Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Dear Dance

The ballet world is full of exciting, rewarding, and encouraging highs...as well as devastating lows. Hallie has experienced both ends of that spectrum along with everything in between.

It makes sense that dancers would stick around - recommitting themselves to their craft - after the highs, but sometimes it can be hard for those of us who haven't caught the dance bug to understand why dancers stay following the lows.

January 24, 2021 - the day she found out
she wasn't invited to start point that year.


Hallie wrote Dear Dance at the end of her eighth grade year. Her teacher entered it in a Poetic Power writing contest and it was selected for publication in a poetry anthology, however that's not what makes this poem special; what makes it special is that it explains why she keeps going.


Dear Dance


As I walk into that building, my second home

I know my way

I feel your spirit inside me.


From the moment I felt your joy, I fell in love with you.

That studio that I feel so much comfort in

We are all there for YOU.

The slick floors, the open space,

I reached to click on the music.


Dance, you lift me up!

I feel freedom, like nothing is holding me back.

All stress disappears, for YOU are my safe place.


You have offered me so many opportunities,

That have helped me grow,

And have shaped me into who I am today.


You have gotten me through my hardest times

But when I walk into that studio,

Everything goes away.


Dance, you are my passion.

I don't know what I'd do without you.


With Love,

Hallie


To clarify, Hallie just had the (dance) week of her dreams. I'd already planned this post because while I had no idea what kind of week awaiting her, I knew for certain that if she'd had a rough week, she would have kept going anyway.




It's also worth noting that Hallie granted me permission to share this poem.

Friday, August 25, 2023

High Five for Friday (8.25.23)



One

To say it's been "a week" (well, really "two weeks") would be a gross understatement. The emotional and mental bandwidth required to make it to today was immense, and while it's possible the rest of the semester may require that same stamina, I'm glad to have a few things behind me and a (hopefully) fun weekend ahead of me.


Two

Ballet Brazos' 12th annual production of The Nutcracker is taking shape! Auditions are complete, our cast list is set, and we have parent meetings, costume fittings, and headshots tomorrow...and tickets go on sale September 1st - I'll share links here next week for anyone who may be interested in joining us for one of our three shows.


Three

Speaking of casting, my girl has roles she honestly couldn't even dream of a year ago. She's thrilled to have been cast in the corps for Snow, Waltz, and Marzipan, and she's also the understudy for the Soldier Doll. I have no pictures of her delight, but there were the happiest tears I think she's ever cried.


Four

These sweet babies are close to moving on to their forever homes. They've been through it (along with their siblings, they were found in a puddle of soapy water in a trash can behind a local restaurant), and I'm so excited for their next chapter.







Five

Happiness Highlights

My parents are cute.

Back out there (in 112 degrees) for
a Cavalry pre-season double header.

Popeye REALLY misses his kids now that they're
back in school. When he's not crying and searching
for them, he's sleeping in Will's room.

His current "comfort spot" is curled up against Will's
bookshelf, which is kind of weird and kind of sweet.

I love it when they hang out together and then
send me pictures of them hanging out together.

Hallie made me a treat. The presentation
is quirky, but the cookies were delicious.

Despite missing the kids during the
day, Popeye loves school mornings.

He adores dining with Hallie, especially
when she chooses Cheerios for breakfast.

Hallie got to hold baby Aiden while Mr. John
demonstrated a combo during class. She loved it,
but later told me she completely missed the combination
because she was so focused on not dropping him. πŸ˜‚

Listening to him talk about something that excites
him (about anything, really) is the absolute best. 

I heard meowing coming from the backyard and
found PliΓ© waiting at the door of the Mad Science
Laboratory for Tom to let her in. Except he was at
work. She sure does love her daddy...

Will lost one of her discs so he took her disc
shopping and bought her a fun replacement.

Happy weekend, friends!

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Monthly Medley: July 2023

July's Monthly Medley is coming in a little late this month, and for that I apologize. I had a few travel posts I wanted to fit in in a timely fashion, and then it was time for back-to-school posts, so this monthly tradition had to be bumped back a bit. We're back on track now!


Writing

Though I've done quite a bit of volunteer writing these last few months, I haven't done much paid work this summer as the magazine I wrote for most frequently and regularly recently closed its doors. I'm sad to see this chapter end, but looking forward to taking on some new projects in the months ahead!


Reading

After a book fail (after 100 pages I just gave up), I pivoted to The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave, which I LOVED, cover to cover. There's mystery involved, but it's not a crime junkie murder mystery. There are romantic and familial relationships, but it's definitely not a romance. I think I read on the inside cover that it could be categorized as a heartfelt thriller, and I think I agree with that...whatever the case, this book is definitely a win!

Out of curiosity I Googled the book, and I was surprised to discover that the book has been turned into an Apple TV+ miniseries starring Jennifer Garner. I guess I know what I'm watching this weekend! 



Watching

I watched a lot of Netflix movies and television shows while puttering around, decluttering, and organizing the house during the second half of July. I won't share the complete duds, but I will share those I'd grade at a B- or higher!

  • Season 7 of Queer Eye - A
  • Season 1 of Hack My Home - B-
  • Forever My Girl - B
  • The Volcano: Rescue From Whakaari - A-
  • Like Father - B+
  • Love Guaranteed - B-
  • Don't Look Up - A
  • Sleepless in Seattle - A


Listening To

At the end of the month I started listening to Scamanda, about a young woman - wife, mother, blogger - who is dying from cancer. I won't say anything else lest I spoil the secret, but I will say that I'm already hooked.


Following

I've been following along with Sydney Givens (the dermatologist behind Skincare by Sydney) as she talks me through dealing with all the different kinds of skin ages, stages, and issues in our house. Check her out at @sydneygivens_skin on Instagram.


I've also been, at least occasionally, learning from Enneagram with Abbey. I have a pretty good idea of where I fall on the Enneagram (though I've never taken the full test, because it costs money), but I like learning about all of the enneagram types and then trying to use that information to better interact with - or at least better understand - family members and friends. You can find her at @enneagramwithabbey on Instagram.


Trying/Using

Strawbaby (Straw-Ana) and Jitty (Jitterbug) destroyed our first kitten tunnel, so we replaced it with this one. Whenever we have kittens now the tunnel lives on the floor of our closet, and while it's a little weird to share your closet with kittens, it makes me smile when I see them having such a blast in it. And the avocados are adorable.

I've shared this product before (my apologies for doubling up on cat paraphernalia), but we love it so much that we just bought a second one. The link is here, and here are pics of it in action. (The first two pics are to show how one full-size cat and one kitten fill it up. The third pic is of our new set up, which they love.)




Will has recently become a huge fan of hats (baseball caps and bucket hats), to the point that I think he's quadrupled his "collection" over the last three months. His storage method for these many hats was throwing them onto the floor in his closet, so I upgraded him to this hat rack/caps holder. It's not incredibly sturdy, but it was affordable and gets the job done!


Wearing

My mom bought me this dress while we were in Wisconsin at the beginning of July. I love it, and not just because it has pockets; it's lightweight, washable, flattering, and comfortable, it works with a regular bra (IYKYK), and I've gotten compliments - even from strangers - every single time I've worn it.


Eating/Drinking

I'm finally getting back into the kitchen (despite the heat, which makes me want to leave the kitchen), and I have a handful of delicious recipes to share as a result.

Hallie made these Soft & Chewy M&M Cookie Bars, with about 3/4 c. brown sugar (instead of the 1 c. the recipe called for). They were delicious and plenty sweet!

Hallie also made these Orange Cooler Cookies (clearly she likes to bake, following in her mother's footsteps), following the recipe exactly. I actually think we'd made these before, but they were good enough to share, potentially again!

I made these Ground Beef Skillet Enchiladas, using flour tortillas instead of corn (try as I might, I just can't get on board with corn tortillas). I only put cheese on half of the dish because my kids are weird, and we skipped the cilantro since 3/4 of us think it tastes like soap. The finished product was fantastic, and we had hardly any leftovers.

These Santa Fe Chicken Salad Roll Ups (though I left everyone assemble their own rather than rolling them up while prepping dinner) were also quite tasty. I felt like the ratio of sauce to other ingredients was a little heavy, so when I make this meal again, I'll probably make about 75% of the sauce for the same amount chicken, beans, corn, and pepper.


Feeling Good About


See you for August's Monthly Medley in just a couple of weeks!

Friday, August 18, 2023

High Five for Friday (8.18.23)


One 

After a crazy dance week last week - four days of Encore choreography, Encore photos, an all-company party, the Assistant Training Program kick-off, and the grand opening of a second studio space - the 23-24 dance year officially kicked off this week. Hallie is excited, and I'm...overwhelmed but trying to be excited. Anyone else a little scared about what this coming year looks like? 😝

Through all of that, I took just one photo.

I am, however, legitimately excited about the return of our dance mom "fun Fridays," which just means we take an hour to decompress at our favorite wine bar during the girls' Friday class.


Two

I couldn't believe I convinced Hallie to attend her high school's Welcome to the Jungle kick-off last Friday night. I think I had more fun than she did, but she liked watching the band, cheerleaders, and drill team perform. (It was 104 degrees outside and this event was held at the stadium. To describe the experience as "hot" would be the understatement of the year.) She's not excited about starting high school, so I'm particularly proud of her for trying (somewhat willingly) new things and taking (baby) steps toward getting involved.



Three

On Saturday morning Hallie and I volunteered - with our mother/daughter service organization - for the Chrissy's Closet Back to School Bash. 

Chrissy's Closet is a free store, the goal of which is to help students, staff members, and families in our school district feel positively about themselves and attending school​ by "providing access to items needed to arrive at school clean, warm, and ready to learn." The store offers new/gently used clothes, shoes, underwear, socks, coats, and personal hygiene items year-round, as well as school supplies and backpacks in August, Halloween costumes in October, and formalwear ahead of school dances in the fall and spring.

I was aware the store existed but had never been inside or volunteered there before; the opportunity to see its impact truly inspired me, and I'm hoping to volunteer there more in the future. 


Four

On Monday afternoon, Hallie and I walked her schedule and took care of the last couple of outlying to-do list items before the kids' first day. (We had hoped Will would be able to guide his on this tour, but a last-minute allergist appointment kept him from being able to join us.) Our high school got a quite the "glow up" this summer (brand new entryway, front office, and principal/counselor/support staff offices plus an updated auditorium and lecture hall), so quite a few things have been moved around and it took us a bit to find the rooms we needed...I'm so glad we had the opportunity to figure things out before the first day!


Five

Speaking of... 😭😍





Yes, Will is wearing BLACK SOCKS with TEAL CROCS. He has two levels of attire, folks: socks with crocs and full suit. There is no in between.


Happy weekend, friends!

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Today's the Day

Today is the first day of school. Will will start eleventh grade, and Hallie will start ninth grade. How is it possible that I have two children in high school, and that one of said two is just two years away from graduation?!


I'm not ready for them to go back...for this summer to come to an end. 

Somehow as their ages increase, (it feels like) the length of summer decreases. Summer - and my time with them - just isn't long enough, and I'm sad to close the door on yet another one, especially knowing I only have one more with Will before he graduates from high school. And one is a heartbreakingly small number when counting down.

I'm not ready, but that won't stop this train from continuing to barrel full-steam ahead.

~

Every year around this time I share an edited and abbreviated version of a post that has appeared here multiple times before. It reminds me of how far we've come, and to appreciate the time we have left. I hope it does the same for you.

~

During Will and Hallie's baby and toddler years, I found the commonly uttered phrase "enjoy every moment" both frustrating and disheartening.

You've been there, right?

It's 10am. You've been awake for five hours, and in that time you've fed your children three times, been thrown up on three times, cleaned smashed banana out of the cat's fur, changed four diapers, wiped pee up off the playroom floor, rescued a Power Ranger action figure from the toilet, unclogged the toilet, and mopped up the flooded bathroom. You haven't eaten, showered, gotten dressed, or even brushed your teeth.

How many of those moments did you enjoy?

Telling parents - especially new parents, whose days feel like weeks and whose nights require superhuman strength to endure - to "enjoy every moment" often comes across, no matter how well-intentioned, as insensitive and disconnected. These new moms and dads love their babies tremendously, but they simply aren't enjoying every moment.

And telling new parents that kids grow up so fast and time goes by so quickly? Well, those lines sound like great big lies, because in their reality, the kids aren't growing up so fast and time isn't going by so quickly. If they're anything like me when I had an infant at home, these new parents are wondering how it's possible their (according to the calendar) five-month-old won't head off to kindergarten in the fall because it feels like they've been caring for that baby for five years.

Tomorrow Will starts ELEVENTH grade, and Hallie - my BABY - starts NINTH grade. They will be a junior and freshman in high school, and HOLY SMOKES...they DO grow up so fast. Time DOES go by so quickly.

This is all quite difficult to wrap my head around, considering it seems like just yesterday I quietly stewed - and then later cried in my car - when a woman at the farmers market tousled six-month-old Will's curls and exclaimed, "what a big boy! Enjoy every moment with him!"

Where am I going with this? To be honest, I didn't know the first time I shared this post and I still don't know now, more than a decade later.

What I do know is that telling parents - of children of any age - to enjoy every moment often makes them feel worse rather than better. I know that telling new parents that kids grow up so fast or time goes by so quickly often comes off as a cliche or even a lie. And I know that while the minutes feel like hours, the hours like days, and the days like weeks when those babies are teeny tiny, at some point the clock speeds up and you can NEVER slow it back down.

Don't worry about enjoying every moment. But try to enjoy as many as you can, because kids DO grow up so fast and time DOES go by so quickly, whether you're ready or not.

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

And Please, Sweet Boy, Look Out for Your Sister

I wrote this post (of which you'll find an edited version below) nine years ago, yet so much of it still rings true today.

~

This morning, when I drop my seven-year-old off for his first day of second grade, I will also drop my five-year-old off for her first day of kindergarten.

Doubts weighed heavily on my mind when Will started kindergarten two years ago, and those same doubts - or at least versions of those same doubts - weigh heavily on my mind today, now that Hallie has reached the same educational milestone.

What if another kid picks on or makes fun of her? What if she picks on or makes fun of another kid? 


What if she is disrespectful to her teacher or bites a classmate and gets sent to the principal's office? 

What if she has to eat lunch by herself or doesn't have anyone to play with on the playground?

What if she's picked last in gym? What if someone makes fun of her singing voice in music? What if she eats paste in art? 

What if?

Truth be told, I'm less worried about sending Hallie to kindergarten than I was about sending Will to kindergarten. For starters, I've done this before. I feel comfortable in our elementary school, and I'm more than confident in the administrators', teachers', and staff members' ability and desire to educate, protect, and love on my kids.

Next, Will and Hallie are - obviously - unique individuals. Hallie is stubborn, fierce, and passionate. She is proud, confident, and independent. She knows who she is and where she's going, and she's sure as hell not going to let me - or anyone else - get in the way of either.

And last but not least, Hallie has Will in her corner. He may terrorize her - and she him - at home, but when out of my sight or care, more often than not he looks after, stands up for, and protects her like it's his job. Which it is, at least to a certain extent, as her big brother.


~

Hallie's personality has changed dramatically throughout the last nine years, to the point that I'm actually more nervous about sending her to high school tomorrow than I was sending Will to high school two years ago or sending her to kindergarten nine years ago. My confidence in Will, however, has not changed, and I know he will look after, stand up for, and protect her should the need arise.

The ending of the post above still works as the ending to this post:

When I hug them and kiss them and send them off to school this morning, I'll start with my usual reminder to "work hard and be kind." Then, when Hallie's not looking, I'll whisper in Will's ear, "and please, sweet boy, look out for your sister."

I know he will.


Friday, August 11, 2023

High Five for Friday (8.11.23)

 


One

Both of my kids have their *high school* (?!?!) schedules in hand and are ready(ish) for this coming school year! I have no pictures of schedule pick-up because 1) Will is too old for pictures of schedule pick-up, 2) I was volunteering while Will was picking up his schedule and therefore otherwise occupied, and 3) Hallie's schedule pick-up took place at freshman Roar Camp, which parents don't attend. I do, however, intend to take pictures - whether they like it or not - on Monday when we walk the halls. (Usually we can walk the halls when we pick up schedules, but our campus has been under construction and wasn't open during schedule pick-up this year.)


Two 

Last Friday afternoon Hallie wrapped up her week-long summer ballet intensive with Ashley Laracey. (Ashley is a soloist with the NYC Ballet and often our guest Sugar Plum Fairy for Ballet Brazos' production of The Nutcracker.) Hallie enjoyed her week learning from and dancing with Ms. Ashley, and I enjoyed getting to see how far Hallie has come en pointe since this same intensive last year. For fun, here's Hallie's variation performance last summer, after just a few short months en pointe.

                           


And here's Hallie's variation performance (this year's was a duet) last week.


You've come a long way, baby.





Hallie would want me to mention that, with regard to this year's video, she knows she had a couple of missteps here and there. She'd also want it noted that this choreography intentionally doesn't always match up - there are times when the two dancers aren't together and it's supposed to be that way.

  

Three

Wow.


Another shoutout to Ariana Jones Photography - Ari does such wonderful work with our dancers.


Four

I once again have no pictures because #willsaidnopictures, but last weekend Will came in second in a huge tournament in Houston. His finish helped him meet the goal I referred to a few weeks back: he earned enough points to qualify for the PDGA Junior Disc Golf World Championships. See you next June, Tulsa!

Yes, the Worlds tournament is in Tulsa, OK. I was hoping for somewhere a little more exciting, but I'm certainly excited for Will!


Five

(a) Both Encore (Hallie's ballet company) and Cavalry (Will's soccer club) officially kicked off their 2023-2024 seasons this week. I'm going to miss our comparatively and relatively free evenings and weekends, but I'm excited for what's to come for both of them! 

(b) Because this post hasn't had a lot of photos, let me leave you with these, of my best boy wearing his new (but quickly destroyed) sombrero. 



We forgot last Friday was a Friday (not the first time we've done that this summer), so I don't have a Fun Friday activity on which to report back.

~

Happy weekend, friends!