Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Winter Blues

It's the end of January, it's 15 degrees outside and we Elliots have the winter blues.

There's snow outside, but it's as hard as ice and not the kind of snow that you can play in.  We've been spending a ridiculous amount of time in our house and we're all going a little stir crazy.

To help alleviate the boredom, Georgia and Josie have been spending a large amount of time in the basement, making videos using the Video Star app on the ipad (or iphone, in this case).

The videos are long and mostly full of gymnastic moves such as cartwheels, round-offs and back bends.

The videos themselves aren't that bad.  They lack any sort of plot, except for the occasional word lip-sinced in a dramatic fashion, but the app does a good job of editing the girls dancing and it has some neat visual effects.

The girls dance, lip-sinc and cartwheel to either Katy Perry or Taylor Swift and since Georgia and Josie tend to use the same songs over and over, I can now sing the entire catalogs of both our nation's two favorite pop princesses.  Yeah me.

Our basement is often pretty messy - it's where most of our toys and games live and our children aren't that great at keeping the space tidy.  But my girls don't let a cluttered space interfere with their video making.  You'll notice Henry's hockey nets play a big (albeit quiet) role in this particular video.

If you see Henry, please don't mention this to him.  He might want to get some cash compensation for the use of his hockey equipment in a commercial film.  Not to mention that Henry has been known to get greatly annoyed when one of his sisters land on top of his property.

I'm happy that the girls are occupied and that they are getting exercise (however small). 

But I'm ready for the weather to warm up so they can get outside again.  

On a separate note, check out this adorable photo of baby Henry (with our pug Nancy):

Henry had to bring in a baby photo for his middle school year book and we chose this one.  Henry is probably seven or eight months old in this photo and Nancy (who never met a child that she liked) was probably sharing a little teeth in that kiss.  ha!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

How I'm Surviving The Winter

This has been a miserable winter.  MISERABLE people!

The darn polar vortex, the endless snow storms, the gray skies and freezing temperatures ..... what possibly is there to love about this winter?

It is way too cold for human survival and to compensate for the frigid outside temperatures, the heat in our house has been blasting for the last two months.  My skin is dryer than paper, my hair is all static-y, I'm wearing all the clothes that I own at once and yet still I shiver.  

Sorry, winter, I'm just not feeling the love.

Josie and I are currently reading Anne of Green Gables each night before bed and we're learning a great deal about the power of imagination.  Just like Anne Shirley,  I've been exercising my imagination like crazy lately.

I pretend that the sun is shining outside.

And that my garden is full of light and beautiful flowers.

I imagine that the weather report says that it will be 85 degrees with a pleasant breeze today.

And I pretend that I'm sitting on a warm beach enjoying the sound of sea gulls and the repetitive lapping of the waves against the shore.

Care to join me?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Trip To The Library

Georgia has another research assignment for school.  This time it's a project of her choice about any one aspect of the American Revolution / Constitution and it's for her social studies class.  The project isn't really a research paper - although research has to be done - it's more of a craft project.  Each fifth grader has to choose a topic, learn enough facts that they can present the subject to their class and they have to create an object or a poster that represents the topic.  

This particular project is supposed to be completed by the fifth grader themselves, but we know from past experience (Henry had the exact same assignment three years ago) that the parents at our elementary school can sometimes get carried away with their "help."  When Henry was a fifth grader, you would not have believed the projects the children brought in:  there was an actual log cabin made with sticks found in the local woods and stripped of their bark, sanded to perfection and whittled to fit together into perfectly wind-resistant walls.  There was also an almost life-sized replica of the liberty bell and a bust of Benjamin Franklin's head that could have held pride of place in any museum in Philadelphia.  

I was impressed by all these projects, but annoyed when Henry received his grade for the assignment and was told that his low score was due to his apparent "lack of effort."  Henry's effort had been great;  it was Gordy and my effort that had been lacking, and isn't that what should happen at this age?  Shouldn't kids being doing their own projects?  Should my child get penalized for doing his own work?

I'm ready to get off my soap box now.  

Georgia didn't want to do a project about Paul Revere.  And she had no interest in Ben Franklin or The Liberty Bell.  She wanted to do something about women in the Revolution, but rejected the idea of doing a project about Betsy Ross.  She spent some time looking up Revolutionary Women on the computer, but the topics were few.  That's when I suggested that she do her assignment on Abigail Adams and how she wrote multiple letters to her husband, imploring him to include women in the Declaration of Independence and in the Constitution.   Georgia was intrigued - especially when I got to the part about Abigail Adams famous "remember the ladies" quote and how Abigail wanted the men to guarantee equality for women at the beginning of our nation.  

And with those words, my friends, another feminist was born. 

The girls and I went to the public library on Saturday to do some research (and to get away from Henry who had started a project of his own and was acting like a bear at home).

Sadly, our library didn't have any books on Abigail Adams in the children's section, but through inter-library loan, I think we'll be okay.  Georgia did find one or two books that we thought might help and she happily posed with one of them by the stacks.

Okay.  Perhaps I'm exaggerating a little bit.  Maybe she was a little annoyed at having to pose at the library.

Smile, Georgia.  Mommy's putting this on the internet!

On the other side of the library, Josie was looking for a little entertainment reading.  She was also looking for her good friend Dorothy, whom we almost always see when we are at the library.

Sadly, no Dorothy.  She was probably at dance class or perhaps we just missed her.

We weren't in any huge hurry to get back home to Henry and his English assignment, so I let the girls take their time looking for books.

I followed them around and snapped photos - trying not to use my flash so other library-goers wouldn't think I was strange.

I like to take photos of our life, but even I thought that photos in the library was a little crazy. 

What's a person to do?  If you need something to write about on your blog, you need photos!

I'd call our trip to the library a great success.  Both the girls found multiple books to read over the next two weeks, we got a few books for Georgia's research assignment and ordered other books from local libraries (that will hopefully make it here on time to be of help) AND we gave Gordy plenty of time to talk Henry off the ledge and get him to start his English project before we got home and had to help with that hassle, too.

See?  A success!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Life Cycle of a Giraffe

It's been awhile since I last posted about one of my children's school projects.  You probably think that we haven't had any research/arts & crafts extravaganzas to create this year.  


As if.

Or rather "I wish."

I will admit that Henry's new school is a whole lot less project-focused than his old school, but he's had at least three (if not four) research papers/movies/slide show projects.  And he had one poetry project that involved gluing words on to the surface of a face mask and snorkel.  (don't ask)

Josie, too, has had her share of projects.  I can't think of any right now, but I KNOW I've watched them be done.

And that leaves Georgia, who has been blissfully project-free for the entire fall only to have life cruelly changed with the advent of the new year and suddenly finds herself with more projects, homework and tests than she can emotionally deal with.

Two days ago, the project was the Life Cycle of the Giraffe.

There was research done on the computer and bullet points typed into Word.

And then the crafting began.

Well, the crafting began with a pricey trip to Michaels Craft store by the Project-maker's mother, but that's another post for another day.

This project had really been hanging over Georgia's head.  It had been assigned at least a week ago and Georgia was feeling the stress of not having it done.  It wasn't procrastination that kept Georgia from completing the assignment - it was simply a matter of finding a block of time and having all the supplies.  (read:  ME finding a block of time to get to the BLEEP craft store)

Thank goodness for random mid-week snow storms that cause orchestra concerts and soccer practices to be cancelled, because if it hadn't been for Tuesday's suddenly-free afternoon, I'm not sure this project would have been finished at all.


I think Georgia did a good job (and I think I did a good job buying the supplies... and I think Gordy did a good job printing out the photos etc on his work computer when our home printer ran out of ink)

It still takes a village to do a school project, apparently.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Maybe We Ought To Stop Watching These 49er Games...

At 6:30 last night, our family gathered by the television to watch Gordy's beloved 49ers play the Seattle Seahawks.  

Gordy brought his Colin Kaepernick fathead.

And he also brought his extremely loud voice, his enthusiasm and his habit of yelling at the referees, the players, the coaches and the commentators.

I'm talking to you, Troy Aikman.  Gordy's wise to you and your 49er-hating ways.  Try to be a little more neutral with your commentary next time!

The fathead (a gift from the Southerns) was a big hit.

And it helped to distract the children from the "peppery" words that were pouring out of their father's mouth.

During good moments, we cheered and danced...

and during contentious moments, we allowed Gordy to express his disappointment.

Apparently, it helps to stand during stress moments.

While I was watching (the first half), the 49ers were doing great.

There were a few questionable calls, but for the most part, things looked good.

And then the second half happened.

This is not the first time that we have watched the 49ers lose.

I'm starting to wonder if we are jinxing the team!

Perhaps next year, we should avoid watching the 49ers as a family.  Gordy watched them win live in Charlotte two weeks ago, maybe it's a sign that he needs to personally attend all future games.

His boss will understand, certainly?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Movie Night: Adapted To A Carpooling Lifestyle

Many years ago, I wrote about the car-picnics that Josie and I used to have while waiting for Henry or Georgia to finish their evening activity (if you want to read that post, click on these words).  We don't have the opportunity to "enjoy" our dinner-in-the-car as much as we used to (insert eye roll here), but when the occasion arises, Josie and I would like you all to know that we've made a considerable improvement.

In fact, we no longer even call Dining in The Car a "car picnic" anymore.  Now, we have Movie Night (with heavy snacks).

For the last two Friday nights, Josie and I have watched a movie on Gordy's laptop, in the car, while waiting for Henry to have double hockey practices.  

And while it is not the crazy Friday night of my youth, I do enjoy our Movie Nights very much.

This week we watched "Bend It Like Beckham" and I packed sandwiches from Whole Foods.

We started the evening by unpacking the picnic and setting up the movie screen.

There was much silliness.

But we settled down once the credits began to roll...

Josie watched the movie intently.  Now that she is playing club soccer, she thought it would be wise to watch closely just in case there were any tips to be learned.

A movie is the perfect way to pass two hours at the rink, let me tell you.  In the fall and spring, you can bring a book and read in the car, but in the winter, it's way too dark to do much of anything. 

And trust me, you don't want to spend two hours in the hockey rink warming room.  

Heavens no.

The car is the best, most smell-free place to while away the hours.  Especially if you are small enough to stretch out into the trunk, and lie on your stomach in front of the laptop screen.

I was a little jealous of Josie's ability to lounge, if you want to know the truth!

Next time, we've decided to bring "Despicable Me" and perhaps a large bag of popcorn.

Or SnoCaps.

If we're going to do Movie Night, we might as well do it right!

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