A family ski lesson
My first ski trip gave new meaning to the term ''carving it up''.
At the age of 21, a girlfriend and I ventured to the Victorian alps. After a two-hour lesson, we dared each other to race down the slope. She carved it up all right - her forehead, that is - after falling straight onto her ski tip.
''Humans weren't meant to strap sticks to their feet and slide down mountains,'' she proclaimed in the pub, five stitches and 15 shots of schnapps later.
Despite this, I bravely, recklessly, decided to take my kids on their first ski trip.
It began badly, with whingeing about how it was too cold/boring/painful as I squeezed their sausage-like limbs into the rented clothing that cost an arm and two legs.
Then I got pissed off when Grace went off-piste: unable to stop, she simply slid away.
Well, as the song says, what a difference a day makes. We woke the next morning to glorious blue sky, fluttering snowflakes, and a smiling snowman outside our window.
On our second lesson, the instructor took us down an intermediate run, the kids squealing with terror then delight. Hubby was squealing for another reason, having misjudged a mogul and bruised his bum.
Fellow snowboarders later shared their secret - padding for the patootie. Impact shorts are like the love child of lycra cycling pants and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.
Once he realised he hadn't ''broken a bone in his buttocks'', as was first feared, we started enjoying ourselves. We became border collies, ''herding'' the kids by skiing around them so they weren't mowed down.
This is what we learnt: Instructors are expensive, but worth it. Try to book a family lesson for the morning, when the kids aren't too tired.
Australia's biggest resort, Perisher, has ''Mum & Me'' lessons, while Thredboland is fabulous for kids aged three to six with its famed flare runs on Friday nights.
Alternatively, you can get free lessons on your mobile phone via the Ski School app. Professional instructor Darren Turner gives cool tips, like dragging your pole along to form a circuitous path which your kids can follow. Mount Buller has a new app with an in-built GPS, so you don't get lost.
For beginners, Falls Creek has the country's longest green run, and ski-in-ski-out accommodation.
New Zealand is having a bumper season too, but make sure you close your eyes on the vertiginous road to The Remarkables (unless you're the driver, of course).
If you plan on doing more than one ski trip, buy your own clothing.
Aldi has a sale every Queen's birthday weekend, or there's quality second-hand clobber on eBay.
Or don't be shy to take hand-downs from friends with kids, and then pass them on again when your kids have grown out of them.
There are plenty of discounts leading up to Learn to Ski and Snowboard Week starting on September 7.
Don't be deterred by a bruised bum, stabbed forehead or the ever-present snotsicles. And wear a helmet. That way you can carve up the slopes - not yourself.
Chic children take tea at the Gold Coast's Palazzo Versace hotel. Its new Little Fashionistas high teas are served on Versace china (that's brave!) overlooking the hotel's lagoon. The menu, for groups of eight or more, includes lemonade spiders, toffee apples, cake pops and the omnipresent macarons. palazzoversace.com.au.
Sydney Morning Herald