Frosted Cherries

And… one more to try and push the scale from rain to snow. I’d really prefer to not get ice. I’m also hoping like crazy the mess doesn’t transition over before everyone is home safe this afternoon. MC has yet to drive in anything more than rain. I have a feeling this may just be one of those “be careful what you wish for” kind of events.

Last night was my first time getting to see the costume and song reveal for both the opening tap routine and the assistants performance for BG’s dance recital this year. I cannot get over how excited I am that BG is now in the older girls group and gets to do all these things this year. There is something very different about being in that older group and getting to see this part of that tradition.

It also drove home how insanely privileged she is to be dancing at the studio she is because of who is on the staff and the unique experience of getting to learn from them. I always knew that one of the teachers was a former Rockette, but getting to hear a bit more about her time as a professional dancer was just… wow.

A lot of the teachers at the studio have some really impressive backgrounds, but getting to learn from a former Rockette and being a part of a massive tap routine that has Rockette choreography and elements in it isn’t something many dancers can say they got to experience. What makes that even more impressive is the fact that this studio isn’t some high pressure, high profile, competitive studio. They are so laid back and focus on the kids having fun.

Even though BG has no desire to make dance a career, her being a part of all of this will always be a huge part of her life and will leave a massive impact on who she is going to be as she grows up. She gets to be a part of something really unique and amazing. I will forever be grateful for getting to go and watch my friend way back when I was in grade school when she danced in recitals with this studio because getting to see that and be a part of that, even from the outside, is what made me decide to go with this studio for BG when she decided she wanted to dance.

I have a feeling this is going to be a really emotional recital this year. I already cried at the ballet Christmas program, both because one of the songs they chose and the routine was so emotional and because it is just an emotional program for the Seniors since it is their last.  It is also going to be a ton of fun and watching those girls see their costumes last night was awesome.

Looking Forward

I’m not really big on setting major goals or resolutions. I’d rather focus on just noting the things that are important to me to maybe focus on or to try and the things to look forward to. It is part of my need to focus on the positive things rather than the negative.

This is going to be one of those really big, notable years for me. So much of that focus will be around MC because he will graduate from high school in the spring and then will start college in the fall. BG will add her smaller but still important events by getting her driver’s license and by being in a much larger part of her dance recital by being in the oldest group of girls for the first time and as an assistant. Hubby will turn 50 this year. All major changes, but all things I’m mostly excited about.

I really want to continue to try and focus on the good and the things that bring me joy. While many of the major events this year will be amazing, they will come with that bitter sweetness that most major changes bring, so that positive focus will sometimes be easier said than done. My plan is to add some things to that list of events that help tip the balance.

While there will always be lots of books to read, I really want to spend more time this year doing more creative things. I’ve started playing with one aspect to see if it is going to work for me. I have a few other ideas, but I still need to see if they will fall into the “I’m doing this for fun” side of things or “This is more work than fun” side. Since the goal is to focus on the positive and the joy, it needs to stay on that fun side.

I really want to spend more time out taking photos. Partly for the photos and partly because I really need to be more active than I am. I didn’t spend nearly enough time walking and reading this year as I have in years past, so I need to make some changes to that.

Really, other than the things that are happening this year, this isn’t a whole lot different than what I’d looked to focus on this last year, finding the joy and the things that make me happy.

 

Best of 2019: Moments

Outside of photography and the books I read this last year, I thought I’d note a few of the bigger moments and highlights of my year, things that I did or experienced that I was really proud of or stuck with me as important moments.

There will always be tons of those when it comes to my kids. Yes, I’m hugely biased and think I have the best kids ever, even when they are being little shits. There are a couple that really stick out, though.

BG stepping WAY out of her mostly introverted comfort zone to be a dance assistant. Just the few months that she has been doing this, she has really gained a lot of self-confidence that I haven’t seen in her before. It has been amazing to watch. I’ve also seen her really grow and mature this last year with how she has handled friendships and dating and high school.

This has been MC’s year to really drop the proud mama moments on me. I’m over the moon proud of his accomplishments and getting not only accepted into his school of choice, but winning a top scholarship because of all the hard work he put into is school work. The biggest mush moment from him though is one I never posted about. I never could quite find the words to describe how he made me feel, but… for a project in one of his classes, he had to name the smartest and the wisest people he knew (separate people). His obvious choice, to me anyway, would be my Hubby because he looks up to him so much. He did name his dad as being the smartest, but he said that I was the wisest. When all the other students were naming famous people and other people of note, he picked me. When he told me all the reasons (which I have now forgotten because I’m still blown away by the fact he even considered me) I just almost bawled. I am not, and never have been, the person he really looks up to. I’m just mom. The fact that he feels that way about me, enough to include it in a school project and then tell me about it… talk about feeling like you’ve done something right as a parent! My 17 year old son thinks I’m wise. Just… wow.

There were a few creative projects that I’m still really proud of. While it wasn’t my best cake, by far, but BG’s birthday cake this year was still insanely challenging and turned out pretty well.

Pointe Costume Cake Side By Side
Pointe Costume Cake Side By Side

That costume really hit me in the creative nerve because just doing it in cake wasn’t enough, apparently. I had to paint it as well. Again, far from being perfect, it was something new for me and I’m thrilled with how it turned out.

2019 Pointe Costume In Acrylic
2019 Pointe Costume In Acrylic

I was also really pleased with the first piece of jewelry I’ve attempted in a few years. It reminded me how much I love working with stones and silver.

Of course I think one of my proudest creative endeavors this year was publishing my book, An Unexpected Turn. Considering I never planned, expected or even dreamed of writing a book, I’m still a little astonished that I actually did it. It has been this insanely difficult, emotional roller coaster of an experience. I’m even more proud of the fact that it really seems to be received well by most readers. It is selling and getting mostly positive reviews. I still sometimes struggle to believe it has all actually happened.

An Unexpected Turn - Christmas Ad Image
An Unexpected Turn – Christmas Ad Image

Even though I definitely had some rather low moments throughout the year, 2019 was a pretty good year, especially on the creative and mom front. With MC graduating in the spring, BG starting to drive, and my creative muse chafing to get my hands busy, I know 2020 will probably bring a lot of the same.

Absolutely Epic

Normally starting my day cleaning up cat puke would set the tone and the rest of the day would be full of not fun, but I ended up having one hell of a day yesterday.

I finished my gift baking. Got all my presents wrapped and under the tree except the couple that hadn’t arrived yet. Got the kids to wrap their gifts to each other. Heard from the people that I shipped gifts to that they got their packages early. So, in all, it felt like I’d accomplished a lot, which was really good.

I was stressing the hell out trying to finish getting my pizzas assembled knowing I didn’t have a ton of time left as the kids were due home and I still had to work with the kids on their gifts, start baking the pizzas, take a shower and fix BG’s hair all before we had to leave for her Christmas program.

MC gets home as I’m rushing around and tossed out that he has to call his college choice back as they’d tried to call him while he was in school and left a message for him to call them back. I honestly didn’t think about it when he told me as I was too focused on finishing everything in time, but he comes down only a few minutes later with a kind of stunned look on his face.

He was officially offered the scholarship with full tuition and is the runner up for the tuition with room and board scholarship (he will get it if either of the top candidates choose another school). That means he was third out of all of the applicants for the competitive scholarships. He frickin’ did it! All his hard work over the years, all his dedication to getting those amazing grades and doing so well absolutely paid off in spectacular form. I’m so damn proud of my kid. He is still a little bit in shock over it all and I think it may take a little bit for that to sink in.

After all the crazy and the excitement, I then got to go watch BG do her Christmas program for tap and jazz. This is something like the 9th one I’ve sat through, but it was a little different because of the class she is now in. Being the older girls (sophomore, junior and seniors) the program is a bit more intense, with harder choreography and steps, plus it is treated with a little bit more import as the girls aren’t those cute little girls anymore. It is still full of fun, but it is just that little bit more mature. The difference is subtle, but still noticeable.

It was so much fun to watch her. I mean, it always is, but this year she has put so much more effort into it than she ever has and it really shows. Being an assistant has made her look at all of this a little differently and it has become even more important to her. For the first time ever she agreed to let me take group shots of her and her friends after the program and damn! The smiles I got! She was absolutely glowing.

I could not be more proud of my kids. They are growing up in this amazing way that shows how amazing they are going to be as adults. I think I won the lottery when it came to kids with these two.

Snowy Day At The Pond

Sadly, the pretty snow was bad enough to force the studio to cancel BG’s performance yesterday, something they almost never do because of how difficult (really impossible) it is to reschedule. They will do most of it during the first class period back after the new year, but it won’t be the full thing as they don’t do pointe, just ballet.

I was sad but also really glad because all the roads in the area were a horrible mess and I really didn’t want to attempt to get out in that disaster. Instead, I froze my butt off to go take some pictures as the conditions were perfect for it. Or, mostly perfect. I would have stayed out longer, but the snow was really coming down and it was getting impossible to keep my camera dry, so I wasn’t out too long. Long enough to get a few good shots. I love snow covered landscape shots, but I can rarely ever seem to really capture what I see.

 

Annual Holiday Lights Tour

Tonight we are going to do our annual tour of driving around and looking at all the holiday lights. We have been doing this since our kids were little and even now that they are both teenagers, this is still an activity they love and look forward to every year.

We start with grabbing dinner that we can eat while driving around. I make hot chocolate and the kids have been known to get their PJs on or grab a blanket to ensure the mood is perfectly cozy. There will be nothing but Christmas songs on the radio and more than half the time we will all be singing along or, just as often, making up our own lyrics that have us all laughing.

I’m really a little surprised that both MC and BG still really want to do this again this year. I love that we have this tradition that they both look forward to and get so excited about, especially knowing how few teenagers would be caught dead having fun hanging out with their parents. I have no clue if this will be MC’s last year to do this with us since he will be doing the whole college thing next year, so I’m going to savor this one as much as I can.

This is just one of the sights we get to see while we are out doing our rounds. Twice actually. And every single day of the season because it lives next door. It is kind of crazy and has sparked all kinds of jokes over the years, but it is also fun. We see so many cars coming to look and it’s fun to see how amazed all the little kids get at the decoration overload.

Decoration Overload House
Decoration Overload House
Decoration Overload House - Santa's Workshop
Decoration Overload House – Santa’s Workshop
Decoration Overload House
Decoration Overload House

It Begins

I so adore starting my Monday cleaning a massive hairball off the wood floor. *sigh* And this is just the start of the insanity because dance starts this week for BG. This means that her assisting days also start this week. I only discovered last night that I’ve got to scramble this afternoon because MC has his gaming club right after school. That means I have to leave as soon as BG gets off the bus so I can run and pick MC up, race home back home, grab BG and take her to her first class she assists. Then I get to sit in my car for a hour while she does it.

This bit of crazy really won’t last but maybe a couple of weeks because we just almost have the car situation worked out and he will start driving himself to and from school. It doesn’t relieve the stress of Wednesdays when BG has to be at the studio at 4 but wouldn’t get off the bus until nearly 3:30 which is about the time we need to leave to get her there on time. I’m probably going to have to be picking her up from school on Wednesdays. Until MC gets comfortable doing this drive (which includes a stint on the highway) BG won’t be riding with him. We all have decided that we all need to be in agreement that he is ready before she will do that, that includes BG being comfortable with it. I have no time frame for that piece.

Have I mentioned that with BG assisting this year, I’m going to have to be at the studio, in my car, 3 different times a week? The 4th time she is there long enough for me to drop her off and come home or get stuff done. The other 3 times is only an hour so it makes no sense to drive the 20 minutes home to only be there for about 10 minutes before doing the 20 minute drive back.

There are reasons I’m pushing her to learn to drive ASAP. I’m hoping she will be able to get her license as soon as she turns 16 after the first of the year.

It’s a good thing I like to read.

Yet Another Milestone of Parenting

I will be taking BG out this afternoon to take her permit test so she can start to learn how to drive. It doesn’t seem possible, especially so soon after MC has gotten his license. On one hand, I’m thrilled about this because it means she is that much closer to being able to drive herself to the multiple days she has to be at the dance studio instead of me having to take her. At the same time, I’m so not ready for her to be old enough to be behind the wheel of a car. She isn’t quite old enough yet to get her actual license, only her permit, but still… my Baby Girl is way too far away from being an actual baby.

Already?! It’s Only Day 2!

So BG has already had a fun event at school and it is only day 2. Last year, I think I posted about this kid at lunch that made her really uncomfortable during lunch at the beginning of the year. She quickly found a friend to sit with and that ended the situation without much fanfare or drama and never had an issue after that.

They didn’t have a normal lunch yesterday because of first day back activities, but BG has already learned that none of her friends are in her lunch period. She found a table that didn’t have anyone at it and sat there alone. When most everyone had made it in and was sitting, this kid from last year manages to find her table, which is still entirely empty, and sits in the seat right next to her. There are also other completely open tables in the lunch room and in the area of her table. But he chose to sit in the seat. RIGHT. NEXT. TO. HER. This kid then proceeds to be crude, chewing with his mouth open and attempting to talk to BG at the same time. She did her best to just sit quietly and ignore the kid, but he still persisted and made her exceptionally uncomfortable. He got up once to go get something and BG slid to another seat at the table, just to get some space because this kid doesn’t understand or care about some of those basic, unwritten social rules people tend to live by in an effort to avoid those awkward, uncomfortable situations.

She does not know this kid. She has never had a class with him before. She had never seen this kid before he sat next to her at lunch last year, and that lasted less than a week before she found some friends to sit with. Why this kid thinks it is okay is beyond me.

It is so incredibly frustrating because it is kind of this ugly, sticky situation. She is completely uncomfortable in all ways, but she doesn’t ever like to speak up, so she won’t say a word to this kid. She also won’t say anything to a teacher or a lunch monitor in an effort to get them to intervene because the kid hasn’t exactly done anything that would violate rules. She doesn’t like to rock the boat or do anything that could offend someone and is this whole other thing tied to the ugly fears in our schools nowadays. That whole “what if they are THAT kid?” If he has some sort of disorder that would make it hard or impossible for him to pick up on social cues (I have no clue if this is a fact, BG really can’t say one way or the other), it would make this a different kind of sticky, but it is still sticky.

Her solution to this problem is to talk to a teacher she had last year that is near her lunch room to see if she can come and eat in the teacher’s classroom instead (and may not get permission for any number of reasons). I get it. The school can’t fix a problem they don’t know about, but… She shouldn’t be forced to be uncomfortable. She shouldn’t have to fear speaking up when someone makes her feel that way. She shouldn’t have to find these exceptionally twisty, creative ways to avoid a situation that makes her that uncomfortable. It really is one of those “No real, good solution” kind of things and I honestly don’t know what the best advice is to give her. I just hope that the teacher she is going to approach will agree to let her eat in her room.

Did I mention this is only day 2? *sigh*

 

Getting School Minded

This is that crazy week that seems to be full of getting the kids ready to go back to school. Yesterday was registration for both MC and BG, but it was the last for MC. That is one of those gut knotting moments when you get an in your face reminder that one of your babies isn’t so much a baby any more. This will be his last year in high school. He will actually be graduating this year. With honors. I know this is only one moment in a long string of moments that will happen this year to hit me like this. I also know that all of them will be over and gone in a blink of an eye.

BG is taking yet another step into finding out more of who she is as she has been invited to be a dance assistant at her studio this year. It is sort of a big step for the awkward, slightly introverted girl she is. That means she will be adding another two hours to her time at the studio every week. It also adds at least one more performance to her end of the year recital, which was already getting an additional performance because she is now in the oldest group of dancers, reaching her own not a baby anymore milestone.

My babies aren’t babies anymore and haven’t been in a long time, but it still hits when you see these moments and recognize them for what they are. My kids are growing and becoming little adults and I’m so not ready for it. Are you ever?

Fascinating: Aphantasia

A few weeks ago, MC came and started talking about this test. It kind of reminded me of the “what color is the dress” thing from a while back. The question was to picture a red star in our mind. Then he showed us a grid of options and we had to pick out the one we’d pictured. MC, Hubby and I were all doing this and BG was upstairs. The three of us all answered the same and with what seemed crazy obvious to us, a red 5 point typical star shape. Then MC went and asked his sister what she saw. I was absolutely stunned that she picked a blank, black square. I didn’t get it or understand it at all.

Continue reading “Fascinating: Aphantasia”

Stop And Smell The Roses

I had fully intended to post a book review after I finished painting today, but I’m done in. I am so not nearly as young or as in shape as I used to be and all that climbing and crawling and pretzel twisting kicked my old ass. I’m just gonna give you some flowers instead then find the least movement inducing thing I can until tomorrow.

The bathroom looks killer, by the way. I wasn’t sure how good it would be with her already rather vibrant room, but it actually works. Besides, she loves it, so that is all that really matters.

Painting Day

I’m finally getting around to doing something I promised BG a year ago or more. Painting her bathroom. I am so not looking forward to it because it is a small space with not a whole lot of solid wall. That means there is going to be a crap ton of up and down on the step ladder, crawling around on the floor, hugging a toilet and basically bending myself into a pretzel to get it done because it is almost all edges, hence the nearly a year to get around to doing what I said I would.

Hopefully I wont kill myself in the process and can actually get to writing that book review I need to do. So far, this summer has been a series of stuff to do and interruptions and sickies and weird, random allergy outbreaks on both BG’s part and mine. I am ready for things to get to some semblance of a normal summer routine, but I have a feeling that isn’t going to happen this year.

Original for the above manipulated image:

Cherry Blossoms
Cherry Blossoms

Gotta Laugh

We gave MC permission to skip the less than half a day that was the last day of school. This is so not something I EVER do, but… the kid got not only straight As all year, but maintained 100% in something like half his classes. He can have a frickin’ break. This did mean calling him in, which Hubby was in charge of, but he had to say he was sick. In a way, it wasn’t a complete lie, he was feeling a little sore because he played kickball the previous couple of days.

The funny thing about it all? BG wanted to go the last day (same grades and had zero absences the entire year) because she wanted to see her friends. Guess who ended up actually sick? BG. Poor girl. The last day was Friday and by Monday, she was miserable. Sore throat. Achy. Low grade fever. Major congestion. She did this for a few days before I took her in because her temp when up. They checked for strep but they said there was just some nasty viral stuff going around.

The sore throat and aches have gone away, but now she has a horrible cough. The kind that makes you want to cry every time you do cough because your abs have had it and are screaming at you. She comes down about every hour or so to whine that she feels like crap and wants me to somehow miraculously fix it.

Now, I totally shouldn’t laugh because I KNOW how bad she is feeling. I know, because this is me every winter. All winter long. And all I hear from both kids is “Sheesh! Quit coughing already!” or “You’re fine mom! That lung you just coughed up is nothing, let’s go!” I now get to give her tons of crap about taking the meds she needs (which she hates) and try really hard not to be a bad parent when I laugh.

I got to give her extra crap today because she is going to hang with a with a group of friends for someone’s birthday and they will be playing pickleball. She will be doing it while coughing with sore abs. I do feel bad, but I’m laughing a bit (and she is trying hard not to laugh along with me) because she insists on still going even though she feels like crap.

Summer Break and Plans

It is officially summer break for my kids and I have zero actual plans. We aren’t a “book every moment of summer” kind of family. My kids like to chill, hang out in their spaces playing games or listening to music, so it isn’t exactly a really busy time for us. That said, BG has gotten way more social over the last year and I have a feeling that is going to extend into summer. She is also talking about doing at least the summer dance workshop at her studio because she is interested in becoming an assistant next year. That is all still open and not decided just yet.

Continue reading “Summer Break and Plans”

One of Those Days… Updated*

Today is trying really hard to be a grumpy day. I feel like that has been me a lot lately, which is frustrating because I try really hard not to be so negative. I can see the positives in today in that even though we are soggy as all hell and you can’t walk in the yard without sinking a couple of inches into what is beginning to look more like a swamp, we are safe, our house is whole, and we didn’t get a flooded basement like I suspect some of our lower lying neighbors did. Some people not that far from me cannot say the same this morning and what is making me grumpy is petty whining in comparison.

Continue reading “One of Those Days… Updated*”

Recital Aftermath

That is one more dance recital in the memory books. As always, I’m left with this lovely mix of feeling glad the chaos is over for a year and sad to see one more year gone. The end of recital night seems to come with lots of talk about plans for next dance season and tons of high energy from all the adrenaline and tears from the older girls that this was their last. This recital drove home for me that BG only has 3 left if she continues to dance through senior year as she plans. In 3 years, she will be one of those girls.

Continue reading “Recital Aftermath”

Recital Bouquets – 2019!

I got them finished and they turned out really pretty. I had done the ribbon inserts last night, so all I had to do today was put them together. There are small things I’m not thrilled with, but I was sort of limited by what I was able to get. Working with the large ball hydrangea blooms also limited my options. Considering BG wanted the two different colors… well, it was an interesting challenge.

When we were looking at the flowers last night, I was really frustrated with the quality of my choices. I finally found the colors I wanted, but the one collection (the peachy hydrangea and the purple/white daisy), there were only two bunches and both had issues. In one, the daisies were perfect, but the hydrangea was a little… anemic looking. The other bunch was kind of the opposite. And… I needed to make two because I was making one for BG’s dance friend. I was really worried I wouldn’t be able to get two really nice ones out of what I got. Thankfully, the blue hydrangeas were sold individually and I had several to choose from, so that helped. So did the fact that everything filled out overnight after I got them out of their packaging and in water.

And yes, I did say the costumes were all various shades of blue, but two of those blues leaned towards the purple end, so that helped. It isn’t a perfect match, but I knew that wasn’t going to happen with these colors anyway and why I always do the ribbon inserts. I think I did okay.

2019 Recital Costumes
2019 Recital Costumes

Now I’m going to chill out until the kids get home and the whirlwind of getting everything packed up, hair and makeup done, then the race to get dinner eaten and us all out the door without losing my mind kicks in. And all of that is just the trial run because we have to do it all over again tomorrow for the recital.

Showtime!

Well, it’s almost showtime. I have to do recital bouquets first, which is what is on my to do list for the day. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a hard time finding flowers for a project. Granted, trying to create a bouquet that reflects this year’s costumes when the costumes all are some form of blue isn’t exactly the easiest thing in the world. I went to 3 different places last night before I found flowers that would work and that satisfied BG as I let her pick them out.

Now, to see if I can pull off arranging them in a way that doesn’t make it look like a disjointed mess. You’d think that after all the inspiration the pointe costume gave me this year, that it would be easy. Apparently trying to add in the others is blowing that creative streak.

Recital Season

I am knee deep in recital season and my weekends are going to be insane for the next couple of weeks. Today is the last ballet class and 3 rounds of pictures. I’ll be in and out of the studio at least 3 different times today. Next weekend is the big weekend with dress rehearsal and recital. I love this time of year with the gorgeous costumes and the amazing performances. At the same time, I hate how utterly crazy and rushed everything feels. So, I’ll be around, but not so much for the next couple of weekends.

Storms And Rainbows

I love storms. The crazy looking clouds. The lightning. The rain (most times). Pretty much everything. Hubby and I joke that when we retire we are going to go storm chasing. Think of all the cool photo opportunities! Sadly, I need to get a whole hell of a lot better at taking pictures of storms before that can happen. I got a little practice the other day after the all day storm finally broke. We got a stunning full double rainbow right out my back door and I managed to get some of the best rainbow pics I’ve ever taken. Which, considering I was battling keeping my camera dry, keeping the back door open and the cats in while jockeying for position with BG trying to do the same, is damn near miraculous in itself.

Rainbow
Rainbow
Double Rainbow
Double Rainbow

I also managed to obliterate the total number of photos I took over the entire year last year with this grouping. I didn’t hit 1k images (only counting nature shots) until late fall last year. The below photo was my number 1k for this year and we JUST hit May.

Orange Gold Storm Clouds
Orange Gold Storm Clouds

While the coloring in the cloud shots was a little off, it really wasn’t off by much.

Storm Clouds
Storm Clouds