Friday, March 16, 2018

Winter sports

I didn't want to be the kind of woman - certainly, the kind of mother - who goes to the ski resort and just hits the spa. But then again, I never wanted to go to the ski resort at all. Always in search of sunshine and beaches, I never saw the appeal of snow-based holidays. I only tried it to please TLOML. And it makes more sense when you live by a sunny beach, then a snowy mountain is a bit more appealing. So I snowboarded - between tumbles and sprawls - slowly down a few green runs a handful of times during our pre-parenthood days. I quite enjoyed it, as it happened.

But I've never done it since. The last couple of times we've taken P up to Big Bear I've had the excuse of work, or it being handy to have someone to carry the clobber, so I've been able to avoid putting myself out there. Or rather, down there falling on my ass in the snow again.

Well, now I've run out of excuses. P officially likes skiing. This year she did a full day of ski school, and liked it. She was ready to tackle a few runs with TLOML, going up in the chair lift, snow ploughing her way down the nursery slope effectively independently (with reins on her boots, she's not a prodigy or anything). And now I have to decide - am I going with them? Or am I the mother carrying the bag and holding the camera at the bottom of the slope?

I signed up for a 2 hour snowboarding lesson as much as anything to prove that I don't have it in me, I am the kind of mother who goes to the mountain and doesn't go on the piste. But at least I could say that I tried. Unfortunately I was just capable enough to stay upright, link a few turns, and get to the bottom without incident. Albeit extremely slowly. Honestly the video clip of me looks at times like a still: except for my flailing arms I'm barely moving. Still, I made it.

The next day, off we went for the family mountainside fun. It was raining - and I hoped that would put TLOML and P off.

No chance. She's got the bug. Up we went. And down we came... P and TLOML moving easily three times as fast as me.

Now I have a new choice to ponder. Is it worse to be the mum who goes to the ski resort and just hits the spa? Or the mum who goes to the ski resort and keeps her 5 year old daughter waiting at the bottom while she moves extremely slowly down the nursery slope? I guess I'll either have to raise my game, or start exploring those spa options.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Transatlantic Mother's Day

Four years after I first suggested it, TLOML is finally taking the bait. He's celebrating Mothering Sunday - aka the British Mother's Day, which moves according to the Church calendar. I have just been given some flowers and am about to be taken out for brunch.

This is great for a couple of reasons. It's very nice to be taken out for brunch and made a fuss of - and much nicer when the restaurant isn't full of other mums who are also being taken out for brunch and made a fuss of. It also creates some space between Mother's Day (the American version, in May, according to the Hallmark calendar) and my birthday. This means we can avoid a repeat of last year's incident when TLOML referred to a gift as 'for your birthday... or Mother's Day... whichever'.

And of course, because America will be marking the American Mother's Day, with a bit of luck I'll get cards and flowers again in May. But not brunch in an overcrowded restaurant. Winning!

Or is it? True Mother's Day also involves a lie in and not doing any housework. Those components are missing from this Mothering Sunday. But if I try to score a lie in and a day of rest on American Mother's Day will I be told we already celebrated back in March?  And will TLOML demand two Father's Days? I may have made a tactical error here. Still, probably worth it to avoid the oversubscribed brunch.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

That party in pictures (aka bragfest)

Thought I'd create a little pictorial update on the party, since I obsessed over it for so many long hours. It was over too soon but this blog post can be the legacy.

Flower Market did not disappoint

Flowers everywhere

Chuck enough balloons and flowers at a room and bingo! Fairy Land!
Professional Fairy - money well spent

Nailed the cake

If you like flowers, fairies, and sugar, you were in the right place
I hope she doesn't want an outsourced party next year - I had the most fun!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The joys of creating a flower fairy party. Who knew?!

Great leaders know it is better to bend like a willow than break like a mighty oak. It's true in parenthood too. When you meet resistance, when your child does not share your vision, it's better to adjust your course in the pursuit of peace and harmony.

So it is with P's birthday plans. TLOML and I had a grand vision for a large, fully outsourced party. Somewhere with plenty of capacity, so we could invite friends from her current school and her old school, and other friends we've made along the way. Somewhere we could just specify a theme and they'd take care of all the details. P briefly considered our suggestions of the climbing gym, ice-skating, or My Gym. But ultimately she decided against - and she was unshakeable.

Her vision, instead, was for a party at home. A fairy party, at that. I tried to persuade her to have a horse or safari theme just so it wasn't so painfully girly but no. She really wanted fairies. And so, like the wise willow, I bent.

And I didn't bend just a little. I have now moved heart and soul into the Land of the Flower Fairies. I've made fairy treasure for pass the parcel, and a 'pin the wings on the fairy' poster, and special Flower Fairy signs to welcome our guests. I'm practicing making leaves and flowers out of buttercream to decorate the cake. I've ordered pink staples so that when I attach the pink crepe paper flowers onto the green ribbon I'm going to wrap the bannisters in they won't show up. I'm planning a trip to the Los Angeles Flower Market to buy sprays of flowers, and I've hunted out the best green rugs from the local Goodwills (because what kind of Flower Fairies would hang out on hardwood floors?). Today I sorted Tootsie Rolls so we only have ones which match my colour scheme. No oranges or blues, obviously.
Fairy treasure aka beaded bracelets

I can improve on these leaves. Watch me. I just need to watch another couple of hours of Wilton's videos.

I can't believe I wanted to outsource this! I am enjoying all this crafting and shopping and decorating more than I ever would have imagined. I'd say I've spent almost as much time and invested easily as much ardour into P's 5th birthday party as into our wedding. Thanks to Amazon and Dollar Tree hopefully it will cost a little less. The ratio of hours of preparation effort to party time is about 10:1. But it's all pure joy in the making, and I could not be happier.

Monday, January 29, 2018

On new things under the sun

They say there's nothing new under the sun and one would think that was absolutely true of nature's bounty. But then the Americans started inventing new fruits, like pluots (a cross between a plum and and an apricot) and apriums (same, apparently, and no I am not kidding). Actually the Etruscans did it first, with broccoli, and the Japanese have a sort of mania for breeding different citrus fruits with nuanced but highly prized / priced differences. So it's not just the Americans.

But with the odd silly exception it's rare that one comes across a truly new fruit or vegetable. Short of traveling to an exotic land, and not counting subtle variations on familiar fruits and veg, I thought I'd seen it all. At least, as far as fruit and vegetables go.

And then I encountered the sunchoke. It's probably been around since the dawn of time but to me it is a whole new vegetable. I've seen it on menus and assumed it was just an American name for something I'd eaten before. Like zucchini (courgette), eggplant (much more appetizing when it's called aubergine), or cilantro (coriander).

But lo! The sunchoke is its own distinct and wonderful vegetable. And it doesn't taste like anything else I've ever eaten. It looks, at least in the meal I was eating, like a knobbly potato. It tasted like a cross between a parsnip and a leek, and also at the same time completely different to those vegetables. Here's a picture of some sunchokes on a salad, which is how I first met them.

Apparently this startlingly exciting new vegetable is also known as a Jerusalem Artichoke - which rings a bell as something I may have read about in a Guardian recipe or ignored in Earth Natural Foods.

I'm still counting it as a new discovery. I see it on menus all the time here in sunny, healthy SoCal. And what a nice thing it is, to discover I'm not too old to have discovered all the good stuff  just yet. I wonder what other exciting foods there are out there. (Still not ready to embrace bone broth and kombucha though).