Tag Archives: winter activities with kids

Let’s scale some snowbanks!

We were in Fernie on the weekend and decided not to ski on Sunday. Instead, the children conquered all the snowbanks around the condo parking lot. There’s something about a snowbank that kids love — it turns into a mountain to climb, a slope to slide down, a fort to hunker behind and launch snowballs.

Forget the mountains, we've got these mini-glaciers to scale, Mom.

Forget the mountains, we’ve got these mini-glaciers to scale, Mom.

Since it snows a lot in Fernie (over 600 cm so far this season), the snowbanks can become really tall. Like 10 feet or more high. The kids spent a good hour clambering up and then slipping down the snow plow-created icebergs. It was awesome to watch their creativity as flat slabs of snow became beds to lay on and even a kitchen table to sit around. Yes skiing Fernie is fun, but sometimes a kid’s just gotta show the snow mountain who’s boss!

Forget Polar Peak -- Avery has just conquered another snowbank.

Forget Polar Peak — Avery has just conquered another snowbank.

We’re trading the snow for some desert sun on a vacation to Arizona. Follow our adventures in the Grand Canyon state as we travel from Phoenix to Sedona and Tucson.

Going to the (howling) dogs

It’s official: we’ve gone to the dogs. The Howling Dog Tours of Canmore, anyway; the ones that pull you in a sled along trails at breakneck speed, which for an Alaskan husky tops out at about 25 km/hr downhill. The kids giggled down every bumpy hill, I laughed with them snug under several blankets and Blake helped our musher, Brock, drive the sled along a snow-packed service road in Spray Valley Provincial Park.

Musher Brock snaps our picture on the trail. Don't we look cozy?

I had my doubts about how the afternoon would turn out, especially when Bennett started saying, “No dog sled, Mommy,” in the van on the way to the staging area. Once there he sat down in the snow and, to my horror, started eating it. “Don’t eat that snow!” one of the guides yelled at him. (Bennett’s bit wasn’t yellow, I don’t think). I also worried when Brock introduced our first two sled dogs as “Cadaver” and “Screamer” — fortunately I misheard him on the first dog’s name (it was actually “Cadabra,” as in “Abra”).

At this point Bennett warmed up to the seven friendly dogs that pulled our sled, and he didn’t even mind when they began barking ballistically right before we screamed out onto the trail.

Cadabra and Screamer get some pets from the kids.

We loved the two-hour tour and highly recommend. Here are five reasons you should go to the dogs too:

  1. The sight of happy dogs playfully nipping at one another as they pull a heavy sled will lift your spirit. They love to run!
  2. The smiles on your kids’ faces as the sled tears down hills and around bends … And subsequent smiles when they pet the dogs and feed them treats afterwards. We were amazed by how friendly the dogs are — and how good they are with little kids.
  3. You’ll feel slightly patriotic whizzing through a forest in the Frozen North while sitting in a sled pulled by huskies. All you need is a bear skin to exchange for a Hudson’s Bay blanket at the trading post. 
  4. The scenery is pretty awesome. Look up and you’ll see the jagged peaks of the Canadian Rockies scratching the sky above the treetops. Our guide said he’s seen wildlife along the trail, too — moose, deer and elk. 
  5. It’s a fun way to embrace winter. You don’t notice the cold or count the minutes you’re outside because you’re having so much fun.

Inglewood Winter Carnival: Community spirit in the ‘hood

My husband and I have lived in the same Calgary neighbourhood for 15 years. We intially bought a home in Inglewood because we liked the older character homes, the neighbourhood’s proximity to downtown and the funky little shopping district along Ninth Avenue S.E. While we still appreciate all of these qualities, what ties us to Inglewood now is its sense of community and what that means for our kids.

This past weekend the Inglewood Community Association staged a winter carnival for residents. The free event included a petting zoo, wagon rides, face painting and balloon animals for kids, munchies, and ice skating at the community rink. Many families showed up on the 12C afternoon and enjoyed the sunshine, catching up with friends and meeting new neighbours. The best part was seeing the next generation of Inglewood kids take to the ice.

They're so little they all fit in the net!

Most of the children attend the community school, the neighbourhood anchor through which parents get to know one another. Because of this community spirit, and perhaps because of Inglewood’s geography (bordered on three sides by the Bow River, Inglewood Bird Sanctuary and Inglewood Wildlands), there’s a sense of safety in the ‘hood. Many families let their kids play outdoors unsupervised; in fact, I wrote about this ‘free-range’ phenomenon in the context of child-safe neighbourhoods in a story for the Calgary Herald  last fall.

As a parent, I think the neighbourhood my kids are growing up in is awesome — that’s a great feeling. What about you? How’s the spirit in your ‘hood? Does it influence how you parent your kids? Does it make you feel more a part of the community?