Our Mont Tremblant Family Vacation

Last week, my family and I went on our summer vacation. We spent five nights at the ski resort village of Mont Tremblant, in Quebec. We don’t ski, but during the summer, Mont Tremblant has lots of great activities for a family vacation. We chose it for the variety of primarily kid-friendly options, in addition to the fact that we could drive there in under five hours.

Overall, we had a very nice vacation. Our daughter loved a number of the activities, and my husband and I each got to do something that we especially wanted to. (The birds of prey show for me, and the zipline course for him.) Here’s an overview of the best and worst parts of vacationing in Mont Tremblant:

Pros

  • Beautiful setting. Part of the Laurentian mountains, Mont Tremblant is 2,871 feet at the summit. The views of the mountains and lakes are truly beautiful, and the resort is tucked nicely inside this peaceful area.
A view from the summit
  • Easy to navigate. After we had walked around the resort village a couple of times, I knew the layout and had a sense of where everything was. There’s a free gondola that takes visitors from the bottom of the resort village to the base of the mountain, where most of the activities are.
  • Lots of kid-friendly activities. A major reason we chose to take our vacation in Mont Tremblant was the availability of kid-friendly activities. Our daughter is seven and an only child, so we do our best to plan vacations that will have lots of appropriate activities for her. From the eurobungy, to the aquaclub, to the luge, Mont Tremblant had more than enough activities that she enjoyed.
The eurobungy is a favorite kid activity
  • Many restaurants. There are many restaurant options in the Mont Tremblant resort village, most of which are pretty casual. (We didn’t go to the one or two ones that appeared to be on the fancier side.) We ate cuisines from Cajun and Chinese-Thai fusion, to creperie and microbrewery. Our favorites were Pizzateria and La Maison de la Crepe. And every restaurant we went to had a children’s menu, off of which our (picky) daughter almost always ordered.
  • Favorable exchange rate. This isn’t always the case, but the American-Canadian exchange rate is pretty favorable right now. On many occasions, my husband commented to me that money we spent was really only about 75% of the cost in Canadian dollars.

Cons

  • Claustrophobic. I’ll never go on a cruise for several reasons – norovirus, anyone?!? – particularly because I get stir-crazy when I feel confined to a space for an extended period of time. Mont Tremblant’s resort village started to feel this way to me after a couple of days. Everything is right there, which is great, but also, well, not so great (to me).
  • Crowded and crawling with kids. Like any popular family vacation spot, Mont Tremblant is pretty crowded and there are kids everywhere. This isn’t at all surprising, but if you’re not a fan of crowds or other people’s kids, this is probably not the place for you.
The dinner line at Pizzateria at 5:30pm!
  • Pricey. Even though we had the favorable exchange rate working in our favor, everything was pretty pricey – restaurants, activities, and souvenirs. We never once found ourselves commenting on what a great deal we had gotten on something!
  • Slow service. Call us ugly Americans, but we found the service at almost every restaurant we visited to be incredibly slow. Yes, we were on vacation time, but we didn’t want to spend all of it waiting for the check to come!
A participant in the birds of prey show

If you’d to plan your own family vacation in Mont Tremblant, the village’s website has lots of great information, and there are also some great YouTube videos of the activities. Enjoy!

Psst… See pictures like the ones above and others in between blog posts on Facebook and Instagram!

My Goals for 2017: Check-In #7

Some people are motivated by rewards. Some people are motivated by fear. Others are internally motivated. Me? I’m motivated by public shame. I do not want to be embarrassed, and that’s what typically gives me the push I need complete things. (I’m what the author Gretchen Rubin would call “an obliger”, based on her personality framework.)

It helped keep me focused when I trained for two marathons in my younger years. I joined Team in Training, which, in exchange for participants raising funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, provides coaching, support, and organized, group training runs. Those group runs were critical for me – in particular the weekly “long runs.” Knowing that I would be running 16 miles with a group on Saturday, helped keep me motivated to train on my own throughout the week. I knew I’d never be the first, but I really did not want to be the last person to finish the long runs.

What does this have to do with my 2017 goals? I’m using this motivation to help keep me on track with my goals. I’m sharing monthly check-ins on my progress to keep me focused, and as a form of accountability.

2017 Goals Check-In #7

(You can read more detailed descriptions of each of my goals here.)

Goal #1: Read at least 24 books that I truly want to read.

I read two great fiction books in July: Saints For All Occasions, and Every Last Lie. I started and gave up on one nonfiction book – Own It – and am currently reading another one, Is It All In Your Head? I haven’t finished the latter, yet, but I really enjoyed both of the fiction books. This brings my total number of books read in 2017 to 13. You can see all of my 2017 reads – current, past, and future – here.

Goal #2: Try at least three new (to me) activities, preferably active ones.

No progress here this month – not surprising, given my comfort with and preference for the familiar… 🙂 However, we’ll be going on our family vacation in August, and with activities like zip lines and bob-sledding available to try, I’m confident I’ll knock at least one more off my list.

Goal #3: Run at least three 5K races. Get 150 minutes of activity every week.

Even though we’re more than halfway through this year, I’ve decided to change this goal. I created the original goal of running at least three 5K races because I thought it would motivate me to run consistently. Spoiler alert: it hasn’t! Instead, I’ve decided to change this goal to one that my doctor reminds me of every year at my physical: get at least 150 minutes of activity every week. I think this will actually motivate me to achieve consistency much more effectively. And since I wear my FitBit daily and it tracks just this metric, it’ll be very easy to follow my progress toward this goal.

Goal #4: Find a way to dread meal planning/cooking less.

I’m still loving grilling season! I don’t know why, but I find dinner much more manageable this time of year. Grilling feels much less complicated: few ingredients are required, many things can be grilled, and clean-up is fairly minimal. It also helps that I’m out-and-about more during the warmer months, and great, fresh food is easy to come by.

How are you doing with your 2017 goals or resolutions?

Stonewall Kitchen, LLC

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Friday Favorites

Hey, hey, it’s Friday! Cue the Judy Andrews, as I share some of my favorite things…

Summer Weather

I’m a little surprised that I’m saying this, but I’ve been enjoying the heat and humidity we’ve been having lately. Don’t get me wrong, my preferred summer weather is sunny, low humidity, and temps around 80. But we had such a cold and rainy spring and early summer, that it’s nice to be experiencing true summer weather, warts and all.

Simple and Free Fun

My daughter is currently in her second, two-week session of theater camp at a local school. (Not the free part.) Camp finishes at 3:00, and even though she’s had a full day of rehearsals, games, and friends, she’s always looking for something to do after I pick her up. Since it’s ridiculously easy to spend money during the summer, I’m grateful that some of her favorite things to do after camp are free. We spend 30 minutes to an hour on the school’s playground every day, then hit the library, sprinklers, or farmers’ market. As long as I get all of the books and DVDs she borrows back to the library on-time, all of these activities don’t cost me a dime. (Psst… I share more photos of these and other things on Facebook and Instagram.)

Fresh Veggies

We’ve only harvested two Sun Gold tomatoes from our own garden, so far, but the farmers’ market is bursting with fresh, summer veggies. My daughter and I picked up a pint of cherry tomatoes at last week’s market, and ate them like candy on the way to the car. Halfway there, we turned around and went back for a second pint! There is NOTHING like summer tomatoes, peppers, corn!!

Baby cucumber!

Good Fiction

I’ve typically read more nonfiction than fiction, but over the last few weeks I’ve read two fiction books that I enjoyed: Saints For All Occasions, and Every Little Lie. Have you ever loved a book so much that you were sad to finish it? That’s how I felt about Saints For All Occasions. And Every Little Lie was a real page-turner for me, but I was very disappointed with the ending. (You can see all of the books I’ve read in 2017 here.)

I LOVED this book!

Podcasts About Religion

I’m completely non-religious. (Sometimes I refer to myself as a recovering Catholic.) Religion simply doesn’t play any part in my life. I loosely associate myself with general Christian values, but that’s as far as it goes. But in spite of my complete lack of religious beliefs or affiliation, I find it interesting to hear about other people’s faith and beliefs. So I was very excited to listen to the Religion series of the podcast, The Smartest Person in the Room. I enjoyed all of the episodes, but my favorites  were Mormons vs. Evangelicals: Can Woman Bridge the Divide? (I know very little about Mormonism and had no idea there was a divide with evangelicals), Judaism as a Cultural Identity (I was particularly intrigued by the concept of religion without believing in God), and When God Goes Silent (Interesting to me, since I don’t really think I believe in a God). There are also episodes about Hinduism, Islam, and religious journalism.

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Monday Meal Plan #39

Happy Monday Tuesday! I hope you had a lovely weekend!

Weekend Recap

With the exception of me having a bad migraine on Friday, we enjoyed a great family weekend at home. My husband took Friday off from work, so he could attend our daughter’s camp play performances with me. We went out for a celebratory dinner after the second show, at one of my least favorite places in Saratoga. (It was the actress’s choice.)

On Saturday, we visited a local lake, drove around a new-to-us area, and tried a local (but new-to-us) restaurant for lunch. My daughter and I did a quick Target run after lunch, and after relaxing at home for a couple of hours, my husband took our daughter to see Despicable Me 3.

We made our first trip of the year to the pool on Sunday. I grew up with a pool, and hated all of the worked involved in maintaining it. So when my husband and I were house-shopping, I ruled out any house with a pool. The season is too short here! They’re so much work! They take up too much yard space and are ugly in the winter! While I still believe all of these arguments against pools are true, now that I’m a parent, I wish we had a pool. Go figure.

On the reading front, I finished Saints For All Occassions, which I absolutely loved, and started reading a mystery, Every Last Lie. (You can find a list of all the books I’ve read so far this year here.)

The Week Ahead

It’s going to be a relatively quiet week here. My daughter starts a new session of camp, and she has gymnastics on Tuesday evening. She and my husband are joining friends for the Kidzbop concert at SPAC Friday evening. I have a couple of random things scheduled, including a doctor’s appointment and the monthly exterminator visit. I’ve completely fallen off the exercise wagon, so I’ll be attempting to get moving again, too.

On Saturday, our good friends are coming to visit from about two hours southeast of us. We take turns packing up kids and making the trip to visit each other several times a year. It’s been a few months since we’ve seen them, and we’re looking forward to their visit.

This Week’s Meal Plan

Here’s what’s on this week’s dinner meal plan at my house:

What’s for dinner at your house this week?

7280 x 90

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Online Consignment: ThredUp Review

Buying from ThredUp

I’m late to the buying secondhand game. I always assumed that everything would be excessively worn, outdated, or just, well, gross. What I finally realized was that consignment stores and websites are not going to accept/offer items that they can’t sell, so the quality is generally much better than I imagined. There’s even often a good number of new-with-tags items!

There are lots of online consignment sites to shop from, and I’ve recently tried three of them: ThredUp, Schoola, and swap.com. Overall, I’ve been most impressed with the items available from ThredUp. They carry higher-end mall brands (Ann Tayor, J. Crew, etc.), as well as boutique and designer brands. You don’t have to sift through lower-end brands on their site, as you do on the other sites.

This spring, I ordered several items from ThredUp during a sale. I don’t remember the specific discount I took advantage of, but I’m usually not swayed by discounts of under 40%. I purchased items that were all in “like new” condition, and mainly from J. Crew. I was very happy with the quality and condition of the items, but decided to return a couple because of the fit or style. ThredUp offers several return options, and I chose to receive a prepaid shipping label from them, and a store credit for my items. (You can also choose to receive a shipping label and have $8.99 deducted from your return credit amount, or ship the item(s) yourself and receive your refund in the form of the original payment.)

Free shipping lovers will be pleased to know that ThredUp always provides free shipping on purchases of $79 or more. They also periodically run free shipping deals, and I typically do my buying then.

There are a good number of complaints about ThredUp’s customer service online, but I had no such issues. I received the correct items in my order, was charged for them appropriately, and had no problem with the processing of my return. I will definitely purchase clothing from ThredUp again, and highly recommend it as a source for secondhand clothing.

Related post: Stitch Fix Review

Selling on ThredUp

I’ve been selling my daughter’s outgrown clothing at consignment sales and stores for years, and online consignment seemed like another good option. ThredUp’s process is pretty simply: select apprpriate items using the criteria on their website, order a “clean out kit” bag, and wait to hear from them about whether your items will be purchased up-front, sold on cosignment, or were rejected.

I wish I had read reviews of selling on ThredUp, before I sent some items to them. It would be difficult to find a seller who was happy with the payout they received for their items from ThredUp. Universally, people are disappointed with the amount of money they received, and I am no different. I carefully followed their selling guidelines, sent in items from brands like Gymboree, Gap Kids, and Hanna Andersson, and received what amounted to pennies for them. As a result, I do not recommend selling via ThredUp, and I certainly will not doing so again myself.

Have you bought or sold clothing via ThredUp? What was your experience like?

If you haven’t tried shopping at ThredUp, yet and would like to, use this link to get a $10 credit on your first order.

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Monday Meal Plan #38

Happy Monday! I hope you had a fantastic weekend!

Weekend Recap

We’ve been so lucky with summer weather this year. Although it’s rained a lot, temps have rarely gone above 82, and humidity has been pretty low. With the exception of a quick thunderstorm Saturday morning, this weekend was no exception.

My husband got home from a work trip a little early on Friday, so after we picked up our daughter at camp, we went out for an early dinner at one of our favorite Saratoga restaurants. My daughter and I may or may not have gotten some frozen yogurt after dinner, too…

On Saturday we went to a local carnival/fair. Our daughter rode some rides, we saw some petting zoo animals, and overpaid for lemonade. It was pretty typical. Afterwards, my in-laws arrived from New Jersey. Their grandson is in Cooperstown for a baseball tournament, and they’re going up to watch his team play for a few days. We had a late lunch at home with them, and hung out on deck, enjoying the weather.

I spent much of yesterday home alone, while my husband and daughter went to Cooperstown with my in-laws for the day. I read the paper, went for a walk, did a few chores, and baked some muffins.

The Week Ahead

This should be a pretty low-key week. One highlight is my visit to the spa today. My husband and daughter gave me a massage and facial package for Mother’s Day, and I’m redeeming it this morning. My daughter has gymnastics after camp on Tuesday, and on Friday we’ll be attending her camp play performance. As of now, our weekend is blissfully unscheduled. We’ll probably incorporate a trip to the pool or a playground for our daughter.

This Week’s Meal Plan

Here’s what’s for dinner at my house this week:

What’s for dinner at your house this week?

My Goals for 2017: Check-In #6

Some people are motivated by rewards. Some people are motivated by fear. Others are internally motivated. Me? I’m motivated by public shame. I do not want to be embarrassed, and that’s what typically gives me the push I need complete things. (I’m what the author Gretchen Rubin would call “an obliger”, based on her personality framework.)

It helped keep me focused when I trained for two marathons in my younger years. I joined Team in Training, which, in exchange for participants raising funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, provides coaching, support, and organized, group training runs. Those group runs were critical for me – in particular the weekly “long runs.” Knowing that I would be running 16 miles with a group on Saturday, helped keep me motivated to train on my own throughout the week. I knew I’d never be the first, but I really did not want to be the last person to finish the long runs.

What does this have to do with my 2017 goals? I’m using this motivation to help keep me on track with my goals. I’m sharing monthly check-ins on my progress to keep me focused, and as a form of accountability.

2017 Goals Check-In #6

(You can read more detailed descriptions of each of my goals here.)

Goal #1: Read at least 24 books that I truly want to read.

I spent much of June catching up on my huge pile of magazines. I read The New Yorker, O, Money, Vanity Fair, Kiplinger, Real Simple, Beekman 1802 Almanac, and Martha Stewart Living, plus the New York Times Magazine and the Sunday NY Times. I love all of them, but easily fall behind and acquire a towering stack of to-be-read magazines. I dedicated much of my reading time in June to paring down the stack.

I did read one book in June, though: The Perpetual Now: A Story of Amnesia, Memory, and Love. Not surprisingly, it was about people with (severe) amnesia, and what neuroscientists have learned and are learning from them. This is brings my total number of books read in 2017 to eleven. You can see all of my 2017 reads – current, past, and future – here.

Goal #2: Try at least three new (to me) activities, preferably active ones.

No progress here this month – not surprising, given my comfort with and preference for the familiar… 🙂

Goal #3: Run at least three 5K races.

I ran my first 5K in June! I have no idea what my time was, since I forgot the start and stop my watch at the appropriate times, and didn’t check the clock as I crossed the finish line. But I know I ran it faster than I had been running this distance on my own, probably in large part because the course was extremely flat.

I’ll confess that I fell off the running wagon after that race, but with two more races to, I’ll be getting back at it soon.

Goal #4: Find a way to dread meal planning/cooking less.

Grilling season is here! I don’t know why, but I find dinner much more manageable this time of year. Grilling feels much less complicated: few ingredients are required, many things can be grilled, and clean-up is fairly minimal. It also helps that I’m out-and-about more during the warmer months, and great, fresh food is easy to come by.

How are you doing with your 2017 goals or resolutions?

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Monday Meal Plan #37

Happy Monday! I hope you had a wonderful weekend! In case you missed it, on Friday I was interviewed by Jen from Honestly Modern for her “Modern Mom” series. You can read the full interview here.

Weekend Recap

Friday afternoon, we drove to my in-laws’ house in New Jersey, to drop our daughter off for a week of what we’ve been calling, “Grandma Camp”. She’s staying with them for a week, and they have a full itinerary of activities planned. While I had been looking forward to this child-free week since we formulated the plan a couple of months ago, it was harder to leave her than I expected it to be. A week is the longest I’ve gone without seeing my daughter, by far!

My husband and I headed home Saturday morning, his birthday. We spent a couple of hours hanging out at home, then went out for a casual dinner. Yesterday was a somewhat lazy day with some yard work and chores, followed by a nice dinner out. The birthday boy put together his gift, and got right to work enjoying it.

The Week Ahead

My husband took today and tomorrow off from work. We each have some errands to run, plus I have an overdue visit to the dentist scheduled today. (Please cross your fingers that the spot they’ve had “a watch” on for a year has not progressed to requiring a filing.) We’re going out dinner again tonight, earning me yet another off dinner-duty.

The rest of the week is pretty standard – except for the part about my daughter being away. I have some friends coming over for a small gathering Thursday evening, and a doctor’s appointment on Friday. On Saturday we’ll be heading back to New Jersey to pick up our daughter, who starts camp the following Monday. I’ll be stocking up on camp lunch and snack foods this week, in preparation for the her upcoming five, straight weeks of camp.

This Week’s Meal Plan

As I’ve said in the past, I love grilling. It feels so much more manageable and less time-consuming that “regular” cooking. A recipe isn’t really necessary, and the prep is minimal. Even the clean-up is simpler!

  • Monday: Dinner out!
  • Tuesday: Grilled kabobs and veggies
  • Wednesday: Pasta salad
  • Thursday: Leftovers
  • Friday: Grilled fish w/ salad
  • Saturday: Out of town
  • Sunday: Probably takeout on our way home from NJ #justkeepingitreal

What’s for dinner at your house this week?

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Monday Meal Plan #36

Happy Monday! I hope you have a fantastic weekend and all the dads out there had a lovely Father’s Day!

Weekend Recap

We had a weekend of fun activities and good weather! On Saturday, I made progress toward one of my goals for 2017, and ran my first 5K in almost a decade. The race was a fundraiser for my daughter’s school, and there were lots of familiar faces running and cheering. I didn’t exactly set any records, but I did run it at a faster pace than I had been running the rest of this spring. My daughter ran both the one-mile race and the 50-yard dash, and now insists she’s ready for a marathon.

Lupine and solar panels at the Wild Center

Yesterday, we went to the Wild Center, my husband’s request for Father’s Day. It’s in Tupper Lake, in the Adirondacks, and the drive was about two hours each way. It was my first time there, and I was very impressed. There are many great exhibits on the natural history of the Adirondacks and local wildlife. The setting is absolutely gorgeous, especially the Wild Walk, which I’d heard a lot about and was excited to see for myself. It did not disappoint.

Caught in the spider’s web on the Wild Walk

The Week Ahead

Wednesday is the last day of school here. Buh-bye, second grade; hello summer! My daughter and I are celebrating the start of summer with hair cuts and pedicures on Thursday. (The pedicure is really a bribe, since she hates getting her hair cut.) Friday evening, we’re heading to my in-laws’ house in New Jersey. My husband and I will spend the night there, and head home on Saturday. Our daughter is spending a week with her grandparents, which I’ve been referring to as “grandma camp”. Saturday is also my husband’s birthday, which we’ll be celebrating with dinner out at a restaurant that doesn’t have chicken nuggets or macaroni and cheese on the menu.

This Week’s Meal Plan

  • Monday: Pozole rojo w/ red beans and rice (from 9 Miles East)
  • Tuesday: Pasta w/ Bolognese sauce and frozen peas
  • Wednesday: Leftovers
  • Thursday: Grilled burgers w/ couscous and raw veggies
  • Friday: Dinner with my in-laws at their house
  • Saturday: Grilled fish and veggies
  • Sunday: Date night out with my husband

What’s for dinner at your house this week?

My Family’s Summer Plans

My daughter is wrapping up her final, full week of second grade today, which means that summer is officially just around the corner! I experience the same conflicting emotions every year at this time: excitement about the two-plus upcoming months of unstructured time, and terror about the two-plus upcoming months of unstructured time.

I love the idea of lazy, unstructured days – sleeping in, showering late, and not having to be anywhere, at any particular time. In practice, though, I’ve learned that what really happens is that I sit around reading for a couple of hours in the morning, feel gross because I haven’t showered, accomplish very little all day, and field endless “what are we doing today?” queries from my daughter. It might be different if we had more than one child, but without a home-based playmate, my daughter gets bored and lonely.

These are the tools I’ll be using to balance lazy time, socialization, learning, and fun for my daughter this summer:

Summer Camp

Socialization is important for all kids, but especially so for an only child like my daughter. This summer she’ll be participating in five weeks of (day) camp: two, two-week sessions of children’s theater camp, and one week of Girl Scout camp. Both of these camps will provide lots of socialization, plus activities that she loves and cannot do at home.

Learning Activities

Since most kids forget a decent chunk of what they learned the previous school year over the summer, I think it’s important to build in some learning activities throughout the summer weeks. Daily reading is a given, and our library has a great summer reading program that keeps my daughter motivated. (See below.) In past years, I’ve purchased workbooks for her to practice her skills, but this year I want to keep it a bit lighter. I’m going to have her write a letter or postcard to someone different each week, since spelling is a skill she needs to practice.

Last summer, her school sent home a summer math challenge, which she did. We kept track of the days she did 20 minutes or more of math activities, and she received a prize in September. We played a lot of the game Math Dice last summer, and since she still enjoys it, I’m sure we’ll play it again this year. Her class studied both money and telling time this spring, so I’d like to create some activities around those skills. (Please send any ideas you have my way!) And I may check out some other games, including this one, this one, and this one. With or without a school math challenge, regular math practice will also be part of our plan.

Family Vacation

We have a week-long vacation in Quebec planned. We’re going to Mont Tremblant, which is a ski resort during the winter months, and a family vacation spot during the summer. It should be a nice blend of relaxing, sightseeing, and activities.

Library Summer Reading Program

This will be my daughter’s fourth year participating in our library’s summer reading program. Kids log the number of minutes they read, go to the library to report on what they’ve read to a “book buddy”, and receive “book bucks”, which they can redeem for prizes. My daughter is highly motivated by rewards, so this program is right up her alley.

Playdates

There are a number of playgrounds and splash pads in our area, and my daughter enjoys all of them. Of course, they’re a lot more fun to do with friends, so we’ll meet up with them as often as possible. Last year I sent out group emails/texts, letting people know where we’d be and when. Sometimes a big group of friends showed up, sometimes one friend showed up, and sometimes it was just us. I’ll be doing this again this year, for sure.

What are your family’s plans for the summer? Do you keep it unstructured, or plan out your days and weeks?

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