Sunday, February 27, 2011

Bowling (The Children's Version)

Our children are not all that thrilled when Gordy and I go out to dinner together.  They never quite understand why we would even WANT to eat without them - especially at a restaurant.  And when they found out that we went bowling last Saturday, while they were home with a babysitter, there was general displeasure all around.

Since it's been school vacation week, the solution was pretty easy.  Although, I wasn't about to shell out the big bucks to go to the fancy restaurant / alley that Gordy and I went to, I was happy to bring them to the local bowl o' drome where they could bowl for about 1/16th cost.  Our local bowling alley has a very 1970's vibe.  And smell.  Ambiance is not really abundant and I'm not sure I'd want to be there after 4:30 in the afternoon.  However it has tiny little balls, candlestick pins and a wonderful invention called a "bumper" to insure that even the worse player has a shot of knocking over something. 

We rented a lane for an hour and got started right away.  Georgia played a superb game.  She has a strange throw -- the ball gets more than a little air and sometimes even includes a little bounce, but it gets the job done.

Josie has an even stranger "throw."  She goes underhand and starts in a very grande-plie position. Her balls travel very slowly and sadly, have very little impact.

This is bad enough.  But imagine the further humiliation of feet so small that you are forced to wear VELCRO bowling shoes!  It was almost more than she could bear. 

Henry has a more orthodox throw, but this day he seemed to have some magnetic attraction to the two side pins and nothing else.

Josie was a good sport about always coming in last.  Especially after I started allowing her to take my turns for me to even up the score.

On the few occasions that I did bowl for myself, I managed to improve my score from my dismal performance Saturday night.

Of course, no one but my children was around to witness my two strikes!

Josie got a last turn in right before the timer ran out on our lane.  It was a fun afternoon. 

While the children were in good moods, I sped off to the mall to return some clothes.  I figured I had about a 30-minute window to get errands done before the complaining and whining returned.  After those errands were finished, we stopped by the food court for cupcakes with ice cream injected into their center.  These are a new offering in the food court and judging from the line that stretched way past the booth, they are very popular.  I wasn't able to try one myself, but the Children Elliot all gave them raving reviews.

All except Henry, who was annoyed that the ice cream injecting devises can't be cleaned between applications and therefore couldn't be guaranteed to be peanut-free.  He had to eat his cupcake dry and even then I had my hand on the epipen the whole time. 

It was a pleasant afternoon and it made me miss the freedom of summer even more than usual.  On the agenda for the next day was an early morning hockey game for a little sport and then a trip to the MFA for a little culture....

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Gordon's Salon and Hair-Styling Studio

You would think that because he has two daughters, Gordy would have years of experience styling girls' hair.  But you would be wrong.  Gordy has always left the pony-tailing and the braiding up to me and when caught by himself for a weekend, he usually allows the girls to run around untamed, uncombed and frankly, unattractive.  Things are about to change.

In a matter of days, I will be taking Henry to an overnight hockey tournament and Gordy will be staying home with the girls.  The reason that Gordy is not taking Henry himself is that the same night that Henry and I will be munching on room-service and checking for bedbugs in the hotel, Gordy, Josie and Georgia will be boogying their hearts out at our town's annual Daddy / Daughter Dance. 

Gordy will be feeding the girls (no problem), helping them to put on their fancy dresses (no problem) and making sure that their hair is presentable (serious problem bordering on the catastrophic).

I do not want to see photos of my girls wearing their Christmas dresses and party shoes along with hair styles that look like they got their fingers stuck in an electrical outlet. 

To prevent my children looking like Frankenstein's flower girls, for the past few days, I've been conducting hair-styling classes for Gordy.  Saturday was his first practical lesson -- we called it Hairstyling 101:  Giving Georgia Ponytails Before Soccer Practice:

Uneven, but not bad for a first attempt.

On Monday, Georgia's scalp had stopped hurting enough that she felt ready to allow him to try again.  This time, we chose the less complex Side Ponies.  Gordy began by combing out Georgia's hair.

Then he parted her hair, which looked more like stabbing her head with a comb than it did separating her hair into two sections.

And then he began to create the pony tail using an elastic band.

This obviously hurt a lot.

The end results were perhaps higher ponies than Georgia prefers (the higher the pony, the younger the child), but at least they were even and relatively smooth. 

Next it was Josie's turn.

The combing did not go as smoothly with Josie.

There were tears and we almost gave up ...

But Josie was brave and soon she had her own set of bouncy pony tails.

We still have to attempt the more difficult Braids and Barrettes, but at least he has mastered a few skills.  If nothing else, he can now comb and that is a huge victory.  Trust me.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Last Saturday night, Janet, Kevin, Gordy and I went to a restaurant about 30 minutes from our town where you can eat dinner and then bowl.  It was a change from the usual and it was a ton of fun.

I got to go first and my first ball was a huge success - a strike!

I'm glad I got the following picture of the score board, because it was the only time during the two games when I was winning.

Gordy and Janet both played well, but it was Kevin who ruled the lanes.  He really could do no wrong.  He is a professional athlete after all - although certainly not in bowling - so one would think that he would be good in almost all sporting events.  He claims he is usually terrible at bowling, but does a terrible bowler get a 174?

I got way too many gutter balls.  I'd like to blame them on the random selection of bowling balls that were all too heavy for me to lift and throw, but really the problem was just poor aim (and zero talent).

We've heard a rumor that the owner's of this restaurant/bowling alley are building a new branch close to our house and I'll be excited if they do.  Obviously, I need to work on my bowling skills!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Mini-Break

Today we found ourselves in the unusual position of having no morning sporting events.  Winter break from school has started and most of the children's activities have slowed down to accommodate all those lucky families who are taking fun trips to warm destinations.  At least that's what we grumble when we see snow falling outside our windows and we want to further depress ourselves. 

Faced with a morning listening to bored, unoccupied children, Gordy and I decided to take action and plan a mini-break, however small.  We decided to fight the winter blues by heading to the hotel where Grandma and Grandpa usually stay when they come to visit and go for a swim in its beautiful atrium pool. 

The pool area was heated to a wonderful 84 degrees and the sun was streaming through the atrium ceiling.

If it wasn't for the drifts of snow outside the windows, we would have forgotten all about the cold.  We wasted little time getting into the pool.

This hotel pool is such a hidden gem.  It's cleaned by salt (and other things I don't remember), so there's no chlorine smell and the hotel designer put lots of green plants and palm trees around so you feel like you are someplace tropical.

The pool itself is not particularly large, but it's also not particularly crowded so no one seems to mind.

After having my fill of swimming, I grabbed my book and towel and moved over to a sunny spot in the corner.  The sun was literally beaming down on me, so much so that I started getting hot.

It was absolutely wonderful.

Josie, who never misses an opportunity to lounge, joined me and took this picture.  (The official reason for b/w-ing it is that it makes the picture artistic and shows off my shadow thus giving you all a sense of the intense sunlight by the pool.  The real reason is that I was make-up free and looking very wrinkly and old in the color version.)

I took a picture of Josie lounging, too.  Josie's picture is in color because she never looks old and wrinkly.  Perhaps when she's six.

Gordy eventually joined me in the sun and Josie went back to swim with Henry and Georgia.  Gordy was equally amazed at how much like being outside, this indoor pool was.  He immediately feel asleep in the sun and got a well-deserved nap and vitamin-D dose at the same time.

After we had our fill of swimming, we reluctantly got back into our winter clothes and went to the hotel restaurant for lunch.  You will notice that we are all wearing our down coats because the rest of the hotel is not heated to a perfect 84 degrees and it was very, very cold when you have wet hair.

It wasn't a trip to Florida or some light-blue colored Caribbean island, but it was a perfect mini-break nonetheless. 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Greetings from Pine Swamp, Maine!

Henry has a really fantastic teacher this year.  She has this wonderful ability to mix the academic with the frivolous and she is able to teach without alerting her jaded fifth graders to the fact that they are actually learning something.

Every month, Mrs. Wallace assigns a "Book Genre Project" which consists of choosing a book from the category the teacher has provided, and creating a written / artistic masterpiece that shows her that you've read the book.  And please do not call this a Book Report (even if that is exactly what it is).  Henry has had to do book reports in the past and he would like you to know that he hates them and can spot them from a mile away. 

Which means that he might need to get his eyes checked, since Henry does not hate the Book Genre Project.  Go figure.  I mean, if that's not good teaching, I don't know what is.

This month's genre was Historical Fiction and Henry chose the book, The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg, by Rodman Philbrick.  I haven't read the book myself, but I could tell from the speed at which Henry read it, that Home P. Figg and his adventures were highly entertaining -- mostly true or not.

After he finished reading the book, the next part of the assignment was to create and write a postcard to someone in the present, pretending that you went back in time to the book's historical period and describing the differences between then and today.

Henry typed his on the computer, since handwriting is not one of his best academic subjects.

I thought he did a fantastic job -- after the final edit, I mean.  Henry's first attempt was four sentences long. 

He spent two days on the art work for the front of the postcard.  He drew a Civil War battle scene and he used a lot of different colors and details.  (see above)  Last month, the class did Greek Mythology and the month before that was Action / Adventure.  I'm looking forward to next month's assignment.  

The combination of coloring the postcard and the receiving of a new box of colored pencils, inspired Henry to do more artwork once his school project was finished.  Behold,  Soulja Boy.  I'm assuming this a real person, but I admit that I don't know this for a fact.  

Josie was watching him intently as he drew.  Then she got out her own piece of paper and recreated his drawing, five year old style:

Cute, huh?

For all of you who asked, below is the copy of the letter Georgia received from HER secret admirer:

She was not able to guess who has a dog named ? but I think she was pleased with the letter nonetheless!
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