SKIING WITH KIDS : OUR DAY WITH BRUNDAGE MOUNTAIN

Monday, January 14, 2019
We recently traveled to McCall, Idaho to ski at Brundage Mountain. It was such a successful, low-stress vacation we decided to do it again a few weeks later. I'm here to share how we've successfully skied this season with our three girls in tow, and we're no worse for ware. 

A few weeks ago my Farmer and I wanted to head to our favorite Idaho ski hill (Brunadage Mountain) so we were throwing around ideas about how to get on skis more this year. There were several options. One of us could stay back at the cabin with Elli while the other parent took both Kaye and Sawyer to the bunny hill. Another option was we could all go to the hill and do some "lodge-momming"...this is where one adult stays at the lodge with the kids that aren't skiing. And the final option was to fork over some cash, pay for daycare at the hill and lessons for the girls so that my Farmer and I could have a ski date of our own.

After a quick phone call to Brundage, it was a no-brainer : Daycare and ski lessons it was going to be.

Teaching kids to ski can be a scary idea. There's a lot of gear involved and it can be an investment to even get to the ski resort, not to mention purchasing a lift ticket for the whole family. For me, the idea of giving up days of skiing to teach our kids to ski can be a little heartbreaking. Selfish of me, yes. But we only get off the farm so often for skiing. We used to be able to leave the girls with Nana and Grandpa, but we realized we're to the point where it's important for our girls to learn to ski so that next year...or maybe in a few years, we can all ski together. We always knew we wanted skiing to be a family sport. However, the idea of spending several seasons on the bunny hill was soul-crushing. Not to mention the idea of trying to teach Sawyer - girlfriend would probably fake a knee injury and make us carry her everywhere for weeks. All this to say, Farmer and I decided to bite the bullet and get the girls in lessons and sign Elli up for daycare. The idea of daycare was a little scare for us...as we've never used daycare before in any capacity. But, being right there on the same location as the daycare gave me peace of mind.

So, last week we made the quick drive to McCall for our scheduled lessons + daycare. (Tip - Always sign up for lessons and daycare in advance! You can do it all online here. There is paperwork for both lessons and daycare AND the programs are popular, so you don't want to miss out on a spot!)

Anyway, the morning of our lessons we fed the babes and started getting suited up. Getting kids in ski gear can be a lot, so we like to do as much in advance, before we get to the hill. We dress the girls in their wool socks + base layers + neck warmer + snow boots + fix hair. Everything else goes into one large tote and each girl has a stack of ski gear within the tote that includes = boots, helmet, goggles, coat, and ski pants. Once we're at the hill the rest of the clothing goes on. Some people might wonder, "Why not put everything on in advance?" It's a great idea in theory...that way you don't forget anything. But trust me...you do not want to overheat your child before the skiing actually begins. Overheating = lots of complaining, frustration, crabbiness, etc, etc.

Once we arrived at Brundage it was as easy as pulling up to their Kid's Center, carrying the tote inside, and kissing them goodbye. Actually, the daycare is at the Kid's Center, so we kissed Elli goodbye first and then finished getting the girls in their coats, pants, and boots. We met their ski instructors and they took it right from there. The girls were more than ready to say goodbye to mom and dad. We peaked in on Elli one more time before gearing up ourselves. She was rocking in a chair with one of the daycare employees. I imagine she was a little confused having never been in a daycare setting. But the next time we peaked in on her she was dragging around a couple of babydolls and whipping something up in the play kitchen.



My farmer and I (and Farmer's brother) took several runs and then we couldn't help but stalk our girls. Sawyer was making tracks on the bunny hill, but Kaye was nowhere to be found. Apparently she had quickly graduated to the Bear Chair. Brundage is nice because there is a definite beginners area and then as you progress you don't immediately go to the top of the mountain. There's a mid-mountain chair with nice, easy runs to continue to work on skills. The runs are longer and a little steeper, exactly what Kaye needed. We also learned Brundage has set up a "secret" area in the trees that only the kids know about. There are beads and wind chimes hanging from trees and little ski obstacles. I have yet to see it, but I know once Kaye and Sawyer spot it we probably won't be able to get them anywhere else on the hill. It sounds like magic.



When we found Kaye and her instructor on the hill she was amazing! Her turns were about 300% better...as in, she was actually turning. She wasn't scared to be on a bigger hill and she was getting huge doses of accolades and encouragement. It was clear the instructor had quickly figured out Kaye's love language. Kaye did so well in her lesson he even took her all the way to the top for her final run. Proud parent moment.

When we found Sawyer on Easy Street (bunny hill) she was surprisingly not crying. (I know, I know. I should give her more credit. She's not that emotional. She's just super emotional.) Bonnie, her instructor, had her independently skiing. And what I mean by that is Sawyer was not hanging on to her, or a ski pole, and she wasn't wearing a backpack with straps. She was actually skiing down the bunny hill. Bonnie was skiing backwards in front of Sawyer, instructing her on turns and using the pizza wedge to keep control.


After Sawyer's 1.5 hour lesson she got to spend a few more hours in the daycare with Elli while Kaye finished her three hour lesson and so my Farmer could throw a few more spread eagles and I could practice filming those spread eagles.


As the day wound down we snagged the gals and headed to the lodge. The adults enjoyed Bloody Mary's (practically a health drink) and the kids sipped on cocoa. And since everyone was starving we took advantage of the menu and had an early dinner.

Here's the thing - We were nervous about navigating the whole bit of getting our kids on skis. But it was actually a super painless process at Brundage. We had such a fun day on the hill...even though we weren't together the whole time. We're convinced that getting the girls in lessons as opposed to us teaching them progressed them much more quickly than anything we could have accomplished.

Double-bonus - Brundage actually makes it affordable to get the whole family on skis. They have several lesson options to choose from, including the 4x4 Learn to Ski program. You get four days of group lessons, ski rentals, lift ticket (for after the lesson), and a season pass upon completion of your four lessons!

There's also an option called - Family Fun Pack which includes a Bear Chair lift ticket and rentals for a family of four. (If you have more kids you can add them on for $30 each.)

Basically, if you want to take the family skiing, but you're not quite sure how to go about it, just reach out and Brundage will get you set up (great trip planner page). I'm also happy to answer any and all questions!

And just one more thing about my minor (major) love affair with Brundage. If skiing isn't your thing, but you still want to get some breaths of mountain air - summertime is a beautiful option! From May - October there are mountain biking trails to explore and hiking trails to enjoy. You can even ride the chairlift up to see the views which includes Payette Lake! They also have concerts + food + drink. It's seriously so so beautiful with so many options for a good time.

It's no secret McCall has a special place in my heart (my Farmer and I were married there), and Brundage is just one more reason it's one of the best places in Idaho!

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THE HOLIDAYS + LATELY TO ROUND OUT 2018

Friday, January 04, 2019
Oh mercy! Can we all take a moment to have a breath and chill? I mean...Valentine's Day is about a month away. No pressure.

And can we all take a moment to reflect on the final month of 2018? I'm happy to report we were busy, happy, healthy...and busy. Our Farmer finished up corn harvest sometime in those first days of December and we haven't stopped since. Definitely making up for time lost to farming.

Hang in there...this is a long one. Or don't. 

It started for me with a trip to California to meet up with the wonderful gals of Pollinate. (If you're not familiar with Pollinate Media - It's a company that hires bloggers from it's community to boost brand awareness of products and services. Interested in becoming a part of the community? You can learn more and sign up here.)

Anyway, I headed to California for a four day break from my babes and enjoyed some fun company, pool time, delicious food, and an epic Mario Kart battle or three. I was so into it I was sweating from my armpits. Competitive? No...not me. Yes, me. We were treated to delicious meals and I provided some entertainment with my inability to pose for the camera. I mean seriously...can I be normal? No.


When I got back to Idaho we were experiencing some serious cold weather and about eight inches of snow. Me + driving in snow = not going to happen. I wasn't going anywhere except from the couch to the fridge back to the couch...all in my PJ's.



But, did get up long enough to force the gals into their new matching dresses. I made our bed for the first time in a month and snagged some sister pictures. I'll never tire of sister pictures. Even though it appears they might be getting too old to for them. It was so hard to capture a few that weren't blurry or when someone wasn't throwing a fit...again, I was sweating. But really...I'll treasure these forever!


The sister pictures didn't stop there. This month I was feeling particularly on top of it and got the girls dressed up again and headed to visit Santa. We managed to be third in line, which was amazing, because the line quickly grew to a two hour wait. Mom-winning all over the place. True to form, Kaye yapped Santa's ear off, Sawyer skeptically watched, and Elli tried to claw her way under my clothing for safety. Never has there been a baby more terrified of Santa. She was crying so huge I could see all of her molars.


We made the most of the day and hit up lunch (nightmare) but recovered from that with a visit to the Discover Center and the grocery store where the gals got to push their own carts...Which they ask to do at least once a week. Aside from lunch it was a wonderful day, but reminded me just how hard it can be to do a full day of adventuring solo with three children.

Holiday Bucket List item #1823747 (that never got written down) was to make ornaments. Now listen...not even in the slightest was this an idea the gals wanted to do. No. I saw these paint shaken ornaments on Instagram and said - This is what we're doing. So we did. You can find out we did it here. And I love them. And it was fun (for me). And that's that.

Next in our December we made it to Boise to celebrate a Friends-mas...second annual of the sort. (Even though last year I think we did this closer to Thanksgiving. Anyway - Good drink, good food...you know the drill. The only time I took out my phone to take pictures they turned out blurry. I blame the poor lighting. Regardless, we did realize that between the three families we have a newborn, 1, 2, 3, two 4's, 5, and a 6 year old. That's a busy six years. The best part is letting them all loose and watching them systematically destroy each room in about four minutes. Why? Why do children do this?


In the coming days everything was last minute Christmas this and that. We received the most insanely beautiful flowers from my Farmer's sister from Farm Girl Flowers. I don't even really love flowers, but I LOVED receiving these.

We snuck away from the gals the Saturday before Christmas to get our first ski day in. It was shockingly not that busy, which was good, because it decreased the odds of me hitting anyone since I didn't ski at all last year (Elli and nursing...it just wasn't in the cards).

On Christmas Eve we invited some friends over for brunch. This was a good and bad idea.

Good : Fun, yummy food, good conversation, received a miniature beer pong game

Bad : Strong Bloody Mary's, received miniature beer pong game, almost didn't recover in time to wrap the rest of the presents



But, the Farmer and I both survived (barely) and we still managed to make and decorate Santa's cookies, finish wrapping presents, write notes to Santa, and reach Christmas stories before bed.

Christmas was by far the best one yet. Santa visited and left his bootprints outside. His reindeer left half eaten apples on the deck and even smudged their noses on our windows. The girls went crazy over all their Christmas presents, but I'm thinking their favorite gift was their new suitcases. I feel like I kind of nailed it this year. (Maybe I need to do a "Gifts that Win" post?)


My parents came out for dinner and gave the girls MORE gifts (spooooiiiiillllled) which included new gymnastics leotards. Naturally, Sawyer showered us with her gift of dancing and hip shaking. Kaye cartwheeled all over and showed us her back walkovers and splits. Elli bobbed up and down and did a little booty-shaking over her own.

It was such a fun day, but I was ready to declutter and get everything cleaned up. Bah-hum-bug. Aaaand we had to get ready for a quick ski trip to McCall.


This is the first year my Farmer and I (mostly me) have felt like we could successfully get all three girls up to the hill without me losing my mind. It's a lot to get three children outfitted for snow + yourself dressed and then work out the logistics of actually getting everyone down the mountain on skis.

We pushed the easy button on the first round. We tried out the ski daycare for the very first time ever and put Kaye and Sawyer in group ski lessons...Sawyer's first time ever. We knew Kaye would be just fine. No worries there. Sawyer? Sawyer made us nervous. It was either going to be the best or worst day of her life...ever.


As it turns out...it was the very best day. Granted, Sawyer did get cold in the middle of her lesson and had to stop for cocoa. I'm going to say that's the equivalent of faking an injury in the middle of a basketball game because you need a break. So, they stopped for cocoa and she was ready to go out again. The Farmer and I creepily spied on the lesson every time we were reloading the chair to take us back up. We were pretty surprised each time we saw Sawyer and she wasn't asking to be carried. It was a wonderful day on the hill and we're headed back next week! (I'm going to do a full write-up on traveling / planning a ski day with kids / getting them outfitted next week!)


The best part - Sawyer asked to go skiing again the following day. (Jaw. Dropped.) So we did. And she did. And it was wonderful. Kaye took me over a little jump and all I can think is that in just a few short years she's going to be a way better skier than me. I'll be the weakest of the group and my family will tell me to go to the lodge on a powder day. But that's how it goes. Ha!


We made it back to the farm just before the New Year...and with no babysitter in sight, we ended up throwing an extremely last minute party. Why not? As it turns out, all you need are some balloons, food, booze, and Catch Phrase to pull a quick shindig off. We did no fewer than seven countdowns for the kids at around 8 pm...and they were none the wiser. Shockingly, Kaye and two friends managed to stay up until midnight. I'm pretty sure she's still recovering. And so am I.



And that wraps up our December! It was an incredibly busy month, but so so fun. I'm already thinking about next year and how we can make it even better with more family and friends...but by planning ahead, maybe not so stressful. (Goal : All present shopping and wrapping completed by beginning of November, because we all know things don't slow down after Thanksgiving.)

Wishing everyone the happiest and healthiest 2019!

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@karlibellmeier