Sunday, April 29, 2012

Watching Lacrosse

Hockey season is finally over and we have re-entered the world of lacrosse. This year all three children are playing on lacrosse teams.

Henry is playing for two teams:  he plays goalie on one and middie/defense on the other.

On Saturday, Josie and I drove down south after her soccer practice to watch Henry play two back-to-back lacrosse games.

We arrived with just enough time to watch Henry's first game end in a tie.

His team was not as successful during the second game.

I missed a lot of the game because Josie had to be taken to the port-a-potty not once, but two times and the location of said P-a-P was not close to the action.

When she wasn't using the bathroom, Josie lay in the grass and watched YouTube episodes of "Say Yes To The Dress" on my phone.

I wasn't particularly pleased about her doing this.  I prefer the children to be away from computer screens and televisions - especially when we are outside - but the action on the field was pretty depressing and I was tired of listening to Josie ask what she could do.

Henry's town team is playing a lot better than they did last year, but they are still struggling.  Personally,  I think it's a good life lesson to lose games once in a while, but Henry completely disagrees with me.  He gets his competitive spirit from Gordy. 

It's easier to find some good in a situation from the sidelines, than from the playing field.

I liked the above photo because it shows the vast height differences in your 12 year old boy.  Height-wise, Henry seems to be in the middle.

Henry was very discouraged when the game ended and his team had lost so badly.  I gave him my best pep talk in the car on the way home, encouraging him to look for the positive and consider the any play time an opportunity to learn and grow.  I have never played any sports and there aren't many orchestra-based equivalents to losing game after game.  I'm not sure if my advice was really heard.  

Maybe the team will improve.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Josie's April Vacation

While the rest of us were vacationing at home and taking day trips to local historical sites, Josie went to the Bahamas ..... in her head.  One afternoon, using a cheap roll of paper from Ikea (probably the best purchase ever),  Josephine drew a picture of What She Did While On Her Imaginary Vacation.

Because she used a paper roll, Josie was able to draw the picture to scale.  Atlantis (where we went last year on April vacation) is a very, very large place.

Josie drew me, relaxing on a lounge chair and wearing a hat along with bloomers:

She drew herself, going down the slides approved for girls who may not be very tall:

And she drew Henry and Georgia on the Rapid River Ride - the only place she  that she ever actually saw her siblings, since they spent most of their time riding on slides for the older (read:  taller) guests.

Gordy could be found further along in the mural:

Josie drew him on the Leap of Faith which she accurately pictured resting directly on the surface of the sun.  Josie also put in sound effects just to give the viewer a realistic feel of the occasion.

Josie talks often about going back to Atlantis and she will even tell people that when she grows up, she would like to be a doctor in the Bahamas.

I encourage her dream because I'd love to visit her and be able to sit in the lounge chair for a while.  It's something to look forward to in 20 years!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Mayflower

So after our less-than-successful trip to Plimoth Plantation, we drove into the town of Plymouth to eat lunch and visit the Mayflower (2).  We were hot, we were dirty and we were starving.  

We found a breakfast-for-lunch place on the main street that suited the needs of all three children (but perhaps not their mother) and while we ate, we watched biker after biker drive noisily by the restaurant.  

Apparently, Plymouth, MA is a hot spot for the Hells Angels (or other such leather-attired motorcyclists groups).  Who knew.

After lunch, we headed down the hill to the harbor and the rest of the tourist attractions.

Before we got to the Mayflower (2), we paused long enough to visit Plymouth Rock:

I found the rock strangely interesting, but my children found it to be completely ridiculous.  

"It's a rock," they said with disgust.

"Yes,"  I said.  "Thus it's name, Plymouth Rock."

There was a great debate amongst the Elliot children about whether or not this was the Actual Rock stepped on by the Pilgrims in 1620 followed by a heated discussion about whether or not it was really important to enclose said rock between a fence of columns.

I ignored the argument entirely and focused on the beautiful shore line.

Plymouth, MA is a very picturesque spot.

We had paid for our Mayflower (2) tickets when we entered the Plantation, so we got to bypass the long line of tourists waiting to enter the ship's exhibit area.  I would have liked to have taken the time to read all the different displays and look at the historical photos, but the children were more interested in getting on the ship as quickly as possible.  

That was alright, too.  It had been a long day already.

Once we had climbed aboard the ship, we were free to wander about and examine things at our leisure.

It was amazing to think about all the people who lived on this boat and who travelled so far away from home.

The Mayflower (2) was hardly a luxury liner.  In fact, it seemed quite miraculous to me that it had floated at all.

There were two re-enactors on board and one of them was really into the reenactment spirit.  He had about 20 people crammed into a room, listening to his every word.  We stood and listened for awhile, too, and learned a lot about how the Pilgrims lived on board the ship for a long time after landing in the New World.  He taught us about who had died during the journey (a young boy) and who was added (a baby was born mid-way).  After the roof-thatcher, this man was my favorite "docent" of the day.

Our trip to the Mayflower (2) was not a long one.  We were all tired and ready to get back to the modern world.  It didn't take us long to journey back to 2012 - about five feet from the Mayflower (2), was a cell phone which someone had dropped into the water and left for the fishes.

We spent a short time walking through a handful of souvenir shops, then set off to seek out dessert.  

We had had enough history for one vacation.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

For The Grandparents

Over April vacation, Josie got her annual bob.

But this time, the hair-stylist did something a little different:

she cut, stylish, kick-y layers in the back thus making Josie the most hip member of our family.

Josie wanted everyone (her grandparents) to see her new look.

It's an adorable haircut and it even looked great the next morning when she woke up with a full bed-head:

I actually tried to discourage Josie from getting a short hair cut this year.  I was afraid that she would end up feeling disappointed that her hair no longer fits into ponytails or braids, but so far she loves her new length.  I pulled the front sections into a "whale's tail" at the top for soccer practice and her hair looked very sweet.  I like that Josie has definite ideas about her hair and that she sticks to her guns.  

We're ready for summer now!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Journey Back In Time

Henry, Georgia and Josie are on Spring Break this week, which means that I am not.  We did not go away for vacation, so I filled the time the best way I know how:  I took the children outside and we acted like tourists in our own state.  

On Tuesday, we went to Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, MA.

When you arrive at the Plantation, you are shown an orientation video that lasts about 15 minutes.  During that 15 minute period, I realized that Plimoth Plantation was just as close to my idea of hell as could be realized at a US historical site.

I love history.  I love all historical homes, battle sites and museums.  I even worked in a historical house museum while I lived in DC back in the 90's.  I figured that I would love Plimoth Plantation with its accurately recreated pilgrim life.

I was wrong.  It ends up that Plimoth Plantation includes people who dress, act, talk and work as if they were living in the 1600s.  

This fact did not particularly bother me.  It was the following information that sent shivers down my spine.

Plimoth Plantation employees NEVER BREAK CHARACTER.  Never.  Not when a cell phone rings, not when you tell them that you are from a town that didn't exist in 1620, not when you ask them personal questions.  They never break character.


In other words, Plimoth Plantation workers are the clowns of the historical-recreation world.... and there is nothing scarier than a clown.

The good news was that before you entered the English settlement, you first had to walk through a Wampanoag "village" and the Wampanoags, while dressed in traditional clothes and toiling at traditional tasks, were still modern-day people ready to talk about both their cultural past and present.

The Wampanoags were quite fascinating.

We watched one man hollow out a canoe.

And we sat in a winter house and spoke to a village elder about how modern-day Wampanoag children are raised.

Josie got to crush corn into meal:

and both Henry and Georgia asked pointed and appropriate questions.  So far, my carnival-esque fears went unfounded.  The Wampanoags were keen to talk about their way of life and it was all fascinating.

But then it was time to leave the Wampanoag site and venture forth into the unknown of the Pilgrim village.  To ease our transition back in time, we took a lovely boardwalk path through some marsh land.

I started to get apprehensive about what fate awaited me at the top of the boardwalk stairs.  I knew I had to face a bunch of dramatic folk and I knew that if we mentioned anything modern like an ipod or a mobile phone, we would upset the balance of this crazy world.  

But we actually lucked out.  

Plimoth Plantation was almost completely empty of characters.  And believe it or not, that ended up annoying me greatly.

The orientation video had led us to believe that there would be live pilgrims in every house we entered, but that simply wasn't the case.  Most buildings were empty and outside the homes was no different than in.  The plantation was a relative ghost town.

At first, I couldn't have been more relieved, but I felt badly that the children were disappointed.  

We walked around the empty buildings for awhile until we found a blacksmith cleaning his studio.  We entered, greeted the Scotsman and watched him for awhile.

This is when I realized that Plimoth Plantation and it's band of acting pilgrims is not what it was made out to be.  The orientation video had led me to believe that all the characters were dying to talk to us and answer all of our questions about life in Pilgrim Massachusetts, but this was completely the opposite of what we experienced out of the movie-viewing room.  Our questions - many of them very good and thought provoking - elicited mostly one word answers with absolutely no follow through.  

"What are you doing?' we asked the blacksmith (or the woman tending to the fire, or the man chopping wood, take your pick).  "I'm cleaning my oven.... I'm cooking peas.... I'm chopping wood."  And then...


It was all quite puzzling.

Aren't these people actors earning money during the day before their off-broadway play begins?

Aren't they dramatic types who love nothing than telling a good story?

Where was the story?

Where was the history and the information?

No where, apparently.

After two mono-syllabic encounters, we began to be happy when we found an empty house to explore.  

While I had been dreading the forced interactions and having to listen to people "thou and willist" me for hours on end, it ended up that I got annoyed that no one seemed to want to play act for us after all.

The lack of enthusiasm shown by the pilgrim re creators was shocking.  And yet in some ways, it was kind of funny.  My favorite moment during the day came when Georgia watched a woman sewing a large piece of fabric for five minutes.  Georgia studied the woman intently, waiting for her to say something.  When the woman did NOT say something, Georgia asked, "what are you making?"

The woman looked up and said, "A Sheet."

Then she turned back to her work and continued with her morning.

Georgia looked at me, shrugged her shoulders and moved on.

A sheet?  Seriously?  That's all you can say?  How about "I'm making a sheet for my bed.  First, I wove the cloth using fiber I got from sheering my sheep.  Then I worked for months to make this one piece of fabric which I now sew - by hand - for hours and hours.  This is the only way I know to get sheets for my bed.  My mother taught me how to do it and her mother taught her.  This is what women do in our town.  We sew our clothes and we cook our dinners.  It is a hard life but it is also rewarding as I am a Pilgrim and I want to live a pious life."

Nope.  We just learned that that rectangular piece of cloth is a sheet.

We moved outside for a few minutes - just long enough for me to take some hysterical photos of two of my children being attacked by an insect.

City children are so fun when they are in the country.

We also enjoyed the look-out station.

Well, we think it was the look-out station.  There wasn't anyone around to give us any information about the structure.

We left Plimoth Plantation feeling underwhelmed.  

Luckily, things picked up at the next location:  the craft house and the educational area.

We watched modern people making pottery and a Wampanoag woman making a ball out of deer skin and animal fur.  

At the education area, we found a man thatching a roof and he jumped at the chance to tell us all about thatched roofs, the process involved in maintaining such a roof and the roofs most wonderful traits.

I didn't catch his name, but he was amazing.  I learned more about thatched roofs and about the pilgrims from this man than I did from the entire cast of the plantation.

He even encouraged the kids to climb the ladder and meet his thatching partner in the attic.

Children love a good ladder.

Before we left, we visited the Children's Discovery Center where Henry recreated our favorite joke from the Junie B. Jones book series:

He found a rooster, who pecked his head into a nub.

I guess you had to be there.

Josie tried on a tiny pilgrim costume and both she and Georgia put on a short puppet show.

We left Plimoth Plantation with mixed feelings.  The children enjoyed the day (the Wampanoags were their favorite) but I wasn't impressed.  

I had learned more about American history from the 15 minute Battle of Lexington the day before.

We made our way across town to view the Mayflower next.  

Tune in tomorrow for that recap.

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