Hmm, lots of equipment, an early start time, and it's cold - these three things often add up to a kid deal-breaker, but somehow skiing transcends this list of dislikes and instead adds up to love - total love. When a friend offered us his house in Deer Valley for the week before Christmas, I logged onto kayak.com and booked the tickets to Salt Lake City in about 3.2 seconds. It was too good an offer to pass up and we'd be back home in time to leave cookies for Santa on Christmas eve. We had skied as a family in Vermont and New England but I was blown away by the whole Deer Valley experience. From the gorgeous weather to the great atmosphere on the mountain we had one of our best mini vacations ever. Let's start with the ski school. It's NUT FREE which, when you have a highly allergic child, allows you to actually relax after you drop your kids off. Belle and Sadie adored their instructors (shout out to Annie and Megan!) and were thrilled to show us their skills after class. John and I were so proud to watch them schuss down the mountain and happier still to see the sense of accomplishment they both felt. Deer Valley held another great surprise - real food! From coffee at the Deer Valley Grocery to an actually healthy lunch at the Empire Lodge we were happily well fed - a total change from the standard grilled cheese and questionable burger cuisine of the northeast. The Deer Valley blog offers some tips on skiing with kids and advised me to carry some treats to keep the kids happy. Instead, we stopped at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory for apres ski caramel apples. My kids were very happy. Belle and Sadie gave Daly's Pub the Best Restaurant title. With onsite bowling alleys and Wii, Daly's has the club rec room that parents dream of in a restaurant - the girls actually skipped dessert to fit in more game time. But I have to say my favorite meal was the grilled steaks and salsa verde we made back at the house. Dinner, followed by a little ping pong and a screening of Back to the Future was the perfect ending to a few days of skiing with my crew. Getting kids skiing from an early age (when they're fearless!) is a gift they'll appreciate their whole lives. The shared joy of skiing together as a family is, from a mom's perspective, simply a treasure. Sign me up for season lift tickets. Here's what I'm packing for the kids: snow pants from Lands End - one of the greatest cold weather kid items ever, and a fabulous value, and a Burton Girls Mistique Jacket, (room to grow features means two seasons of wear and inside straps mean your little one can carry the jacket like a backpack when not wearing it), and Tecnica Moon Boots with leggings, turtleneck and the Fiona Fur Vest for a kicky kid apres ski look. And don't forget the sunscreen: California Baby gets a great rating from Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep database, my go-to guide for everything I use on my kids. Next dilemma - how to fit a fondue pot fit in my carry-on?