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Thursday February 18, 2016. 23:43
My Ski Trips With Nichole

 

Some things can't be sacrificed. Even in tough times, when the budget is backwards and jobs are few and far between, finding ways to ensure my daughter knows where she fits in my list of priorities is, well, high on my list of priorities. Every family is different, every household situation is unique, but for me and my family, we understand the importance of making sure each child knows how individually important they are to us.

Nichole, my 8 year old daughter and eldest child can sometimes have a demanding personality. She likes to be in charge, she likes to rewrite the rules to help her win the game, she likes to make sure the cats know they can't be on the counter and the kids on the bus know they need to sit down and be quiet. She also likes to climb on the counter, and run around screaming on the bus. And when the game isn't going her way, and the other players hold fast to the preset rules, it isn't long before the board and all the pieces are strewn across the room (literally and metaphorically). She is her own person, and she has her own character, she is Nichole. With an H.

If it wasn't for this, I imagine it would be quite easy for me to drop the ball. It would be very easy for me to lose her amidst the craze of life. To forget her when her 15 month old brother wants up, wants food, wants downstairs, wants to play the drums, the guitar, play with my power drills, just be a cute baby in general. So when I recently discovered that Nichole is thrilled about sliding speedily down snowy slopes on a pair of skis, I didn't let it slip past unnoticed. Since this discovery last spring, I've managed to take advantage of this as "our time", time for her and I to escape her brother, her Mom, her Chica, her structured and routine world at home, and just get away and hit the slopes. But there are a lot of challenges and real life issues that need to be sorted to make this feasible.

First off, Skiing isn't cheap. A trip to the mountains can quickly break the bank. This one was a real challenge, but I was able to find a few ways to make it a bit less painful. First off, no one likes getting any child up and on the road on time for a day at the mountains, and the stress and exhaustion of that would defeat the purpose with Nichole. So I decided to see how Nichole would take to Hostelling. I've always been a hosteller, and still stand by it. Get out, meet people, learn about other cultures, and feel part of something other than just my own world. So after a quick Google, I found out that (with my Hostelling International membership) beds in mixed dorm rooms at the Banff and Lake Louise HIs go for about $35, and for a child it's half that. So for under $55 a night, we are staying 10 minutes from a couple amazing Alberta ski hills, and Nichole has new friends to share the excitement of her ski trip with. Another bonus is the full kitchen each HI has. So far we haven't planned ahead enough to pack groceries, but that is definitely the next step. I also make sure I prepurchase ski passes before getting to the mountains. Some hills have amazing online deals (I keep coming across half price Norquay tickets for skiing and tubing on travelzoo.ca), and some you can save on if you're an AMA or Costco member.

The second concern I had was teaching her how to ski. The way I ski is I point the front of the skis downhill (if possible, for the most part) and then go. Out of self preservation, I turn when I need to and stop when something is in my way. I'm not a bad skier, really, but to try and teach it to Nichole I'm sure would end up with one or both of us mad and crying. Plus, as much as I want to spend this time with her, it's hard for me to spend the day on the bunny hills watching all those moguls pass me by. So I discovered the full day lessons. They aren't exactly cheap, but by the time you calculate in her lift pass, rentals (I did cave during boxing week and got her skis to save on the rental lines at the hill), lunch, and (forgive me) the pain of trying to teach her how to ski while paying big money to do so. So, if we manage to arrive early enough, we do a couple runs together, I drop her off with her coach before 1030, hit the slopes myself as hard as I can, usually find her half way through the day and take some photos and a video or two, and collect her at 3:30. And if we're still up for it, get in a few more runs of our own.

Currently we are on one of our ski trips. Nichole is sleeping soundly in the bunk while I type and charge the action-cam. This trip we're pushing it a bit as her Chica & I leave her with her Mom and Grandma in a few days for a week away, so we're taking an extended trip. We did our normal first night in Lake Lousie at the HI, did our day as planned on the hill in beautiful above 0 temps, made our way to Banff to the HI and booked our table at The Old Spaghetti Factory. After supper we headed towards the Upper Hot Springs, but changed our minds (we swam there a couple trips ago) because the hotel beside our hostel has public use ($6 for HI guests) to their waterpark, which has 2 waterslides, an indoor and an outdoor hot tub, plus a small splash pool, and of course a lot more kids. Nichole was far happier with that choice. After completely burning her out at the pool, we came back to our room (no roommates tonight so far), got ready for bed, trimmed her claws that I noticed while swimming were far too long and dangerous for the non-retractable kind, and she was out as soon as her head hit the pillow. Tomorrow we'll use our discounted tickets at Norquay for a couple hours of tubing, then we'll do a wee bit of hiking, maybe check out the Bow Falls and the Hoodoos, walk around downtown for a bit and maybe hit the waterpark again. We'll attempt to have an early night and plan to be home at a reasonable time on Saturday.

What I've done is I've created a kind of mini tradition with Nichole. She is starting to expect a ski trip in the near future. She is starting to anticipate an upcoming escape. She may whine a bit because her new boots hurt her feet (this trip I think they are finally worn in and no longer hurt), or complain about how long the drive is, but she always wants to come back. Maybe, like in "Inside Out" we're creating an Island. One I hope she can cherish for a life time, returning to often. But ultimately I hope I am reinforcing the fact that she is not second to anyone in my eyes (I might have a few ties for first), but for her to know that she is worth it, and that she deserves my undivided attention more than I give it, and that she has my whole heart, that is the goal. If I know she sees that, and sees it without a doubt, I will feel like I'm succeeding at something worth while. After all, she deserves it.

 

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