Thursday, August 29, 2013

If You Build It, They Will Come

Our new garden is flourishing.  The plants are growing taller and thicker;  the flowers are blooming magnificently.  We've even played host to some never-before-seen-by-us critters including the above gorgeous (and enormous) butterfly who landed on our fence and spent an hour or two resting in the sun.  

We've also seen toads, all sorts of honeybees and a few bats.

We are relived that all the plants survived the massive heatwave and the general lack of substantial rain.

And it's a relief to know that we ARE capable of keeping plants alive (with a great deal of help from our landscape designer and the installation company!)

In other news, Henry had his first full school day on Wednesday and the girls and I made him a cake to celebrate.

We used my favorite chocolate cake recipe from The Domestic Goddess herself:

and I made a concerted effort to allow the girls to do the baking entirely by themselves.

It takes a concerted effort since I'm not always patient when cooking with my children.

The mess can drive me crazy, but so can the pace of the scooping and measuring.

And some of us (cough-georgia-cough) aren't the best at following directions!

But regardless of the hassle, the cake turned out perfectly:

And tasted even better than it looked.

Henry had a great first day.  He chose his electives (art, technology, lacrosse) and met all his teachers.  He happily reported that the other kids were nice and that the macaroni and cheese lunch was delicious.  He left early this morning for the eighth-grade overnight trip to the shore where they begin their marine biology study for science.  It's strange to not have him at home, but the school year had to start at some point and I think Henry would say that he's relieved to have finally finished the first day and all that being The New Kid entails.  It should be a terrific year.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

First Day(s) of School

It's Back-To-School time for some of us in Elliotland.  My cousin Lynne's daughter Brooke started her first year at Wellesley College yesterday.  Lynne and her family live in Idaho, so they all flew out to bring Brooke to college and spend some time sight-seeing in Boston.  Brooke will be spending the week at her college orientation, but the rest of her family will be staying at our house while they do the tourist thing.   Of course I took a photo to commemorate the event.  From the left: Lynne, Jorgen, Brooke and Craig.

Yesterday was also Henry's first day of school:

He is starting a new school this fall and Monday was the New Student Orientation day and Ice Cream Social.  Our family always feels social when ice cream is involved!  

It's an early start to school - the girls don't go back to our neighborhood school until after Labor Day - but Henry is being eased in slowly.  He had new student orientation Monday, there's no school today and then he has a regular day on Wednesday before he leave for a two-day/one night trip with his class on Thursday/Friday.  

I took my usual First Day of School photos by our family room fireplace to mark the occaision:

Henry's in 8th grade now which means that we have only this last year of middle school before he's a high schooler.  It's totally weird.  We are all very excited about Henry's new school and I know that Henry is eager to get going and start learning his new routines and meeting new people.  

Bring on the fall!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Boogie Boarding

Block Island has fantastic waves.

We went to the beach every day of our vacation and the children did their fair share of boogie boarding.

I brought my camera to the beach one morning to try to capture all three of the children boogie boarding at the same time, but sadly - and unusually - it wasn't the best wave day.  The ocean wasn't cooperating with me.  

Josie went into the water first.  Cold water doesn't seem to bother Josie at all.

Cold water bothers Henry very much.  It took him longer to join his sister in the water...

but soon he was out in the surf as well.

Now I only had to convince Georgia to put away her book for awhile and get boogie boarding.

Like I said, there weren't very many waves this particular morning.  The ocean was more like a lake:

It was perfect for swimmers and people like me who don't really want waves crashing over their heads.

... but it wasn't exactly ideal for capturing the activity at hand.

It took a few tries...

but I eventually got the shot:

On good wave days, Henry, Georgia and Josie will spend hours in the water, riding waves, getting out of the ocean only to warm themselves in the sun, eat a snack or go searching for critters in the tidal pools.  Long gone are the days when Gordy and I had to entertain our children for hours on end at the beach.  The ocean is a fantastic baby-sitter.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Block Island 2013

I'm still day dreaming about our three weeks on Block Island - it was the perfect trip.  We did lots of beachy things, like riding the waves on boogie boards, sunbathing, playing on the sand.. but we also did new things like enjoy a dinner picnic on the beach below our first rental house.

Your first rental house, you ask?  Yes.  That's right.  We have terrible rental house luck on Block Island.  This was our tenth summer vacation on the island and only the first time that we have ever rented the same house two years in a row.  Last year, we rented this house for two weeks and since two+ week rentals get first priority the following year, we figured that we were golden.... until we called to reserve this years vacation and were told that the home owner wanted the house during our two weeks.  

We ended up renting last year's house for one week and then switching to another house (in a different location) for the following two weeks.  It wasn't ideal.  Moving mid-vacation was a complete pain and we missed the ocean view of the first house and the location of the second home wasn't our favorite.  

But those were our only complaints.  The second and third weeks of vacation were wonderful.

We continued to go to the beach every day and we watched more than one amazing sunset:

We also flew kites:

And I took our Christmas card photos of the kids. 

After I had finished, Gordy took a photo of me with Henry - who after years of threatening to do so, is now my height (well, he has 1/2 inch to go!)

He towers over me when he's on skates, but that's another story.

Gordy had to go back to work after the first week, so the kids and I were on our own.  Right after we dropped Gordy off at the ferry, I took the children to the beach to watch the sunset and get a little energy out.

The sunset was gorgeous and the weather was mild and wonderful.

We spend so much time during the year, running around to activities, doing homework, studying for tests and just getting through each day.  It is such a luxury to be able to slow down and watch mother nature do her thing.

We all love Block Island.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

While I Tackle Laundry Mountain ...

I thought I would give you a quick look at our trip to Block Island.

We just got back yesterday and I've been frantically unpacking, cleaning clothes and putting away beach equipment and sporting goods.... all while reading all 734 of my un-opened emails and answering those that need prompt attention.  I'm sorry to say that todays will be a short blog post. 

Hockey camp has already begun and Georgia has pre-season soccer practice.  There are also health forms to be located and filled-out, doctor's visits to attend and school supplies to be purchased.

Not quite the peaceful transition from relaxing vacation to hectic fall that I had hoped for.  

But I will say that we had a wonderful three weeks on Block Island.  The weather was perfect, the waves were amazing and we couldn't have spent a more relaxing and enjoyable vacation.

Just looking at the photos helps to ease some of the Return To Regular Life Stress.

I'll write more tomorrow - I promise!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Slip N Slide Hockey

Henry got a knee-hockey slip n slide for his birthday from Gordy's parents.  Oh My Goodness is this a fun toy.  I got the idea from pinterest and snuck it on Henry's birthday list.  Henry loves to play knee hockey and everyone likes a good outdoor, water-soaked game.  On paper (or rather on computer) it seemed perfect, but I was a little worried when I read some of the reviews on Amazon.  A few people had written praising comments but a greater number of people had written more disappointing reviews. One person said that she was shocked at how small the "rink" was and another person said that her children had gotten bored in five minutes.  The rink did look rather small to me, but we also have a very small yard, so I thought it would work perfectly.  And as for getting bored, I have two children who play knee hockey constantly in our basement, so I didn't think that would be an issue.

I was right. 

We just put sod down in our backyard, so we had to use the hockey slip n slid on our (rather sloped) front yard.  It made for an interesting game.

While it's hard to tell from certain photos, the yard is dramatically sloped to the left and the water soaked "rink"was at a angle closest to Henry.  This helped even the score a little for Josie and made for a good, water-drenched time for Henry.

The goals and the puck are filled with air (the puck is also filled with water).  The rink is filled with water and there are sprinklers coming from all four sides.

And for those moments when you don't feel wet enough, you can step on the blue "guard rails" and splash more water on yourself and your opponent.

And your mother, who is holding her expensive camera, apparently!

This particular day was incredibly hot and we hadn't had time between activities to go to the pool.  Slip N Slide Hockey was the perfect way to cool down.

It will be even more fun played on the level yard at our rental house on Block Island - it's definitely getting a place of honor in our packed car!

So what was with all those negative reviews?  I have no idea.  Maybe they aren't hockey fans?  Maybe their children hate getting wet?  

We have nothing but positive things to say.  

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