Friday, February 28, 2014

This is becoming a habit #skifamily #funforFriday

Here we are, a little over two weeks after our first time on skis, and we've conquered Mountain #2! 
We were lucky to take advantage of a beautiful sunny day this week!
Well, we wanted to solidify what the twyns learned in the same season since we've been "blessed" with all this snow. And, as fate would have it, we live less than 75 minutes away from many ski-worthy mountains. 

And I say mountains because my husband, despite his own father's prejudices, has now had his eyes widened to the possibilities. It was still not quite up to his full-time skiing standards, but as a family trip, more than worthwhile to fill out the season. Blue Mountain is, apparently, 1200 vertical feet, as opposed to Stratton's 1900. Still. A Mountain.

Parking was just a hop away from the rental entrance and lodge.
Blue Mountain was very easy to get to, just a straight shot up 476, and, on a weekday morning, uncrowded and relatively lovely! The lodge and cafeteria is not much to speak of ($35 for a family of four full of fast food), but the kids' lesson was great, the rental process seamless, and the kids had a good time practicing their stops & turns, with only one other friend in the class. Once we fed them, we headed over to the learning area, and they had a moving platform at the bottom part of the bunny hill, and a chair lift at the top part of the bunny hill for us my husband to teach them some more. 

Right....teach the kids...

So back up. When we put the kids in their lesson for two hours in the morning (10-12), my husband set about teaching me some more. We started at the bunny hill and I flat out didn't remember how skiing was supposed to happen. Took me a few runs down before I started "getting it" again, engaging the knees, keeping loose up top, that my husband could take me up to the top for my first 'real' green slope. I did try one at Stratton, but it was technically half of one, and I technically fell my way down as part of my final group lesson. 

Here's what I learned from that group lesson: don't learn in groups. You are TwynMawrMom. You do not learn like others. You do not make progress when trying to entertain the crowd.

But in front of my husband, I can be as goofy as I wanna be, and - dare I say - I NAILED IT. 
I said I was going to fall four times down that slope, and I only fell THREE. 

That, my friends, is what we call AWESOME SAUCE.

So, for your Friday fun, I give you a taste of my skillzzzz: 
(no cameramen were harmed in the filming of this video)

(you know I do this sh** just to entertain you, right??)

So as you can see we had a nice little romantic weekday morning 10 am date.

And made sure to teach the children that skiing is more important than school.

And the highlight of the day would have to be the fact that my son, like his father before him, got up on that chair lift and never looked back.

A skier is born! 

(Well, he may have been born 5 years ago, but we're just figuring it out. )

So have you ever played hooky with the kids to give them an adventure? 


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Main Line Parent magazine's Mom's Night Out for Camps #mno4camps

Hmm...where to begin about this great night out?

Let's start with the fact that in the same playdate, my fellow mommies and I were talking about:  
a) where to sign the kids up for summer camp, and 
b) how to have 'one last hurrah' before our friend has her third baby next month.

And the answer was: Mom's Night Out for Camps! Perfect.

You know I love a two-for-one [*cough* twyns].

This was actually a really great way to get many-for-one. 

[I promise this post is not sponsored, I just had a great ol' time.]

Wine & refreshments: check.
The entry fee for myself and my friends was $5 per person, but for each event (there are several more, see here), many early registrants will receive free admission, and there are also VIP registrations for an additional fee that include extra goodies. All of the wine, food, and !sample cupcakes! are free.
Massage: check.
Also free. One of my friends had had two straight nights of wake-up-calls with her almost-three-year-old, so when the woman from KOP Wellness Center offered a massage, we all said: HER, and she collapsed into the chair immediately. Nice way to start the night.
Photo: John Sturgis Photography

Makeover: check.

Photo: John Sturgis Photography
The ladies at Hairs To You were great and we learned they consider themselves a "family salon" so they have kids' cuts! Right here in Bala.
Shopping: check.
Photo: John Sturgis Photography
I'm always amazed at the many mommy-friendly businesses there are out there. I'm sure our mothers would have killed for some stretchy dresses that could look good over their workout clothes, or gaucho pants that could double as a dress. Who knew? Thanks Jockey!
 Red Carpet Moment: check.

Photo: John Sturgis Photography
*Sigh.* As I watch another snowfall begin outside my window, I am reminded: we needed this. Added bonus: borrowed bling from Stella & Dot stylist Pauline Han.
Catch up with Main Line Parent Magazine Publishers, learn what's now: check

Photo: John Sturgis Photography
Sarah Bond and Pamela Badolato at Main Line Parent have become the gurus of the Main Line parenting community - well, they did create it!! So it's always fun to chat with them and see what's the latest and greatest happening about town. For the kids, I mean...Yeah,'s all about the kids... ;) 
Bid [and win] Silent Auction items: check.
So in the span of two hours we also managed to have fun with the new HandBid app this event used to host a silent auction. There were some physical items there, like a Tory Burch purse, but also some great deals at the camps that were represented! I actually bid and won a Garces Restaurant Group gift certificate. This was a no-brainer for me as my husband and I love the Garces restaurants we have been to, and have a goal to hit all of them before we die or leave Philly, whichever comes first ;) They are fantastic. And what a bonus to my night! 
Research Camps: check.
You are so lucky this guide they gave at the event is available online as well. It is a great primer for us 'newbies.' I have dabbled in a few camps for the kids around the Main Line, but now that they are five, this opens up a whole new world of camps. And it was great to chat with some of the sleep-away-camp directors, as (yes, the actual directors were there), and we can start looking into these options as early as age 7. 
My favorite tidbit was when I asked the directors what the focus of their camps were, and they responded: "CAMP." With as specialized a society as we've become, and as a professional parent who designs to build prodigies, it was a breath of fresh air and a reminder that childhood is sacred. TOTALLY want. to send. my kids. to CAMP CAMP.
Photo: John Sturgis Photography
I have heard so many wonderful things about Riverbend in Gladwyne, and it was great to reinforce those things directly. I learned they have programs and camps year-round, including those days kids are off from school. 
Photo: John Sturgis Photography
After chatting with Iain at Camp Twin Creeks, I can't wait to see it. It's a few hours drive away in West Virginia, but they have a 'family night' at the beginning of each summer to help orient everyone and give them an 'open house' type experience. My husband would be all over this. No technology. No distractions. Just you and the open air. Can the parents go??
Reminder that #twinmommiesrule : check.

Photo: John Sturgis Photography
Photo: John Sturgis Photography
You know how you see your friends on Facebook everyday, and comment on the daily ups and downs, but never actually SEE them in person?? Yeah, these little events help bring us all out of our snow boots and laptops. Remember that we are not just our profile pictures ;).
Go check out the next four #mno4camps - they have spread them out around the Philly area. I promise, even if you are settled on your camp decisions for this year, it will be good food for thought in your future years, and good food [and drink] period.

And how about you? 
Have you had a great [mom's] night out recently? 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

New Years resolutions update: The Good, The Bad and The Meh

# of social workouts: 0 out of 52 [although I have worked out a bit]

Someone has asked me to do Broad Street Run, so of course I said yes, and that will help to boost my numbers. Still sticking with not signing up for any races alone. That has been a really helpful rule for me. The Winter months I get down and want to sign up for something to help me look forward to Spring and Summer and motivate my workouts; but then I remember how alone I felt in all of my training and races last summer so I don't want to do that again. The races I do with friends are my favorites. 

# of times I've said no to something: 3 out of 14

This has been another great rule. So far two of them have been auditions. So I don't know what that says...I actually signed up for the "Greater Philly General Auditions", which is an opportunity to audition for about 60 local theatres all at once, and I got a call that I would be on the Standby list. This really pissed me off, because I know I called on the first day possible. So I feel like the 'universe is telling me something' (even though the universe is never telling anyone anything), and I did not call back to be put on the Standby list. I've done that large audition process twice already and got ne'ery a bite. So I was feeling confident in my decision. I have many meaningful projects on which to focus, not the least of which, my twyns. But then I got an audition notice that basically stated all of the Walnut Street Theatre's season auditions for musicals were being satisfied by the Greater Philly Auditions. BLAM. SPLAT. WAH. I do still want to be considered for Walnut's season, which includes my latest goal-role-obsession: 9 to 5. But I have already submitted materials to the Casting Director for that specific show and he kinda knows I'm out here in the 'burbs, waiting to break out the high notes. So, just, no. I may be occupied with the musical I'm writing in September, anyways. 

But it is hard to say no. No to one's own desires, in this case, not "no" to other people. And my desires are plenty. So I must squash them like bugs.

Requisite coffee pic
# of songs ready for print in musical score: 0 of 5

Yeah, see, I knew this sh** was coming back around! The book writer called me and we are applying for a grant so we have an internal deadline of March 5th. And it wouldn't be so bad, fleshing out the score; but I need to put together a demo recording, too. Of at least 3 of the songs. So that's why I'm here, blogging, right now, because, you know, once you turn the computer on and open up Sibelius, Blogger automatically opens up too.

# of charity quilts started: 1 of 3

Not looking like I've gotten much done, but let me also add:

# of school (aka kid-free) days in Feb: 1 of 10

[Actually today is #2 of 11.] But, coincidence? Nope!

Might be putting the ETSY shop on vacay mode in March to help with this one. It is calling to me; the quilting, and I'm feeling more confident in my ability to finish them more professionally than ever, so I know I will get to them as soon as the opportunity arises.

So that's the latest edition of "I suck!", and now that I've gotten that out of my brain, I have hopefully cleared some space to create a kick ass score...THANKS LOVELIES!

How about you? How are those New Years Resolutions stacking up, just seven weeks in??

Monday, February 17, 2014

One [snow] day more

To the Tune of Les Miserables' "One Day More" #forthemoms

One day more!
Another snow, another cancelled day.
This never-ending road to Insanity;
I do not even know this child
Who's from The Call of the Wild
One day more!

Another snow day's come to be.
My snow suit's warm when I have farted.

One day more.

Tomorrow there'll be snow to play!
Thank God for you, my world has started!

One more day all on my own.

What if it never snows again?

One more day with schools not caring.

We were born to play with snow.

What a life I used to know.

And I'll swear, cry, and I'll scream!

A life I'll never see again!

One more day before the storm!

Do I follow what he says?

We must barricade and panic.

Shall all mothers beware?

Let me warn you: STAY AT HOME.

Do I stay; or do I dare?

Will you be my next top story?

The time is now, the day is here

One day more!

One day more to revolution,
We will nip it in the bud!
We'll be ready for these schoolkids,
They will wet themselves with blood!

More snow more!

Watch 'em run amuck,
Catch 'em as they fall,
Never know your luck
When there's a free for all,
Here's a little tip
Check out Pinterest
Most of you are goners
So forget a rest!

[Students (2 Groups)]
[1:] One day more for sledding

[2:] Raise the flag of freedom high!

[1:] Every kid will be a king

[2:] Every kid will be a king

[1:] There's a new snow drift to climb in

[2:] There's a new world to be won

Do you hear the mothers scream?

My place is here, I fight with you!

One day more!

I know that I was born to play.

One more day all on our own!

My snow suit's warm when I have farted.

[PARENT (overlapping)]
Power crews are my new heroes
I will follow where they plow
They can know my little secret
My kids must watch more TV shows.

One day more!

Tomorrow there'll be snow to play

What a life I used to know!

And yet with snow my world has started

One more day to revolution
We will nip it in the bud
We'll be ready for these schoolkids

[THE TEACHERS (overlapping)]
Watch 'em run amok
Catch 'em as they fall
Never know your luck
When there's a free-for-all!

Tomorrow if the school's delayed,
Tomorrow is my judgement day

Tomorrow we'll discover
What our God in Heaven has in store!
One more dawn
One more day
One [f#$**n snow] day more!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

First family ski trip to Stratton

Grab a cup o' Joe because if a picture's worth a thousand words, I've got a million...

You know how I get snap-happy ;) 

So we are not the type of parents who run away from the children whenever we get a chance. We like to expose them to as much of 'real life' as possible. I've been grocery-shopping with them since they were weeks old in the double snap 'n go, always pushing the limit of 'five pounds' in the lower carrier, and so, they now know the drill at Costco, "Humpty Depot", etc. 

So this goes double for the things that we like to do. I can't wait for them to swim and bike with mommy, we started piano lessons with a real teacher two weeks ago, and hubby has been carefully calculating the exact timing of starting them on *skis*, something I have zero experience doing.

This has been a life-long love of his, as his father put him out on the snow at the age of four. The story goes, that his Dad placed him on the snow, reached around to buckle his own boot, and the four-year-old version of my husband was already sailing halfway down the hill. Had he been taught how to stop, he claims, he would have never fallen down.

So, although we live on the Main Line in close proximity to the Poconos, those are apparently "not technically mountains", so for the twyns' first time, hubby wanted to do it right and start in the beautiful green mountains of Vermont. Stratton is one of the closest mountains and very 'classy', for lack of a better word...the village, shops, school, and lodge all closely resemble a western resort-style mountain. My father-in-law splurged on a village three-bedroom condo, and I couldn't have been happier with the setup. The kids would be in ski camp from 9 to 3, and I would take my lessons from 9:30 to 12. If anything went wrong, or anyone got scared or sick, we could hop over to the condo and take care of business. We actually had a great view of one of the ski lifts from our condo terrace, and a fireplace! I highly recommend this endeavor. 
Skis and Grandfather all tucked in to the minivan.
Stratton was about a three and a half hour drive from my father-in-law's home in New Jersey, and we were about a two hour drive from there. So in about five and a half hours, you too could be on one of the premier mountains on the East Coast. My husband and his father typically stopped in Troy, NY, outside of Albany, for lunch or dinner, depending on when they were driving up. When we approached Troy I put the word "food" into my GPS and Dinosaur BBQ came up. My father in law immediately recognized the name and we pulled in. It was the perfect road trip stop. 
Family-friendly, crayons and everything, pretty good bbq
My son was thankful for the ski trip before it began
Cool bathroom decor... [yes I was snap-happy getting started]
The kids fell asleep heading into the mountains and we put them in their bunks right away. I quickly took a look at the rest of the apartment and was absolutely thrilled it was so spacious and comfy, in case my worst fears were realized and one of the three of us was done with skiing prematurely.
Four bunks. Room for friends for next time!
 Living Room with fireplace
Master with terrace
Third bedroom
These are private condos, so no two are the same, but I have to imagine that the management company does a good job of keeping amenities consistent.

Now...for the skiing part! We got the kids outfitted at the camp and then took care of ourselves. Because my lessons were very close to the kids' learning area, I got to snap a few pics. ALL of the little bundled-up snowmen were freakin' adorable. I could have watched them all day. Even the ones who were melting down, bless their little spoiled selves. I honestly was waiting for one of mine to do the same.

Ski pros
Absolute Amateur
The "Caterpillar" was my moving platform up the learning hill
I took the adult group lessons and the first day was slow-going. I'm more of a trial-and-error type of girl, not 'let's learn form first.' But it was great to bond with my fellow newbies and watch each other try. So after my lessons I hit the "caterpillar" platform and was ready to take my first run down the learning hill. Thank goodness my husband texted me he was on his way, because I sat on the bench for about five minutes wondering how I was going to make it down. My hero came barreling out of the caterpillar and started my 'real' lessons. I felt sixteen again, I swear. I've never seen him so confident, and I'm still wondering why it's taken us fifteen years to do this together.

I let him go back to his 'real skiing' and did the learning hill about twenty more times on my own and was ready to go pro, deciding on who would be my sponsors.

I picked up the kids and asked them, "Did you like skiing?"

Of course they did.
My son especially. He just loves the snow!
We went out to eat at "Mulligan's", a pub in the Village, and lo and behold, the decor was lovely:
You know Vermont has some crafty quilters. 
Little guy fell asleep on the couch like this after Day 1.
Day 2. Headed out with the Pro's like myself. Hubby carried my skis like a teen dream.
I tried to express to the coaches at the Group Lessons that I was already a pro and ready for more. They tested the fifteen of us going down the learning hill and separated us into three groups. Apparently I was "advanced" so they put me up on the lifts to the green courses.
Here's me, the calm before the storm.
Let's just say that's where the skiing photos end. My group was four beautiful ladies, all of whom had been on a green course before. One was from Russia, one from Spain, one from the U.K., and here I was, in my own little mini-Olympics downhill race, representing the good ol' U.S. of A. I did not get on the podium.

Me and my big ol' mouth, getting me into a world of trouble. I swished, I swayed, my ski popped off and I fell. I got back on, I swished, I swayed, and my ski popped off and I fell. I got back on the lift, I tried again and again, but eventually my legs stopped listening to the directions my brain was giving them, so I figured I needed to call it a day. 

Met these guys for a sunny lodge-side latte & cookie, and returned my rentals.

The kids' made a lot more progress the second day and moved 'up' again in their levels. My husband caught a video.

And, as is my obsessive way, I was Google-ing Poconos' kids' ski camps later that afternoon so that we could take a day-trip and reinforce what they've learned close to home sometime before this [extremely snowy!] season ends. 

That night we headed out into the snow sans-kids to Manchester to my father-in-law's favorite local restaurant, Ye Olde Tavern. It was absolutely delicious - I had Crispy Duck with blackberry sauce and a Doughnut Bread Pudding. MMMmmmm. I could get used to this cold-weather-New-England-comfort-food.

The best part of the trip was being introduced to a past-time of my husband's that really speaks to him. When you have that "Ahhhh yes, I'm good at this!" moment, you want your partner to see it and remember it so that when you have those "Ahhhh sh**, I suck at this!" moments, you still respect each other. 

So we had both in one long weekend.  And I had my 16-year-old moment, which makes me feel like I just landed a ski coach for a boyfriend. Hey, I don't judge what makes your marriage work...;) 

Happy Snow Day! 
Have you done anything outside your comfort zone lately?

Friday, February 7, 2014

#quilterproblems #funforFriday

In continuing my #problem series, and recently inspired by the #Sochiproblems phenomenon, here's your fun for Friday. 

A little peek into our world:

1. The moment you stop, bend down and squint at something on the floor, trying to decipher if its a wayward thread or a bug. It's a dead bug. Ew. No wait. It's thread.

2. The moment you realize you know the difference between turquoise, peacock, and robin's egg blue, and don't have the right one in your stash when you need it. 

3. The moment you desperately ask your husband whether you should stitch diagonally or just in the ditch to get it done by the baby shower and he just yawns and walks away as if this isn't a critical choice.

4. The moment the bobbin runs out. One inch before the finish. THE FINISH.

5. So much fabric. Soooo little closet space.

6. The moment the children want to "help" mommy but veer significantly from color wheel/balance.

7. Friends admire your "quilting" before you've attached batting & backing. How to explain...

8. Will NOT hand-sew binding. Must NOT hand finish binding. Have carpel tunnel. Must find a way to do it on machine. 

9. The moment when you know you should hand finish the binding. 

10. Driving away from the shower, feeling accomplished at having finished the quilt on time and seeing dear mommy-to-be's gracious face, then realizing you forgot the label. 



Anymore to add to the list? 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Quilting Liberation Day aka Superbowl Sunday

Superbowl Sunday is known among quilters to be a unique opportunity for uninterrupted sewing time. Many shops will offer sales on this day. So while I'm waiting to hear Renee Fleming burn all those other silly Anthem singers,  I thought it was a good time to update you on my meaningful project work.

Wow ok so I've actually followed through with parts of my plan to take my quilting to the next level.

Yesterday, I took a Longarm certification course at Steve's Sewing near me in King of Prussia, PA. It was designed to familiarize you with the use of their machine so that you may rent it for $20/hour. But there was also a student with me who had purchased a Longarm for her home and needed an orientation, and the teacher (Robert) was really adept at tailoring the instruction to our individual needs and skill levels.
Am now certified to operate heavy machinery. And to have fun with it too :)
It really was simple and effortless to control. No more tugging and pulling the quilt through my home machine!

This is using "pattern boards" with the stylus on the other side of the machine. Oh yes, I'll be using those!
This is our instructor Robert stabilizing the pattern boards for use.
I've also purchased a free-motion quilting foot for my home machine and just started experimenting with it today. I have signed up for a free-motion quilting course at Steve's in late March, but I'm going to need to hone the skill before then if I'm to quilt the school auction quilts at home by the auction date. I'm excited about either prospect that I've now opened up to myself.

I experimented with this generic foot today. At first I was afraid my machine couldn't do this at all and I was going to have to cancel the class, because I do not have a 'quilter's machine' (I have a Singer.)  My husband helped me figure out how it fit on my machine and how to lower the feed dogs so that they didn't interfere with the free motion. (Yay for engineering-types.) In my Googling to find a tutorial on fitting it to my machine, I actually found a fantastic video by Leah Day on how to make some adjustments to the generic foot to make it run properly on your specific machine. She adds a rubber band, snips the plastic window and bends back the top guide. This is all to reduce the pressure on the quilt itself, and the 'bouncing' of the foot. Brilliant!

No, I haven't tried it yet but after a few go's I'm sure I'll be ready for the adjustment.

So now I'm inspired to go through my quilting magazines and choose the three patterns I'm going to adapt to my three auction quilts.

On another note the collaborator on my musical has contacted me about fleshing out the music in the next month for an internal deadline, so I've got no excuse to keep it waiting any longer! 

Ok that's what's up over here. I chose to focus on meaningful projects, and they are already making me feel less scattered and more fruitful. 

How about you? 
What are you working on during the Superbowl, 
other than a big plate of Nachos?

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