Tuesday, January 26, 2010

If it can go wrong, it will...

Ours was an interesting weekend.  After months of training and rehearsing, this weekend was the long-awaited Youth America Grand Prix Ballet Competition.  We packed our bags and set out for the regional competition in Denver.  The flight was on time.  Our seats were fine.  None of our luggage got lost...  That was the end of the smooth ride...

YAGP is a well respected international competition with regional events in the USA as well as in Italy, Mexico, Japan, and Brazil. I knew that The Princess had her work cut out for her.  After all, most of the other dancers have probably been studying ballet for years.  With only about five months of real training, she was certainly at a disadvantage. 

Of course, I thought her disadvantage would be limited to her lack of proper training.  As it turned out, that was the least of our problems!  During each of her solo classical variations her music quit.  Other dancers had musical malfunctions as well, but having problems with both pieces was very trying.  HRH handled it like a pro, but it really shook her confidence.

Later, on the evening before we were checking out, the power went out in our hotel.  We slept through several hours of power-free quiet, only to awaken to a dark hotel.  I made the mistake of jumping in the shower and washing my hair...  Big mistake!  No blow dryer!  I got to spend the cold, windy, Colorado winter morning with wet hair.  Joy.  And if the frozen ears weren't discomfort enough, I got to endure the hideous hair for the remainder of the afternoon.

I do have to admit, however, that it was a bit of a novel experience.  We opened our room door to find glow sticks carefully placed in the hallway outside each room door.  The stairwells were similarly lit, with glow sticks on every other stair tread.  Breakfast was tasty and (surprisingly) warm.  A buffet (undoubtedly cooked on a gas stove) was kept warm with assorted chaffing dishes heated by Sterno cans.  Each dish was illuminated by additional glow sticks and the tables were all candlelit.  It did make us smile!

After our morning and early afternoon in the cold, we were lucky enough to catch a break.  To our good fortune, the kind woman at the Denver Double Tree North took pity on us.  Feeling bad that we had checked out, despite having nowhere to go, with wet hair and make-up that was applied in the dark, she offered us a room for the remainder of our wait. 

The room was a suite, complete with kitchenette and king sized bed.  We snacked on hot, Double Tree chocolate chip cookies, and popped popcorn in the provided microwave, and sipped steaming mugs of hot chocolate.  The best part is that our kind hostess provided the room to us free of charge.

So, for the rocky weekend, we had a satisfactory ending.  HRH took second in the Contemporary category, and first in the Ensemble category.  Our studio took the Best School award, and our choreographer won the Best Choreographer award.  We got to fix our hair and makeup, and lounge in a comfortable suite...  I guess it wasn't so bad after all...

Monday, January 18, 2010

Makin' Whoopie

I have to confess to a new obsession.  OK, maybe not a new obsession, but a growing obsession of which I am feeling especially ardent.  I just don't know why I haven't been able to get it off my mind.  I've been planning this surprise for a while now...  I considered waiting for Valentine's Day, but I just don't want to wait!  Some people have suggested some great ideas for spicing things up a bit...  Some of those suggestions may prove interesting, but I don't know how adventurous I'm feeling just yet.  I think I'll stick to the standard, maybe not as exciting, but always reliable, right?  Yep, I've been daydreaming about makin' whoopie (pies) for about a week now.

What did you think I was talking about?!

So, with today being a holiday from school...  And with the kids all stuck indoors due to the snowy/foggy weather, I decided today was the day!

I'm always hesitant to try a new recipe.  Especially since moving to our current elevation.   It's just a fact that some baked goods don't turn out well up here.  And I loved the idea of pumpkin spice whoopie pies, but I decided to start with the basics.  So, that's just what I did.

I'm not sure I'm gonna call my whoopie pies a rousing success, but they were pretty good.  Not pretty, mind you...  But they tasted good...

Anyone else out there in the mood for makin' whoopie...  pies...?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Sunday Shoes

With four boys, some would think that we could save a little money by using hand-me-downs.  If you thought that, you'd be wrong...

First off, The Boy is twelve years older than The Buddies...  I don't know that anyone has noticed, but styles have changed a little in the past twelve years.  Even if I had kept his out-grown clothes, I'm not sure anyone could be persuaded to wear them.

And, while Z secretly adores the color pink, I'm not sure that I could even convince him to wear anything that had previously belonged to The Princess...

We try to do a little swapping from Buddy to Buddy, but that hasn't really worked out too well either.  One reason is because Z is the biggest of The Buddies, but he's also been voted "Most Likely to Shred the Knees of His Jeans" and "Most Likely to Tear the Sole Cleanly Off a Pair of Perfectly Good Shoes."

And then there's M.  I had high hopes for swaps between M and J.  M could easily hand down shoes and jeans to J, but M has a really bad habit...  He loses things...  Lots of things...  Case in point:  Sunday Shoes.

These were M's Sunday Shoes.  Were, did I say?  Yes, were, because they no longer fit him.  Why do we have perfectly new shoes that don't fit M?  And why don't we give them to J?  Because these shoes were M's previously lost shoes.  Because, they were lost (and then remained lost) for so long, they will no longer will fit anybody, including J...

The Buddies got new Sunday Shoes last spring.  They wore them to church only a couple of times before M's inexplicably disappeared.  Seriously, they just disappeared!  We looked, and looked, and looked (for months!).  Inside the house.  Outside the house.  In the car.  In the garage.  In the yard...  We couldn't find them...  Well, I finally found them (both of them!) just before Christmas.  It was an exciting event.

Usually the lost remain that way, so it was with great jubilation that I presented my triumphant discovery to The Mister.  But it was to no avail.  At some point during the Lost Season (approximately March to December), everyone had grown.  ***I guess I'd worry if they hadn't.***  In the meantime, I had refused to buy M new shoes...  I kept hoping we would find them, so we kept taking him to church in sneakers (the horror!).  But now it's been confirmed,  we get to buy new Sunday Shoes for M and probably for everyone else as well.  I'm so excited.

Anyone need a perfectly good pair of size 13.5 shoes?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Anecdotes from the Archive

I was reminded of this amusing incident by a post on another website where I'm a contributor.  This falls under the category of "Things you never told mom."

When my brother was in his early teens, he had jaw surgery which resulted in his mouth being wired shut for several weeks.  He was not supposed to go to school, a precaution to make sure he didn't get bumped or jostled too much while healing.

At the time, I was in the midst of an interstate move.  In an effort to alleviate some of his boredom, I asked Tom to join me on my drive to California.  We listened to music, enjoyed the scenery through Lake Tahoe, and I had lots of fun at Tom's expense...  It's fortunate that he was a good sport. 

When it came time to eat, Tom didn't have many choices.  In fact, he usually ordered a milkshake because that's all he could sip through a straw.  Of course, I pretended not to know what he wanted to order, and insisted on making him place his own orders at the drive thru window.  It still makes me giggle a little when I think about how many times he had to repeat himself so they could understand him!

Of course, I was in a bit of a hurry, and Tom was supposed to be navigating.  I'm not sure if it was inept navigating or a streak of vindictiveness, but he took us on quite a roundabout journey. 

Regardless, we made it.  We spent time at the beach, sipping milkshakes together.  It was beautiful... 

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Pictorial Post

This is my bedroom.  It's probably nothing special, but I like it...
I like the big windows.
I like the view of the mountains.
I like lounging on the couch with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate.

This is the reading light by my bed.
I love the hot fudge sundae pendant--even if my kids call them the cow lights.

This is my nightstand table.  It's not anything special either.
But it's a great place to keep the telephone, a book, the tv remote,
and a drink of water...

This is the netbook I keep bedside for late night googling,
or insomniac blogging moments.  It gets a frequent workout.

Did you notice the glass of water in all these pictures?
Each night I put a fresh glass of water on my nightstand as I go to bed.
I drink the water when I take my evening vitamins. 

Last night I forgot to take my vitamin at bedtime.
This morning, the water still filled the glass.
I'm sure glad I didn't take my vitamin in the dark last night.

If I had, I would have gotten quite a surprise.  Yuck!

A Herd of Elephants

Each morning the elephant herd marches down my hallway.  It's always too early, and too loud, and it makes me grouchy. 

The reality of the marching elephants may seem shocking to some, mostly because I do not currently live on the African savanna.  But the marching herd has become an expected ritual at our house.

I first became aware of the marching elephants when my daughter enrolled in a semi-private tumbling class with another dance friend.  As the inexplicably petite girls ran laps around the gym, the coach began to snicker.  She then confided in me that she can always tell the dancers from the tumblers during warm-ups.  When I raised my eyebrows, she told me to listen to the way they run...

The gymnasts and tumblers ran quickly around the mats, with nary a sound to be heard...  My little dancer and her friend clomped around like, you guessed it, a herd of elephants...

What is it about those lithe, little bodies that create such a ruckus?  It really seems inconceivable that such little people can make such loud noises.  I think it must have something to do with the way they are programmed to be so deliberate in their movement.  Each move they make is choreographed to hit a certain position or angle.  They are taught to be aware of placement, and to move with intention.  Maybe that precision of movement is what makes them place their feet so firmly on the floor.

Or, maybe they just don't know how to run quietly...  Regardless, I think I need to look into elephant training.  Do you think elephants can learn to be light on their feet?  I certainly hope so...

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Not an auspicious beginning.

Some days everything goes smoothly from the moment you roll out of bed.  Today was not one of those days...

5am:  You know it's gonna be a rough day when you wake from a bad dream and can't get back to sleep.

6 am:  It's not likely to get better when your daughter yells at the top of her lungs for help.

6:05am:  The day rapidly progresses in the wrong direction when you realize your daughter is screaming because she's being terrorized by a mouse.

6:30am:  It really isn't helpful when the cat (who normally lives outside) would rather lounge on the bed than catch the mouse...

7am:  This day is off to an interesting start...

Oh yeah...  It's gonna be a beautiful day...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A What? A Weather Station...

In early December, someone asked me what I was giving The Mister for Christmas.  I answered her with,

A weather station.

I was met with a, "Huh?" and there was nothing I could say to redeem myself, except to tell her that The Mister actually did request it...  

This is The Mister's weather station.

And, yes, he did request this...

The Mister then proceeded to leave the box (unopened and fully intact) on the fireplace hearth for about a week.  This is the gift that he had been threatening to buy for himself for a couple of months.  The gift that I kept telling him he didn't need (because I had secretly already bought it!).  The gift that he couldn't wait to have...  And it sat on the hearth.  For a week or more...

I asked The Mister why he hadn't set up his new toy.  He told me that it was too cold to go out and set it up.  I countered by asking him how he knew it was too cold to go out if he didn't have it set up to tell him...  I just got the look...

Now that our very professional weather station is operational (not fully operational, as the rain gauge isn't atop our house), you'd think we would have a good handle on the weather.  The truth is, our station has been insisting that it's been raining for three days now.  To be clear, it has not been raining, it's been partly cloudy, with a few hit-and-miss flurries just this afternoon.

So, if you are wondering if you need to wear your parka, don't ask me.  I can tell you from which direction the wind is blowing.  I can tell you wind speed, wind chill, and the speed of wind gusts.  I can tell you temperature (indoor and out), humidity (indoor and out), and barometric pressure.  But don't ask me to give you the forecast, I'll have to suggest you take an umbrella--regardless of the cloud cover.

Monday, January 4, 2010

My No-Resolution Resolution

Here we are.  Another year, another January...  And for the umpteenth year in a row, I am NOT making any New Year's Resolutions.  Why?  Because I simply don't believe in them.  That's why.

I know that January marks the beginning of a new year.  It heralds a fresh start, and a clean slate.  But the only thing I ever resolve to do in January is buy a new calendar.

Making resolutions or goal-setting is tricky.  And I find that if I let myself go there, I just get myself into more trouble.  For instance, once I decide to start a diet, I just need to do it... right then... no waiting...  If I set a goal to start next Sunday (for instance) I know that I'll just eat even more on Friday and Saturday in preparation.

Knowing myself well enough to realize this little quirk of reality, I am going to take it one day at a time this year.  Do I have certain things I hope to accomplish?  Yes, I do.  But I'm going to work on them daily and quit worrying about the overall results.  I hope that by doing my best each day I will make steady progress toward becoming who I want to be.

We'll just have to wait and see how it goes, but I do have high hopes that this will be a great year! 

Will I be skinny by next Christmas?  I don't know, but I hope so.  Will my house be a masterpiece of organizational functionality?  Probably not.  But I hope to be able to find the mail when it's time to pay the bills.  Will I become a person who is admired for her prowess?  Doubtful, unless the criteria is based upon my ability to bake a cupcake...  But even if all I accomplish is the successful telling of a bedtime story, that will be enough.  This year isn't dedicated to the big things.  I want this year to be focused on the little things.  Like hugs.  And kisses on owies.  And a favorite dessert after a hard day.  I want this year to be about JJ and Max and Zeke and HRH and The Boy and The Mister.  They are the big little things this year...   



Saturday, January 2, 2010

Clever Little Boy...

This is Max (which may or may not be his real name)...

This is Owlvin (his actual name)...

Max made an owl at Build-a-Bear and named him Owlvin... 
Clever, huh?

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

After a fun night with friends, we had no plans for the day.

Z decided to play in the snow...

JJ got too cold and came back in...

Max is still trying to figure out why his hands are so cold...

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