Sunday, September 30, 2012

Before Hockey Begins

Josie (finally) starts hockey on Tuesday.  And before she arrives at that rink with her gear in tow, Gordy had a little hockey housekeeping to do.  Josie's going to use one of Henry's old sticks, but Gordy wanted to cut it to the proper Josie-sized length.  First they measured using the old nose trick.

And then Josie tried on her helmet - which was a good thing, since it ended up being way too small.

Gordy was able to let the helmet out and readjusted the sides so that they fit properly and so that the chin strap rests on her chin instead of in her mouth.

And then he got to work on jazzing up Henry's old stick a little.

And yes that involved pink tape.

The stick is still a little too long for Josie, but Gordy cut her last stick too short and he figures that this one will work fine until she grows a little.

But next came the last task -- the one that Josie hates:  the fitting of the mouth guard.
There is just something about molding mouth guards that Josie can not stand.  It's the combination of the boiling water, the feel of the plastic against her teeth and the way that seven-year-old wiggly teeth feel when you are biting down on mushy material.  I had to hold her while she bit down:

And she was still looking rather unhappy 30 seconds later when the process was almost finished:

But then, I asked her to give me her meanest hockey look :

and that cheered her up immensely.  Look out hockey community!  Josie is on the loose!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Remember this?

It was my one and only attempt at "canning" something!  My rhubarb liquor has been sitting patiently in my refrigerator ever since I made it last spring.  I've been waiting for the right occasion - preferably when guests were over and I could share - but that occasion never arrived.  We didn't really do much entertaining this past summer.

And we aren't really planning on doing much entertaining in the near future.

....and yet that little jar of pink yumminess calls to me every time I open my refrigerator.  And it's been driving me crazy.  I have always been a sucker for the tiny voices of food and drink - why do you think that there's never any Mallomars in my house?

Last Friday, I decided that I had better pop open that seal and enjoy some rhubarb goodness on my own.  

Nigella Lawson (or Cooking Lite, which is actually where the recipe came from) never mentioned how you are supposed to serve the liquor and I'm not really a shot kind of girl.  I decided to make my cocktail by mixing the rhubarb liquor with some club soda and ice.

I'm obviously, not a big drinker either.  Look how diluted this drink became!  There's only the very hint of pink left in the glass.  Good thing for me, that hint of pink packed a great rhubarb flavor.  The drink was delicious and I enjoyed it immensely.

By myself, sadly.

We really need to entertain more!

(Have no idea what rhubarb liquor I'm referring to?  Click here for the link!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

School Pictures

Our town has this amazing family photographer who takes beautiful photos.  We hired her to take all of our children's pictures when they were five and I have those portraits hanging in our family room.  I've always considered it a mark of a great community, that our elementary schools use this photographer to take our children's yearly school photos.  How special is that - to have your photo taken by a local artist instead of the usual, big-box-store-like company with the fake backgrounds and the cheesy man who tells you to tip your head to the right and lift your chin to the left... until you are posed so strangely that smiling is out of the question?  School photos are jokes for a reason.

But our sweet town bucked the trend and hired a local mother who snapped her shots outside, in natural light.  She wasn't a stranger at all.  Many of the children she photographed at school, were neighbors or prior clients and she knew many of them by name.  

Guess what happened at our school this year?  Can anyone take a guess?

Last year, someone grumbled about the price charged by the local photographer.  Maybe more than one person grumbled about the price... because a questionnaire was sent around to all the school parents and most of the questions were along the lines of "Rate how important a low price is, when buying school photos?"

Now, I'm all for saving money and I wouldn't say that price isn't important to me, but quality and helping out a local business person is just as important as getting a good deal.  The same sort of grumbling happened at our last school and one year, they tried out a big-box competitor.  The photos were terrible and they cost just as much as our local woman.  There was absolutely no savings, and I promptly threw the photos into a drawer and never looked at them again.  

Think I'm exaggerating?  Here's the proof:

The above photo of Henry was taken the year that our previous school decided to try a more "competitive" photographer.  Pretty drab and dismal, no?

And here is Henry two years later, when the same school went back to using the local photographer:

Pretty amazing, no?

Our current school sent out the photo forms last week and I saw, to my horror and disgust, that the photo committee had hired that same big-box competitor.  Sigh.

I wrote my check and bought the smallest package I was able.  I know I'm not going to want the photos that we get back this year.  

I took my own photos of the girls before they left for school on picture day.  

Georgia is still having some issues with her forced smile.  Taking a photo of her in her natural habitat provided a more genuine smile:

I'm so sad about the school photos.  I feel badly for the local photographer who might have been counting on that income.  I feel badly for the parents who thought they were getting a better deal and have now realized that the lower prices just aren't there.  These same parents are going to be horrified when they see the quality of the photos.  We had such a great thing going and now it's come to an end.

I hope people change their minds.  I hope they re-hire the local photographer next year.  I've already heard from two parents that they thought the prices from the new company were higher than the old.  I was able to mention that our old school hired this company and I was disappointed with the photos.  Maybe they've improved in the last few years?  I hope.

Or maybe I don't.  

Sunday, September 23, 2012

My Gymnast

About six months ago, Josie realized that she could do a pretty impressive cartwheel.  Within days, she was cartwheeling everywhere and at any time.  There were practice cartwheels, celebratory cartwheels, traveling cartwheels that took us from one end of a soccer field to another.... if there was was enough room for a cartwheel, Josie was cartwheeling.

And then one day, she decided that it would be even more fun to do a back bend.  

So she did.

Which led to a back hand spring.

Now if I'm ever looking for Josie, I know that I will find her in the basement  and probably upside down.

I do not know how Josie learned this or from whom all this flexibility comes from.  

It is certainly not me.  Josie mostly does her back hand springs on the padded comfort of our basement rug, but occasionally she will do it outside, in front of a crowd.

Most people are surprised to see her do it and most assume that Josie takes gymnastics.

Josie does not take gymnastics.

And it's not that I'm a cruel parent, it's that Josie took a tumbling class when she was five and the gym owners asked her to be on the team.  When I investigated what "being on the team" meant to a five-year-old, I learned that she would be going about three times a week to practice and would be required to attend meets on weekends.  Four + times a week?  For a five year old?  Not going to happen.

That's the year, I signed Josie up for tennis instead.  

Maybe we will go back to the gymnastics if Josie keeps showing signs of interest.  Right now, she seems content just tumbling on her own in the basement.  

But I did notice there was something new in her repertoire when I was photographing her for this post:

.... the handstand!  If she asks for a balance beam, I guess I'll have my answer!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

What We're Doing Now

Soccer.  Well, at least one of us is playing soccer... the rest of us are carpooling to soccer, watching soccer or being bored while waiting for their sister to finish playing soccer.  Georgia is playing on two teams again this year - her town team and her club team.  It's a lot of soccer, but Georgia loves it.

I took these photos at a Labor Day Tournament.  Below is Ally - Georgia's partner in crime:

Ally and Georgia play on both soccer teams together, are great friends and carpool buddies.  If you have had any conversation with Georgia over the last year, it has probably included the name Ally at some point.

Hockey has also begun.  Henry is ALSO playing on two teams.  I don't have any photos of Henry's hockey this year (yet).  I've only been to one game and absolutely none of the practices.  That's what happens when your kids start growing up and playing sports (or doing any out-of-the-house activity).... you no longer get to be at everything.  Gordy and I do a lot of dividing-and-conquering and we rely heavily on carpooling.  The secret is to find one or two other families whom you trust, who you know are sticklers for on-time arrivals and with whom your child is comfortable and then life gets much, much easier.

So far, we've only been dealing with the activities of two children.  Josie's hockey season hasn't begun yet and her tennis lessons start next week.  Throwing a third child and a third schedule into the mix is going to change things up a bit for me.  I'm settling into the two kids/ four team routine well.  Three children/six teams?  Eck!  It's like I'm juggling and then suddenly someone throws a burning ball into the mix.  I'll get the hang of it, but it will take awhile and I'll probably burn my hands a few times.

Anyone have any suggestions on how to make the routine / scheduling any easier?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Old McElliot Had A Farm


We Elliots are not exactly known for our gardening skills.  My parents are huge gardeners but they might be the only two people in our family with green thumbs.  The only example that I have of successful horticulture is a ficus tree (named Laura) that I managed to keep alive for two years while we lived in Chicago, but I'm pretty sure that was a coincidence.  The apartment where the tree lived was really, really sunny.  

As far as planting, cultivating and harvesting go, I've never even tried, but my girls are fascinated with gardening and we had some empty spaces in the flower beds.... so when a friend came over to our house one afternoon with a packet of marigold seeds, I let the girls plant them in the mulch and water them for a few weeks.

It was a success:

Georgia and Josie enjoyed the watching the marigold seeds grow so much, that they continued the gardening.  

They trans-planted a weed to a place of honor by our front door:

And a sprouted onion by the driveway:

Okay.  I know what you're thinking.... a sprouted onion, what?  What was that middle part, Martha?

Yes.  I am such a bad housekeeper that I purchased some onions to use in a Christmas recipe, put said onions in our basement fridge, forgot about them only to discover a sprouted science experiment growing in the crisper drawer some time in August.  

I would have been terrifically embarrassed if it wasn't so very cool.

The girls planted the onion in the yard and we've been watering it.  No one has had enough time or energy to do research on the internet (or ask my parents) so we don't actually know if planting the onion in the ground was the right thing to do.  We have no idea if the sprouted onion with thrive or result in more onions, but it's exciting the to watch the progress, nonetheless.

Josie and I went outside yesterday after dropping Henry and Georgia off at their respective carpools, to water the onion:

Look at that thumb.... might that be some green, I see?


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Three Cheers For The Birthday Boy

Gordy had his birthday last week.  

He turned 42  (see the four candles on the top and two on the bottom?)

There were two back-to-back hockey practices and a soccer practice on Gordy's actual birthday, so we celebrated the day after.  There was cake and there were presents:

Josie made Gordy a toy hockey game for his desk:

And Georgia made Gordy some clay items and a framed photo of herself:

Henry hadn't prepared any gift but after watching his father open the two presents from his sisters, Henry left the room for a few minutes and returned with this:

A pickled pepper, beautifully wrapped in kleenex:

Boy, did Josie think that was funny:

After the present-opening, the girls treated Gordy to a birthday wrestle:

Followed by a performance in the basement:

Georgia and Josie had been practicing a dance to preform in Gordy's honor for the last few days:

They even dressed in costume:

The dance was very sweet and Gordy was pleased.

We had another weekend of soccer and hockey, including having the parents of one of Henry's hockey teams to our house for a parent party/meeting.  I didn't take any photos, although I should have - my house was REALLY clean.  I spent the entire day, by myself, dusting, vacuuming and putting things away.  Gordy took all three children to one soccer game and then lacrosse try-outs for Georgia and Henry.  I'm pretty sure I got the better deal.

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