Thursday, 28 February 2013

Girls' Night

Last weekend I was invited to a:

The invitation read:

No trying to fit into some hot pair of non-mom jeans,
no sweaty 19-year-old dudes, no cover charge, and NO KIDS!
Just a bunch of ladies, calories, and uninterrupted
conversations. Plus, maybe you will leave with a
new outfit or two for you and your kiddos!

Like most parents, I don't get out much.  Especially just to hang out with friends.  So, although I often shy away from social situations, especially ones in which I don't know everyone there really well, I was excited to accept the invitation and have the chance to hang out with some other moms and women.

The evening wasn't anything exceptionally exciting.  We stayed in.  Drank wine.  Ate sweet treats.  Played board games. Swapped clothing.  And talked. 

It was a really good evening.  I laughed, I enjoyed myself, and I appreciated the opportunity to listen and share.
In fact, the evening really reminded me how important it is to get out of the house, away from our husbands and kids and maternal roles.  Time to be yourself, by yourself, with your peers.  No children to distract us from talking about stuff.  Stuff that really mattered to us.  And stuff that doesn't really matter at all.

It was reassuring to talk things out with other like-minded moms and women.  We talked about children sleeping in our beds, trying to fit into pre-parenthood clothes, trash-y television shows, vacations with kids, toiletting experiences in exotic countries, how our tempers have worsened with children, what we remember from our own childhoods, what we hope our children don't remember from theirs, crazy stories about things our kids have done, and how things do seem to get a little easier with time.

The experience actually reminded me a little of the pre-natal classes and mom's groups that I was part of way back when... before the little lives and routines of our children got a little too complicated to fit in women-only social activities. 

Just as before, it was such a comfort to talk things through with other women.  To hear that we're not alone in some of the challenges we face every day.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Totally Louse-y

Dear Lice,

You really know how to spoil a mood.

We've been having such a good week, filled with lots of things to celebrate.  And then, you made your reappearance. 

It wasn't enough for you to come home with our daughter in January.  You liked it so much, your nits decided to make themselves comfortable there once again.

Hearing about you today was so. totally. not. welcome. news.

Sure, you are tiny.  And you don't pose any health risk.  But you are such an incredible nuisance.

Getting through each day, each week, looking after our girls is challenging enough.  The additional worry of your infestation prevention and eradication just throws our routine all out of whack, and adds another stress that we could really do without.

Sure, Bill has taken up the daily lice check and nit removal.  But it's just one more troublesome chore to fit in.

Plus the initial whirlwind of an unscheduled shower, shampoo, lice treatment, wait, rinse, and replacement of all the bedding.  Right at bedtime, of course.

And don't you realise that I can barely keep up with the laundry as it is!   Your arrival puts me about five loads behind schedule.  And washing all the hats, scarfs, bedding, towels and everything in hot water - do you know what that is going to do to our hydro bill?

Oh, and the vacuuming.  Well, at least of the couch and the cushions.  But really.  Vacuuming?  C'mon?  Now you're also expecting me to tackle something from seldom-gets-done-list.

Just give us a break, won't you please, Lice?  Won't you please make this visit your last?

From a super-frustrated, tired, and overwhelmed,
Average Working Mom

Thursday, 14 February 2013

What I want and what I do are often quite different

For example:

I wish I were slim. But I crave chocolate and sweets and eat them irrationally and uncontrollably.

I love my kids to pieces. But often I’m not really present with them when I have the chance.

I want to do something different, more challenging, and more meaningful in my career. But I am incredibly comfortable with where I am and what I have.

I want to be fit and toned. But I fail to make fitness a priority.

I actually really enjoy managing our household: making sure there are groceries, planning the meals, sorting through all the stuff, keeping our lives organised. But I go a little crazy trying to balance it all with a full-time job.  But I'd go crazy if that is all I had to do.

When I’m at work, I think about all the things I could be doing at home. When I’m at home, I’m often thinking about work.

I want my kids to participate in activities like swimming and dance and gymnastics and soccer… There are things I’d like to do more of too.  But I dislike too much running around and there aren’t enough hours in the day or days in the week, so we all do less than we'd like. 

I'd like a simpler life, with more time for me and my husband and my children. But we have three young girls, two full-time jobs, two pets, one mortgage.

During the week, I look forward to the weekend. But by Sunday afternoon, I’m looking forward to going back to work.

I want my girls to grow up being confident and proud and to feel good about their appearance and abilities. But I’m not sure I feel this way myself.

I often feel inspired by motivational quotations and ideas.  Yet I fail to follow through with the suggestions they make.

I think about doing things differently, making changes and challenging myself.  But I continue to live with what I have and what I know because it's comfortable.

Maybe it's time to start doing things differently.  But am I ready?

Friday, 8 February 2013

No, I haven't forgotten about my weekly challenges

It's just that these posts about my weekly challenges aren't very interesting to write. But I don't want to be accused of not following through, so here it is.

I did get a week's reprieve while we were away on our ski trip, (although I did bring and play my ukulele one night!) but back on track this week with both a kale and a crock-pot meal in one night.

I'm trying to avoid basic stews in the crock-pot because, although convenient, they usually aren't very good.  But I thought maybe soup would be okay, so I tried this Old-Fashioned Beef and Noodle Soup recipe from my Slow Cooker Revolution cookbook.  


I didn't use blade steak, as suggested.  I used plain ol' stewing beef instead.  Turns out, I should've used the blade steak.  I thought long, slow cooking in the crock-pot with lots of liquid was supposed to mean that tougher, less expensive cuts of meat could be used and end up tasting moist and tender.  But no, it still tasted like tough, tasteless stewing meat to me.  The kids too, apparently.  But they did eat the noodles and most of the vegetables. Maybe next time, I'll dredge the meat in flour and brown it first.

The kale was even less exciting.  Pressed for time and stuck for ideas, I thought I'd try sautéing it again, but this time with bacon.  Like in this yummy Brussels sprouts recipe from Dinner: A Love Story which I reviewed here a while back.  But kale isn't as yummy as Brussels sprouts. Of course it was good - it had bacon in it!  But it felt a little like cheating.  And entirely counter-productive to pair a nutritional superstar like kale with the guilty goodness of bacon.  Oh well.

As the storm whirls away outside, I realize that there are still many winter weeks of kale and crock-pot meals to go... Who can help me with some recommendations?  


Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Skiing at Smuggs

I'm still in the first couple of days back to reality after our family holiday last week.  After a wonderful vacation, followed by a busy weekend, it has certainly been hard to readjust to routine.  I don't quite feel ready to give up the holiday mindset.  Not just yet.   

So please allow me to fondly the details of our trip...

It was our annual family ski holiday with our in-laws.  Although we've skied in Vermont many times over the years, this was our first trip to Smugglers' Notch

Excited to have our three young girls learn to ski, we chose Smuggs this year because it is always highly rated by national ski magazines as a great resort for families, with excellent kids' ski programs.  Smugglers' Notch certianly did not disappoint!

Thanks to the incredible generosity of Grandma and Papa, the girls were registered for a week's worth of ski lessons.  Alice, not quite 3, and 4 1/2 year old Sophie were registered for five days of Discovery Dynamos Camp.  Six year-old Madeleine was signed up for four days of Adventure Camp and an additional half-day lesson.

Aside from lunch and bathroom breaks, the kids were all out in the snow from about 9 o'clock in the morning until 2:30 in the afternoon.  The afternoon program involved cookies, hot chocolate or lemonade and entertainment from the likes of The Friendly Pirate, a Magician, or a Science Show.

We couldn't believe it, but Little Alice was on the chair lift at Sir Henry's Hill by the third morning!  And Sophie and Madeleine were going past mid-station and skiing down from the top by their third day!  The teachers were kind, fun, supportive and overall amazing.

At the Cookie Races on Thursday afternoon, it was absolutely amazing to watch them ski down their little race courses.  And the pride on their faces when the reached the bottom to get their cookie and Snow Sport University diploma from Billy Bob Bear was priceless.

True to their accolades, the children's programs and activities at Smugglers' Notch were incredible.  And we didn't even get to take advantage of them all.  We did spend some time in the pool, and we checked out the FunZone, but with all-day skiing, the kids were very tuckered out by dinnertime.  One night, they were all asleep by just after 7 o'clock!  So we never made it to the skating rink, or to go tubing, and we unfortunately missed the Showtime Characters Dance Party on Thursday night, where winners from the Cookie Race are announced and race videos are shown.  Thursday nights also feature a Torchlight Parade and Fireworks.  We didn't get out to see the torchlight parade down the mountain, but we were able to watch the fireworks from the bedroom window in our condo.   It was a thrill for our little ones to watch fireworks for the first time.

We grown-ups were pretty tired out too.  Somehow I always forget how tiring a ski trip can be.  Being with Grandma and Papa for the trip, we would have had free babysitting if we were feeling lively enough for an evening out, which we never did.  But even for families who don't travel with their own babysitters, the Treasures daycare centre at the hill offers an "Kids Night Out Package":  for $30 a child, you can leave your kids (ages 3-11) at the centre for dinner and entertainment. How cool is that!

Perhaps the biggest downside to our trip was the weather.  (Thank you global warming.)  Not enough snow at this time of the season meant that my husband wasn't able to try out some of the expert runs he would have liked to ski.  And the +16oC weather on Wednesday, unfortunately made for some soggy skiing, and closed even more runs.  We were glad to see it get cold again on Thursday, but the rapid thaw followed by freezing temperatures left the slopes like 'skiing on a washboard', according to my husband.  I  wouldn't know since I chose to stay inside that morning and nap.  (Also important to any good holiday.) By Friday morning though, after some snowmaking and grooming, conditions were good again for our final morning of skiing on our trip.

We were also a little disappointed by the choice of restaurants and lack of shopping.  We brought and food for breakfasts and lunches, as well as meals for two evenings.  But part of the fun of a ski trip is heading out to check out some local restaurants at the resort or in the town nearby.   We had a decent meal at Morse Mountain Grille & Pub in the resort village on the night of our arrival, and ordered some great pizza from Riga-Bello's Pizzeria one night too.  But a trip into Jeffersonville to scout out restaurants for another meal left us a little disappointed.  We ended up at Three Mountain Lodge which had a charming ambience and fireside dining.  And although the kids menu was enjoyed by our little ones, I think our adult meals were little more than satisfactory.  

However, all in all, it was a great trip:  The girls can ski! Really ski!

The highlight of the trip for Daddy and Papa was skiing with Madeleine and Sophie after the Cookie Races. (Poor little Alice was exhausted and desparately needed a nap!) Sophie even asked to go for another run - It was like a dream come true!

We're looking forward to returning again next year.  And hoping for more snow!