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Photo credit: Mt Peter

I am not a natural athlete.  I lack the competitive drive, natural agility, and most importantly interest.  My daughter, on the other hand, was born an athlete; every sport she tries she loves and excels at.  The one sport I do enjoy and am semi-competent in is skiing.  I have been impatiently awaiting for Madison to be old enough to learn to ski with me.  Loving all sports like she does, I was really hoping this could be the one sport we could enjoy together.


Madison turned five years old last week, and for me that felt like the perfect age to start skiing.  Not having skied in the last two years because of pregnancy and then having an infant, I didn’t trust myself to take her for her first time so I signed her up for a lesson at Mount Peter in Warwick.  Chris, our instructor, is also the ski school supervisor and the father of a four year old whom he taught to ski when she was 18 months.  So, I felt confident in his ability to keep Madison safe and to provide a solid lesson.  He told me he could teach her to ski in an hour but wanted to take her up the ski lift.  I had initially thought he would teach her the basics like putting on and taking off the skis, walking around in them, and then perhaps the magic carpet on the smallest hill, so I was not emotionally prepared to let her out of my sight and up the mountain.  I was also doubtful he could teach her to ski independently in only an hour, but I kept that to myself.  Chris was disappointed but understanding of my hesitancy.


After securing Madison’s skis, they headed over to the magic carpet, and Madison took her first ride up the hill.  As soon as they reached the top, Chris had Madison skiing on her own while he skied in front of her.  By the end of her hour long lesson, Madison was snowplowing down the hill independently and just getting the hang of making turns.  Chris was right.  He had her skiing in an hour.  It was all I could do to keep myself from jumping up and down on the sidelines, although I did a little to keep myself warm.  When the lesson was finished, Madison was frozen but so proud of herself.  Chris had been a great instructor: totally kid friendly, made the lesson fun, gave Madison confidence on the slope,  and appeased my crazy worrisome mama ways.


Mount Peter Ski & Ride is a great place for beginners and families of varying abilities.  They have trails to accommodate the novice and experienced skier, offer free lessons with the purchase of a lift ticket on weekends and holidays, and their rates are reasonable.  We took advantage of the weekday special: lift ticket and private lesson for $65.  We also had the benefit of having the bunny hill to ourselves, and practically the mountain as well which was well maintained.  We, of course, checked out the girl’s bathroom which was newly renovated and even provided a basket above the toilets for gloves and other ski accessories you may need to remove.  Madison and I ended our day with a snack of rather expensive french fries in the lodge before heading home, but you do have the option of bringing your own food.


The bad news is the Hudson Valley is cold right now and will be for awhile.  The good news is that means our local ski slopes are thriving.  We can’t escape the cold, so let’s make the best of it and enjoy what winter has to offer.


Christmas vacation is two weeks long.  As a teacher I would have rejoiced.  As a mom, I cringe- just a little.  What are we going to do for two weeks?! It seems like it should be so easy with all those new toys in the house, but we all know that will only get you so far before everyone is crying about how bored they are.  Infuriating isn’t it?  Luckily, there happens to be a lot going on in our area to get us through the break and enjoy our time together.


1. The Hudson Highlands Museum will be open on Thursday the 26th and Friday the 27th from 12-4 in addition to their normal weekend hours.  At $3 a person with live animals, presentations, and crafts, it’s a nice way to spend a few hours.  If dropping off your kids while making those returns to the mall or enjoying a few hours of post-holiday peace alone is more your thing, they are also offering a mini camp on Monday, Dec. 30-Friday, January 3rd (excluding 1/1) from 9-11:30 for $22 a day for non-members.  Pre-registration required

2. Bear Mountain Ice Rink ($5 per person plus the cost of rentals if needed) is open everyday except for Christmas Day.  The carousel ($1 per person) is also open on the weekends.


3. Luckily (or not) we have snow.  This opens up a few more opportunities such as the obvious sleigh riding, snow ball fights, and snowman building.  However, if you’re looking for a little more speed and a little less work of dragging yourself, your kid, and your sled back up the hill over and over and over, then Orange County Park tubing is for you.  You get to slide down manicured snow tracks at great speed to then be pulled back up by a rope just so you can do it all over again.  This is the first year Madison will be big enough to go.  I’m secretly dreading it which is how I know she will love it.  $13 for OC residents, $17 for non-residents


4. The Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum is always a great option for kids.  In addition to their regular hours and exhibits, they have a few special events going on during the break.  Reservations required for all special events

-December 23rd at 10: Wild World of Animals,

-December 30th, the inflatable Planetarium will have showings of A Day of Winter Stars

-December 31, New Years @ Noon party with music, activities, refreshments and every parents favorite: noisemakers!

5. Have a sports fan?  Army Hockey has a home game on January 4th at 7:05.  Tickets are $13-17 per person.  Madison’s grandma took her last year, and she loved it.  Her favorite part?  The cheering.  I was the designated cheerer for her driveway games everyday for over a week last year.


6.  Bowling, for us, is a family event that we all enjoy.  Many bowling allies offer specials for the long holiday vacation.  Our nearest alley, Colonial Lanes in Chester, is offering a weekday special of a half hour free with the purchase of an hour.  They are also hosting a family friendly New Year’s Eve Party with bowling, music, and food.


7.  Don’t forget to relax.  It is a vacation,  and a well deserved one after all the hustle and bustle of prepping for the holidays.

Other than the cold, I love winter. I think freshly fallen snow is one of the most beautiful sights in the world. Once I’m all bundled up I love to go outdoors. When I was a child I loved to go ice skating, sledding with my brothers and building forts out of snow. And, of course my brothers loved to start snow fights. As I got older, I still loved to spend time outdoors during the winter by snowboarding, I even enjoyed shoveling  snow (my parents requested it since I still live under their roof.) I know that some children prefer to stay indoors during the winter, but it is always important to try to encourage your children to stay active. Even though there are plenty of activities you can do indoors, we just wanted to remind of all the great activities you can enjoy outside.

There’s hockey, ice-skating, sledding, building snow men and if your children are really feeling adventurous there is snowboarding and skiing. If the last two options are too expensive for you, we have good news. New York State has recently announced the arrival of a new Frequent Skier Card that allows skiers/snowboarders to save 20 percent on lift tickets at the following resorts: Belleaye, Hunter, Windham, Plattekill and Holiday Mountain. There is also a deal for any children in the 4th grade. 4th graders from across the country can ski or ride for free at more than 25 participating New York State ski areas this winter when accompanied by a paying adult. Interested participants can visit here to fill out an application and send it in with a $19  processing fee to the address provided, along with a report card, progress report or letter from their school verifying that the child is in the 4th grade. Applicants will receive a seasonal 4th Grade Passport booklet of coupons including free all-day lift tickets, with the purchase of an adult lift ticket. This is a great way to introduce your child to a lifelong healthy habit.

If you are looking for a weekend trip with your family, there are deals for that too. For the weekends of January 9, February 6 and March 6, guest can book a weekend “ski and stay” package and get the third night’s lodging and a third day of skiing for free at participating properties, including Gore Mountain, Greek Peak Mountain, Holiday Valley and Hunter Mountain. For a complete listing of participating properties and to book this package, visit here. Pretty soon your whole family will be hitting the bunny slopes. Happy Holidays!


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