Saturday, May 18, 2013

Recital 2013

 After much anxiety and prayer, Victoria took a leap and switched dance studios for this year.  After 10 years at the old studio, I suspect great courage was required to start classes with new girls and new teachers.

The primary enticement to make the change was the new ballet teacher, Val Salnikov, a professional dancer from Russia.  What a treat to have such a seasoned classical ballet instructor!  June 10-14 will be a real test for Victoria's ballet passion - A Russian Ballet Summer - a ballet camp with Russian instructors.  My toes hurt just thinking of dancing that much.

Hamming it up for the camera

Warming up for rehearsal

Do ballerinas get pep talks?
 While you may not be all that impressed with the action photography; in my defense, I was simultaneously taking pictures and videoing with the ipad. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Missing Captions

Victoria is considering entering a few photos in the Georgia 4-H Photo Contest.  The first picture of Hannah and Grace can be entered in the in "Focus on 4-H" category since it's of a 4-Her working on her state project.  However...we need a caption and we're at a loss.  Suggestions?

Which bottle brush photo do you prefer?  I won't bias you by telling you my favorite.  This would be entered in the general division and I was considering a caption like "Like a 4-Her: Bursting with Potential"  but that seems a little cheesy.  Any better suggestions?

Two photos can be entered in each division and she just plain likes the rose photo.  While not horribly original, the color is fabulous for being unedited.

How 'bout a contest?  If we select your caption, I'll send you a print of the picture. that's not that much of a prize, but it seems fitting.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Distraction or Destination

School, home-school co-op, Care Net Bible study, horses, dancing, stall cleaning...oh,, cleaning and laundry.  Do you ever start to feel overwhelmed when you realizes just how many directions you are pulled in a day?  Add to that the fact that I'm a homebody who will go to great lengths to manipulate my schedule to leave the house as little as possible.  As a result, when I do have to be out and about, I  try to cram as much into that day as possible, leaving very little margin.
That was true of my schedule last Thursday.  Hannah needed some adjustments made to her western show saddle (long story - please don't ask me to explain) and the only saddlemaker in the area lives in Kingsland, about 45 minutes south of us.  I made arrangements with Mr. Lopez to be at his shop sometime in the early morning so that I'd have plenty of time to return home, prep for the World History class that meets at our house at 12:00 and then drive to Oglethorpe Elementary to pick up my niece Caitlyn by 2:15.  Seemed perfectly doable.  Aren't those famous last words?  Then Patrick ask me to swing by the Camden County Care Net and pick up something from their office. problem.  That would only add 15 or 20 minutes to the trip.
We arrived at Rancho No Tengo, Mr. Lopez's saddle and leather works shop, a tad later than I intended, but since I was only planning to have him look at Hannah sitting in the saddle and then leave the saddle to be fixed and picked up another day, I knew we were fine. We introduced ourselves.  He showed us around the shop.  Hanging above us were completed saddles, partially finished saddles, and the "guts" of saddles that looked pretty old (and useless?).  
He had me measure Hannah's inseam, and then had her climb into the saddle as it rested on a saw horse of sorts.  All as I expected.  Then he pronounced judgment.  He could make the adjustment in about 45 minutes - Why don't I take Hannah to McDonalds for a mid-morning snack while he works his magic.  Perfect...sort of!  It would save me driving back to Kingsland another day.  I did some quick mental math and figured we will still be home in plenty of time for my World History commitment.  
  I used the spare time to run the Care Net errand for Patrick and grab a yogurt parfait at McDonalds (Kinglsand has no Starbucks or quaint little coffee shop) to burn the remainder of the 45 minutes.
Back at Rancho No Tengo (literally translated "I have no ranch") we strike up some small talk about his leather work as he refits Hannah in the saddle.  The next thing we know, we are getting real, live history lesson on Civil War saddles.  Turns out those useless looking saddle guts that I saw earlier are actually the "tree" (real saddle term) of saddles from the Civil war that he is restoring for re-enactors.  He proceeded to pull out a book and show us various saddles and then stopped at a drawing of a McClellan saddle - the kind he was replicating.  Did you know that saddles belonging to Southern troops were not made of leather?  That's right...not enough leather available, so they used canvas instead.

After our Civil War lesson Mr. Lopez continued our tour of the shop, showing us tools and a wallet he was in the process of making.  All the while I'm looking at my watch and trying to mentally calculate if we are going to be home in time.  Then, at some point, I gave up.  I decided I'd call the World History kid and tell him we were running late.  I decided this distraction really wasn't a distraction - but a destination.  Mr. Lopez is a veritable fount of information - but not like a teacher lecturing in front of the classroom.  It felt more like our grandfather was showing us his hobby, hoping we would fall in love with it as much as he has.  Once I made that decision to ignore my intricately planned schedule, I enjoyed seeing the tiny little harnesses he'd made for his miniature ponies, the huge paint horse and all the other horses that made up his little farm.  

Not only did Hannah and I enjoy our time with Mr. Lopez, we figure we should take the whole 4-H Horse and Pony Club for a field trip and let them partake of his wisdom.  Racho No Tengo is definitely a destination worth our time.

Monday, March 11, 2013

That's the true harbinger of spring, not crocuses or swallows returning to Capistrano, but the sound of a bat on a ball. 

      ~Bill Veeck, 1976


 People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball.  I'll tell you what I do.  I stare out the window and wait for spring.  ~Rogers Hornsby



We couldn't miss capturing Bryce Harper.  Kinda makes me feel old that some baseball players are now YOUNGER than my kids.  How did THAT happen?

Baseball is indeed magical - making friends of sisters.




                              Only at baseball games can we eat burgers and fries, sausage dogs with onions and peppers, peanuts and cotton candy, wash it all down with Coke (in a souvenir cup)  and not feel one bit guilty.

 Sadly, despite perfect weather the day was less than perfect.  Noticeably absent was daughter #1 who was not yet on spring break and couldn't miss her Friday classes to join us for our day trip.  I also couldn't help but feel nostalgic for the spring trainings of years past.  This was just our second time since we started our Spring Training tradition (16 years ago?) that we haven't spent the night at Grandpa Ned and Grandma Aurel's house and the second time we haven't taken one of them to a game with us.  

Historically, our family would take in one game and then we'd spend the night at the Mack Bed and Breakfast.  The guys would leave mid-morning for game #2 while the girls would say behind with Grandma and play cards, go shopping, ride around in the golf cart or, if the weather was on our side, take a swim in the pool at the clubhouse.

For so many years, this trip defined our spring.  Sadly, time has taken it's toll.  Grandpa is no longer with us, Grandma isn't making the trip to FL and able to say alone, and the kids' college schedules don't mesh.  We've seen the last of spring break trips as a family visiting grandparents - and I'm not exactly taking the change well.  Kevin leaving home was difficult enough.  This trip, while fun, only seemed to magnify the changes our family is undergoing.

Cherishing the time we have left with the girls before they fly the coop.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Decending into Dante's Inferno

Hannah's showmanship pattern - Youth 14-18

Okay, so maybe that title is a bit dramatic and possibly even enigmatic for those who have not recently (or ever) read Dante's Divine Comedy, but Hannah's most recent Quarter Horse show was miserably cold.  We shivered from the moment we set foot on the fair grounds and barely stopped until the cab of the truck warmed up on the way home.  Somewhere in the afternoon, mounted on Grace, Hannah declared she was sure this must be a taste of Dante's hell.  You see, Dante's description of hell was somewhat unconventional - his hell is cold.  The further one descended, the colder it became.  I'm not sure what level we had sunk to, but even riders from New England were complaining.

I've about decided Perry knows only two temperatures, as cold at Dante's hell and as hot as the conventional notion.  

Friday, March 1, 2013

Love and Marriage:The Greatest Show on Earth

After not one, but two day trips to Atlanta, I faced the thought of riding back and forth to Atlanta for the third time in the week a bit like a child getting ready to swallow a dose of bad tasting medicine. Okay, if the truth be known, I whined like a toddler...repeatedly, until Patrick finally gave in and said, "Okay, if you don't want to go, let's just stay home."

While that thought was tempting, I knew I needed to act my age and fulfill the commitment Patrick had made for us months ago.  Oddly, I think Patrick was looking more forward to the weekend marriage conference than I was, so I couldn't bring myself to be the one to call a halt to the plans.

I had arrived home from TeenPact about 10:30 p.m. Thursday evening, threw some clothes in a suitcase, and went to bed with a messy house and an even messier laundry room (think 2 girls just back from camp where they had to wear dress clothes during the day and casual clothing at night).  I woke bright and early to face not only a long drive in a church van, but a 7am dentist appointment.  Yes, I're thinking, "Who in their right mind goes to the dentist at 7am?"  Well, that would be Patrick and I.  Really, normally it's nice not to interrupt your day to get your teeth cleaned (and they're never running late since you are their first appointment).  But not this time.  It was as if fate was conspiring to make my weekend miserable - the good doctor even had to numb me up to take care of a little problem I'd been having.   

At 9am twelve adults and their luggage, riding in a 15 passenger van, pulled out of the church parking lot.  Let's just say riding three adults to a bench seat did nothing to improve my attitude.  Stopping at a cafeteria for lunch did even less for my attitude.  Ultimately, I survived the ride, we checked into the hotel, and I thought "if I can just get a nap before the evening session, I'll be as good as new."  My head had barely hit the pillow when Victoria called and reminded me that we had double booked Alyssa for Saturday night.  She was supposed to be babysitting for Caitlyn and Matthew as well as taking Patrick's parents to Jacksonville. got it...I spent the rest of my nap time on the phone with Chrissy and Alyssa trying to come up with plan B.  Thankfully Kevin's girlfriend Lauren came to my rescue and agreed to help Hannah babysit on Saturday while Alyssa and Victoria taxied Grammy and Grampy to their concert in Jax.
Yes, one child was horrified that we kissed in the photo booth.
Despite me wanting to just stay in the hotel room and sleep (and I'm pretty sure Patrick could have been persuaded), we joined the rest of the group to ride to the first session.  We walked into the lobby of the church and found a circus - a lady on stilts juggling, a circus elephant (not a real one - but life size none-the-less) and bags of kettle corn.  Shockingly, I found it hard to maintain a stinky attitude.  I mean, really, how could I keep a sour demeanor when lights were strung in the sanctuary to make you feel like like you are under the big top!

So after I shaped up, we had a good time...learning and laughing together.  While none of the teaching seemed new - after all, we've been to enough marriage conferences that not knowing what to do is not our problem - but it was a good reminder of what I should be doing to make our marriage better.  And, though it pains me to admit it, once I got past acting like a toddler who wasn't getting my way and embraced the circus atmosphere like a eager child, it was good to get out of town for the weekend and enjoy "Love and Marriage: The Greatest Show on Earth." 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

So Much to Learn

 Did you ever make plans that sounded brilliant while they were in the planning stages; but the more time that passed, the more you wondered why you bothered in the first place?  Yeah, TeenPact sounded like a terrific idea until I realized I was going to have to drive back and forth to Atlanta in one day - twice in the same week - and then ride a church van back and forth to Atlanta, bringing my total number of trips back and forth to three in one week.

Alas, we survived the week and learned some vital lessons in the process.
1. Delilah, as we affectionately call our GPS, lived up to her name (as a girl who can lead you astray) as I searched to find the Calvin Center, the camp where the TeenPact kids were staying Monday through Thursday.  Apparently Upper Woolsley, Lower Woolsley, and Woolsley Roads are just too confusing for her to keep straight.  We left home at 5:10am which should have given us plenty of time to drop off luggage before traveling to the Capitol. And while we did eventually find the camp, we barely had time to eat lunch at the Capitol and get the kids where they needed to be by 1pm.  We owe no thanks to Delilah.  Did I mention another mom with a car load of boys was following me, making Delilah's errors even more infuriating and humiliating?

2. Just because the parking meter gobbles up dollar bills, law abiding citizens who live 5 hours from Atlanta have little defense against parking citations.  Long story...but the short version is...I can appeal it (Can you just watch video surveillance you have?  I am the lady in the red jacket who at 11:55 fed money into the machine only for your machine to fail to produce a receipt or to credit my three dollars to parking space 268?) but I have to appear in court and the appeal takes 45-60 days.  By then, were I to lose the appeal, the fee on my ticket would have doubled (or more) after spending $80 to drive back and forth to Atlanta.  Nothing like paying $38/hour ($3 in the meter and $35 in fines) to park.  Welcome to Atlanta.  We are so glad you are here!

3.  The girls can indeed wear skirts that hit below their knees without looking completely out of fashion (i.e. like geeks).  I have just one thing to say...thank God for pencil skirts.  While they still groaned at having to accommodate a strict dress code, they certainly looked like they belonged amongst the politicians and lobbyists.
Five of the six kids, scared and nervous, before their first session Monday afternoon.

The famous gold dome
 4.  Some lobbyist tell TeenPact students that the company for whom they work forbids them to talk to anyone from TeenPact. that's a little sketch.  You are forbidden to answer questions like, "Who are you advocating for?" and "What made you want to become a lobbyist?"  Serious trick questions that some 15yo could one day use against you.  Simply reaffirms my belief that lobbyists are just one step above used car salesmen.
Our group on the floor of the Georgia House with Representative Chapman - By this time they are pros at navigating the Capitol and can tell us all about parliamentary procedure in the Georgia Legislature.

5. If the girls return to TeenPact and stay at the residential camp, Patrick may have to be a chaperone.  My girls are not used to receiving such obvious attention from the opposite sex.  As Hannah says, "Around here, everyone knows my dad and it's like I have an electric fence around me that no boy is willing to get near."  Apparently that was not so in Atlanta.  No worries though, Victoria.  Your dad can still scare off the boy with the awful bowl hair cut.

6.  A grande Americano with an extra shot of espresso is all that is needed to keep me fully awake from Macon to Brunswick.  Yeah...Starbucks thinks I moved or was vacationing - 3 drinks credited to my account this week....all from the same store in Macon.

Coming Soon: Love and Marriage: The Greatest Show on Earth