Friday, September 30, 2016

The Dark Side of Air Travel


I've been MIA on my blog this week and that is because 48 hours after my long plane adventure home from Philadelphia, I came down with one of the meanest sickness I've ever had.  I thought it was a flu but considering that it was gone (mostly) after three days, I'd say it was probably just a very mean virus.

While I was in my sick bed, doing absolutely nothing but sleeping and feeling terrible, I remembered why pugs are the best dogs ever.


My sweet Pippa Middleton lay at my side, hour after hour, day after day.  She was a true companion - not even minding when I threw off the covers in a fit of being TOO HOT and then just minutes later, I pulled the blankets back on over her head because it was WAY TOO COLD!  Hot, cold, hot, cold, ache, moan, groan repeat.  It was a long two days.


Today was the third day and while I am still very tired and I now have a worrisome sore throat that I am trying to ignore, I feel loads better.  Which is a good thing, since going to the grocery store this morning was a dire necessity and getting Henry to a late-evening hockey game tonight is just as mandatory.  

Mine was not the cold that Owen suffered from while I was at Elizabeth's house, so the general consensus is that I caught this wretched bug on the airplane ride home.  So cheers!  Thanks American Airlines!

Life went on while I was upstairs in my bed.  Gordy did double-duty going to work and then getting three children to and fro in the off-hours.  There was soccer practice and hockey practice and a field hockey game, multiple tests and quizzes and multiple school-related events.  The usual.

I have a blog post ready to be written about the new flute we got for Georgia and my constant struggle to get my daughters to practice their instruments.  Luckily we have very patient teachers!

Check back soon.

Monday, September 26, 2016

A Quick Trip To Pennsylvania


I went to Pennsylvania last weekend for my yearly visit with Elizabeth, Sean and Owen...... and the restaurant, Buddakan in Philadelphia.  I'm happiest to visit with the humans, but those amazing Dim Sum Donuts at Buddakan are a close fourth.



I arrived on Friday afternoon and mostly we just hung out with Owen and had dinner.  On Saturday morning, Elizabeth and I took a great exercise walk and then we brought Owen to an amazing local playground called Kid's Castle. 

I've been to other castle playgrounds over the years, but this one was unbelievable.  


It's basically a giant maze / jungle gym inside which twists and turns and has crawl-throughs that are only three feet high.  We went inside the castle multiple times and never took the same route.  


The easiest way to exit the castle is to take one of three slides - two of which are completely enclosed tubes that twist and turn as you drop from about four stories to the ground.  


The first time I went down the slide, I was terrified.  The only thing that kept me from having a full-blown panic attack was the sound of Elizabeth and Owen (who had gone down before me) talking.  If I hadn't heard their voices below me, I would have been convinced that something definitely terrible, and narnia-like had happened.  I figured I wouldn't go down the slide again, but I had to - twice more actually - just to get out of the structure.

The second and third time were much less scary.

Mind you, none of the 50 or so toddlers and young children also in the maze had the same issues with the slide :) It was really too bad that my kids weren't visiting PA with me.  I know they would have loved this castle.


Owen had a pretty bad cold, so we took it easy and played at home for the rest of the afternoon before Elizabeth and I dressed for dinner and took the train into the city for 

BUDDAKAN!

This asian-inspired Kenneth Starr restaurant is definitely one of our favorites.  The food is delicious, the drinks are yummy and the service is impeccable.  Dinner at Buddakan is a highlight of my year.

Weekend trips are always too short.  I left on Sunday morning to catch a plane home but sadly, there were problems with the plane that delayed the flight until after 7pm.  That's five hours spent in the airport (and on the grounded plane) that I could have been spending with E, S & O.  Which was annoying, obviously.  

I wish we all lived closer to one another!



Thursday, September 22, 2016

First Field Hockey Game


Josie is now playing field hockey on her middle school team and her first game was this week.

After watching one full game, here is what I know about field hockey:  nothing!

Not a single thing!


I really had a hard time figuring out the rules.  The whistle blew a lot and there were a few corner and penalty shots but I don't know why.  

Yet.

I will figure this game out eventually.  

I have faith in myself.


Josie seemed to be having fun and that's something.


It wasn't the best day for watching an outdoor sporting event - it was pouring rain but it hasn't rained in Massachusetts in so long, that no one was complaining about the weather.  The rain was desperately needed.


Josie got a lot of playing time (probably because they only had two extra players so everyone got to rotate in and out :)  )

Sadly, they lost 0-1 but that goal wasn't indicative of better play by the other team.  They were equally matched, if you ask me.


But really, I'm only guessing :)



Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A New Ice Hockey Season


So ice hockey season has begun again.  Henry's hockey is easy - all his practices are on the weekend and the games are on weekday nights, usually around or after 9pm.  He usually gets home from school around 6:30, so a 9pm game means that he has plenty of time to eat dinner and get his homework finished.  It may sound like a disaster to have to play an hour of hockey at bedtime, but he doesn't mind and he never gets to bed that early anyway.

Josephine's hockey is just a tad more complicated.


Josie has three practices a week and then one to two games per weekend.  Josie gets out of school at 3:45, but the bus she takes home doesn't leave the school until after the high school kids get out at 5:45, so on hockey days, I make the 45 minute drive down to the school to pick her up.  

When we signed Josie up for hockey, we figured that since she moved up a level, hockey practice would be an hour later than it was last year.  That extra hour would give us enough time to drive the hour and fifteen minutes from her school to the town north of our home where hockey practices.  


Easy peasy

You can guess what happened, right?


Hockey practice did not move an hour later than last year.  It's at the exact same time as it was last year and that means that we have one hour to make the hour and fifteen minute trip.  

Whoops!  Obviously, we didn't think this through.

We did some experimenting and took three different routes, each was long and traffic-filled.  We realized that there was no way we could get to practice on time - even if Josie changed into her gear in the car.  We've asked (and received) permission from Josie's field hockey coach (field hockey is her last class of the day) to leave school fifteen minutes early.  With that extra time and with Josie putting on her full uniform in the car (including her skates), we can usually get her on the ice five minutes late for practice but that's with a lot of craziness and stress.


So why bother?  

I'm willing to put up with the hassle (at least for this year) because Josie loves hockey and she really likes this team.  The girls are nice and she's made some great friends.  Her coach is fantastic and she's a great role model who expects a lot from her players (working hard to meet someone's expectations is always a good life lesson, in my opinion).  Josie will eventually play ice hockey for her school but currently there is only one team (a high school team) and I'm not sure a short 6th grader should to be playing hockey with teenagers.  


These are the reasons I tell myself when I fall out of my car each evening after 3 hours of driving.  I know why I'm doing it, but I need constant reminders!


Moments like below help:


Sunday, September 18, 2016

The First Day Of School 2016


So we finished summer.  It's depressing and I'm kind of in denial about it, but summer is actually over now and school has begun.  Henry and Josie started school before Labor Day and Georgia started her year right after.



I took my traditional First Day of school photo by our fireplace.  Henry no longer wants to be on my blog, so I'm not going to post the one photo he reluctantly agreed to pose for.  But Georgia's photos are above and Josephine's are below.  Henry is now an 11th grader, Georgia is in 8th grade and Josie has started 6th.




Josie started a new school and it was a slooooowwww start.  On Tuesday, she and I drove to school and met with her advisor and got her computer formatted.  On Wednesday, I dropped her off at school for a three-hour orientation where they learned how to use various computer programs, played some get-to-know-you games and learned where their classrooms were.  Then FINALLY on Thursday, I put both Henry and Josie on the bus at 6:30am and they had their first real, honest-to-goodness first day of school.  

So how did she do?  Well.  She enjoyed school and she enjoyed the first day.  And the second day.  She is currently on day three.  She likes her teachers, she loves switching classrooms and being in a middle school instead of an elementary school and she's met a lot of nice kids.  She did explain to Georgia last night that she can't say she's made friends yet because she is still meeting people and getting to know them.  She can't consider them friends yet.  Which makes sense.

Henry and Georgia are less enthusiastic about starting their school years.  According to Henry, Junior year is notoriously hard and busy.  There is school and all the work that comes with it, plus learning to drive, plus studying for SATs and/or ACTs, taking SATs or ACTs, visiting colleges, writing essays etc, etc, etc.

When he put it that way, I had to agree.  Junior year does sound like a nightmare.

Georgia enjoyed her first day but once again felt like she doesn't have as many friends in each of her classes as she would like.  Her teachers seem nice but she's pretty certain it's all an act and her science teacher already assigned homework (I'm writing this on her first day)!

As for me, I am not one of those parents who looks forward to having her kids back in school.  I miss having them around and I miss having no set schedule and I'm not that great at handling the back-to-school stresses.  Having more private time is nice.  And I like being in the quiet house and eating my lunch in peace, but I'd happily give those things up to have it be summer and have the children at home again.



Thursday, September 15, 2016

Random Block Island Photos


I'm trying to finish up my summer posts - the children are in school already for heaven's sake - but I don't want to leave anything out.  I want to remember that this was the summer of the Dutch Braid (a reverse french braid).  Josie practiced the braid on Georgia until she finally mastered it.

Every year I try to take our Christmas card photo while we are outside, on vacation and happy.  I've written a post on how hard it is to get one good photo of three, opinionated, easily-bored children so I won't go into it all again.  Needless to say, older children are no easier to photograph than younger children so this year's attempts were no less of a disaster than attempts previous.

This would have been a good one...

Had Georgia not pulled a face.

And this might have worked had Henry not decided that he was finished with the whole endeavor and up and left.




The following photo was from our trip to watch a west side beach sunset:


Pippa Middleton loves Block Island and all the outdoor time it entails.  There's no air conditioning, though, so when she gets hot and tired after a walk, you can usually find her here...


lying flat on her belly against the cold tiles.

Each week that they hydrangeas are in bloom, I pick bouquets for our living and dining areas.  At the start of the summer, the hydrangeas are all blue and then as the summer progresses, some turn white, others turn green and a few turn pink.  I took this photo at the end of August with the last of the blooms - a rainbow of flower!


We always miss the official Race Week on Block Island because our schools here in Massachusetts go until the bitter end of June, but we did get to see one sailing race (from Montauk? ) and the occasional sailboat will drift by our house.  It's always fun to see them.



There are more random photos on my instagram account.  Feel free to click over to that site by clicking on the camera icon to the right.

And that was our summer.  I'm sorry that it came to an end :)




Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Josie Accomplishes Her Goal


You may remember that Josie and I made a deal at the beginning of the summer.  I would pay for Josie to get the tips of her hair dyed purple and Josie would read all seven Harry Potter books by the end of the summer.  I let Josie dye her hair the day after her graduation ceremony - the same day she started reading book one (Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone).  

And then you may remember what happened next:  the hair dye washed out of her hair by the end of the second week while Josie was still plodding through book one!  

Whoops!


But a deal is still a deal and I DID pay for the dye job even if it didn't last as long as she had hoped.


And so Josie read book one.  And then she finished books two and three.  It wasn't easy and she complained more than once and there were a few tears because Josie insisted that there was no way that she would EVER finish all seven books, especially since she thought the books "were boring."  But I reminded her that she made a deal with me and I assured her that she would finish and I pointed out that Harry Potter is definitely not boring - they couldn't be any further away from boring. 

And that's just a fact.

And so slowly but surely, Josie read her Harry Potter.  She finished book four and then book five and then book six and before you know it, she was on book seven and was 2/3rds of the way through the 600 plus pages at the start of Labor Day weekend.  The end - and success - was right around the corner.

We were all pretty excited.  Josie sat down to read the last twenty pages and the four of us hovered over her while she read.


Georgia joined in for the last ten pages.



And I took photos.







And then the magical moment happened!!!



She did it!!!!  She read all seven books in one summer!


The girl who always says she dislikes reading!  The girl who thought she could never, ever finish four Harry Potter books let alone seven!

The girl who claimed she was a slow reader!

She did it!!!!



Sunday, September 11, 2016

Our Last Week


I tried something new this year when I planned our time on Block Island - instead of the three weeks that we have previously stayed, this year I decided to stay on island for four weeks.  The first week was just me, Henry and Josie because Georgia and Gordy were in Colorado for a soccer tournament.  The second week, we had Henry's friend Sam with us and Gordy and Georgia were back on the east coast and with us on the island.  The third and fourth weeks were supposed to be just the kids and me with Gordy coming for long weekends, but then Georgia decided that she wanted to be home (and Gordy wanted her to go to a soccer camp) and Henry was invited to go to Martha's Vineyard with a friend from school and Gordy had work commitments ...

and suddenly it was just me and Josie, on Block Island, enjoying the last week of our summer vacation.

And enjoy it we did!



We established a routine.  I'd walk Pippa Middleton in the morning, before it got too hot for her, and then Josie and I would head to the beach for a few hours.  Next, we'd come home for lunch and showers before we'd leave the house again for a long bike ride.


Some nights we ate at home, some nights we went out for dinner.  There was a lot of book reading, sitting on the porch, watching movies in the evening and enjoying the views.



At the start of the week, we decided that if we got bored, we'd try to leave earlier by going stand-by, but that was the only time the subject came up.  We had a blast.



I came home to Massachusetts very relaxed.

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