Gerbera Daisy: Last Year

Sharing this one from last year because I’m almost ready to have new pics again this year.

I’m in mask mode today trying to finish up the 58 I have pinned and ready to sew. I have 60 in all, but two of those were tests to make sure they’d work. After the first one, I yet again modified my design to try and make it even better than the original. I will have pics of these because they look amazing and are going to be beautiful with the opening tap costume. At least for those that opt to wear one.

BG is hanging on the edge of that right now, even knowing there is a very real chance she will be the only one on stage wearing a mask. I’m really proud of her for taking this seriously and really thinking about it.

I brought up the fact to her that I completely forgot about her flowers that I do every year because I was so caught up in the mask thing. She said she really didn’t want flowers this year because she didn’t want anyone making an unnecessary trip to the store just for flowers. It makes me sad, but she is adamant that this is something she wants to not do this year. Again, I’m proud of the fact that she is thinking beyond what is right in front of her right now.

I still have so many thoughts and concerns about the whole thing, but it is only days away and I don’t see it not happening at this point, so it is do the best we have with what we’ve got. And why I’m in mask mode again.

Off to sew my fingers to the bone. Please keep all digits crossed and ask the karma gods to be nice to me today so that I don’t break the remaining 6 needles I have for my machine that replacement needles are no longer made for, at least not until I can finish! I really do not want to have to get a new sewing machine today.

Another Day, New Chaos

The last couple of weeks have felt like I’ve been going constantly. Between projects I needed to get done, like the garage, and all the running to get BG to the studio and all the things that are wrapped up in nearing recital time, it seems like I’ve had very little down time. Doesn’t look like that is changing for at least a little while.

The new mask mandate from the city means that masks are required for BG’s dance recital. I’m still not 100% how exactly that is going to work, though it should seem very straight forward. I knew that the studio staff was going to be stressing about it, especially the visual of masks on stage.

I’ve offered to make masks for all the girls in opening tap that match their costumes. That is about 55 additional masks. I’d love to do enough for all the staff and assistants for the assistants dance as well, but I just won’t have the time for that many. I’ll be pushing the time frame as it is to get these done.

The teacher was a little stunned by my offer and more the willing to take it. It will give them at least one performance, their big one, where everyone on stage has the same look, something that will be impossible to pull off for every single other performance. Even though they will match the costume for that performance, they will still be basic enough to look really good with all their other costumes as well.

As with the masks I made for the staff earlier, it is kind of a selfish motivation. If I can get as many of these kids wearing masks as I can, it helps to protect my own kid and also helps to make her not feel like she stands out as the only one.

There is apparently still some question, despite the mask mandate, as to whether they are required while the dancers are on stage. The audience and everyone backstage, absolutely. On stage? There is some belief that it isn’t. I’m not sure how that works out as far as justification goes. Because of that, there is a chance that my efforts will be for nothing as the dancers will then be allowed a choice. If the classes I’ve seen over the last couple of weeks are any indication, I doubt there will be anyone on stage with a mask.

I’m still doing it anyway. Just in case. And as an encouragement. Anything at all to try and help.

Besides, everything could change in another week. Or day.

We’ve also got the official word that MC will be staying on campus this fall. They’ve made changes to the housing plans so that he will have his own bedroom and bathroom, but will still be sharing a living space with another student.

He has to follow a plan for a couple of weeks before going to campus to monitor his health and then he has to be tested before being allowed in his room. I have no idea what that means once he is on campus. Will they not be allowing students to leave at all once they are there? I don’t really know how they can control that or ensure that students don’t do something that could expose them and bring it back to campus.

I’m really surprised by it all. This school already has a large online presence, so I’m a little baffled by their push for not only in person classes but the requirement to stay on campus. Unfortunately, we don’t have a choice in the matter as MC’s scholarship has a requirement that he live on campus his freshman year.

I’m really not taking anything as definitive at this point, but I’m trying to think ahead, just in case.

The upside to finding out MC will be on campus is that he has already gotten the name and contact information of his roommate and has already reached out. So far, they don’t have a lot in common other than they both play a particular video game. MC was a little surprised they paired him with a nursing student and not another computer science student, but he doesn’t seem too bothered by it.

As of right now, we’ve gotten no communication from BG’s school with regards to going back in the fall, so that one is still very much an unknown. Even with all of this, I know that tomorrow may change it all, so whatever plans are in place are far from concrete.

I guess the big downside to living in an area that still has really low case numbers is that so many things still want to move forward like nothing is going on. It gives people a false sense of security or feeling of immunity. That doesn’t even take into account the anti-mask crowd and their attitudes.

I have no clue what it is actually going to look like in two weeks when we attempt to have this recital. The social distancing plan for the audience is still very much in place as is the dressing room assignments, though masks are now also required. For that, I’m hugely relieved, though I would not want to be in the position to have to attempt to enforce that rule.

For now, I’m back in mask making mode and thinking ahead to what kinds of things I will need to have in place if MC does actually end up on campus this fall.

 

End Of The Day

Dance picture day yesterday turned into “take all the pictures” day.

I always take photos of BG in her costumes at home, or as much as I can without making her change a billion times. For the first time, she allowed me to also take some outside the studio where they have their dancer silhouette on the wall. It is the standard parent kind of shot, but she’s never let me get one before, so I was really excited to finally be able to.

And, DAMN!! Those are some of the best photos I’ve take of her. I’m talking, a couple of them at least, look like the kind of shots you’d see on a magazine cover. It makes me so damn tempted to break my “no photos of the kids” rule here on my blog just to share it.

It helps that two of the costumes in those photos are some of my favorite ever, the top one being the costume for opening tap this year. It is this phenomenal get up and she absolutely rocks the hell out of it. I cannot get over how stunning she looks in it. He teacher even stole the image (with permission) and posted it on the studio’s page because it is so classic for the look and feel they try to get with that performance.

Since I was already deep into photo mode, I was keeping a close eye on the weather and lighting as I still had another set of photos MC wanted me to take to include in his “senior photo package” we’ve been working on. Shockingly, everything came together and we had a gorgeous evening with a long golden hour that was absolutely perfect.

I dragged both him and BG out because I also wanted to try and get a good one of the two of them together and we spent probably an hour taking photos. I took nearly 400 pictures in all yesterday (and no, they weren’t all good, not by a long shot) and, I think, managed to finish up the pictures that MC wanted. Hopefully. I did also manage to get a couple of really good ones of the two of them together so I have some new photos for my family photo walls.

Of course, because I was already there and the sky was gorgeous, I made them wait just a little longer after we were done before we could go home so I could grab a couple of sunset shots as well.

MC made it abundantly clear that he would prefer that if I had my camera nearby that someone else should be in the driver’s seat of the car because I spend as much time trying to see what’s going on with the sky as I do the road. He was teasing, but… he also isn’t entirely wrong. It is such a joy to drive with two newish driving teenagers in the car pointing out every single thing you do that isn’t strictly by the book.

In all, it was a great day. BG got her dance photos out of the way (I nailed the car dressing room perfectly). I was able to finish up with MC’s photos and got a few fun ones of my own along the way.

Of course, it was also a typical roulette wheel of “What New Random Loop Is Going To Get Thrown At You Today” kind of day as well because our mayor announced a mandatory mask requirement for all indoor public spaces (with a few strict exceptions) that is going to last for at least the next couple of weeks. This covers the time frame for recital, so I have zero clue how the studio is going to work that one out as it includes the dancers on stage.

I’m in “wait and see” mode again, but I still have to make sure she has everything that she needs, including new tights and a few extra small things. It is so odd waiting on things I ordered knowing there is a high chance they won’t be used, at least not this year. We may hear more today when she goes to the studio for her last ballet class before recital.

At least I have pictures!

Where’s The Line?

Have you ever done something that you’ve really heavily invested in, be it money or time and effort, and just kept having things go wrong? There comes a point where you have to decide to either just scrap that investment and move on or keep dumping into it hoping things will eventually fall into place. When do you find that breaking point where you scrap it all? Do you ever?

This is where I feel BG’s dance studio is at. Sort of. It is so damn complicated.

I’ve mentioned before what a normal year looks like. Two large shows with both a dress rehearsal night and a recital night. Prior to that is the excitement of getting costumes and having a big event with picture days. All of this after lots of class hours in the studio learning the routines.

This is so not a normal year, obviously. Apparently, it isn’t all because of the virus and issues radiated out from that, either.

We learned yesterday that a second costume BG was supposed to get, her assistants’ costume, is different than what they initially ordered. This is the third one that I’m aware of at the studio and BG gets two of them. The first one that got changed, the ballet costume, is… just not like anything they would normally get. I won’t say it is awful, because it really isn’t. It is just really plain and basic and that isn’t a direction they go in choosing costumes. It was kind of a disappointment to pretty much every single girl. We don’t find out until Sunday what the assistant costumes look like.

I’d heard that this may just be a problem with the vendor in general that was an issue before things started shutting down and not even directly related to the virus.

They scrapped the costume entirely for hip hop early on and are just going with a t-shirt and the girls will wear their own dance pants instead.

Those 2 shows are now 5 and only parents of the kids in the classes for that specific show, not counting the girls that do opening tap and assistants (they have their own show and BG is one of those), are allowed to attend that show. Normally anyone can go to any show and it isn’t a problem. They have had to resort to issuing tickets and limiting each family to 4 to ensure that they can keep the people in the audience distanced. Because of that, we cannot be at all 5 shows that BG dances in, only her one assigned show, making us scramble to figure out the logistics of it all when normally I’d just go and be at the venue the entire time.

That requires a whole other host of problems that cropped up in the issuing of those tickets. Even with them doing all the numbers and leg work to make sure every family had the opportunity to get seats and still have extra room, a few of those shows still “sold out” (they are not charging for these tickets, it is only a reservation kind of thing) leaving some families unable to get seats. I don’t know if that is because there was some sort of glitch in their system or if some families just refused to follow the rules. I’m leaning toward a little bit of both.

They have had to scrap the usual class group photos for their picture day and are only doing individuals, of which we had to schedule appointments for each photo (one for each costume) and they cannot change at the studio. I have a makeshift dressing room set up in the back of my car so BG can change without us having to drive back and forth between the studio and home a dozen times.

These are just some of the more out there and obvious things that I personally know about. I won’t even get into the lack of mask wearing by a very large majority of the kids in the classes, a majority that grows with the age of the class apparently (meaning BG’s class has her and maybe one or two other girls that actually follow this rule) or the number of places I’ve heard of kids traveling, including out of the country and to states with high case numbers, and yet are still planning on returning to class as soon as they get back.

I cannot even begin to fathom all the time and money (at the very least, the cost of the extra costumes, but I know is actually so much more) they have invested in this. I’m absolutely certain that if this were just about any other studio, this would have been canceled when they couldn’t hit their original recital dates. I truly admire and appreciate every last bit of the effort they are making for all of these kids.

But…

Sometimes you really have to stop and wonder if the Universe isn’t trying to tell you something. I am pretty certain they feel like they are past the point of no return with all they have done up to this point. I get it. I really wouldn’t want to be in their position.

Sadly, it isn’t even close to done yet. We still have a few weeks before the recital and case counts are going up. Our mayor is probably going to be issuing a mandatory mask rule in public spaces in the next couple of days.

It is such an ugly situation with no good solutions. I am wondering how worth it is going to be in the end when the result is so very unlike what it would have been normally, especially if it is such a disappointment to so many people, like with the costumes. I don’t know that we are there just yet, but it is really starting to feel like it.

For today, I have to prep for pictures this afternoon and feel grateful I didn’t plan on getting a professional one of BG in her assistants’ costume because she doesn’t even have it yet. I’m still hanging by a thread on having her participate in the recital at this point. We’ve all discussed it and are watching the case counts and she is being a rock star at wearing her mask even when she feels so alone in doing so.

The closer we get, though, the more I really kind of wish they’d finally hit their breaking point and just throw in the towel. I also know that is so unlikely to happen unless it is mandated by health officials.

The stress from all of this is off the charts.

 

Getting Tied Into Knots

I’ve spent the last month or so being a little bit in awe over how far BG’s dance studio is willing to go to try and give these kids as much of a recital and celebration of all their hard work as they can while still attempting to maintain that balance of safety and required distancing. They have bent over backwards and twisted themselves into shapes resembling pretzels in an effort to try and pull off that incredibly fine line of balance.

They have put in hours and hours for each class and each teacher recording and uploading instructional videos so the kids could continue to learn their routines in preparation for being able to return to class. This often means more than one video for each individual dance. One for the slower, breakdown instruction of the steps and at least one more for the routine in time with the music. Often, it also means multiples of these as they are often done in segments. Many of those teachers also work other, full time jobs.

They have had to make major changes to choreography to eliminate any kind of pairing and contact, like hand holding, to work on maintaining distance between dancers. They’ve changed how they work within the studio so that there is more spacing between dancers, changed the timing of the classes to create gaps so the lobby isn’t overwhelmed and to give them time to sanitize between classes. They’ve implemented the requirement to wear masks and rules for being able to even attend in person classes.

We have now finished out our second week back and it has been… interesting, frustrating and a little shocking to see how it is all trying to unfold.

The studio has lost a large number of students for this last part of the year. I’m making assumptions, but this is in part because some parents have chosen to just not allow their child to participate because of the risk. Some because it is outside of their normal times and have other commitments (we are usually done by the end of May). I’m also certain that there are probably a few parents that refused to send their kid because of the mask requirement. It seems the younger the class, the fewer students came back. It looks like the older group that BG is in is mostly all there.

I have been absolutely floored by the varied responses to all of this, at least in the group that BG interacts with the most.

One is the very blase` attitude towards the mask rule. It is more of a paying lip service kind of thing than something that is respected. Inside the studio, masks are on only a portion of the time on a lot of the girls. Outside, the girls are still gathering in close groups and in cars with no masks at all.

Another is the same sort of attitude from a decent chunk of these kids with regards to actually respecting all the work the staff put into making all those videos. So many girls don’t know squat when it comes to the routines. Even routines they knew before everything closed have now been forgotten. BG was absolutely stunned at how many hadn’t even looked at a video in all the weeks they were away. Yes, there are a few legitimate excuses as to why (not having the access to the app or decent enough internet to view the videos) but that is only a small fraction of the whole. I could go on forever on all the ways this is a problem because there are so many parts to this, but I’m still blown away by it and even more impressed by BG’s dedication to making sure she went back to class fully prepared. I think she is a little impressed with herself because of it as well.

Did I mention that my girl has danced nearly every single day while she was away from the studio?

One of the things the studio prides itself on is making sure all routines and music are appropriate for the age of the dancers and the audience. With recent events being what they are, they determined that some of the music that was being used in the high school hip hop routine edged too close to potentially being insensitive so they’ve had to find other music to replace it and remix it all. They’ve attempted to do so in a why that allowed them to keep the choreography, but slight changes have had to be made.

They have also had to completely rework the schedule and layout of their normal recital. Instead of 2 shows, splitting the age groups, they have had to split it into 5 to attempt to keep the gathering sizes down. They also have to submit the dressing room assignments and layout to the city for approval to show they are meeting guidelines along with limiting family for each dancer to only 4 people.

The family limit creates an issue, so they’re working to get it live streamed so those that can’t be there can still watch. This includes purchasing new equipment.

There is just so much that they are doing to make sure this all moves forward. It is kind of blowing my mind how much effort they are putting into it. It has also got to be massively stressful and frustrating because it has caused all kinds of problems as well.

One of the teachers won’t be able to be at the studio for the rest of the season for personal reasons and the other teachers aren’t familiar with her routines. Routines that very few of the girls actually know and there is a whole host of issues with.

I found out yesterday that some of the costumes won’t be here in time for recital, including the one for BG’s ballet dance, a costume they had planned to use for multiple dances as one of the things they do to cut cost, wearing a skirt that belongs to the studio, isn’t something they can do this year. They have attempted to get something else that is supposed to arrive this week, but the original costumes have already been bought and paid for and this second costume is costing them.

I feel for the staff. They are doing everything they can, but… it is really kind of a giant cluster. I don’t envy the position they are in. It is costing them a lot of money they wouldn’t have normally had to spend (the extra costumes, the new equipment for streaming and for sanitizing the studio), costs that they aren’t passing to the families. They are in a position to be forced to decide whether or not they are going to police the dancers on masks and following the rules for being able to attend class (pretty sure one dancer just took a trip to Mexico).

I have wondered a few times why they are so persistent. I understand in a lot of ways why they would want to be, wanting to make sure they can honor all this hard work, especially for the seniors, but the reality of everything still makes me wonder. It is going to be so vastly different as it is right now. There is still a huge chance that this is all going to be canceled as the number of cases in our area are starting to climb, though we still have extremely low numbers in comparison.

I admire and really appreciate their hard work and effort. I really do. I’m also left questioning if this is all worth it. I’m questioning BG’s safety, though she is adamant about being safe in what she does, others really, REALLY aren’t. The short classes at the studio don’t bother me so much. The exceptionally long days, like yesterday where she is there for over half the day, and the actual dress rehearsal and recital, two days where she will be at the venue for nearly the entire day surrounded by these other kids, are such a huge concern for me.

I still don’t know what the studio’s expectations are regarding parents in my position that have a girl that is required to be in all 5 shows as far as audience attendance goes. I don’t like the idea of dropping her at the venue to be there all day and only attend the show that is specifically hers. I also don’t like the idea of spending these entire two days at the venue in the audience either.

I am so torn up and twisted about this whole thing. BG has even said that she almost wishes they would just cancel it. She doesn’t want to not have a recital, but she’s also stressed about it all. This is such a hard thing. I do understand a bit why they feel the need to keep going, but at the same time, I really don’t.

I can always just pull her. I’ve considered it, but I don’t think I’ve reached that point yet. Also, she is 16 and should have a say and she hasn’t reached that point yet either. I’ve asked myself over and over what would need to happen to make me reach that point, but I still haven’t come up with an answer.

The recital is about a month away and a lot can change between now and then. In one way, I’m excited to see BG perform the dances she has worked her ass off to learn and to see her be a part of some of the traditional parts of this event for the first time. At the same time, I’m a stressed out, worried mess that wishes the whole thing would just get canceled.

 

 

 

Strawberry Season

The strawberry plants I bought for BG are putting on berries. She’s been able to pick probably a half dozen or so. Just enough for everyone to have a taste and for her to have a treat here and there.

Three plants won’t be enough to have a large batch, but she has been having a blast going out and checking every day to see if she has one ready to pick. It has been fun to watch her enjoy it and 3 plants in a pot is easy enough to take care of.

I should have enough lettuce and spinach for a salad or two soon as well. That has definitely been a learning experience. I really enjoy the idea of having a few things like this growing. I just need to figure out a better place than these pots if I want a few more next year.

I don’t want a full blown garden, but these little bits have been fun.

Black and White Drops and Ruffles

I had such a hard time deciding if I wanted to post this version or the color version because they are both amazing. So…

Peach Iris Coated In Rain
Peach Iris Coated In Rain

Yesterday went well for BG. She feels so much better about everything now that she knows how the new normal looks and runs at dance.

The masks were an absolute hit and cracked me up to no end. BG hadn’t been in the studio with them for 5 minutes when I see the owner walk out with one on. Less than a minute later the teacher for that class also walks out with hers on (all the students were greeted with hand sanitizer outside the doors of the studio before they were allowed in). It was funny and sweet and I’m over the moon thrilled that they are enjoying them.

Another upside was that all the kids going into the studio had their masks. The parents standing around socializing outside weren’t as good about keeping theirs on or keeping their distance, but it could have been so much worse.

The sad thing, and we don’t know yet what it means going forward, was that probably half or less of the class showed up. It is going to be interesting to see how the rest of the week pans out as this was the very first of all the classes back. I’m especially concerned about how many older girls will show and how that will impact routines and recital.

BG was absolutely stunned to find out that her assistant friends from last night had either not practiced AT ALL or only a tiny bit. My girl has been dancing nearly every single day. As soon as a video for one of her routines was posted, she added it to her schedule and started working on it.

It is going to make an already chaotic and different recital even more so.

In some non-dance news, I’m working on making some changes for me. I’m sure it has already been noticed that the book reviews have dwindled down to almost nothing. There are lots of parts to this and I may still work up a post about that, but for now, I’m stepping back from most of that, including writing them for Envie!

This blog has been and always will be a space for me to share the things that bring me joy with the occasional rant or emotional outpouring thrown in. When things start to feel like that isn’t the focus anymore, I’m going to make changes. It seems like now is one of those times. I’m still not 100% sure what all will be changing or how much. It may not even be all that noticeable because the photos will absolutely still be coming.

Life is so full of stress and frustration and uncertainty right now, the last thing I need is for my blog to add to that so I’m going to make sure it isn’t.

Iris, Honeysuckle, & Chaos

Okay, so there isn’t anything really special about this photo, but there is something about the color contrast of the honeysuckle bloom laying on that purple petal that just kind of grabs you. I just thought it was an interesting contrast of colors, especially because it was such an unintentional setup.

Today marks the beginning of the chaos that was originally supposed to start back in April. BG goes back to dance for the first time since early March. With that comes a whole lot of new chaos that wasn’t in the original plans.

Yes, she will still be at the studio 4 times a week. Yes she will still have her extra rehearsal times for her additional performances. Those parts were already in the plans. Now included is the requirement for ALL students, teachers, staff, pretty much anyone that sets foot in the studio to wear a mask.

Even that requirement has been changed once as it was originally just staff and assistants that were required and all other students were optional, but local ordinances changed, so they implemented those changes.

My part of that effort will be going with BG to class tonight. A total of 30 masks, the bulk of which are for the studio staff. The handful of others will go to her fellow assistants in the classes she shares. I would have loved to have made one for every single assistant at the studio, but that number is nearly 100 and doesn’t include the actual staff.

It is going to be extremely interesting to see how everything plays out from here. I cannot imagine being a teacher and trying to enforce the mask rule on kids that are not only dancing, but in each other’s presence for the first time in months. Especially those in the much younger grades.

It is also going to be really interesting to see what kind, if any, push back they get from parents for enforcing that rule.

The other part of the chaos is going to be how I handle her long days at the studio.

Normally, the days she is there for longer than an hour, I go back home. Now, classes have been slightly shortened to allow staff to do any sanitizing between classes and to try and minimize the surge of students passing each other through the lobby between classes. I’m not certain what this means for ballet days where BG already normally has an hour gap between as they have not said anything about those students needing to leave. If she has to leave the studio, it would mean I’d need to stay the entire 2 1/2 hours so she could come sit with me in the car for that gap. The 20 minute drive home makes it impractical to leave and come back.

To make that already confusing for those long days even more so, she has at least 2 where it is even longer because of extra rehearsals. The first one is this Saturday. She is supposed to be at the studio from 3:30 until 9, with 2 different breaks in between. One is that hour long break and the other is a 15 minute break.

I still haven’t decided what I’m going to do that day. The idea of sitting in the car for that long really doesn’t appeal and it’s not like I’m going to go hang out at a nearby restaurant or shop right now. I wasn’t doing it before and I’m certainly not doing it now. I still have time to come up with a plan, but I’m struggling.

I still have a whole lot of mixed feelings about all of this moving forward. Especially with recent events creating something of an outbreak bomb waiting to go off in the area. As of right now, all the numbers are still impossibly low, so that helps. I’m just not convinced it will stay that way and that the parents will act responsibly on sending their kids to classes.

The only thing I know for sure is that BG is as ready as is possible for her to be to go back. She still isn’t entirely comfortable with wearing a mask while dancing, but she has gotten used to it enough that I’m not worried it is going to set off an anxiety attack at the studio.

I’m also fully prepared to pack like I’m going on a trip with my camera, my computer and my tablet to ensure I can keep myself entertained. No matter how long I’m having to sit in the parking lot.

Thank goodness tonight will only be about an hour.

 

Purple Frills

We actually got some sun yesterday and today is promising to be stunning. All the windows are open and I’m planning on spending at least a part of the day out playing with my flowers. A much needed break from the last couple of days.

Yesterday was BG’s last day of school and I’m so glad this year is done for both of the kids now. She took her last test, which was her pre-calc final the day before. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her break down so hard or so fast over anything school related, let alone math related since she started on the accelerated path in 6th grade with a small group of other students and were still expected to know what the 7th graders had already learned and the 6th graders had skipped.

There were so many pieces to the why behind it, but a HUGE part of that is that the material needed to do well on the test wasn’t covered well since the students went online and the prep for the test was almost non-existent. There are some questions over whether a graded test should have even been presented based on district guidelines for the remainder of this year, especially for those students not taking it as a dual credit.

She talked to friends in the same class that had other teachers that didn’t even come close to the issues she had, so I have a whole lot of questions behind what went on with her class. I’m even thinking the other students took a VERY different test as theirs was only a 90 minute test and hers was 3 frickin’ hours long.

In the end, she did well enough to maintain her A for the course, but she was not happy with her performance. This after hours of study and note taking, a process that normally makes any test taking she does a breeze. Of all the things to go sideways in the massive changes that happened this year, I cannot stand that this has potentially shaken her faith in her own ability to handle the higher level math classes, even if only by a fraction.

So, yeah. I’m thrilled they are done with school for the year. She did get some hugely positive news on the tail end of it, though. She was accepted into a mentor program through the school for the next year, so that helped to end her year on a better note.

Yesterday was also my day to try and prep her for going back to her dance classes. As an assistant, she will be required to wear a mask. It looks like it is optional for dancers, but I’m not giving her that option. To make this possible, I was working on a mask design for her.

She has some anxiety issues and, maybe, mild asthma (though we haven’t gotten a doctor to confirm either). Because of that, she sometimes feels like she is having a slightly hard time breathing. When she tried on one of my masks, she couldn’t tolerate the fabric against her nose. I had to brainstorm and get creative, but I came up with an option that worked. I just had to fine tune it.

It took a bulk of my day to change the pattern I had and work though the logistics, but I now have a prototype for the rest of the masks I need to make her. All fit a small, wire mesh “cup” that I’ve formed to fit her face and give her space between her nose and the fabric. I have more sewing to do on these than on the masks I made for Hubby and I, but it looks like it is going to work well. She is supposed to try it out while dancing and see if I need to make any tweaks.

One of the things I did was use an iron on paper and printed the dance studio’s logo on one side of the mask and their nickname on the other. I posted pictures of it on FB and now I have at least one of her teachers wanting one. After talking to BG, I think my mask making project just got ramped up.

It is so damn weird to know that the kids are officially out of school for the summer and yet I’m prepping her to go back to dance, which is usually doing recitals around this time of year.

Oh! I caved yesterday after having to restart my computer several times just to get my internet connection back and get the damn thing to even start up. I have a new computer on the way. It would be awesome for things to calm down for a while. Seriously.

Celebrations, Events, And Hard Decisions

The day after we get updated information about the plans for holding BG’s recital this year, Hubby gets notified that he will be working from home through the summer. Only critical infrastructure employees will be allowed back in the office.

Hearing that Hubby is going to be allowed to work from home for at least that long was such a massive relief. He works in a large building with a lot of other people. Their set up is currently a semi-shared space that doesn’t work with any kind of distancing. They are working on making changes to the entire building, but options and space are limited, so work from home for those that can is the current state. And I’m so very, very happy about that.

At the same time, BG is supposed to return to dance class the first part of June. The studio has made some changes to do what they can to ensure safety, including shortened class times to give time to sanitize and changes in routines that eliminate all physical contact (mostly only ever in the younger grades). Staff and assistants will wear masks as well.

While the changes are definitely good, it is still a very active thing and some classes, ALL of BG’s classes, are full of dancers. Even the change in how they utilize the space to give more room and limiting all space in the studio to dancers and teachers only, still leaves a pretty crowded studio for many of these classes.

Then there will be recital. There are some massive changes to their normal plan. What was previously broken into two shows will now be 5 and based on grade level. This reduces the number of girls in dressing rooms and the number of people in the audience.

What does not change is the fact that the older girls that participate in certain performances, which BG does for the first time this year, will still participate in every show. Instead of her performing those dances 4 times between dress rehearsal and recital, it will be 10. For each dance, of which she has potentially 3 (still waiting on word for one dance). This is on top of her other 5 dances she will do in her own show.

Also because she is in every show for those dances and to assist her younger girls, she will be at the venue from 9am until probably close to 9pm or after for two days in a row. This presents yet another issue.

They have asked that you only attend the show for your child. Technically, her show is the last one, but she is there all day. I either take her and drop her off, or I stay. In previous years, she was only ever there for the 1 show, but I had planned on just staying for both because the venue is not close to home. Parking sucks beyond belief and getting a decent seat is damn near like trying to get the latest “must have” item at a black friday sale (more on recital day than dress rehearsal, but still crazy).

Now, the last issue is more one of convenience for me over most anything else and , logically, the issues with parking and seating should be reduced drastically because of the smaller show sizes. It should also mean smaller audience sizes. But… how many people have you seen recently that follow the rules or suggestions? I’ve seen some of the family that attend this event. I’m not thinking overly positive about the outcome, even if the studio is doing their damnedest to make this happen in a safe way.

This is currently scheduled for the first half of July and, as has been seen lately, things that seem fine today may be horrible as soon as tomorrow.

I am so damn torn about the whole thing.

I 100% support their efforts in what they are trying to do and I know why they are so determined to still hold this event. This is on par with graduation, if not even more important, for a huge number of the girls that are seniors this year. Seniors are missing out on so much already. I get it. There is a need to find a balance that includes mental health and that is where their efforts come in.

I just have to wonder, when it is all said and done, if it is worth the risk.

They are asking that no one come to the studio that has even traveled outside the state, but will people abide by that request? There is no way to ensure absolutely that they do. They have also stated to not come if you aren’t feeling well or have been around someone that is sick. Again, it is only a request and really cannot be enforced other than to not let someone in that looks obviously ill. I have no clue how they are going to manage the recital at all.

None of that even begins to take into consideration the distribution of costumes (always a very close contact event) and picture day where the lobby is wall to wall students and parents.

Here we are with Hubby’s work running on an abundance of caution (which I am so incredibly grateful for) and then we are pulled in the other direction for BG’s dance.

The thought of not getting a recital this year breaks my heart, but… is it really worth it? I just don’t know.

Toss onto that dumpster fire of “no good solution” is the fact that we also have MC’s graduation scheduled for the end of July. I’m slightly less worried about this event because it is only a few hours tops on a single day in a venue that is more versatile for distancing, but you are still talking about a very large number of people gathering under one roof.

As of right now, I’m cautiously going to allow BG to go to classes when they resume and wait and see what other information will be forthcoming about recital. There is more control in the studio than there is at the venue and she will at least be able to wear a mask.

I’m also going to be watching the news in my area very closely. The studio has been following guidelines and they have made student safety a priority, but there isn’t a lot of clear guidance as to what is actually safe right now and that is my biggest concern.

I don’t want to have to tell either one of my kids that they shouldn’t participate in these incredibly important events, but when you look at the much larger picture, it isn’t just about them. It is about the friends and families of those girls (and a few guys). It is about the people that have to take care of them if they get sick. It is about the people that get left behind if the worst happens.

It makes it even harder to impress this on them, though they are listening, when we essentially live in this sort of bubble where the virus hasn’t really blown up. That sense that “it can’t happen to me” kind of invincibility is too easy to believe. I really believe that is playing a part in the decisions to move forward holding these events.

I’m lucky in that my kids are reasonable. I think that if it came down to it, they would understand. They would be hugely disappointed, but I do think they’d understand. It doesn’t make any of it even a fraction easier, though.

If I were pressed, I have to say that I really don’t think holding these events, even with precautions, is the smart thing to do. Feeling that way makes this so much harder as I just don’t know what the best plan is moving forward. I don’t want to be the bad guy, but I absolutely will if I feel that the situation in my area has gotten bad enough. I hate that I may actually be in the position to have to do that.

 

Surprise Hyacinth

I had a different hyacinth bloom this year. It is a surprise because I didn’t plant any new ones where this one popped up. I don’t ever remember having one that looked like this which makes it even more odd. Either hyacinths react to the chemical make up in the ground and mine did something wonky or something else is going on. Whatever it is, it is really pretty. I could handle having more of those.

My bleeding heart is just starting to bloom. I have one line that is opening and a whole bunch that have lots of little buds starting. Hopefully I can manage to get a decent photo. There is something about trying to photograph bleeding hearts that seems to kick my butt and I’m never happy with the results. That and I have to be a little bit of a contortionist to get in there as they are between a couple of other bigger plants.

Yesterday’s parade for BG’s dance studio owner was this amazing, emotional, awesome event. It was so cool to see how over the moon excited the owner was, so much she was bouncing and jumping around all through tears of happiness.

Distance was always kept between the people in cars and the owner as well as between the owner and the couple of people in the yard with her (adult daughters and a couple older grandkids). One of the owner’s daughters (also a teacher) recorded the event and it was nearly a half our long video because of the huge number of cars. It was phenomenal to see the support for such an amazing person.

BG got to see one of her favorite teachers (the one she assists and another daughter) and got to shout to her how much she missed her and got lots words of love and appreciation in return, making her feel so amazing.

I will say that I did still see a whole lot of idiotic people, too. While they did an amazing job keeping the owner safe and keeping distance there, the attendees did an awful job in other areas.

We were told to keep our windows up until we were in front of the house. We met in the neighborhood’s club parking lot to line up (definitely not 6ft. between those cars) and so many people had their windows down, girls hanging out those windows and talking to their friends in the cars next to them, even standing up through sunroofs. There was at least one convertible with the top down and 4 people inside (because of age, I doubt they all lived together) and some brilliant person decided to drive a golf cart.

To say that aspect of it was frustrating is a massive understatement. I felt bad for the organizers because they were adamant about the rules and were doing everything to keep everyone safe, but of course those rules were ignored. This marred the event a bit for me and I hate that because it really was amazing and this incredible outpouring of love and affection for someone that does so much for everyone around her all the time.

It wasn’t just this group’s behavior that I saw yesterday that shocked me at how oblivious people are right now. This was the first time I’ve left my house since this all started, so I was floored at the number of people out. Yes, I was part of it, but I only did this because I knew I wasn’t going to be leaving the car or getting anywhere near anyone. I was still shocked at the amount of traffic because it felt like a normal day.

But more than just the number of people out shocked me. I drove by all kinds of business on my way and there were so many cars in the parking lots of business I didn’t think were supposed to be open or have more than a couple of essential employees. People in convertibles or driving with their windows down through a high traffic area and even those on motorcycles. There is nothing wrong with those things when you aren’t pulling up to lights next to other cars that are also open.

Ever driven down the road with a window open and been hit by the over spray of the car in front of you cleaning their windshield? Get the connection? Is it likely you’ll get exposed that way? Probably not a high probability, but there is still some. That is why all these precautions are in place in the first place. Seeing what I did yesterday, I’m kind of floored that the numbers in my area aren’t significantly higher than they are.

Needless to say, Hubby will be taking MC to pick up his cap and gown. That is going to require at least a minimal interaction even via drive through, so that one is all on him. My ass is staying home.

Makeshift Dance Floor Project

Absolutely amazed at how impressive this turned out. Seriously didn’t quite expect it to look this good. And.. it was relatively cheap to do!

I used the most inexpensive wood laminate flooring I could find for the surface. Normally, if you were actually installing this as a permanent floor, you would use an underlay material. Since this wasn’t intended to be permanent, my only concern was making sure the flooring didn’t slide or attempt to separate, so I found some, also inexpensive, rug gripper mats to put underneath the flooring. I ended up using 2 different pieces to get to the size I needed, but it works.

Gripper Mats for Floor Base
Gripper Mats for Floor Base

Also because this wasn’t intended to be permanent, I didn’t need to worry about any cutting. Just put the pieces together and done.

Start of Dance Floor Project - First Rows
Start of Dance Floor Project – First Rows

The first couple of rows were an absolute bitch to get together. BG helped as she had already finished up all her school work for the day and we did some trial and error on the best way to get this going before we got into a rhythm. Once we figured out the basic trick, the rest of the project flew together in no time.

Dance Floor Project - Half Way Done
Dance Floor Project – Half Way Done

I went down around 12:30ish to get the floor cleaned up and mopped then had to wait for a little bit for it to dry before I could get started. I finished up around 2:45. That is how easy this was.

Wood Laminate Dance Floor Area
Wood Laminate Dance Floor Area

The really cool thing about this? As long as the edges don’t sustain too much damage, I will be able to take this apart when she no longer needs it and put it together in my craft area so I have an even nicer space to work in than I do now. I even have another box of flooring that didn’t get opened that I can use to cover more area.

As with any construction type of project, it cannot be done without at least a little injury. FYI… don’t be leaning on a seam when you knock it together. It really doesn’t feel all that great. (Skip the following image if you are even a little bit squeamish as blood blister pinches aren’t very pretty) Of course it is on my forearm in the area that I normally lean on and keeps hitting on every single damn thing this afternoon. Oh, well. Project done and it is a HUGE success! I’m a happy momma today.

Construction Injury - Blood Blister Pinch Area
Construction Injury – Blood Blister Pinch Area

So Many Changes

Today is our first day of a completely new normal.

Over the weekend, our mayor put our city on a shelter-in-place order, so all non-essential business are shut down. We were already pretty much treating it like that, so it won’t be a massive change for us, though I’ve heard/seen a lot of people complaining or stressing over this order. For us, we are just going to keep doing what we have been and doing our best to not be a part of the problem.

The kids are starting to learn their new routines for their online classes. It is going to be interesting for my kids as they are both so self motivated, they will probably have the week’s worth of assignments done by the first day of the week, depending on how the teacher posts assignments. It is going to be an interesting process for them. I joked with BG that with the online stuff she could get the rest of her high school finished before MC graduates and they could graduate together (not that that is an option, just a statement about how quickly she gets her stuff done).

We also got more information from BG’s dance studio. They have opted to do what they could to shift their classes to online. I’ve got to say, with what I’ve seen so far, I’m absolutely blown away with what they’ve managed to put together. I’ve always liked her studio and how they do things, but this goes so far above and beyond. They could have just as easily said we are just shutting down, but to keep these kids going and to ensure that all the staff at the studio still gets paid, they are doing everything they can to make sure that the “show must go on” while keeping everyone safe at the same time. I’m a little in awe at their dedication and determination.

As part of that, I’ll be working on getting BG a safe space to dance. It is something that I promised her a while ago since trying to dance on our concrete floor in the basement is too slick. She has come close to falling a couple of times in the past. Now, I get to build a makeshift dance floor. I have all the stuff, I just need to get it done, so that is on my project list for today. I’m hoping like crazy that it works like I think it will.

I should have some daffodils to photograph soon. The buds are on and getting bigger, but they aren’t quite open yet. My hyacinths managed to hold on through two freezes over the weekend. We absolutely need some color and beauty right now.

 

Sunny Crocus

I love it when I’ve worked out a plan for a day or even the weekend only to realize at the last minute that, Oops! You have something else to do!

I had planned on getting groceries while BG was at dance today, which is a long one, and leaving open the rest of my day today and tomorrow to try and get caught up on some things. It wasn’t until this morning when I was getting ready that I realized it was a watch day and I’d be at dance with BG and my grocery run would have to be put off until tomorrow.

Seriously… love the old age brain.

While it feels like I’m never going to get all my stuff done that is on a massively long to do list, I actually did make a lot of progress getting things crossed off that list this week. Even with the hiccups and flat tires. I still have a massively long list, but it is now a slightly shorter, massively long list.

And… I have pretty flowers coming up, so that makes everything better.

 

Geese On Frozen Pond

Okay, so not my best photo, but thought I’d share. While this pond isn’t currently frozen, the geese seem to be everywhere lately. On the street going to BG’s dance studio, they need to put in crossing signs for them. I’ve had to stop several times in the last couple of weeks because they decided to take over the road. I’m just glad they don’t want to hang out in our yard.

The ballet last night was amazing! I really shouldn’t be surprised as I’ve always loved ballet, but I am. I’d never seen Swan Lake, even in a video, so I really didn’t know what to expect. I have seen certain small pieces here and there that I guess I didn’t connect to Swan Lake or didn’t remember that was where those pieces came from so when I saw those performed on stage last night, I was all excited that I was getting to see it live.

There are certain things that I love to see when it comes to ballet. The really intricate, tight, synchronized choreography of larger groups of dancers that create these stunning effects, especially when you are positioned to see the whole stage from above. There is just something about watching that when the dancers nail those moves to such a degree of perfection that blows my mind. Swan lake had several dances that fell into this category for me and I spent quite a bit of time just sitting in awe.

Having watched BG learning ballet over the years, I’ve learned the names for a lot of what I saw. It was really interesting to see the professionals doing the same moves that BG is learning or has done. When she told me about the black swan at intermission and how she does 32 fouettes at some point, I knew what she was talking about and understood how impressive that truly is. Ballet is meant to look easy and effortless when the reality is that it so isn’t. This was the first professional ballet I’ve seen since she started ballet, so it was an even more incredible experience to see it knowing how insanely hard and technically difficult all those moves really are.

I had to laugh, though. We’d joked before we left that BG would be dancing in her seat when her song came on. Apparently, the piece she is doing for recital is a piece that you hear multiple times (or at least some similar version if not the full piece) throughout the entire ballet. Every time she’d hear it start, she’d look over at me with a grin and do these small hand and head movements that were pared down versions of what she’d be doing in her routine. When she whispered over to me at one point, “This part is my front line” it really drove home how much I loved that she got the opportunity to see and experience this.

Not only did we love the ballet itself, but we both got to dress up and look amazing. Not that it is hard for her at all, she’d look amazing in a sack. It is the first time in forever that I went all out. It felt really good. I’m so glad that we did this and that I didn’t end up missing out.

 

Swan Lake Day: Sorry, No Photo

I don’t have a photo to post today because I’m busy getting ready to go see Swan Lake with my girl. I’ve never seen it before, so I’m so excited to get to experience this with BG.

I’d say I’d have some pictures for you from the ballet, but I have no intention of taking my camera (not that I think it would be allowed anyway) so I can just sit and enjoy. Have a great Sunday!

Northern Lights Cake

I finished!

Northern Lights Cake
Northern Lights Cake

Seriously glad it is done, though. It was a blast and, for the most part, it came out really well. I was hoping to add more color, but with that base teal, it didn’t work out. I had several of the issues I kind of expected to have with some color bleeding and in not being able to use the pink or purple because it changed the color too drastically when I attempted to paint it on the base (looked more muddy than pretty).

Northern Lights Cake - Base Paint
Northern Lights Cake – Base Paint

I started by painting the whole thing a lighter version of the sky color I was going for. I realized really quickly that this ended up working in a similar way to my favorite drawing method, the eraser technique, where you put a base color down and either add more to go darker or remove color to go lighter (you can see a tiny bit of that on the left edge of the above photo).

Northern Lights Cake
Northern Lights Cake

I don’t love the tree silhouettes, but they aren’t total garbage. One of the issues I ran into is that my base fondant started to bubble on the bottom tier making my cake look like it isn’t level or that I jacked up the alignment on the top tier. It really isn’t. I didn’t notice until I was taking pictures, so it wasn’t something I could go back and fix.

 

Mostly, I’m thrilled with how this turned out. Even more so after BG finally got a look at it and saw what it was. She is kind of crazy over the northern lights like some teenage girls are over the latest boy band so when she saw this she went nuts. As far as she is concerned, I knocked this one out of the park.

Northern Lights Cake
Northern Lights Cake

It’s That Time Again!

I’m in full on cake mode, working on BG’s birthday cake. She still has no clue what I’m doing yet. This is going to be so fun if I can manage to pull it off.

The cake got baked yesterday along with getting the icing mixed up. I have to make my fondant and start putting it all together today. I am limited to working on this while BG is at school so she won’t see it until it is completely done. That means I have to get off my butt and get busy!

Keep your fingers and toes crossed for me that this doesn’t turn out to be one of those projects where my creative ambition outstrips my actual ability. Pictures of the finished cake will be posted tomorrow after BG gets home to see it for the first time.

Snow & Ice

I am hopefully wrapping up my work on a graphics project sometime today and will have the amazing finished project to share soon. I’m really excited about what I’ve been working on and that I got the chance to do it.

I had honestly thought that things wouldn’t really start getting crazy around here until at least next month, but things have popped up and seem to be just cramming themselves into my schedule. I’m going to be a giddy mess in a few weeks if things work out because I’ll get to take BG to see Swan Lake performed. I have never seen it and thought it would be a perfect time since their pointe performance this year is to one of the songs from Swan Lake. I’m just waiting on confirmation from her dance friend’s mom that they are going with us.

I also have MC’s scholarship awards ceremony coming up in a few weeks. I’ve shuffled things and made arrangements so I actually get to go. There was a conflict with dance, but our dance friend will be taking BG to class for me that night so I can see MC being rewarded for all of his hard work and determination.

I may complain left and right about feeling like crap with this stupid cough, but… when I stop and look at all that is going on and what my kids are doing, the amazing guy I pulled on all the lucky stars to get, I’m one seriously happy girl and I’m surrounded by some incredible people that keep the joy flowing all around.

Peeking Through

It is kind of fitting that my Hyacinths are starting to poke through the ground today showing the first signs of spring. I will probably still need to cover them some as they are calling for a little more snow later in the week. For today, it is going to be sunny and in the 60s and I’ll be spending it with BG doing some birthday shopping for her.

Powdered Sugar Tree

Okay, so not really powdered sugar, but it reminds me of what it looks like if you dusted something with powdered sugar. Can you tell my brain is shifting into cake mode?

BG’s birthday is coming up soon. My girl will be 16! Ugh! Another driver and way too soon and not soon enough. Anyway… since she is the only one that lets me make an actual cake anymore, I spend a lot of time trying to come up with a great idea that she will love and I get to play the way I want.

For a little while, I thought I’d do another costume inspired cake since her point costume this year is a really simple, but elegant white with black accents (they are doing a piece from swan lake). I didn’t want to do a full out costume, just a small layered cake that mimicked the black applique from the costume. When I mentioned this idea, she didn’t seem thrilled as I’ve done a couple of ballet costume cakes now.

I went back to brainstorming and I came up with an idea that, if I can pull it off (which is always a question), she is going to absolutely squeal over. When I told her I had an idea that she would love and asked if she trusted me to just make it without her actually knowing what I had planed, she gave me the go ahead. I love that she has no clue what I’m going to do and it will be a surprise for a change.

I won’t say specifically what I’m going to do yet in case she decides to get nosy and drop by here, but I’m so excited about working on this. I won’t really be doing anything new as far as basic design or technique really, but it is also unlike anything I’ve done so far from a finished project standpoint. I’d say the chances of it turning out like I imagine are on the high side.

I still have a little over 2 weeks to get the design planned out and I need to find a few reference photos to help with some details, but I’m so excited and can’t wait to work on this.