together an exercise routine to help me with all the areas I don’t want to do but realized I have to at least start. The older and more creaky I become, the more it becomes clear I need to take better care of myself physically. I got into the routine for about six weeks. It was nice to have the reprieve from the house and he really tried to be home at an earlier time so I could get to the gym. I do not like working out at home. I have no discipline and truthfully, the kids always find me and need something. So to work out I have to leave the house, but most days during the week I can’t leave until nearly 8 pm and truthfully, my energy level for anything physical when I know I have to come home and still make lunches, pack knapsacks and get all ready for the next day is very, very low.

Six weeks passed and then we had a vacation away. I was not feeling well and then the holidays were upon us and it all went out the window. Up until now I have not been motivated to get back on track. Even after a holiday of eating and little physical activity.

But, a friend of mine is really trying to get back in shape after the birth of her second baby and needs a goal. She asked me to sign up and do a “Tri-Tri” with her. What is a “Tri-Tri?” Well, it’s just as it sounds. It’s a sample of what a triathlon would be with reduced kilometers and meters in running, biking and swimming. A goal – why not I figured. It would give me a new experience this year.