Monday, May 24, 2010

Surviving dance recitals

Our weekend was mostly filled with dance.

Here's a tip: When you are signing your child up for multiple dance classes *ASK* if those classes will be performing at the same recital. When you discover many months down the road that your Monday class and your Thursday class have different dress rehearsal times and different recital times, you will be rather...put out.

But it's just one weekend out of the entire year so you really can suck it up and deal with it. With a smile.

It all started Friday afternoon when I slicked L's hair into a bun, packed a large bag with costumes, cameras, and hair repair equipment and we headed over to the auditorium for our first dress rehearsal. Have I mentioned here how much I love, love, love L's dance studio? We used this studio for her first year of dance, then moved and had to switch studios, only to be frustrated by all the ways they fell short. This year we discovered that the studio we loved was opening a second location closer to our new home, so we switched back. It's been wonderful.

At the dress rehearsal, L got dressed in costume and I took her to the sign-in table where they escorted her off backstage to be entertained by games and coloring sheets and I went and sat in the auditorium to simply watch with camera in hand. Eventually, L's class came out and danced their little jazz routine and I snapped furiously away with my camera. But stage lights and fast motion do not help my meager photography skills and I got one semi-good picture.

Aren't they cute?

The next morning, we came back for dress rehearsal #2. Again, they took the girl backstage and I watched. This time I semi-good picture of her acro routine.

We had a couple of hours between dress rehearsal #2 and recital #1, so we went over to a nearby green space and took pictures of her in her costumes. Now some of these turned out really well. It was a bit cloudy so the colors came out beautifully, there was no squinting or shadows to worry about, and she stayed relatively cooperative.

Lunch at Chick-Fil-A, then back to an afternoon of two recitals. It was cute to watch the littlest dancers try their hardest and watch the bigger dancers to see where L is headed. L danced beautifully in both her performances and Daddy was thoughtful enough to have a huge bouquet of flowers from the farmers' market waiting at the end. L was thrilled with them.

We survived and even had a pretty good time. And then we capped off the day with a trip to Ryan's buffet where we all stuffed ourselves silly. It was a great day.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Getting things done

Years ago I attended a little leadership seminar given by our pastor. He said that whenever he wanted something done, he asked the busiest person he knew, because somehow they were always the one who got it done.

I decided that it was a pretty safe bet to ask them. After all, they *obviously* have a problem saying "no".

This week, I think I see what he meant. This week was scheduled to be hugely busy. L's dance recital meant that we have 6 dance commitments to meet this week. It's the homeschool yard sale. There's strawberry picking and picnicking with fellow homeschoolers. A woman's ministry meeting was happening. A night out fabric shopping and having dinner with a friend. All this on top of all my regular commitments.

And you know what?

I've gotten everything done so far. And then I went further. I added a large sewing project and made four tote bags. I did extra cleaning. I planned our summer vacation and made reservations. I delivered hand-me-downs to a friend. I sent off some emails and took care of various administrative tasks that have been waiting on my to do list. All this on top of the usual errands and schooling and cooking and making sure everyone is where they need to be when they need to be there. I've gotten up early and gotten started on the day's work and it's all fit in without a whole lot of stress. Heck, I've even written *3* blog posts already this week.

It's a hugely busy week and yet this is the week that's encouraging me to get organized. It feels pretty good. Maybe I'll remember that next time I find myself slacking off. And maybe next time I won't spend all night dreaming that I can't get L dressed correctly in her recital costume and we're late for the recital. That I could do without.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Ok, I got that all out of my system

(I apologize in advance for the picture quality. It's dark and I took these with my camera phone as I was too tired to go get my real camera.)

On Monday, I went to the fabric store and made a bag that night.

This one.

Once I get started sewing, I have a hard time stopping. It's just so cool to see an idea that you had in your head become reality. So on Tuesday, I made another bag. Same idea, completely different look. This one is a floral fabric of black on cream paired with black denim bottom and handles, a black ribbon accent, and a black crepe(at least I think that's what this fabric is called) lining. I even added a black twig dangle because it looked cool.

Then Wednesday morning, I started another bag. This one is a fun floral print that matches a sunhat I made myself last year. It has striped accent fabric and a lime green ribbon and cotton lining. Then I added a large lime green button which L thought was really cute.

And Wednesday afternoon, I made one more bag. This one is made completely out of material I had in my stash. It has a bright patterned corduroy body and a heavy blue canvas bottom and handles and yellow canvas top. I lined it with the blue canvas since I didn't have any other matching fabric, so it's a really good sturdy bag.

I love all these bags. They're all well-constructed with heavy fabrics and strong seams so they can take a lot of use and abuse without losing their shape. The handles are long enough that you can carry the bags over your shoulder and they're big enough to hold a whole lot of library books, schoolwork, or beach towels. My favorite thing about them is that they each have such different personalities. You can own one of these beauties for the low, low price of $25.

I walked around for two days with my measuring tape around my neck because every piece had to be measured and cut and ironed and stitched *exactly* the right length. I officially felt like a seamstress. But all that persnickety work left me exhausted and that's all the bags I'm making for now. I finally put away the sewing box and threw away the last of the scraps. There are only 4 bags, so you'd better speak up now if you want one. Actually, if you think you'd like one, I could force myself to get out my *real* camera and take a better photo for you. You're worth it ;-)

Monday, May 17, 2010

How I deal with stress

Today was a really good/really bad day.

Confused yet?

The homeschool yard sale was postponed *after* we drove across town, but now I have time to get more stuff ready to sell on Friday.

L was overexcited and chatty, but I did get a few mommy breaks by spending a few minutes chatting with a friend when I dropped off a bag of outgrown clothes for her little girl and letting L play for an hour at McD's for lunch.

At the fabric store, I had to continually remind L not to sit on the fabric or run or yell or run into people, but I got some great pieces of fabric that I love.

I had to take 3 different antihistamines today to deal with the hives, but they did work and it wasn't a *bad* breakout. Just a persistent one.

I tried to take a nap (darn antihistamines) and was interrupted every. 2. minutes., but I did get up in time to make it to dance.

L had the first of *6* dance commitments this week, but I did go through the Starbucks drive thru for a chai tea latte.

I didn't have anything planned for dinner, but my wonderful Mr. at Home picked up dinner on his way home and got everything ready.

After dinner, I washed down the table and pulled out my sewing stuff. That's how I deal with stress. I make something. I paint or make cards or crochet. Tonight I used some of the fabric I bought and some from my stash and I created a bag.

(Hummn, my house looks remarkably clean from this picture. Don't worry, it's just an illusion.)

I loosely followed the instructions for a pattern I have for a purse and kinda copied a bag I have that I like and made a large bag. All the seams are finished or hidden. It's lined in a beautiful textured brown silky fabric I had left over from a skirt I made for K. It's the perfect size for carrying books or notebooks and I plan to sell it at the used curriculum sale Friday. While homeschoolers are among the most prepared and organized people I know, there are plenty who forget to bring their own bag for their purchases. Yes, I do plan to take advantage of their forgetfulness . I also got some other fabric and will be making more bags between now and Friday.

If you want one, come to the homeschool yard sale Friday and find me. Or you can request it from my blog and I'll just ship it to you.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Puppy raiser news

Today I have to brag just a little bit on my puppy.

Usually, Cindy Jae is the absolute worst behaved dog at training meetings. She won't listen, won't follow commands without some...encouragement, is always trying to get to the other dogs, and is always getting up out of whatever position she's supposed to be in. There was one particularly rough meeting where I had a sore hand for 2 days afterwards from where it has been rubbed raw pulling Cindy Jae back with the leash. I got a new softer leash after that.

Cindy Jae is now 7.5 months old. Once she turned 6 months, she started to calm down a bit. She started leaving stuff alone a little more and jumping up a little less. She's had a few rough days here and there, but she is more even-keeled overall. It wasn't until this week that I've actually *enjoyed* having her here. I wasn't constantly worried about what she was going to destroy or eat next. I could give her more freedom at home and worry less about her behavior when we were out.

Today at the puppy meeting, Cindy Jae behaved beautifully. I don't think I can fully convey the surprise and relief that I felt when she responded quickly to commands and wasn't distracted by the other puppies walking around her. She didn't pull me around the walking trail and she stayed quietly by me whenever we stopped. She wasn't perfect, naturally, but she was easily one of the best behaved today.

I don't claim any credit for the change in Cindy Jae's behavior. There wasn't any intense training going on around here. We have been out and about pretty regularly as I've noticed that she's much better behaved when she gets more time out working; she gets bored here at home. I think her improved behavior is just an age and maturity thing. Maybe it's all finally clicking.

Of course, now that I've praised her here, tomorrow she'll be horrible. Or maybe Monday. We spent all day outside with training and then swimming at a friend's house and Cindy Jae is *exhausted*. Tomorrow, she'll probably sleep most of the day, but then she'll be ready and raring to go come Monday morning.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Friday Rambles

Today, I slept in.

Ok, more accurately, I got up at 6:40 and gave K her spelling pre-test, signed her reading record, gave her permission to just buy her lunch at school, promised to bring her basketball shorts to school after I dried them, and sent her off to the school bus. I also took the dog out and got L settled for awhile, then I went back to bed. Now that it's bright sunshiny out by 6:30am, everyone but me thinks that we should get our day started. I've been good all week about getting up, but today just wasn't one of those days.

K was chosen to be part of the student basketball team for a little game against the teachers at an "EOG Pep Rally". EOG is End-of-Grade testing and it starts Monday. Since K was playing, I took L and Cindy Jae up to the school to attend the pep rally. CJ sat very patiently while we waited for the secretary to make sure the principal was okay with having a dog at the pep rally (she was) then as soon as we got in and sat down near the door, CJ started to freak out just a bit. The floor was slippery and the noise was deafening and it was more than enough to stress out even adventurous CJ. And when CJ gets stressed out, she poops. Thankfully, I'm finally getting better at catching the signs before the actual pooping begins and I hauled her quickly out of the gym and then had to carry her the last few steps outside, but she made it. I took her back inside where she tried to pull me down the hall in her hurry to get back to the gym and she did awesome the rest of the pep rally. Having a guide dog puppy is always an adventure.

She is currently napping under the table at my feet.

Wait, nope, I moved to look at her and she walked over to curl up in her crate to sleep. I guess my little movement was just too disturbing.

Wait again, L just trotted downstairs, threw a dog toy into the crate, and went back upstairs. CJ just moved back under the table in disgust. I guess she felt she needed my protection from the tiny menace who came all the way downstairs for the express purpose of annoying her.

All that to say that the pep rally wore the puppy out.

Tomorrow K's softball tournament starts. We get to drive all the way across town to play in the morning. Actually, Mr. at Home gets to take at least one child to the softball game. CJ has training at the same time in the opposite direction. If K's team wins, they come home. If K's team loses, they play again in the same location in the afternoon, so I'll make the trek waaaay across town to make that game and bring snacks.

Next week is parent observation week at L's dance studio. We get a preview of their recital routine, have the opportunity to videotape it, and we get their costume. L is over the moon excited to see what her costumes look like. She has been asked to try out for the competition team next year. Still not sure about that. I can see that L is very good at the whole dance thing and she loves to do it. It might be a great chance for her to make friends, have the responsibility of being on a team, and help her to mature a bit. But then there's the fact that she's just 6. I do trust our studio to NOT do the whole mini-hoochie-mama thing that I've seen from other friends who have daughters on dance teams. Our studio has a very strict, modest dress code and I've been impressed with what I've seen of their dance team in the past. There's supposed to be a parent meeting soon about the whole thing, so...we'll see.

I got a very cool new stereo for my van as my Mother's Day gift. The front aux input kept breaking loose on my old one and the wires were too short to keep re-soldering. The new one has a front aux and a front USB connection. It's also an HD radio, which has been fun exploring all the new station possibilities out there. But the coolest thing about my radio? You can change the color of the light-up buttons and the display. Separately. Right now the buttons are purple and the display is green. Just because I can.

What does it say about me that I'm most excited about the changing colored lights?

Poor Mr. at Home is having technology upgrade envy. I got a cool new phone then a cool new stereo. He does, however, have a chunk of change from his teaching job just waiting for that next cool new gadget. Anyone got any good suggestions?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Adoption thoughts

Last night, Mr. at Home and I spent a couple of hours sitting around outside just talking. We hit every topic on the planet, including work, vacation, travel, China, adoption. We talked about going back to China and visiting the city and orphanage where L spent part of her life. We talked about her birthparents and if she will ever have the chance to know them.

Which might be why I had such a vivid dream last night. I dreamed that I was the birthparent. That I watched as she was adopted as a baby into a large family (ironically one that I know. Rebecca and Alfonso, I dreamed you had something like 8 or 9 kids. Just to prepare you :-)). I dreamed that I stood one day and watched as she climbed into a car with her brothers and sisters. I looked at her through the back window and she noticed me standing there so she smiled and waved. It took all my strength not to cry as I smiled back. In my dream I knew there was a reason she was there and not with me. I knew she was happy with her new family. I knew that she was loved and cherished, but no matter how much her family loved her, it wasn't like *I* loved her. It was the most heart-wrenching dream I've ever had.

Today, one of the blogs I follow posted about adoption. She's been writing recently about the Christian call to adoption. She linked to another blog I've read a few times before. That blogger wrote a long essay on what it takes to adopt. It's a good read, but hard read. She then linked to another blog who had gotten some negative responses to some links she had published to an adult adoptee blog (who happened to be adopted using the same small adoption agency we used). Who has some strong opinions.

Lots of linkage, I know. But very interesting perspectives.

As adoptive parents, we look at adoption from the perspective we know. We know the after. After the handover. After the homecoming. After they learn the language and ways of our home. We think about the joy we had on finally seeing our new child for the first time. Finally holding them. Finally seeing them sleeping in the room we so carefully prepared. We felt *joy*, even in the midst of all the sleep deprivation of the beginning. We don't like to think about the fear and confusion and grief the child felt on these occasions.

I will say that I don't necessarily agree with every word from those links. Parts come across as very negative, but there are many negatives associated with adoption and to ignore them or pretend they don't exist causes more harm than good. In order for a child to be adopted, they must first lose the most important people in their life. Then they must lose everything they know and are comfortable with. The fact that L is adopted will color every action and reaction for the rest of her life. Her earliest experiences were filled with repeated attachment and loss. I'm not claiming it as an excuse or a reason to blame every bad thing on being a "victim", it's just a fact of her life.

There are also many and greater positives associated with adoption. Adoption gives a child a more loving, stable, and permanent environment than state-run care. Adoption allows a family the opportunity to love and nurture a child and it gives a child the opportunity to bless a family. It's a mutually beneficial relationship, even if it is a mutually difficult relationship. Adoptive parents have no control or choice in the loss that our children experienced before we knew them. We can't erase it or change it or hide it. We have to face it openly with our child and allow them to explore it. It's part of our story now, too.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Not my favorite day ever

I'm going to whine just a bit.

This morning I got up with just enough time to finish straightening up the house before one of K's teammates came over. We were returning a favor and giving her a ride to the softball game this morning and I didn't want the house to be a wreck when she got here. When I got up and dressed, I discovered that the dog had...messed up...her crate last night. So I had to put the dog bed in the washer, disinfect the crate, the bathe the dog. Which meant I had to work on laundry because I had run out of baskets in which to store the clean clothes. The wonderful Mr. at Home did most of the folding while I tried to make up for lost time and prioritized the cleaning. I got most of what had to be done finished before B got here and thankfully, her mom was in a hurry and didn't come inside.

Whew! Saved by a cell phone call!

I continued a little cleaning, finished getting ready, and took the girls over to the ballfields, with a quick run through Sonic first. Because it was hot. And I didn't want the girls to dehydrate. I just got myself a large iced keep them company. While the girls were off warming-up, I sat and watched a 6U softball game. Those little girls are just so cute! There's no umpire, they don't keep score, and there are several adults on the field to tell the girls what to do. I talked to some of the parents sitting there, including one guy I *know* I know from somewhere. It's so frustrating when I see someone "out of place" as it were and I can't remember how I know them. There was also a mom from L's dance class last year and we talked until their game was over and ours was ready to start.

2.5 hours later, the game ended in a tie and I had turned lobster red from sitting directly facing the noontime sun. Ouch.

After a quick lunch, everyone retired to rest, and Mr. at Home fell asleep, but I kept worrying about the dog that I had left loose in the living room. I went to check on her and discovered her surrounded by fluff. I never did figure out what she had pulled the stuffing out of. I put her in her crate and went back to try napping again.

That's when the elephants began their circus routine upstairs.

It boggles my mind that one petite 6-year-old can make that much noise. I gave up the nap idea and went to tell the girls we were going to the store. In the 3 minutes it took to round up the girls, the dog messed up her crate again. This time I took the tray from the bottom of the crate and the dog outside and hosed them both off. And discovered that the hose was leaking. I'd always hated that hose anyway and we were headed to the store, so a new hose was added to the list.

After our store run, we came home and put things away before deciding that the heat and humidity were just too much, so we shut all the windows and turned on the AC for pretty much the first time this year. Not bad when you can wait until May 1 to run the air conditioning.

Meanwhile, the dog messed up her crate for the third time. She's having some serious digestive issues. Back outside went the tray and the dog and I got to put the new hose to work. It's much nicer than the old one.

We had hot dogs for dinner, Mr. at Home took K to the church's movie night, I put L to bed, and finally got a shower. Amazingly, when I got out of the shower, I discovered that the circus elephants were back in full dance mode upstairs. Even after getting in trouble for the same thing last night, L still decided to get up and play after bedtime tonight. So her bedtime will be early all next week.

I am finally propped up in bed with my toenails drying between coats of pearly pink polish. I've got a chick flick from netflix to watch and popcorn to munch. My house is relatively clean, some laundry is done, some softball has been successfully played, my van has new windshield wipers, we have a new hose for outside, the trash has been taken out, and I have a very clean puppy.

Maybe it was a better day than I thought.