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Playing in the snow

It's amazing how snow transforms the neighborhood into a Norman Rockwell holiday scene. Of course, it's all the better since I can actually locate my kids' snow suits and mittens (this isn't the case every winter).

Our wonderland will probably last only a day or two, though, so I'm thinking about where to go for some more snow fun during the holiday break. For the last couple of years we've gone to Mt. Hood Ski Bowl for snow tubing...big fun for my six year-old son. And I hear they have a new toddler tube run, too. Has anyone tried it out? Any other suggestions for good snow play?

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Word has it that Shetha definitely has some recommendations for toddler ski bunnies - even a picture of her tot in all of his uber-cuteness. Please share with us, Shetha :-)

We JUST went up to Ski Bowl yesterday to take advantage of the toddler tube run. I can't vouch for it personally, as I hung out in the lodge with my hot chocolate, thanks to the ridiculous wind and snow and being pregnant, but my husband and Milo had a blast.

My friend who organized the trip up called and was told that parents could sit with toddlers on their laps if you signed a waiver, but when we got there, we discovered that it's NOT the case. Milo's 2-1/2 and Mac just plopped him into a tube and then attached that tube to his tube and they did fine. Also worked with my friend's 22 month old. Don't know about any kiddos much younger than that though.

We took Philly tubing at Ski Bowl for the first time when she was 3. She loved it. She sat on our laps the first few times and she was fine going solo the rest of the time. They also have a Toddler Tube Hill there, which means you just go down the bottom half of the hill, but Philly seemed fine to go down the whole hill. Oh, they also have this mongo indoor play park, sort of like a giant Burger King playland. It's sort of grubby, but the kids still like it.

When we go skiing (usually at Meadows), we have yet to put the girls (ages 5 and 2) on the slopes. So, while one parent skis, the other plays with the kids in the snow (with the sled & beach toys like buckets and shovels) or hangs in the lodge (with tons of snacks or maybe a movie on the laptop and definitely tons of coloring). We switch about every 1-2 hours and keep in touch with walkie talkies like the dorkies we are.

Finally, on winter gear, I was just telling another mama: Otto Ski Shop in Sandy (right near Joe's Donuts in the heart of Sandy) has lots of used kids gear for sale for decent prices. We got snow boots and snow gloves for our girls there. I can't recall if they have snowsuits or jackets. And, if you're looking to rent skis for the season, Meadowlark (503-668-8173; also right near the donut shop) will rent kids' skis & boots by the day ($14), for 5 weeks ($67) or for the season ($139). You can swap sizes at any time during your rental period. Yes, feet can grow THAT much in 5 weeks!

Excellent tip on the snow gear! I am always fumbling this time of year, caught without a mitten or with boots a size too small!

I've had good luck at the Columbia Sportswear Outlet in Sellwood. I'm also blessed with a very organized neighbor-friend whose kids are slightly older than mine, so she always has good winter cast-offs.

Whew! Am I late to this boat, or what?? So yeah, at Meadows you can get toddler ski rental for about $5 and they let us use the conveyer belt "lift" up the kinder ski hill for free. I bought my son's gear last year when we were in Alaska for the holidays and it still fits him (mostly) this year. Even though he was only 2.5 he loved the skiing thing. We'll have to try the tubing thing at ski bowl, sounds like a blast!

How about sitting on the cookie sheet for a few runs and building a snowman, igloo, fort? No money spent, no kids over stimulated. Or: walk in the woods and admire the snow on the trees, find a frozen pond, take some nuts out to the squirrels.

Why does everyone need to pay for crap: gear, tickets, snacks, movies, beach toys? Tubing with a 22 month old? You folks are nuts.

Take a trip to Ethiopia with all your toddler mongo indoor play park money - you won't need much money once you are there, in fact, even if you are welfare here there you'll be Angie and Brad! - and get a grip about what life is really about.

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