Thursday, June 30, 2011

International Day

The last week of school was filled with activities and events.  Josie had an End of The Year Breakfast Party, Henry had his Moving On Ceremony, and Georgia had International Day.

International Day marked the end of Georgia's class unit on family history.  The second grade teachers planned an entire day of celebrating including crafts, games and an international feast.  Sound ambitious?  It was, particularly since they asked each family to come up with either a craft, game or food from their native country.   I'm not particularly crafty and I'm not familiar with any Norwegian games.  I did consider putting together some sort of coffee-drinking, pastry-eating activity to show these second graders how MY Norwegian family likes to pass its time, but I figured caffeine and sedentary eating weren't age appropriate.  Instead, I signed up to make cookies.  

Norwegians make wonderful cookies.  And it would have been fun to share their sugary goodness with the children of Georgia's class, however, when I signed up and wrote Norwegian Cookies on the form, I forgot two very important things:

1.  I don't have any of the various irons, cups and baking implements needed to make Norwegian cookies
2.  I was moving into a Residence Inn three days before the cookies were needed and wouldn't have access to a kitchen aid mixer or proper oven.


I needed to find an easy recipe, that took little time and almost no kitchen supplies.  

I went through my recipe box and at first considered Himmelska Gavor (ginger cookies) but abandoned the idea when I got to the step, "roll out the dough and cut shapes using cookie cutters."

I looked at every recipe in my box twice and then I google searched "Norwegian bakeries Massachusetts" in an attempt to buy myself out of the situation.

It ends up there are no Norwegian bakeries in Massachusetts.  If I had more time, I might protest or start raising some capital to open my own bakery and fill the gaping hole in the Massachusetts Norwegian Community (all five of us).

But I had no time, so I decided to blur the rules a little.  I chose to make the famous Mrs. Kvanvik's cookies.  Who cares if my sister Elizabeth thinks that Mrs. Kvanvik wasn't even Norwegian.  My Norwegian Grandmother made her cookies all the time and what is good enough for my gramma, is good enough for me and a room full of second graders who don't know any better.

I brought my cookies in early and stayed to watch some of the games and crafts.

My favorite was this Dizzy Dragon game from China:

Georgia enjoyed this French game of lawn ball:

I also watched the very international activity known as "Word Find."

Afterwards, the kids headed to the cafeteria to enjoy their international feast.

It was quite a spread.  

My offering looked particularly good.  I had sampled one that morning and it was delicious.  I left off the nut on top as nuts and elementary schools do not mix.

I've been impressed with the level of partying at our new school - these people do not mess around.  At our old school, one was lucky to get a Popsicle at Christmas time.  Compared to a sad, flavorless ice stick, the International Day was a feast.  

These children don't know how lucky they are!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Moving On Up

Last Tuesday, Henry Moved On.

I guess they don't call it graduating, when you are only in fifth grade.

It was just like a graduation, if you ask me.  There were diplomas handed out and hands shaken.

The fifth graders lined up on risers in the school auditorium and sang songs for the parents.

My sister Elizabeth time travelled again to stand in front of her nephew and make sure he knew the lyrics.

Speeches were made about the importance of remembering your roots and the good times at elementary school.

Henry's teacher is the woman on the right wearing the fabulous mary janes - boy, was she an amazing teacher.

At last it was time for the students to walk across the stage and get their reward.

We were very proud.

Afterward, there was a nice reception given by the fourth graders and their parents.  

Gordy was away on business, so it was just the females of the family cheering for Henry.

Next year, Henry will be a middle schooler and in three short years, he will be in high school.  He is very excited and therefore, so am I.  

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Busy, The Boring and The Vomit

This is how we spent the days leading up to the last week of school:

Packing.  Packing.  And More Packing.

We had to pack up our entire second floor.

We packed toys, furniture, books, rugs.. everything had to be boxed up and moved out to make room for the new hardwood floors and baseboard moldings.  

Gordy and I  purposefully chose the last week of school for Phase Two of our reconstruction project.  I figured that the end of the school year, with all its many events, parties and performances would provide the perfect distraction from this:

The Marriott Residence Inn.  

Seven Days, five people, three tiny rooms and no beach in sight.  It was the worst kind of staycation.

While we made do with the dull knives and two pots in our new hotel kitchenette, back home the work was beginning:

In addition to new floors and moldings, we were also having foam insulation put into our attic with hope that it will help solve our problem with ice dams.

The children and I got up early every morning and drove back to the house in time to let the workers in and then we had to stop by at the end of every day to lock up and set the alarm.  The hotel was about 20 minutes from our house when there was no traffic, but we found out the hard way that traffic is a very random thing.  For the most part, we slipped into a routine right away.  The kids still went to school each morning and we still had our usual after-school activities to keep us busy.

 I also had a  packed calendar of events to attend to.  We had International Day in Georgia's class and Henry's Creature Feature presentation.  Josie had a breakfast party that I had to attend and there was Henry's Moving Up Ceremony on Tuesday.  The days were definitely busy, which was a good thing, since when I planned out life during the reconstruction, I had not really taken into account where I would be during the down times.   At no point during all my intensive planning, had I thought about where I would go during the odd hour between activities.  I guess I assumed that I would just go home.  After all, I needed to be at home to monitor what was going on and make sure all was running smoothly.  At home, I would be able to update my blog, check my email, read the paper and stay organized.  Being at the house throughout the day made the most sense... as long as I ignored the fact that it wasn't safe for me to do so.

On the first day, the only real problem was the terrific noise of the damaged floor boards being removed but by mid-week the toxic fumes of the foam insulation forced me out into the fresh air pretty quickly.    Even with my schedule packed with school-related events, I had a hard time keeping busy during the week.  There is a lot of hurry-up-and-wait involved with stay at home parenting and I really had no where to wait.

The hotel itself wasn't bad.  It was a lot like living in a small apartment.  

It even had a pool:

Gordy had to travel for work at the beginning of the week, so I saved swimming in the pool for the first night he was gone.  Single parenting is always easier when the children are good and tired.  

Sadly, the hotel pool had a little too much chlorine and Georgia had to get out due to a bad case of burning eyes.

All in all it was a long, tiring week.  The novelty of hotel living wore off pretty quickly and seeing our beloved home under massive construction was depressing at best.  It was hard making the trip back and forth from hotel to town and we all missed sleeping in our own beds.

Back home, the construction seemed to be moving at a snail's pace with the subcontractors showing up late and leaving early.  I started to get worried that we might have to extend our stay and become permanent Residents at the Inn.  It's hard to live in a small space with so many people and the children were Not Getting Along.  Gordy and I weren't doing much better.  We were getting along, but we weren't enjoying the chance to relive our New York City years, this time with three children and a smaller living space.  The night before we were scheduled to move back home was the absolute worse.   I won't bother to go into gory detail but let's just say that there was a hotel-clearing fire alarm and a vomiting child involved and it wasn't pretty.

We left quickly the next morning and not just to get away from the soiled linens.  

We're home now and readjusting to the extra space.  There is a terrible odor of polyurethane and massive quantities of dust and dirt on every surface.  We spent most of yesterday vacuuming, dusting and cleaning the floors but now the rooms are mostly put back together and we are starting to feel back to normal.  

The builders will have to return on Monday to fix a few problems and finish the insulation project.  And then the painters will come... 

I recently read an article on BlogHer about how as bloggers, we tend to paint only rosy pictures of life.  We omit the fights we've had with our husbands or the bad grades our children received on their report cards and we only write about the good moments and the cute things our children have done throughout the day.  The article challenged people to write more honestly in their blogs.... so here is my contribution:

We were too busy, we were not so busy and there was too much vomit.

Construction sucks.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Josie, age six

We are nearing the end of the daily Mommy/Josie lunches.  School is coming to a slow end and there are more than a few half-days in our future.  Soon the older kids will be joining us and just as soon, the school year will start again and Josie will eat her lunch in the cafeteria with the other children.  I will miss my lunches with Josie.

Josie is starting to get more grown up -- although she still manages to get some pretty bizarre, little-kid-like injuries.  This facial cut/ bruise happened before school the other day.  I wasn't in the basement with the girls, but I got down there pretty quickly when the screaming started.... something about the coffee table falling on Josie and maybe hitting her nose.... it's all a great mystery to me.  All I know is that afterward, she looked like the above.

Josie still loves to dress up.  She brought a bandana to me the other day and asked me to tie it around her chin "so she could take her baby for a walk."  

She looked like she was taking that baby on a boat ride back to the old country, if you asked me.

I've been through this process twice before.  Henry and I used to hang out in the afternoons after kindergarten while Georgia and Josie napped.  And Georgia and I used to do the same thing while Josie napped on her own and Henry was in school.  As the pre-school and kindergarten years end, you still get to hang out with your children, but you are forced to carve out the time in order to do so.  It takes a little more effort and maneuvering.

The end of the year also means the arrival of a year's worth of art projects.  Josie brought home this lobster hat:

We made Gordy wear it at dinner that night

And while Georgia mocked him endlessly...

Josie demonstrated how a lobster uses his antenna to feel for food on the ocean floor:

Ah, that Josie.  The afternoons aren't going to be the same without her.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sport Parenting

Georgia has been trying out for soccer teams.  She had placements for our town team last weekend and this past week, she tried out for a non-town travel team.

Before she left for her first try-out, she allowed me to take a few photos of her with her Good Luck Hair-ribbons.  

Georgia is a fierce defender.  And she likes to pose in the correct position so you can get a real idea of what she will look like out on the field.  

Parents weren't allowed to get too close to the try-out action.  This is for many reasons, the most important being that sport parents - like their stage counterparts -  are unbelievably annoying, pushy and generally insane.

For our town team placements, Gordy watched the action, but from a far away vantage point.  He thought Georgia did well.

I attended Georgia's second try-out  - the one for the non-town travel team.  I sat on bleachers, along with the other parents - all of us banished to the sidelines.  It was a freezing cold spring night and rain fell a few times before the hour and a half was up.  I watched the first few minutes of the action, focusing on Georgia and what she was doing.  At first the stands were very quiet, but as the children began their drills, the parents began to get noisy.

It is always amusing to hear the chatter of parents, worrying about their children during try-outs and placements.  I've lived through hockey placements many times, but this was my first experience with Georgia and the world of soccer and girls.  I've always assumed that hockey parents were the crazy, super-intense ones.  I've always thought that Hockey placements would be the only time I would have to witness parents pulling out their hair while their children tried to make a team.  And I am including my own husband, Gordy in this category.  Gordy goes crazy during hockey placements and I'm sure he'd admit to it, if you asked him.

It ends up that there is no difference between the stress level of parents in hockey and the stress level of parents in soccer.  They are all clinically insane.

Every single soccer parent was on the edge of their seat.  Each parent was focused on their child and muttering expletives under their breath.  Are these people simply hoping for the best for their children, or are they trying to relive their own childhood?  Who can tell.  I even found myself caught up in the moment and the stress once.  "Stop yapping, Georgia!"  I heard myself say quietly out loud at one point when I noticed that she was talking to her neighbor.  

I've been well-versed in the do's and don't's of team placements.  DO pay attention to the coaches.  DO try your hardest.  DO put yourself at the front to middle front of the line.  DON'T talk to your neighbor.  DON'T stand at the end of the line.  I've heard Gordy tell these things to Henry for countless years before countless try-outs.  Certainly, Georgia's heard them, too.

That's when I looked around me and really saw the intensity of all the parents.  I did not want to be one of those stressed out parents, annoyed at their child for every error made on the playing field.  I vowed not to watch Georgia closely for the rest of the night.  Instead, I started talking to the woman next to me -- a fellow hockey mother who seemed to share my desire to relax and let our girls live their own lives.  We talked about our crazy spring schedules and compared notes about the various sport and dance seasons.  We did our best to ignore the crazies around us.  In fact, the evening turned out to be quite pleasant.

I left that night not really knowing if Georgia did well at her try-outs.  Georgia seemed to think she had done fabulously.

Two nights later, we got an email:  Georgia made the team.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Closet Frenzy: The Aftermath

Josie is a hard-core fashionista.  And some times when you are a fashionista looking for the perfect outfit, you find yourself having to pull every article of clothing off your shelves until you uncover just the right thing to wear.  It's called a Closet Frenzy and many fashionistas have them.

And even though it is fun to pretend that you are a baby bird sitting in your nest, you still have to clean up the mess you have created:

A fashionista is not a diva, after all.

And six is never too early to know how to fold and organize.

Or to play around with a pair of tan short pants.

One might get tired and bored of folding... but a fashionista lives by the motto:  "She who makes the mess, cleans the mess."

And perhaps "Fashion is not for the faint at heart."

Folding takes great concentration:

As does using hangers:

But the reward of a neatly organized closet is worth every pulled hand muscle and sore back:

Voila!  One closet with no trace of frenzy!

And another perfect hiding place discovered!
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