Skiing: 1988 vs 2015 . . . Good times. Shy times. Better times.

One late winter day last year, I stuck my feet into downhill ski boots and strapped on the skis for the first time in a little over two decades. The first run was terrifying, but with guidance from a friend and colleague, I made it down the hill alive and unbroken (though screaming most of the way). I remembered how much I’d enjoyed swooshing down the hill and determined to do more of it. I managed a second venture back to that ski hill, this time bringing my children, but it was more stress than fun: my daughter didn’t take to the lessons well (part of the issue being the instructor’s accent — my daughter doesn’t speak any French — and the steep grade of the hills), but my son loved it, even going on after his first up-close-and-personal encounter with a tree.

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On the lift at Mont Kanasuta last year (2014).

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Dig that view! Absolutely stunning.

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Bridget likes the concept but struggles with the reality. I know she’ll get the hang of it with her lessons this year.

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Renting skis for a day or two was a great way to reintroduce myself to the sport. Very glad I found my snow pants for this year, though. The splash pants help, but don’t prevent snow from getting crammed up the back of your sweater when you wipe out!

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My teenager quickly getting the hang of his skis. Attaboy!

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What a good sister to lend her big brother a helping hand!

So this year, I decided for my own mental and physical well-being, and to encourage my kids to enjoy the great outdoors in our long, northern winters, we’d each get skis and a membership at Larder Lake Ski Hill, which is only 30 minutes away from home. This brought back a lot of memories, including being given my first new-to-me pair of skis when I was 11 or 12.¬†

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Me, in my fabulous faux-fur coat, ready to hit the slopes! Although, in this pic, I might have been going cross-country… ūüėõ

I have tried to keep in mind what it’s like to be a child, trying to recall my perspective when I was my children’s ages and how baffled I sometimes was by my parents’ behaviour. It’s much easier to recognize now their motivations (and levels of exhaustion). So I understood that my son was a little dismayed by the scratches and faded colours of his new-to-him skis, picked up for a bargain along with a set of boots. But they¬†work, and they were very, VERY affordable, and they let him fly down the hills. Plus, they’re safe.

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My almost-14-year-old ready to fly! We both enjoy the little speakers in his helmet, letting him listen to his tunes as he goes. ūüėÄ

My first set of skis in 1988 were blue and green in colour, and although they gave me speed, my parents didn’t know at the swap meet that they were unsafe. The rules of safety on the ski hill had changed without their knowledge, and I didn’t find out until I had nearly outgrown them that the leash on the bindings was basically illegal. The design was meant to keep one’s skis from running away down the incline in the event of a wipeout, but it had a terrible side effect of banging the skier painfully about the head during the wipeout. Happened to me the second time I bombed down a steep hill, in fact.

Oh, yeah. At that time — 1988 — we didn’t wear helmets. Those skis hurt. A lot.

Poles were also considered standard for everyone back then, but I remember at one point deciding to leave my poles at the chalet and taking on the ride without them. I loved it! So it didn’t surprise me when I was told last year by the instructor, and this year, that kids are no longer taught to ski with poles. My husband still finds it a bit hard to understand, but I get it. They’re optional, after you’ve learned to balance and shift.

Adolescent me didn’t wear a helmet, occasionally used the poles, had leashes about my ankles that threatened me with more pain than necessary, and outgrew the equipment quickly. By the time I could no longer coax my feet into the boots, my family had moved too far from most ski hills to make purchasing new equipment worthwhile, and when we went back within a comfortable driving range, I had lost interest. My head and legs probably still remembered those damned leashes, though I missed that terrific swish and swoosh downhill.

10885178_764408086974251_2962209519960220687_nAdult me isn’t growing anymore, though. My main concern now is making downhill skiing (and outdoor activities in winter) a healthy habit. If I can do that, it will make purchasing brand-new skis a worthwhile investment. It feels a bit funny to wear the helmet, still, but I’ve known people to get badly hurt smacking into a tree or a hard patch of packed snow, so I might just put effort into decorating my helmet in order to personalize it for myself. And it’s like wearing my helmet when I’m on a bicycle (darn, another item I need to replace since mine was stolen three years ago . . .) and with the kids: it’s a good example for them.

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I still feel kind of dorky, and I have to remember to take that “Medium” sticker off the front. I should look into knitting patterns for helmets . . .

Plus, the helmet is incredibly comfortable and warm. I mean, sometimes with a hat on you get a slight breeze or it flies off and you’re downright cold. But a lined ski helmet is downright cozy when you’re flying down that hill. Definitely worth the money.

It’s funny, but walking into the chalet brings back memories of shyness and anxiety. I remember feeling so out of place when I was an adolescent, perceiving glances as unspoken questions like “Why are¬†you here?”; now, though, I’m able to walk into the chalet and meet others’ eyes with a smile. Maybe it’s the difference of twenty-odd years, the experience of growing up, the necessity of considering whether my children are feeling shy and wanting to set a good example for them of how to cope, or a combination of all these things. One thing is for sure: I love the atmosphere of the Larder Lake Ski Hill chalet more than any other I’ve experienced. It’s happy, friendly, and welcoming. Of course, it helps to see familiar faces, but there is a vibe in that small building that I didn’t experience at the Tri Town Ski and Snowboard Village, Blue Mountain in Collingwood, or Mont Kanasuta in Quebec. It’s possible that they¬†are friendly and welcoming, and I’m filtering my experiences through my own lack of confidence in my skiing abilities, problems in my own social skills, and issues with my self-esteem.

But I’ve been riding the endorphins ever since the first run this afternoon. We all went to the hill last weekend — my hubby included, although with surgery needed on his knee skiing is out of the question for him for the time being — and I managed one run before my feet went numb because I’d buckled my boots too tightly. This afternoon my son and I did about an hour’s worth, had a great time, and resolved to try to get back again tomorrow. And next weekend my daughter will start afternoon lessons with a terrific instructor I know. The thing I like, too, about making this a family activity is the time it gives us together to talk about whatever is on the kids’ minds, get away from being couch potatoes, and make the memories that I know will last for years and years.

For now, I will continue to bask in the recollection¬†of today’s¬†fluffy, creamy white powder, fresh-fallen and still coming down; how it squeaked under my skis on the lift and slid in puffs away from me on the way back down. The whisper of snowflakes on my skin as I whisk past them in the cold air, and my son’s gleeful laughter at seeing me buzz past him. Today was a good day.

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I’m not Super-Mom.

LogoColorNoTextTwo days left. Well, a day and a half, really. Time to take stock of my to-do list for March Break (https://torilridgewood.wordpress.com/2013/03/08/will-she-or-wont-she-darn-those-march-break-resolutions/):

1) Laundry isn’t put away yet, though it’s all clean. I made a bit of a dent, did a little ironing, but I’m actually a bit concerned that the pile will fall on me if I start taking things from it to fold‚Ķnothing worse than clean clothes and sheets hitting the floor. Particularly as the floor is covered in dog hair. (The clean laundry sits on our dog’s cage, conveniently located next to the washer and dryer.)

2) My daughter’s room is still a complete and utter mess. I’ve asked for my hubby to tackle it this weekend.

3) I have been given a reprieve on picking up dog poop in the yard by virtue of the fact that it’s been snowing almost every day this week. I think we’ve had five hours of sunshine, total.

4) Haven’t gotten to the floors, windows, or curtains. But they have been swept and picked up, so that’s something.

5) Haven’t gotten to the bathroom, either. :-/

6) I got the typo-checking done! That felt good, accomplishing those edits.

7) I managed to read one novel — the one I was helping with typos.

8) I’m up to Chapter 6 on my edits for Wind and Shadow. Getting there, little by little‚Ķ But I got a first look at cover designs! That’s exciting! I shall do a cover reveal post soon!

9) Haven’t gotten to my candle-making yet, though I keep looking wistfully at the box‚Ķ I kind of want to do it when my children are out of the house or in bed. Maybe later tonight‚Ķ

10) Course outlines haven’t been looked at.

11) Marking hasn’t made it out of the bag yet.

12) A few walks have been had, but between the freezing rain earlier this week, lots of snowfall, and not feeling well off and on, we haven’t gotten out of the house as often as I’d hoped.

13) I ended up going back to brunette. The hairdresser gave me a dark brown that is fairly close to my natural colour. It’s taking me a little time to get used to it, though. I really miss my blonde look with the purple/pink streak. My children are happier, but I’m not. Plus, I’m not thrilled with the cut. Oh, well, it will grow and I will fix it.

14) Tea tree oil for my dry scalp — yeah, gotta get to that‚Ķ

15) 1 km a day — what was I thinking? It doesn’t help that the event I wanted to join isn’t going to happen. The Run For Your Lives zombie obstacle course race isn’t coming to Canada this year. Sadness…

16) Reducing wheat consumption — yes, I’ve been doing that. And I’m noticing improvement, though I’m still not feeling great due to some other things. I gave in yesterday, though, after an uncomfortable doctor’s appointment, and ate three muffins and two pastries over the course of the afternoon. But I’ve stopped eating peanut butter and jam on toast every morning, improved my in-take of raw veggies and protein, and cleaned out my fridge. All positive!

17) I completed my blog post for the March Madness Giveaway — my contribution is a fab Swag Bag for March 25 on Unwritten (http://mystiparker.blogspot.ca), promoting my latest publishing: “Tabitha’s Solution” in Having My Baby (Melange Books, 2012). The only thing I’m waiting for is the swag stuff to actually arrive, and then I will take pics and post them for the giveaway, too. Something to look forward to!

18) Bad road conditions, appointments, other things coming up, including hubby’s busy work hours — we didn’t go to laser tag or to a movie. Sadness‚Ķ

19) Car is still sitting in the driveway. Hubby’s made arrangements to drop it off on Monday.

20) The driveway’s been okay, with the wind helping to keep it clear. But we need to pick up some ice-melter stuff. According to the local forecast, we’re not going to see a significant change in the weather until like, mid-April.

21) Nails aren’t done. But I ground up egg shells and fed my plants, cleaned up my mini rose bush‚Ķand tried to save some of my baby flowers from dying slowly because it’s just not the right time yet. Or I’m just really bad at plants.

22) Haven’t called a shelter yet about a companion dog. But I did clear my voicemail…

23) Arts and crafts — did do a little. Taught myself and my daughter how to do French Knitting from a kit she got for Christmas!

24) Short stories — jotted down some ideas.

25) Boardgames — nope.

26) Playing in the snow — nope.

So, I’m not Super-Mom. I didn’t make it through all of my list, although I did manage to keep up with the dishes (for the most part), clean our clothes, feed the children, and read to my daughter. I helped a friend, got some rest, took care of myself. I still feel badly that I didn’t get through more of the things I wanted to do, even though I was reminded that I need give myself permission to relax. I have a hard time with that. I feel incredibly guilty about wanting to relax — like there’s always something I should be doing.

I know that a lot of people worked their regular jobs this week. My husband was one of them — and he was doing two paid jobs. I focused on my unpaid labour: parenting and housework. Those tasks took priority over everything else. As much as I would have loved to have traveled, at least I had some nice days with my children, spending time together.

I have a day and a half left to get my marking done. Finish my course outlines. Edit my book. Help my son with his homework. Sort and put the laundry away (or encourage the kids to do their own). They did help with some of the cleaning, too — sweeping, putting away, dishes‚Ķ

But I wish I had more time. I feel like I’ve just started on all the things I want to complete, but when I go back to work on Monday, home things will lose their priority status, and that’s not right. I wish sometimes I could put my home tasks first, or at least, more often.

Post-Script:
Good things I did achieve during my March Break: Started working on my passport application, wrote three poems, had excellent conversations with good friends… And took care of me.

Will she or won’t she? Darn those March Break Resolutions!

Every year, it’s the same. I start my spring break filled with goals and aspirations for accomplishing a multitude of tasks, some of which need doing (e.g., spring cleaning) and some of which I just really want to do (e.g., read a good book). However…I am a consummate procrastinator. Without fail, my good intentions burn away as quickly as I make them. How many of us are lulled into complacency by the prospect of a whole week before the routine returns?

I am determined, though, to make it happen, Cap’n. This time, procrastination will not win out. I will be victorious over my nemesis, with your support. Here, dear readers / fellow bloggers / friends, is my to-do list for the next seven days:

In no particular order:
1) Put away the clean laundry so I don’t have to fish through the pile every day for socks. (Sometimes, I call it Laundry Diving.)
2) Help my daughter to clean and organize her room so we can find that Dora the Explorer library book she lost two months ago.
3) Pick up the first layer of dog poop being revealed by the spring melt.

Hubby has once again promised to help with cleaning up her winter poop this spring! Erm -- all of it this time, right, honey?

Hubby has once again promised to help with cleaning up her winter poop this spring! Erm — all of it this time, right, honey?


4) Wash the floors, curtains, and windows. May not be able to open them yet, but by gosh, they will be clean!
5) Clean the bathroom. Thoroughly. Like, on the verge of gutting it.
6) Check my friend’s novel for typos.
7) Read three books.
8) Edit and revise my own novel, because Wind and Shadow: Book One of the Talbot Trilogy is coming out this April! (Yeah, had to put a little plug in there!)
9) Make some candles out of the sheets of beeswax I ordered two months ago and have not looked at since.
10) Finish my course outlines for school.
11) Do the marking I brought home from school. (Maybe I should do this first, so it doesn’t get left until the night before we go back to class? o.O)
12) Go for a walk with the dog and children every day. A nice long jaunt. Preferably ending with a nice snack that is non-fattening but will likely be donuts.
Our wonderful family dog -- she is an enormous suck, loves garbage parties, sticks food in the corners of the couch, and is fat and happy.

Our wonderful family dog — she is an enormous suck, loves garbage parties, sticks food in the corners of the couch, and is fat and happy.


13) Decide whether to keep the blonde and purple (which has, btw, faded to a lovely pink) or go back to brunette, and head to the hairdresser for some pampering and a trim. Scalp’s been suffering a bit from my experiment with colour.
14) Pick up some tea tree oil and dose scalp a few times.
15) Attempt to run/walk 1 km every day. Or every other day. Maybe I could combine that with going on jaunts with the kiddies?
16) Reduce how much bread I eat — I am learning that I feel better when I don’t eat bread during the day. Something about that Wheat Belly thing I’ve been hearing about from friends.
17) Write my blog post for the March Madness Giveaway I’m doing March 25 on Mysti Parker’s blog Unwritten (SWAG! SWAG!! FREE BOOK AND SWAG!!! Another shameless plug, evil that I am…)
Visit for a Giveaway!

Visit for a Giveaway!


18) Take the children to a movie and/or a round of laser tag in Timmins.
19) Get the car fixed.
20) In the event that we get another 13 cm of snow, clear the driveway that we just had ploughed.
21) Paint my nails. Maybe have my daughter do them, like last time! And do something about my cuticles so I stop picking at them. Pedicure by 7-yr-old!
22) Call a local animal shelter about any small/tiny dogs up for adoption.
23) Write some short stories for coming anthologies.
24) Write some poetry for coming contests.
25) Finish (?) reading The Secret Garden with my daughter.
26) Do arts and crafts projects (at least 1?) with the kids (they got some great kits for Christmas/Yule!)
27) Play boardgames with the kids (especially the new ones they got for Christmas that they haven’t…even…opened… :/)
28) Enjoy what might be the last week of snow by sliding, building a snowman…Horribly enjoyable watching said snowman melting away…

Wow. I think that’s it! It’s a doable list, I think, if I can stay on top of it. So far, I’ve managed to keep up some of my New Year’s resolutions: I’ve made a loan through Kiva in January, February, and done it for this month (my plan is to help someone somewhere through Kiva with a $25 loan, once a month for the whole year — 3/12 loans complete!); I’ve been exercising / working out fairly regularly (well, until my gym shut down, that is. Back to the drawing board on that one…if I can get my house cleaned up, I can use the living room to lift my little weights for toning. Not sure I want to join the other gym in town, as it’s so crowded. My, this is a long parenthetical comment!)

So, for those of you who are staying home or continuing to work through Spring Break (whether it’s this week coming up, or a different time altogether), what do you hope to accomplish and what are the chances of actually getting your to-do list done? Do you think I’ll get mine done? I’m already stressing about it, to be perfectly honest… Last year, I virtually slept through the whole week, but I was anemic and depressed. This year, I am healthy and strong like bull! But am I setting myself up for failure with my mondo-list of things to do while I’m supposed to be resting and recharging for the rest of the semester?

I’ve made myself accountable, now, by posting this for all to see, commiserate, possibly mock… I will update as the week goes on. I must remember, in order to be successful at these things, to breathe. Take each thing one at a time, a step at a time. Maybe work in chunks of time — an hour at this, twenty minutes at that. Assign jobs to the children (HAH! Well, the twelve-year-old will probably want to help, but the seven-year-old can make a bigger mess while cleaning than the original clutter…but I must cultivate patience and remember to breathe.), and the spouse.

One thing at a time.