A Winter Family Day

- The Outback Blogger (Renee Pihowitch)

Oh Saturdays, they’re my favorite. After a busy week of school and extra-curriculars, all we crave is fun family time and I find that getting outside in the fresh air with my family and playing is the best cure for stress. We’ve definitely had some amazing weather this winter for it!

Before we head out for the day, the kids need to be fed and watered. Almost every weekend we have one day where we have a “big breakfast”, which is actually more like a heavy brunch. It involves eggs, fruit, waffles, toast and bacon or breakfast sausage that we usually pick up from the Outback Butcher. All of his meats are locally cut, cured and smoked in his abattoir. We also like to have his pepperoni sticks and summer sausage on hand for snacks. I like to have a variety of things to eat so the kids have options, but more importantly, full bellies that will keep them going for a couple hours.

After our big breakfast, we pack up a few snacks and water bottles and head into town. If the back of your vehicle doesn’t look like this do you even live in Saskatchewan?

It’s always good to have extra toques, mittens and blankets in the car during winter just in case someone’s mitts get wet, someone gets cold, or worst case you get caught in a blizzard and need to wait it out. Good ole’ Saskatchewan weather. Sometimes I even throw in a spare pair of clothes for each kid depending on what we’re doing or where we’re going. The weather was warm enough on this day that our mitts are going to be wet for sure, so I double checked to make sure we had extras.

Once packed, we made our way into town, for our outdoor family day. Carrot River has so many things to offer for winter activities right in town, and most of them are in one spot. Our favorite things to do are skating at the outdoor rink (or as the kids prefer O.D.R.), and playing at the park. But the sliding hill is prime right now because it’s nice and packed! We park at the Elementary School on the weekends or after school hours, and it’s all within walking distance from there, even with a toddler.

Dan and Maddox usually start out at the skating rink, and we lucked out because one of Maddox’s friends happened to be there. They got to play a bit of one-on-one while the girls and I went to play at the park.

I remembered that the StoryWalk, put on by the Carrot River Recreation Board, was on as well this weekend! We had to walk back to the town office to start, but the girls didn’t mind. As we walked along the path, each page of the story directed us to the next. It was such a neat way to explore main street and the girls had so much fun searching for each next page.
When we were done, it ended right where we had started so the girls ran straight to the park. We’re so lucky to have this huge park right in town! There are three different parts to it. The main part with the bridge and slides is definitely best for the smaller kids. They can easily climb the stairs, play x’s and o’s, or go down the slides. Then there are the seesaws, merry-go-round and swings on the west side of the yard, and then behind the school to the north, there are some bigger swings and monkey bars that the bigger kids like to play on. In the summer, the tennis court/basketball court and soccer fields/tee-ball fields are also set up.

After we raced down the twin slides a few times, swung on the swings and did a few spins on the merry-go-round, we were off to make snow angels and snowmen. The best part of the park area is that it’s so big and there’s so much snow for snowmen and snow forts, and there are also lots of trees to find arms and noses for the snowmen.

Note to self, bring carrots for snacks next time and use extra carrots for snowmen noses!
Once the girls were satisfied with their snowman, we did some exploring and ended up at the sliding hill. We climbed to the top and Avrie yelled, “Hey boys! Watch this!”, and proceeded to slide down the steepest part of the hill. I don’t know where my three year old gets her bravery or sassiness from some days.
The boys were instantly done skating, grabbed their saucers and came straight for us, claiming they could go further and faster.
We find these circle saucers to be the best for sliding. They’re compact and light, fit nicely together and are easy to fit into my vehicle. I tie a small rope loop to them so they’re easier for the kids to carry up themselves, but sometimes they get lazy and I have to slide down and grab the saucers for them – the joys of being a parent.

I could easily spend all day up here watching them climbing up and sliding down. It’s my favorite hill because it’s the perfect size for the little kids to climb up, but steep enough they can still go down fast and ramp the little dip at the bottom of one side if they want. It’s also packed down enough right now that you can slide down on your bum without a saucer.

Once we spent a good hour sliding (and launching the kids off the bump at the bottom) we decided to wander back to the car. The kids were soaked and hungry but that didn’t stop them from checking out the snow forts that someone had built beside the rink. Kudos to the kids that spent the time building them!
Even though they were getting tired, the kids’ imagination never ceases to amaze me. They turned this fort/tunnel into a ship with a trampoline and boobytraps, as well as a crow’s nest to watch for icebergs (Maddox is obsessed with the Titanic).

Once they were officially played out we packed into the car and handed out snacks and drinks. I always try to pack the least messy snacks I can think of in the car, and future me thanks me for that. So this time we had Oreo cookies, and apple slices with water bottles.
By the time we drove the 3.5 miles home, the kids had devoured their snacks and were exhausted. They came into the house, peeled off their winter clothes and went straight for the heated blanket and begged for deluxe hot cocoas. If you have never had deluxe hot cocoa, they’re definitely worth trying. This is what our family goes with:

Deluxe Hot Cocoa
2 big tbsp of your favorite hot cocoa mix
1 cup warmed milk
Handful of mini marshmallows
Cool whip (in the aerosol can)
Chocolate shavings (or this Epicure Cocoa Crunch)
Froth the hot cocoa and milk together, layer in the remaining ingredients.
The marshmallows hold up the cool whip so it doesn’t sink down and dissolve into the hot cocoa.

As we sat and watched a movie with popcorn and deluxe hot cocoas, I couldn’t help to think how lucky we are to have so many things to do in such a convenient area in town. It’s easy to break into groups and go do things but still be able to keep an eye on all the kids at the same time. It’s definitely an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon outside in Saskatchewan’s Outback!