Thursday, February 26, 2009

11 Children On The Go to Park City

Well, another black out on the old blog, but after you read about this trip you will understand. Feb 19-23 was our annual college reunion ski trip. We guess this was the 8th or 9th year. It started before there was not a single child amongst us and now we had 11 ranging in age from 9mos to 8years old in a single house. The destination this year...Park City, UT. And the timing was great...a storm had just dumped several feet of fresh and we had three days of sun or partly cloudy on tap.

The house had been booked for months and was perfect having 9 closed door rooms with beds...enough for every family, single, and couple to have their own room. There was one room which housed two Dads who happen to come without their wives for either illness reason or Daddy-Daughter bonding. I blogged about rental hunting previously in "Book Ski Vacation Accommodations Now..."

My husband and I shopped at CostCo for a ton of the non-perishable items two days prior to starting our road trip. At nearly $1200 for 4 plane tickets and 1 rental vehicle we opted for the open road this year. My budget is approximately $25 per kid and $50 per adult when it comes to food. This covers breakfast items, sack lunch stuff for the mountain if you so desire, and 3 dinners at the house that I well as munchies and beverages of the minor and adult-type. One tip about shopping for kids...find out specialities of any children that might result in a mutiny of that item. For instance one family has a son whose breakfast is always those frozen pancakes. Well, last year that family bought those, but as soon as the other little noses in the house caught a whiff they were gone in a single breakfast sitting. So this year I splurged on a few of those items. Then once in town I grab a couple of able bodies and hit the grocery for all the perishables and what wouldn't fit in our vehicle...we had two carts overflowing and required a manger override the bill was so large and later that night our credit card company marked us for fraud as well. We also had some folks in early pick up discounted lift tickets at Canyon Sports the only catch to note is Deer Valley's can only be purchased a day in advance, but with a group this large it is totally worth sending someone out to get them.

But rooms were assigned folks started landing and pizza, salad, and laughs began.

Day 1 was at Park City Ski Resort. It was sunny. Kids 6 and under were FREE. Some kids skied that day, some took lessons, and some stayed home with one parent in the AM then joined us for lunch. Phones or talk abouts are essential on a mountain this large with a group this large. With 20minutes we had managed to gather everyone and stake out a lunch spot at Legacy Lodge on the sundeck. There was only one escape route set of stairs and a pile of snow to keep the kids occupied so it worked out great. Everyone enjoyed the sunny day. And that evening we had 3 sitters from the Guardian Angels of Park City come to the home and care for all the children so we could enjoy a dinner out. After asking for recommendations we got priority seating at Cisero's. It worked out perfect as we had enough time for one drink in their nightclub downstairs while they finished placing our tables and then up for a nearly 3hr long meal. We had a single waiter whom we were his only table of the evening and the food and service were great. We returned to all kids fed and in bed...minus our one usual hold-out. So a very successful evening.

Day 2 was the Adult Only day on the snow. All ski school age children were enrolled and two of our sitters from the previous night returned to care for the younger ones at the house. Check out my earlier post about this at Child goes on ski school, childcare, and more. Another beautiful day on the snow at the Canyons this time. We tend to pick the resort closest to our rental house on this day just in case something does happen we can get back quickly. Again at this resort Kids 6 and under are free.

Day 3 was a mix of skiers and non, kids in lessons and not at Deer Valley ski resort. The day was partly cloudy, but their grooming was impeccable as always. And we managed to get three of the children skiing at the same level that their Dad and I skied all morning with them. I don't think a single person packed their sack lunch here so we could all enjoy the decadent cafeterias. My daughter most enjoyed the fact she could load her hot chocolate with as many marshmallows as she wanted. Another wonderful day. A couple of notes about Deer snowboarders, so we did alienate two of our group for the day and no children are free.

All in all another hugely successful trip and with each year the kids grow the easier it seems to get. But here are a few key learnings from this year we will carry forward:
- Bring a backpack with lots of strap or carabiners to get ski boots, kids, skis, helmets, lunches, etc strapped onto or in
- Just fork out the cash (generally $5) for a basket or locker for unlimited in and out all day. This way you have a place for that aforementioned pack and lunches as well as shoes they just wore in from the parking lot. Come'on now...we hate walking in ski boots, just think of your kids.
- Masking label all of your kids gear the night before ski school. Even though two years ago one little boy got a pair of UGH boots comp'ed by the ski resort because they lost his clearly labels $10 Target boots.
- Collapsible Lunch Bags/Thermoses...snow sports are not cheap and if you kid is happy with a PB&J why pay $5 for a slice of cheese pizza at a ski resort.
- Crafts...while at the house we had crafts and various trinkets including beads and noisemakers for an impromptu Mardi Gras Parade the last night the kids took turns leading throughout the house.
- Healthy Eating...every year leading up to this one we have nearly everyone ill within a day or two of returning home. So this year's shopping list included veggie trays, fresh fruit and the meals were stir fry and make-your-own burrito with lots of veggies. This and a large box of Immune Emeregen-C for the adults to consume at least once a day. We have been home now for three days and no massive outbreaks.

Next years destination is TBD, but we saw a glimpse of our future with the kids starting to ski together and growing to an age they are becoming fast friends. So we are excited about the prospect of our children having many more years on the go with our friends' children.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Child goes skiing in different conditions

Wow...the Lake Tahoe ski season has been all over the map so far. That is with regards to temperatures, weather, and snow conditions. We've had storms dumping 3feet of fresh with big winds and then the very next weekend we have had spring conditions with temps reaching 50 degrees. Luckily early on..way before children...when we were actually teaching kids and having ones of our own was the furthest from our minds we were learning how to and not to dress kids for the slopes.

Dress in layers. Layering accommodates the body’s constantly changing temperature. The two most important layers are the ones closest to your skin and the one outside:
> Closest to Skin: Try polypropylene underware (top and bottoms) which feels good next to the skin, dries quickly, absorbs sweat and is warm.
> Outermost: When buying skiwear, look for fabric that is water and wind-resistant. Look for wind flaps to shield zippers, snug cuffs at wrists and ankles, collars that can be snuggled up to the chin and deep pockets. We preferred a one piece while our children were in diapers, but went to a long jacket and pants once potty-trained. Growth tucks which are hem linings with extra fabric where one can remove the stitching and the inseam length extends another two inches to accommodate child's growth will help pants last longer Good Source: ,, Brands include: Columbia, REI, Obermeyer
> Middle layers to consider would be a a turtleneck or sweater/fleece

Kids should also wear gloves or mittens (mittens are usually better for kids who are susceptible to cold hands). Even on warm spring days, the snow is very abrasive to your bare skin. We have fallen in love with the Obermeyer mittens this season. There Velcro opening up the middle of the hand extends well up to the fingers to allow you to really help the toddler-aged children get their hands fully up into the glove.

Neck Gator is a must on cold/snowy days! These lightweight, mid weight, to heavy weight tubes of fleece that fit over their heads not only keep the neck warm, but can be pulled up to cover the cheeks, nose, and chin when the winds are particularly strong.

Thin wool or synthetic knee-high socks. And a couple of pairs is a good idea because when the feet sweat they get cold, so changing to a dry pair at snack/lunch time will make for a more enjoyable remainder of the lesson or day. Do not layer socks.

No cotton or clothes such as jeans that absorb water, making one more wet and cold. And only wear a headband if in conjunction with a helmet...again all that heat is going right out the top of their head. So even though their ears may be toasty their core temp is dropping.
And do label everything with your child's name. If you made the effort to label your child's items, but a ski resort ski school or child care facility loses them by all means ask for compensation. Generally they will send you straight over to a resort affiliated shop and allow you to pick up a replacement at their cost. And also be sure your child has the name and phone number of your hotel or your accommodations written down on a piece of paper and it’s in a secure pocket. If you carry a cell phone, include this number too.
Following some of these simple guidelines allows your child to go skiing in drastically different conditions and easily adjust as needed by adding or removing the layers mentioned.