Sunday, January 30, 2011

My New Niece

I have a new niece!  Please let me introduce to you, Miss Dorothy Hyacinth, four weeks old.   Isn't she just beautiful?  Whenever I look at this photo, I just want to scoop her up and cover her with kisses.

Dorothy is an Olde English Bulldogge and Elizabeth gets to pick her up from the breeder in a little over a month.  The woman (I should say, family) who breeds these beautiful dogs lives near my parents and when Elizabeth travels to pick up Dorothy, I'm going to drive up too and spend the day getting to know my latest niece.

This little beauty has no idea how lucky she is.

My sister's last dog, Her Royal Queen Mum-ness, Tulip Jane, lived a long and well-pampered life. 

Here is Dorothy, day-dreaming about cheese steaks and Continental Congresses. 

Here is Dorothy, saying hello to one of the nice adults who are taking care of her until she is old enough to don her little rucksack and seek her fortune in the big city.

Like little Dorothy, we can't wait!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Great Outdoors

I am not a huge fan of winter.  Snow is pretty, but it can be an enormous pain if you are trying to drive carpools or get groceries.  Cold weather is upsetting and ice combined with my swirly/hilly driveway makes for a frightening situation.  I prefer summer.  Summer is a much easier time.  One doesn't have to shovel, salt or scrape.  One doesn't have to clomp around in boots and puffy coats or spend hours searching for lost mittens. 

But throughout my tenure here, I've learned that winter in New England does come with benefits.  Native New Englanders (a group that does not include me) are a hearty bunch and they don't let things like cold air and snow get in their way of being outdoors and having a little fun.  Skiing is, obviously, very popular and so is my favorite winter activity, skating.  Many of our friends and neighbors have built outdoor skating rinks in their yards to insure that their children get fresh air and exercise.  And, much to our delight, we have been fortunate enough to receive invitations to skate too.  There is nothing more fun that skating outside in the fresh air.  There is something about the combination of cold air, sunshine and skating that makes you forget about dreary, snowy, winter -- at least for a little while.

One of Henry's good friends has an enormous backyard rink and if the conditions are right, you can often find Henry and three other boys playing a pick-up game of al fresco hockey.  I went along with him the other day to take photos and to embarrass him in front of his friends.  I am very kind that way.

We have another snow day today -- our third this winter.  The poor Children Elliot are going to be making up snow days until July, the way this year is going.  Today's storm added another 10 inches of snow to our already 3 foot high piles.  We will have a leisurely morning before going out and attempting to find the driveway and the path to our front door.  The weather reporters are predicting more snow tomorrow, Saturday and Tuesday.  And I am counting the days until summer. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Gordy's New Office

Gordy's company has recently moved offices.  He and I took the girls into the city on Sunday so that they would be able to picture where Daddy goes each day.

The lobby has this gorgeous atrium space complete with two water features.

The water is actually pouring down thin, clear wires from the ceiling.

Although the high-speed elevators with their television monitors and the intricate security system were interesting, the girls were mainly impressed by the large selection of candy in the kitchen vending machines.

Personally, I was impressed by the kitchen in general.  I mean, look at this place...

Next we went to Gordy's actual office and spent many minutes mesmorized by his stunning view.

The left side view was the hardest to get a photo of, but it was amazing.  You can see for miles.

Views don't impress children for very long, so Georgia and Josie were happy to find some toys to play with and a dry-erase board to use.

Next, we checked out the public spaces including the meeting room...

And some of the conference rooms on the top floor.  Isn't the view breathtaking?

The new offices are beautiful.  The insides are so light and airy and whoever chose the decorations and the color scheme did a wonderful job.  The last office I worked in, was decorated in very manly 1990's colors:  dark wood, dark greens and dark maroons.  "Dark" really described the place perfectly - although the words "dismal" and "depressing" work just as well.  I'm glad Gordy gets to enjoy a much lighter, sunnier place. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

You Never Know What You Will Find...

Josie has a rich imagination and lofty goals.  She wants to be a doctor when she grows up, but sometimes she changes her mind and wants to be a veterinarian.  Either occupation is fine with us.  Josie's love of all things medical influences most of her daily choices.  She always picks books on doctors, nurses or physical ailments when at the library with her class;  she loves all doctor-related dress up clothes and accessories;  most of her made-up play involves trips to the doctor or the emergency room... you get the picture. 

The other day, I took all three children to the dentist for their general cleanings.  Our dentist has a barney-type stuffed animal with enormous dentures and a strangely large toothbrush on which the children can practice their brushing skills, and Josie was particularly enamored with the toy.  She spent all of Henry's and most of Georgia's turn, brushing barney's teeth and examining his mouth for any problems.  I wondered if she was mentally adding "dentist" to her list of acceptable occupations.

She did.  The next day, I went into her room to put away some laundry and I found this:

A pile of animals, under anesthesia, awaiting their turn for dental cleanings with the vet. 

Where was the vet, you ask?  In her surgery closet with a patient:

Note the seriousness of the situation.  The hippo is out cold while the dental vet (wearing full scrubs) examines her patient's teeth on the clothes line -- I mean the operating table!

And please note, the sterility of the operating theater!  She CLEANED up before starting the procedure!  Her closet has never been so tidy. 

How lucky are we to have a medical professional in the family!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cursed Snowplows!

I have terrible, wretched news to report.  It is the worst kind of news and I don't want anyone to be upset by what they are about to see.  In a few brief moments, you will be forced to view some photos of a horrific injury - photos so graphic and frightening that after viewing them, you may find yourself stressed and perhaps greatly depressed even after you turn off your computer.  If you are at all squeamish, please look away.  Please go into your favorites column and click on a crafting blog or a blog about gardening.  Once there, you can admire homemade tea cozies and plan your springtime flower beds.  Unlike this blog, you won't be forced to look at mutilations and grotesque maladies.  No?  You aren't leaving?  You think you are brave enough to handle what I am about to show you?  Well, consider yourself warned.  The following photos are not for the faint at heart.

Yesterday, a snow plow attacked my beloved car, Ivan.

Josie and I were in the car, parked very legally by the school, waiting for Henry and Georgia to come out and meet us.  Josie was sitting in the front seat, watching an episode of "Charlie and Lola" on my iphone.  I was reading a memoir entitled  The Kids are Alright, and if we are going to be really honest, I was not really enjoying it.  We were not the only car waiting for children nor were we the first or last car in the queue.  We were in the middle of about 25 cars, but, sadly, we were in the right place for some bad, bad luck.

And then... the noise.  That horrible sound of metal scraping against metal.  The sound of a car being crumpled.  There was an enormous bang and then the car vibrated as the plow portion of the snow plow scraped its way from the bottom end of my car to the top.

It was horrifying.

The first impact was here.  The tail light was broken.

Then the plow made its way to poor Ivan's gas tank, flattening its perfect door into a pancake.

Then it continued down the side of the car, passing Josie's abandoned seat and the passenger door.

Next, it ground it's way past the driver's side door...

Before finally stopping just past my door handle. 

Here's a close up.  And yes, that is an actual hole in the metal.

The snow plow also hit the car behind me, but it was a small injury and not the unbelievable mess that was my car.  The snow plow driver was incredibly apologetic and the state police were called.  Reports were filed, insurance information was exchanged and I drove off with a severely injured automobile.  All this while school children were leaving their classes, school buses were being blocked by the snowplow that couldn't move for fear of doing further damage to my car, and the school Principal ran about telling us all to move so that people could leave the school and not bother her anymore with complaints about the not being able to leave the premises.  Thank God for our town police, who showed up just in time to calm her down and to direct traffic.

Ivan is convalescing in our garage for the next few days, waiting for the insurance inspector to arrive.  I am driving a rental car, whom I have named Olive.  She is nice, though her ability to drive in snow is suspect and there is no room in her inside for any more than my children.

It is a sad day in Elliot land.  Ivan is beloved by us all and we have grown to count on him to take us wherever we need to go, in whatever weather condition we find ourselves driving in.  He is the perfect size and has the perfect number of seats. 

I suppose as far as "accidents" go, this one was a good one.  For one thing, it was completely not my fault - which is nice.  And no one was injured - which is even better.  But talk about random!  Of all 25 cars parked by the school, MINE gets destroyed by a snow plow?  Really?


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Weekend Away

The children and I went to visit Granny and Grandfather over the weekend.  We came prepared with snow pants, boots and multiple pairs of mittens because we planned to spend the entire weekend outdoors enjoying G&G's fabulous property and it's wonderful sledding hills.

We drove up on Saturday morning and by noon, we were doing this:

The sledding was fantastic - even Granny got involved:

On our trip back up the hill, we were guided by Granny's Sherpa, Nellie:

Sadly, the Sherpa grew tired of guiding spoiled Americans up the same hill, over and over again, and she gave up, leaving us to survive the elements on our own.

We decided to walk the snow-shoe path around the property and Henry put on Granny's snow shoes for the first time.  Let's just ignore the fact that my ten year old now wears the same shoe size as me.  It's a fact that I'd rather not think about.

Snows-shoeing is hard work and Henry took a break by lying down in the snow.

We were all tired from the long hike, so we went inside to play a game of tug-a-toy with Nellie:

And work on some art projects...

And play Moose in the House with Granny and Grandfather.

Georgia and Josie got out Granny's box of dress-up jewelry...

And Josie did her best imitation of the Queen Mum:

The next day, our sled tracks were covered in a thin layer of new snow and this made them even more slippery and amazing.

Even Nellie Sherpa was covered with the newly fallen snow:

Again, Nellie Sherpa gave up on us and went inside to be warm:

Later in the afternoon, we visited the local lighthouse to see what it looked like in the winter time. 

Henry was pleased to find some ice in the lighthouse's parking lot and he practiced his skating and posed as a goalie for some pictures:

The sun was out (even though it was frigid ) and the ocean was calm and beautiful.  It made me miss summer.

While climbing on the rocks, Henry thought he saw some small fish swimming under the ice and for awhile we were convinced that he was right.  But it ended up just being a combination of air bubbles and melting water.

In the winter, Granny and Grandfather often take their exercise walks on the many snowmobile trails that wind their way through the woods.  We thought it would be fun to take the kids on such a walk to look for forest wildlife and to admire the gorgeous winter scenery.  We parked our car at an ice-cream establishment which like many businesses in G&G's town, is closed for the winter.  The children were undeterred by the CLOSED signs and scrambled over the snowbank to bang on the window and demand service.

The snowmobile trails are gorgeous. 

Georgia loves a long walk and she, Granny and I would have happily walked the entire trail....

Alas, two of our companions were not so enthusiastic.  Josie, in particular, is not terrible fond of walking.

Henry would have been complaining just as much as Josie, except for the thrill of impending snowmobiles and the need for all walkers to leap off the path and into the snow drifts.

Henry practiced his leap until it was perfected:

Luckily for us, the snowmobiles only went by one time.  This was lucky because they emit the most foul stench as they go by, thus changing the serene beauty of the forest into a smelly, loud highway.

Here we are, gasping for clean breath after two snowmobiles zoomed past us:

The next morning, we had to leave Granny & Grandfather's house and drive back to our own home.  Before we left, I took this picture from my bedroom window.  It didn't turn out perfectly, but you can see the myriad pathways and boot prints that serve as evidence of our Weekend of Outdoor Fun.

It is snowing again at our house, today.  We walked to school as the snowflakes fell around us.  I'm glad that we got to play over the weekend as I think we'll be house-bound for the next few days. 
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