Unexpected Fun on the Coulee

Sometimes its hard when you have small kids.  Duh, right! Thank you Captain Obvious.  What I’m trying to say is sometimes its hard to do the things you want to with kids – to show them things and to play with them and to have fun with them.  You plan these grand adventures and then someone gets sick or someone is having a fit and it just doesn’t go the way you envisioned.  I guess that’s why some of the best days and best memories just happen. They aren’t planned or mapped out.

Last Sunday it was gorgeous out here in our little part of the world.  There was snow on the ground, it was 30 degrees above zero, the sun was shining and it wasn’t windy.  The perfect winter day for North Dakota.  We took the kids out to get some fresh air and made our way back to our “lake”.  The kids sat on the “shore” of our “lake” and begged us to go ice skating.   I’ve always thought it would be so fun to go skating back there but I’m honestly a little nervous.  The “lake” part can get quite deep and its going to have to be very cold for a long time before I will feel comfortable letting my kids onto it.  Then out of the blue I suggested to my husband that maybe we could just shovel off the   narrow part of the coulee that flows along the yard.  It was pretty dry last summer so that part wasn’t very deep.  If someone did fall through the worst they would have is wet feet and we could have the suburban there if we needed it.  He looked at me, thinking about it and said, “Yeah OK.”

That was all I needed before he knew it I whipped around and ran back to the house (which seems a lot further away when you are running in full winter gear.) I got back  doubled over to catch my breath because I’m out of shape and then quickly got to work gathering ice skates, a couple shovels and a folding chair to use to get our skates on.  I also had to find something to wear to keep my legs warm.  It was too cold for just leggings and too warm for my snow pants.  I remembered my old cheer leading russels from my high school days.   I pulled them out and said a silent prayer that they would fit.  The bad news is that apparently I am so old now that the elastic in the waist snapped like a brittle rubber band when I was trying to get them on.  The good/more bad news was that I didn’t need the elastic in the waist because the butt and thigh area fit like spanx now and kept it all up.

But back to our grand adventure. The kids had no idea what their mom was up to when I ran off but they were beyond excited when I returned with the suburban and saw what we had decided to do. Here’s how it went down:

The coulee:


First things first, break out those shovels:




Who need’s a Zamboni!? He’s a heck of a lot funner to watch!


Next, time to lace up!  Not many pictures, I was busy and glistening by the time I was done lacing up all those little feet.


Finally  – time to skate! It was tricky getting our footing on the rough slippery ice. (I have to say it was better than when I was little and would skate on the puddles in our cattle pasture – no frozen cow pies to trip over!)




And we spent some time on the ground


But eventually we got our footing:



And some of us got fancy practicing our sweet moves





Liam had fun


But soon decided having skates on would be more fun.  He’s never even seen skates but somehow managed to pick his out.




Shadow, our border collie had fun


Roxy, our cat stayed clear of the commotion


It was spontaneous and turned out wonderful. Yes there were some stressful parts.  Shoveling off a coulee is harder than it looks – especially with 4 excited little ones; and getting skates on 4 tiny humans when they can’t sit still and they are getting snow on their feet and in their skates can be trying – but overall the excitement outweighed the stress.  Anyone who has little kids in their lives knows that when your laughs outnumber your meltdowns for the day, you chalk it up as a win.  Those are the days we celebrate and those are the memories we keep close to our heart.





  1. Matthew

    I’m glad you suggested it because It was really fun. I can’t remember the last time I was able to be outside all afternoon in January with just a long sleeve thermal on the majority of the time. I have never actually skated on the coulee before either! Maybe we did when I was really little and i just can’t remember but I’m not sure. We just need to get a bench for the kids to sit on while they’re waiting to get their skates tied 🙂 I don’t think I’ve seen shadow that tired before either after we got back in the house.

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