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!