Saturday, July 31, 2010

Happy National Dance Day!

Nigel Lythgoe, the creator and producer of "So You Think You Can Dance" (i.e. "the world's best TV show ever" per my kids), has declared today "National Dance Day" to help promote dance education and physical fitness. National Dance Day is being recognized by an official act of congress, and there are locations all over the country (and the world!) celebrating dance today. SYTYCD choreographers Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo have created a dance for everyone, and this week at Dance Camp, J and his fellow campers learned and performed the dance.

So without further ado, here's wishing a very Happy National Dance Day to you all:

(In case you can't tell, J is the kid in the front in the orange shirt.)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

our musical theater experience

Whew, finally a few minutes to write about this! I'm spending this week and next chauffeuring J back and forth to Dance Camp (which I'll no doubt have to post about at some point as well....), and although I'm down to just one kid for the week, he's keeping me busy with stuff on HIS agenda!

Anyway! I've had lots of questions about Oliver! and I'm here to answer them all for you. Putting on a full-scale musical in six weeks was QUITE a process, and our entire family got involved. As I've already mentioned, J managed to land the starring role as Oliver Twist. He loved every single minute of the entire thing, from auditions to our final curtain call. He told me his favorite thing was when he finished singing a song and the audience applauded for him. (Which is pretty consistent with his entire personality -- one of the first things he'd ever wished for, back when he was about 4, was to dance on the stage and get all the applause, as he told me during intermission of The Nutcracker.)

This production was put on by a local YMCA group -- they've run this program for children for years under the name "Youth in the Limelight", but this year they decided to try something different and opened it up to adults as well and renamed the program "Community in the Limelight". When all was said and done, there were only three of us adults, but we rivaled the kids in how much fun we had. I had the role of Mrs. Bedwin, who, as it turns out, is Oliver's maid (hmmm....). It was the perfect role for me, small, just a few lines, a bit of stage time and a tiny solo (as seen in this photo). It's the first time I've been on the stage since high school (which was, ahem, quite awhile ago....), and I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed it, and how much work putting on a show is.

Our dog Joy played the role of Bill Sikes' (the murderer) dog, and training and handling her in the show was even more fun than being in it myself (although less fun than watching J enjoy himself). The Map Man worked backstage, and helped with the dog handling and set design. Zoo Boy did quite a bit of painting of the set. And I painted all of the scenery for the show, including this fireplace that Joy is sitting in front of, and the bridge behind the boys in the next photo, as well as various other "flats" like them. I also helped out with the costumes and props. Needless to say, the show absorbed a lot of my time over the past six weeks. I've received some invitations to participate in other shows during the school year with other companies, but I just don't see how I would ever have the time. I think this sort of thing definitely needs to be restricted to the summertime!

We made a bunch of new friends through this program, most importantly a wonderful family whose son, I, played the role of The Artful Dodger. I is homeschooled, takes all sorts of dance classes, including ballet, and is totally in love with the theater. And science. Sort of like some other kid we know, eh?! His brother, A, is Zoo Boy's new best friend, and their parents and sisters are equally wonderful. We spent the day after the last show at their house for a cookout, and are already looking forward to more get-togethers with them.

Despite the fact that they are all very involved with a theater group not too terribly far from here, J has decided he'd rather concentrate on dance this year, so will put the acting on hold until this program runs again next year. I applaud his restraint -- he obviously does not possess my character flaw of getting myself over-extended. SOOOOO glad not to have passed that trait on!

Here's J -- the tiny dude in the center -- and his co-stars during curtain calls. The audience seemed to love the show, and much to J's ultimate delight, the volume of applause doubled when he stepped out to take his solo bow.

This might be my last post for awhile. My computer is doing it's best imitation of a dying creature, half the time when I turn it on, it tells me it can't find the operating system, and one by one various systems are failing on it. (Most recently I have lost the audio.) I'm going to drop it off with the geeks tomorrow morning after dropping J off at Dance Camp, hopefully they can perform CPR and get it up and running properly again, because I can't finance a new computer at this point in time.

So 'ta for now, and I hope to be back soon!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Oliver! photos (yea, Mom!)

My Mom came through with a few good pictures from our final performance on Saturday night (thanks, Mom!), so I wanted to share some images. I have TONS to say about our whole theater experience, but that will have to wait until I have a few mintues to type. In the meantime, enjoy the photos!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

production week

As way of an explanation (or maybe just an excuse!) as to why I've been a bit absent from my blog these past few weeks, here's a peek at our calendar for this past week:

Yes, that's the sort of schedule we've been adhering two these past couple of weeks. Take special note of Sunday's plans, J got a real kick out of that.

It's finally here! We put on our first show last night and our final show is tonight, followed by our cast party. The kids are doing a GREAT job, and everyone is having a wonderful time!

I will post details about our big musical theater experience in a couple of days, when I manage to catch my breath. Unfortunately, I may not have any photos to share. With The Map Man involved back-stage, me involved on-stage, and my Dad struggling with a bad back, my usual sources of photo-taking has been eliminated. I thought I had lined up several of my friends to take photos, and for awhile it looked like we'd be swimming in photographers, but every single one of them has had to bow out at the last minute for various reasons. Which means not only did we fall far short of our share of ticket sales, but I don't have a single photo of this production. I'll figure out something to post on the blog (will try to grab some back-stage pics tonight if I can before we go on), but it's a real shame that I won't have any on-stage pictures as mementos for J's first big starring role.

So my apologies to all of you who were anxiously awaiting show photos and video clips -- looks like that's just not going to happen. But I'll throw something up here for you to look at while I ramble on about the past six week!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

grasping at summer rhythms

Oy, but our lives are busy!! This musical we are involved in -- every ounce of my time seems to be wrapped up in rehearsals and sewing costumes and painting scenery, writing up bios and soliciting advertisements....

Still, we're trying to hold onto a very basic rhythm to our days. As always, we start, following breakfast and chores, with a morning walk. We've been sticking to our country neighborhood rather than the state forest because humidity and bugs are a bad combination.

Of course, our walk includes a stop at the ever-shrinking frog pool. (Not to be confused with the actual frog pond at the state forest.) We're sort of vested in these frogs, we've watched over their eggs, and we drive very carefully on rainy nights when passing our pool. It would really suck to flatten our frogs!

One of said frogs.

After our walk, and usually some outdoor play, we have snack. Then the kids have a chunk of time to do whatever they want while I have a chunk of time to do whatever I want. Lately, that involves a lot of stuff to do with the Musical. But in theory at least that time slot should include things such as, oh, say, catching up on all the housekeeping I missed out on during the previous semester. Ah well, there's always August....

As I work on making the kids lunch, they sit down to do a bit of handwriting practice and a math worksheet. And after lunch, and before rest, we have a story from a wonderful book called Buddha at Bedtime by Dharmachari Nagaraja. I skip the moral at the end of the stories-- I'd rather the kids draw their own conclusions, but this is a nice collection of trickster-type tales. And the kids actually applaud when I finish each story. So to say they are popular with them is an understatement.

This entire morning schedule is preempted on Tuesdays by a visit to the Occupational Therapist. J's joining Zoo Boy during his sessions for a "tune up" of stuff he needs some work on, including work on both of their food issues, and a course of Therapeutic Listening (which I'll try to write a post about at some point).

The afternoons are for adventures, and we've hit a few museums and the lake when the weather and our rehearsal schedule allows, but mostly our afternoons have been absorbed by the play in one way or another. I've already vowed to spending most of August sitting on the beach not moving.

J's taking one dance class this summer, his first Modern class, and he loves it (although he is pining away for ballet...) and plans to continue with it in the fall. And of course there are rehearsals 3 evenings a week for 2 hours a shot. That'll pop up to 5 evenings a week for 3 to 4 hours the week before the performances.

A new part of our summer traditions are the local outdoor concerts. Here's the boys this past Sunday enjoying some Latin jazz music.

So it's a simple rhythm, and even that we're not sticking to as closely as I'd like to, but this play WILL be over eventually, and then we can laze our way into the rest of summer. I have a busy fall planned for the boys, so we need to do some serious relaxing before then!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

a little catch up (with those fries)

The "fries" part of that title, of course, has to do with the heat wave we're experiencing here in the northeast, with that past two days in the 100s. Yes, the 100s. That doesn't really happen here. Especially not two days in a row. Tuesday's temperature hit 102, which tied the all time heat record for this state. (Only twice before has it been that hot in CT.) And I'm pretty sure yesterday was even hotter, so that's a new all-time heat record. Sorry I lived to see that record broken....hopefully it'll never happen again!

But anyway, that is NOT what this post is about. This post is about everything that happened for the 10 days previous to those temperatures. Which was the 10 days The Map Man was home from work on his "vacation". We've not spent 10 whole days together since....since....well, it was well before the children were born, I assure you. And needless to say, we got a LOT accomplished during that time frame!

Of course, we did a bunch of work around the farm. We built an outdoor pen and shelter for our adolescent turkeys and moved them out there from the shed they'd been brooding in. It's a relief (for both them and us) to have them in roomier quarters. We also put in a new line of fencing in the sheep pasture to give them a bit more room to graze, and removed an old unneeded line. The Man cut the knee-deep grass in the front yard with a scythe (we'll rake it up and give it to the turkeys for bedding), because the sheep flock just wasn't able to keep up with the grass. He also weed-wacked here and there where needed, so that we're looking a bit more neat than we had been. (A very rainy spring meant a whole lot of tall green stuff!) We loaded up the van with our stinky old sofa pieces and a bunch of other junk and he did a big dump run (which we're hoping to repeat each weekend this summer to get rid of a bulk of the JUNK kicking around here). I cleaned the "farm bathroom" (aka, our laundry room, where this is also a toilet and sink that has been buried under above-mentioned JUNK for years) so that it is now actually a usable bathroom (gasp!). I cleaned the dog room - or rather, that half of the "family room" that the dogs spend the night in -- I cleaned out more JUNK, reorganized the JUNK that is actually staying, and put down a new flooring underneath everything in that half of the room.

I picked 66 new chicks up from the post office at the airport (where they arrived the same day they hatched in Ohio -- isn't the modern world an amazing thing?). We got them set up indoors, then moved them to the brooder shed at the end of the week when they outgrew their space, and once the turkeys were done using it. Some of these are already sold. Of the rest, half will be kept for laying, and half will be raised for eating. I took Cheer (one of our Collies) in to be spayed, took two of the other dogs in for required rabies vaccines, got Joy (the other Collie) started on meds for leaking urine (an old-girl-dog thing), and The Man got all 4 of them licensed. We moved some new-to-us furniture from a friend's house to ours. We found a great bed on the road-side with a free sign on it and hauled that home, too. We donated some unneeded furniture to the local theater group for our upcoming musical and hauled it there. We installed an air conditioner in the kids' bedroom window (just in time, too!).

We also had a bunch of fun. The boys played with the new chicks. We went to the lake. We went swimming in my sister's pool. We threw a 50th wedding anniversary party for The Man's parents, and enjoyed visiting with family we hadn't seen in quite some time. We went to dance class and musical rehearsals. We saw a couple of movies. (Toy Story 3 is much to intense for sensitive kids! Eclipse is perfect for vampire-and-werewolf-loving adults.) We went out for ice cream (repeatedly), and burgers, and picnics, and parties. We all went to the town's fireworks display, and The Man took the boys to a neighboring town's displays while I was at work one evening.

Even though we didn't go far or do anything too out of the ordinary, The Map Man declared it the perfect vacation.

And now he's back to work, and we're in the swing of our summer rhythms. Which I'll blog about more tomorrow. Or the next day. Or whenever I get around to it.

In the meantime, I want to give a shout out to Cameron, our 20-ish year old barn cat, who is clearly on the down slope of life at this point. I don't expect him to be with us much longer, but wanted to post a photo while he's still relatively healthy, albeit definitely showing his age. We adopted him as a young adult when we first moved here from a woman who rescued him from an abusive situation. He had a busted leg and head trauma when he first came to live with us (he had suffered a prolonged period of physical abuse and had been drop-kicked by his previous owner on the day the rescuer got her hands on him). He's named after the woman who saved his life. He was a top-notch mouser in his days, although he's been decided retired for several years now, and he has always been a friendly pleasant cat to have around, which is amazing considering what his first couple of years were like. He's a testament to the powers of healing of love and good care, and to the generosity of spirit that animals possess. The same can be said about all of our cats, actually. It's just Cameron's turn to shine.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

4th, a few days late

We took the boys to our town's fireworks display this past weekend. It's the first time we've been able to sit close to the action without worrying about the loud explosions bothering the kids, so it was extra special for us, and we all had a blast!

The boys mess around while waiting for dark:

My guys!:

What we came home to (that Zoo Boy, he's quite the joker....):

And this one's no joke -- this not-so-little dude was also waiting for us, on our front door screen. Honestly, I'm not sure what it is, but it looked like something out of a horror film about bugs that destroy the earth:

Sunday, July 4, 2010

rainbow garden -- purple

Ok, this is my last "rainbow garden" installment. Thanks so much to all the positive comments I've been getting! I've missed some of the flowers planted out there -- especially the early spring ones -- because I didn't photo them while they were in bloom, but pretty much what you've seen is what I've got at this point. I'm in no means done, I'll keep putting a few more things in here and there. I don't think I mentioned that this is is a perennial garden -- I think annuals are lovely, but I'm big on planting once and letting it grow wild. The one exception is the pansies below: my kids are even bigger garden center junkies than I am, and Zoo Boy made me buy some pansies this year because he loves how they look like little faces.

Friday, July 2, 2010

rainbow garden -- blue

Can you tell what my favorite flower color is???