Category: family

Ski Lodge Perspectives

Today the kids are skiing a 1/2 day and I’m not skiing, as I’ve given my skis to Bree and haven’t managed to get a new pair yet. I’m enjoying watching and reminiscing. So when a friend’s boy asked me “do you come here often?” I had to grin. Oh, well ya …

I grew up coming to Devil’s Elbow on weekends. I think I was 3 1/2 when I was first put on skis.  Day to day details are blurry but the general feel of those days remains firmly lodged in my subconscious. Long days. Early mornings. Tired kids. T-bars that lifted me off my feet. Racing. Friends. Dangerous and thrilling forest trails. Catching air on jumps. Puddles in March. Hoarded Mars bars hidden in ski jacket pockets till the time was right. It was an awesome childhood.

Lemme tell ya, it was WAY colder back then, and our clothing was NOT as warm. A chair in front of this fireplace was a coveting thing.

Mom and dad were both Ski Patrollers – they helped start up the Patrol at the Elbow, actually. Their dedicated volunteerism meant that we had to get here early and didn’t leave until the bitter end – after the last sweep, when patrollers would ensure that everyone was off the hills. We had the privilege of hanging out in the patrol hut and the knowledge that if WE skied like a Yeti we’d be in very serious trouble. We were victims on training days. It likely happened once, but my imagination has me being rescued from the chair lift every fall and in gale force winds.

Ski hill photo
Early days at the hill. Mom looking swank in her Patroller gear.

As I sit here getting things out of the lunch bag for the kids, I think of mom’s lunches. I think they were much heartier. Always carefully constructed sandwiches (maybe tuna salad …with lettuce even) and veggie sticks and fruit and cheese. We’d plan to meet at a certain time and damn nation if you were late! Invariably there was a family sized Fruit & Nut bar for dessert.  Dad was in charge of portioning it out. I recall the methodical way he did it, smoothing out the wrapper just so and laying out the squares while we did the math. (The sweets were the highlights of the day of course.)

My lunches are whatever is floating around the fridge and cupboards. Haphazard. I don’t measure up. But the kids eat it all up!

We NEVER bought food from the cafeteria… Lou and I looked longingly at the crap our friends ate … the Vachon cakes … OMG. Joe Louis (chocolate, full circle) and Lune Moons (white, half circle) and the square ones with the raised caramel circle on top. PURE. ENVY. Of course I realize now that it was as equally a matter of economics as of health. The caf was and still is stupidly expensive. As Lou and I got older and had babysitting money we’d buy treats on the sly and eat the crap secretly and happily with our friends.

As I sit here writing and observing things and remembering, a bunch of kids are running through the chalet playing tag … shrieking and flinging themselves under tables. OMFG, if we did that we’d be dead!! Ok, we would never do that in the chalet because the owner, an older dude, Fred, would catch you and yell things and it would end very badly. So he’s obviously dead, but honest to god, how do these parents think that’s ok? IT’S. NOT. O.K. (put on a certain tone of voice here) In my day, kids were with families and then skied and if they didn’t ski, they were playing tag on snow banks by the parking lot but their parents THOUGHT they were skiing. We had very limited choices. Ski or be eating lunch. Or pee. Yes, we could do that.

Some things change and some things stay the same. Skiing is still an awesome thing to do with your kids … and it’s still a ton of work to pull off as a parent. And I will never sit in the chalet for 3 hours again. Pretty near killed me.

View from the chalet.

A Day at the Lake

It’s a lovely thing to come to the lake in the winter. We drive as far in as we can then strap on our snowshoes and hike in a couple of kilometers to the Bell camp. This year we didn’t trust the lake so we went by road, dragging a couple of sleds behind us. The girls went ahead, helter skelter, dropping various things off of their sleds with nary a look behind them. Funny how they didn’t notice. By the time Paul and Liam and I got there, we were laden with bags that had fallen by the wayside. Next year, bungie cords.

The lake is dead quiet. Surreal in the lack of wind and waves and birds and children hooting as they get dragged behind a boat.

We hike in the woods when the ice seems too thin for comfort. We wander around our friends’ cottages. There are snow fights and icicle finds. We are overdressed but grateful for it all.


Inside, it’s so cozy. We all have our books (paper or otherwise) and some have a project – a puzzle, sudoku or a pair of socks to work on. Charades.

Of course lots of great food – and baking is a sure bet with me in the cabin! I get to create all sorts of yummy things – cinnamon buns and cookies and tea biscuits. For dessert tonight is a banana cake. I forgot the ingredients for the topping so I have had to improvise with ice cream bowls, marshmallows, chocolate and pecans. Result? YUM!

All in all, a glorious time at the lake.


Photo cred @carolbell268

A jumble of goodness.

At the dinner table we always share a “highlight of the day”. This December we’ve had so many highlights. Here are a few:

Oyster Bay Chardonnay from NZ and Sanders caramels from Costco.

Perfect pairing.



I solicited the help of a wee kindie to assist in making a sample piece of artwork for our craft day next Friday. She was all painted up and gleeful to be in the P office on the rolling chair. I just love the positive energy of the little ones. “I can do it missakenzie!” when I was about to squirt some paint into a tray, and afterwards, shrieking “the soap is green!” when washing the green paint off of her hands. Joyful moments.


So proud.

A follow-up a call from the receptionist at my Endodontist. She told me that she worked something out. What? What do you mean? Well, I wanted to do something, so I … let me just work this out … instead of $2505.00 per tooth… it will be $1791.00. Um … what?? Why would you do that?

“I just wanted to do something.”

I have no idea if how she managed to do it. How she might have approached her boss and explained our situation – with Bree not able to be on my medical plan and the Healthy Smiles program not covering repairs on root canals. ‘It takes a village to raise a child’.


My staff coming together time and again to make school an awesome place for the kids – so much evidence of their efforts in December! Happy kids performing at our outdoor Christmas Concert, kids participating in a full day of creative crafting, sledding sessions on the hill, the creation of gorgeous center pieces, spirit days, secret Santa … the list goes on and on. For me it all comes down to my staff. They are willing to pull together and go the extra mile for the kids. And it shows.

Each year our good friends Michael and Deborah invite us over to decorate Christmas cookies and share a meal. They make a point of inviting different families to participate each year. This year they invited the Syrian family that they’ve been sponsoring. It was a lovely afternoon and I was grateful that my children had the opportunity to connect with Nour and Hashem and their children.

Our future.


My brother is home from his work gig in the U.K. It was the first time in eons that all three of us were together for Christmas. So special!


Lists and Sundays

I heard a while back that creating lists actually reduces stress, and that if you have trouble sleeping, you should make a list right before you go to bed so that the ‘list’ won’t be swimming around in your head all night. I think it’s a bunch of bunk because a few weeks ago I woke up in the middle of the night with lists swimming a marathon through the grey matter, got up, wrote a small novella, went back to bed and woke up with hives. What’s my learning from that? I make smaller, more manageable lists, not ones that encompass every aspect of my life: work, kids, meals, birthdays, chores, appointments. Today I present to you my very reasonable list.

As you can see, this blog entry is part of the list … since I have to blog in order to cross of two other items. Huh? Well here it is: Last week I wrote a letter to my cousin’s daughter Tessa who is 5, super cute and will likely be thrilled to get a letter in the mail. I added in photos of what we were doing that night. I mailed it the next day knowing full well that when she got it her younger brother James might freak out because there wasn’t one for him … so I’ve been planning his letter which I’ve decided will be all about Liam (my 12 year old) who he adores. Since I love technology (read: I have a problem), I took a vid of Liam at drumming lessons and made a QR code for the letter so that when James’s mom or dad scan it with their phone, it takes James to this blog page and this video of Liam. Clever, I know. LOL

So here’s Liam at his lesson last week. Playing along to Toxicity. Jaunty tune… HOPE YOU LOVE IT JAMES!

After creating a QR code and finishing the letter I will tackle the knitting tasks … since I can watch Netflix while I do that (I’m binge watching Lie to Me right now. I think it will become very handy when questioning kids about incidents at school. “Did you throw that snowball? See there, that’s a lie.”)

I love to knit! My favourite projects are generally small things – socks, scarves, mittens – since they are done relatively quickly. At this time in the year I’m mending 2 pr of mittens and finishing up a third. Here they are:

After that will be the Halloween costumes. I have a pink taffeta bridesmaid dress that I wore in 1989 that I’m going to turn into a tooth fairy costume. Liam plans to be Nathan Drake. Whoever the hell that is. I’ll post the shots of those costumes later on!

Better get to it!

Wedding Weekend in the Big (Canadian) Apple

Rather than our typical Thanksgiving traditions at the lake, all of the fam and extended fam are in Toronto for my cousin’s big-ass wedding. So here I am, writing on my iPad on a Sunday morning in a semi-dark hotel room while Paul is at the gym and the kids are still sleeping.

Being a mom is always busy, but being a mom when you’re going on a trip of any sort, kicks it up a notch. So much to consider – so much to pack – so little time. So yesterday morning, in preparation for a weekend of city, and as a way to get my chi back after packing (and re-packing) for the kids plus myself, I took a long relaxing walk with the dog – in the rain, no less. Felt awesome!! I love walking through the bush as the colors are changing. The light is magnificent, and with the rain, it smelled magnificent too! I really need to do that more often. Maybe every day. (Ya right.)

Baked up a batch of banana oat muffins for the hotel room while watching a little Grey’s  (while doing some laundry and cleaning up so that the house is in some semblance of order for our return). We made it out by 1 … put Bree in the middle as a strategy for world peace, then a quick pit stop at Chapters to get a card (oops, forgot that!) and the obligatory book for each passenger (who can go on a trip without a book?).  It wasn’t a quick pit stop, but lots of fun. Paul’s book was a baking magazine for me lol. Of course Starbucks was involved and that rounded out the preparations. Who isn’t happier with a chai tea latte?

Arrived in Toronto, checked in to our gorgeous hotel and headed out to explore. Hit Bloor Street and got some deals at the Gap. We also watched a lady boldly walk right out the front door of a store with a $200 jacket. Unreal how that happens. The employees are essentially powerless. Makes me wonder how some people can have no morals.

After considerable discussion about the definition of ‘smart casual’, Paul and I, my sibs and my mom headed up to join other immediate fam for the rehearsal dinner – atop the hotel – good eats, great people! (Many of whom flew from Oz, Ireland and the UK.)  The kids ate dinner with their cousins at a restaurant on Bloor, but managed to pop in for dessert because they’re smart that way. Liam was first up to the mic after formal speeches, relaxing everyone who were considering if they had the courage to say something. His speech went something like this: “Hi. I’m Liam, I’m 12 and I’m not supposed to be here – so this is a bit ‘under the table’… (long pause)… everyone clap.” Hilarious. Stole the show.

Toronto skyline. Not exactly what I’m used to…

Tokay is Wedding Day! Stay tuned! We’ll be off to Casa Loma once we visit the ROM. Guess I’d better get the kids out of bed… (but it’s so peaceful!!!)