Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Crane's Beach in January


Nothing lifts the spirits quite like a trip to the ocean and after a week of illness, exhaustion and freak injuries, our spirits desperately needed lifting.


We needed a strong dose of Vitamin D

and we needed an opportunity to splash in the ocean for awhile....


(even if our splashing was done in winter boots and parkas).  When you live in New England, you can't be too choosy.  Beach time is beach time, whatever the season.


It was cold at Crane's beach, but the sun was glorious and bright.

Georgia and Josie got right down to business building sand castles and creating canals between the ocean and the large puddle closest to their blanket.




I walked around taking photos and revelling in the fresh sea breezes.  I was practically giddy to be back at the beach.  I love the ocean.  I would happily move to the beach at a moment's notice.


Forget the woods, Crane's Beach is my kind of nature!


I could sense that Gordy and Henry - the two members of our family not completely enthralled with the shore during conventional months, let alone in the winter - were getting antsy, so I suggested a walk.

Or should I say "a carry," since that's what happened every time we encountered one of the many "tidal pool" puddles along the way.  One of us (cough HENRY cough) apparently didn't hear me when I told everyone to put on their boots before we left our house.


Crane's Beach in January is just gorgeous.  The tide was out and the sand ripples it left behind were like architectural sculptures.   I will admit that it was a little on the windy side, but I never mind a little wind when I'm at the beach provided that the sun is shining.


Our walk turned into a jog when a lost mitten was discovered precariously close to the water's edge:


and we spread out a little as we got lost in our thoughts:


It was peaceful and the peace was just what we needed.  It felt good to just be quiet for awhile.


We watched horses walk by and fat seagulls swimming in the ocean.


 I was sad when it was time to climb back over the dunes and go home.



I really can not wait until summer.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Gift Cards with a Side Order of Accounting 101


Georgia received not one but TWO Michaels gift cards from Cathy & Jon for her birthday and she had been waiting patiently until after her friend party to cash the cards in for crafting supplies.  The theory behind the long wait was that many of her friends know that she likes to do art projects and she would hate to buy something from Michaels only to receive it as a present a short time later.  

When gifts are involved, Georgia thinks things through.  

Josie and I went with Georgia to watch her spend her money.


Michaels is a huge store and I figured that spending $20 would be a long, drawn-out process.  I allotted the entire afternoon and hoped to be pleasantly surprised if we made it out of the store in time for me to spend a few minutes reading my book before it was time to stop and make dinner.  We began outside at the discount bins....

and then went inside to the faux flower display:


I followed Georgia and Josie as they walked systematically up and down the aisles and inspected every shelf and bin:


Boas were tried on...


and knick-knacks were inspected:


And at last....


a first item was chosen:  a decorative hole puncher.  

Georgia was having an easier time making up her mind than I thought.   

I held on tightly to her first item and acted as a human calculator  as we moved further through the store.


The hole punch was only $4.99 and Georgia had $15.01 left to spend.

Meanwhile, Josie was perusing the aisle with an agenda of her own.


Josie had come to Michaels armed with her porcupine wallet, over $6 in change and crumpled bills, and the hope that something spectacular (and cheap) would catch her eye.

While Georgia read the backs of craft kits to check for levels of ease and amusement... 


.... Josie was evaluating the ratio of money spent to entertainment to be had: 


We were nearing the end of the store and preparing to make our second loop, when Georgia eyed a kid-sized rug-hooking kit with a soccer ball theme:


I helped her figure out the mental arithmetic involved with the purchase and we determined that even with the hole punch, she still had enough money for the kit.  

And with that... her birthday money was spent!


Josie, on the other hand, had not found anything worthy of her $6 and she couldn't decide whether or not to be angered by this fact:


Sometimes, it's just as hard to spend money as it is to save.

We went up to the counter and I let Georgia take care of her own transaction.


She put the items on the belt, watched to make sure that they added up correctly...


and handed over her gift cards (plus .16 for tax)


Who knew that a trip to Michaels could provide such great lessons in shopping, saving and general finance?  

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Before The Nightmare Began

I am late getting this post published today.  The stomach bug hasn't really left our home yet, and I'm still feeling tired, sluggish and queasy.  Gordy called me from work this morning to report that he's starting to feel ill, poor guy.  At school pick-up yesterday, a friend told me that they had the same bug last week and her symptoms lasted an entire week!  An entire week!  Mercy Maud!  I'm not sure I can take this feeling for much longer.

I went through my photos for blog inspiration, and I found cheerful pictures of what we did the day before and leading up to The Great Stomach Disaster of 2012.   It's hard for me to imagine having as much energy as we did just a few days ago!

On Saturday - during a snow storm - we took Georgia and five of her friends (+ Henry and Josie, of course) to a roller rink for her very-belated birthday party.


We started the girls out with real roller skates but within 30 minutes, all the girls but Josie and one other friend had switched to roller blades.  Roller skates are extremely heavy, apparently.


Josie, it ends up, is a natural roller skater.  She was a total champ and spent the entire afternoon rolling around in circles and dancing to the music.  Henry stuck with the roller skates, too, without any difficulty.  The roller rink is a strange place.  First of all, it was completely dark with day-glow painted planets all around the perimeter.  Second of all, it was extraordinarily loud.  I know this ages me just by writing it, but there was no reason why the music had to be turned up to blasting.  I couldn't hear myself think let alone the person standing next to me.  It made keeping track of the girls very difficult since Gordy and I had to shout to coordinate who was watching whom.  The girls had a blast and the party was a success, but I've never been so glad to leave a place in my life.  

The next morning, while Henry and Gordy were at hockey, the girls played outside in our first real snow storm of the year.  



And then we all settled down to watch the Giants / 49er game on tv.  Guess who we were rooting for:







While the children were still up, the 49ers were doing well and we were all feeling excited.  And then things began to change.  The glee and merriment ended, and I put the camera away.  

Later that night, as if to mirror the agony of the 49ers defeat, the stomach nightmare began.  

Hopefully, this coming weekend will be better.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

24 Hours of Horror


Our house was the target of an evil 24-hour stomach bug.  Georgia was the first one to fall victim around 1:00 am on Monday.  She did not make it to the bathroom.  As Gordy and I scurried around cleaning up, putting new sheets on the bed and helping Georgia get comfortable, I mentally rearranged my day.  The painters, tiler, and carpenter could still come, but I probably wouldn't be able to do any shopping or get Gordy's mom's birthday present mailed.  


Gordy and I had just fallen asleep when Henry appeared in our room around 2:00am.  He started to tell me that he didn't fell great and I was able to rush him to the bathroom before he too began to vomit.  Gordy and I got him a bucket, helped Georgia clean out hers, settled them both into bed and I re-arranged my day again.  I would cancel Henry's tutor and an appointment I had, I would call and see if the carpenter could come another day since he would be working on Henry's room and Henry would probably need his room.

The night progressed with me (and sometimes Gordy) getting up every 40 minutes to clean up after either Georgia or Henry.  At 4:30, Josie woke up and came out of her room to see what was going on.  She claimed that she felt fine, but no less than 20 minutes later, it was Josie who was running off to the bathroom and getting her own bucket.  Sigh.

All three kids had the stomach bug.  At once.

Believe it or not, this had never happened before.

I rearranged my day for the third time.  I would call EVERYONE and cancel.  We would get blankets and lie on the couch and watch movies.  


And then the bug hit me.  Hard.  Four out of five of us were ill beyond words and the fifth member of our family was feeling fine... at work.  When it was late enough to start making phone calls, I cancelled my appointment, I cancelled Henry's tutor, I called the painters and asked them to come on Tuesday, I called both the elementary school and the middle school and left Absent Messages for all three children, I attempted to get a message to the tiler but failed, and the carpenter said he wasn't scared of a stomach flu and decided to show up anyway.  I could barely get off the couch, so I wasn't the best hostess.  I was glad that I didn't have to do too much interacting with either one.  

The kids and I - and our buckets and blankets - spent the day in front of the tv, moaning.  We watched "The Goonies," and an episode each of "Toddlers and Tiaras," "Cupcake Wars" and "Storage Wars."  We started to watch the movie "Marmaduke," but it was so bad that I turned it off for fear that it was turning the children into idiots.  We watched PBS for awhile and we watched TLC.  By noon, we were dying of thirst, but afraid to drink any water.  By dinner time, we were feeling brave enough to eat some saltines and bananas that Gordy brought home.  

We all went to bed by 6:30 and spent the night tossing and turning, stuck in that terrible sick place where you are sweating one minute and shivering the next.  I got up at the usual time this morning and forced myself to eat a bowl of cereal.  I was still feeling queasy and had a headache, but I could tell that I was improving.  I woke Henry and Josie up and got them breakfast.  Their coloring was good and they felt up to nibbling on toast and eating applesauce.  Georgia got up closer to 7 and said she "Felt Fantastic!"  Since she was the first of us to get the bug, I figured that I should let her set the example of the day and I sent them all to school.  

I figure that Henry will feel fantastic next and a few hours later, Josie will be back to normal and sometime around 11 o'clock, I'll be smiling, too.  

Let's hope, anyway.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Storybook Workshop


Josie had her first Storybook Workshop performance last week.  She was a troll in the cast of Billy Goat's Gruff.  If it was possible to convey over the internet how excited Josie was about this play, then you would be tingling right now.

Storybook Workshop is a wonderful program, created and run by Tina Moran, for children ages 2-8.  Both Georgia and Josie have participated in the classes for years and Henry would have as well had I known about their existence when he was young enough!  In the younger years of Storybook Workshop, the children listen to stories, do craft projects to create props and then dramatically recreate what they have heard.  The older children (in Storybook Drama, like Josie) create scenery, learn speaking parts and perform a play that involves dance and music.  To say all classes are amazing and adorable, would be an understatement.  If only you all had a Tina Moran in your town (and if you do, sign your kids up for these classes immediately!)


When the audience members entered the gym, we found the trolls already hiding under their bridge.  Josie is the fourth troll from either the left or the right.  She is hiding in the dark shadows since, as a Norwegian child, she is well aware of the needs and habits of your common bridge troll.


The goats, on the other hand, were out in the open for all parents to see.  


Tina began the play by giving the audience a brief overview and welcoming us to the performance.

She informed us that in the Storybook Workshop version of this childhood classic, there would be no eating of goats.  Instead, the tale's ending had been tweaked somewhat to encourage a more friendly moral.

and then the fun began:


The trolls erupted from their under-bridge hideout.


Dances were danced (that's Josie, third from left and un-blurred)  and bridges were defended:




The goats grew tired of their grassy meadow and decided to venture over the bridge to new locales:



confrontations occurred:



And negotiations were made.  In the end, the goats and the trolls decided that it would be more fun if everyone just got along and they all became friends.  So they did.

The performance lasted about 15 minutes and it was absolutely delightful, as always.  Josie had been looking forward to her turn "on stage" ever since watching Georgia perform in this play two years ago (she was a goat).  As for me, I can not say enough wonderful things about the Storybook Workshop Program.  In an age of video games, non-stop availability of cartoons on tv and of toys that seem to play for you, it's a relief to find an activity that encourages children to use their imaginations, to dance, to create art and to tell a story.  


It's really what childhood is all about.


(Want to learn more about Storybook Workshop?  Click HERE!)
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