Maggie Makes Four!

This journal started off documenting the adoption of our youngest daughter. It now follows the twist and turns of our lives as we raise these two amazing little creatures into the best women they can become.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Follow Up on the New Game

Well, the new game in town from the previous post has proved a crazy addition to our schedule.  Between track, soccer and dance, today was my first day off since March.  Really.

I wanted to follow up on my last post because track has been quite an adventure.  See, with the Magster, track is really just a big play date that gets interrupted by the occasional race.  During that race, the Magster must race against the friends she's playing with putting her in the position of trying to win a race against her friend.  Quite frankly, this has not set well with her.  She would rather play with her friends than race against them.

So, for 4 practice races, we watched as she loped around the track.  Her first race she actually ran with her friend and the two of them had a conversation until we interrupted them by encouraging them to run.  This does not imply she didn't do well.  For her first season, she's actually done really well.  She's placed a couple of times.  She consistently lowered her times and lengthened her jumps.  She also always had a fabulous time playing.  But we always felt she wasn't trying.

Then last week happened.  She was drafted to run the 400M for a relay team.  It was a sprint medley and the 400M is the anchor leg.  Even with all the conversation she actually had good times in the 400M, so it made sense that she ran the 400M.  When she got the baton, she had about a 5 yard lead.  And let me tell you, there was no doubt her heart was in that race.  She opened up an 11 second lead because she was so worried she would lose it for her friends.  We didn't know how fast she ran the leg, but we knew it was fast.

So, along comes this weekend.  Qualifying weekend.  If you don't come in 1st through 3rd place, you're done.  She did awesome.  She took 4 seconds off her personal best and finished in 4th place in the 400M. We were so happy for her because she did her best.  Finally.  Because of the previous week, she had two extra 400M's to run that day.  I was a bit worried about her, but hey, she does well with competition.  Time to test it.

In the second 400M, she did great.  She got the baton in second place, fought off a serious challenge, ran down the leader and won the race for her team.  I'm sure if we had a split it would have been another personal best.  It's clear, the Magster likes to run for a team.  However, she had one race left for the day and she had to anchor relay team with another 400M and she only had about 5 minutes to recover.

In the final race, even though she finished the race for her team and they qualified move on in the competition, she was in tears.  It seemed like she came in last because the girls of all ages ran together, but her team was the only 3rd grade team.  She only had to finish.  The coaches told her, we told her, but she took it personally and gave it all to her team again.  She ran so hard and showed such guts, we were all so very proud of her.

In the end, she has really loved track.  She became a very competent 400M runner and most importantly, she really wants to run again next year.  Onto Sectionals!

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

New Game in Town

For those of you who have met the Magster, you know she has an endless amount of energy. Last Spring, with the Dad not doing so hot, I took her out of sports for 4 months and it was a huge mistake. You see, a tired Magster is a sweet Magster...a wired Magster is something else all together. She's never bad, just sort of out of control.

This spring I knew we had to find something for her. So, I decided she'd run track. Why? Well, she's a pretty fast runner whenever she plays sports, she never gets tired and I was curious....Is she just quick or is she fast? There's a difference. No better way to find out then just have her run some races.

Last week, I met the track coach during a parent meeting. He's an older guy, retired, been coaching kids for 18 years. Has taken kids to the national level, but by his own admission, it's been years since that's happened, but he'd like to see it again. He's seen all types of kids and can spot a kid avoiding running at practice. He has strict rules about warm up and cool down and is very focused on energy prevention.

I almost cried tears of joy when he said, "I will make your kids tired. I will make your kids sore. They may cry, but if they hang with it, they will be well-conditioned athletes." I can count on 1 hand the number of times I've seen the Magster physically exhausted and I've never heard her complain of sore this coach was a dream come true to me. I was giddy.

She started practice last night. Practices are 1 hour long and they "run". They start with an 800, then they run 50's, then they take a water break, then they run more 50s, then they run a 400, then they go home. Sweaty, tired, sore. At least last night the Magster fit that description. I didn't think she'd make it to the car. She complained her legs hurt as soon as we got home. Once she sat down last night, she didn't get up for a long time. And she was quiet. Even La Nina asked what was wrong with her. This morning you would have thought she was an old lady the way she groaned as she got out of bed. (Insert an evil laugh here...courtesy of her mother.)

She went back tonight. But tonight we only got about an hour of peace. She stayed up to her usual bedtime. She complained about some sore quads, but really that was it...darn it. She said it was much easier today and even kind of fun. I'm thinking by her next practice she'll be all adjusted, and that old coach better up the work outs...'cuz he just might have met his match.

On a performance note, I'm quite proud of her. The team is for 2nd to 8th graders and she's hanging with the older kids on the longer runs. During the last 400, I saw her running with a couple of La Nina's friends as they finished. When I asked her if she was ran with them the whole time, she said, "No, Mom, I was passing them before we finished." I think she's going to really like track once they start racing.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

The Planner

You know, I'm a planner. I like to have a plan. I like to make lists. I like to be in the know. That's just how I roll. However, I've met my match in the Magster. You see, the Magster has put me on a "need to know" basis. She makes plans and tells me her "Plan" once it's all set. Frankly, she's out planning the planner.

Take this weekend. Saturday is a bit chaotic. The Dad has big meetings all day Saturday and La Nina has dance all day long in Hayward. As the Magster sees it, her choice was between being bored with her father or bored with her sister and mother. She was also quite worried about missing an afternoon Futsal game, so her wheels started spinning. She's comes in from school yesterday.

"Mom, you need to call 'C's mom about Saturday."

"Huh?" I asked.

"You could email or text her too. But C said I could go over there on Saturday morning, 'cuz they're not doing anything. Then Dad can pick me up and take me to Futsal when he's done." She then popped a cookie in her mouth and left the room, while I stared into space wondering exactly how I should approach other this mother. Had my little darling invited herself to someone else's house?

Minutes later I got the following email from C's mom. "Hey, I heard Maggie's looking for someplace to hang on Saturday morning. We're around. Just let me know what time you're dropping her off. By the way, did she tell you about their science project?"

No, I hadn't heard about the science project, but after several emails and I got the story from her friends Mom. Apparently, little Miss Always Something Cooking had planned her entire science fair entry, down to who's buying the board, what the experiment is and who's doing what work on the project. The Magster is 8. On the one hand, I love that she's so self sufficient. On the other hand, she's a little scary. I never know what she's got going.

So, while her family is busy on Saturday, the Magster will be playing with her friend. According to her plan, her dad will show up at 1pm to pick her up, get her changed and get her to Futsal by 3pm. She'll then go with him to the evening meeting, where she will be in the company of lots of people she loves. That is unless, she's makes another plan for the evening. No one has called yet, so we may be in the clear.

Thursday, January 05, 2012


La Nina's lack of interest in reading has always worried me. Mostly, because I'm such a reader. She's always been resistant to reading. We've tried everything from bribes to buying whatever books she wants to family reading time where we all read together. The money didn't interest her, the books I bought gathered dust and she kept trying to make small talk while everyone else read. I've tried fiction, non-fiction, graphics, fantasy, nothing really worked. Ok, the Fairy Dance series books worked...but I have a hard time counting those. She's obsessed with dance.

This summer I started worrying that may be she was having some trouble with reading. The schools hadn't reported anything, her test scores were good, but I just couldn't figure it out her reluctance and it seemed a plausible explanation. I tried reading aloud with her and everything seemed fine. We'd read a chapter in a book, she'd remember the chapter and understand it the next day, but still if I wasn't reading the chapter with her she just wouldn't read the next chapter on her own, no matter what.

When I brought up my concerns to the Dad, he informed me I was "a dork" as a kid and most kids didn't read as obsessively as I did. To which I informed him, most kids don't watch as much TV as he did as a kid So who was really the "dork"? I digress.

When we went to her parent/teacher/student conference this fall, I brought up my concerns to her very surprised teacher. He informed me she was in the enrichment reading group (one of the highest) and was surprised to hear about her reluctance at home. After this conversation, I dropped the whole reading topic. Why was I obsessing if she wasn't struggling? Some people don't like to read as much as others, may be she was one of them. Even though by the time I was in 4th grade I had read the entire Laura Ingalls Wilder series and goodness knows how many Nancy Drew's on my own, people are different.

Then, yesterday I caught her reading a book in her room. I was stunned. Pleasantly, stunned, but stunned none the less. She finished that 250 page book tonight and asked me to take her to the book store tomorrow to get the next in the series. Oh happy day!

I asked her why she picked up a book yesterday, and here's what she told me. It explained the whole reluctance. Remember she's still on her Christmas break from school. At school, she always finishes her work early and when she does that, she's told to read. By the time she gets home from school, she's been reading on and off all day and she's sick of reading. She said she usually takes books from home to read (news to me) and that she's read most of the books in her room. Then she handed me a pile of used books. Probably about 15 that she's read since the start of school this year. Why is the mother is always the last to know?

Needless to say, I will happily take her to the bookstore tomorrow. And God Bless the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. It's not the first book she's read, but it's the one I figured out she actually does like to read.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Sew Simple

If you asked my mom one of her great failings as my mother, she would tell you it was that I never learned to sew. She tried to teach me, but I didn't have the attention span or the interest to apply myself and learn. I remember attempting to make a skirt, sewing the panels on backwards, then chucking the whole thing into the laundry room just in time to head out to soccer practice. I knew I'd never wear that thing anyway.

However, redemption comes in many forms and my mother's redemption came in the form of the Magster. She's the interested, eager and willing student I never was. Her and my Mom have already collaborated successfully on many pillow projects. And the Magster just loves to create all sorts of things with fabric at grandma's house. Animals, pillows, pouches, name it, Maggie will create it.. as long as she's at her grandmother's house...
So, for Christmas, the Dad and I bought the girls a sewing machine of their own. To keep here. So, Maggie could sew all the time. WoW! What was I thinking. I don't know how to sew. It took me 2 mornings just to get the thing threaded, then the Magster broke a needle and it took me another couple of hours to get the needle changed. So, many hours into this gift and many "How To" videos on YouTube later we have a functional sewing machine. Yet, that doesn't mean I can sew.

As part of the gift, I got a couple of patterns, thinking the Magster and I could tackle learning to sew together. These patterns were titled "Sew Simple". It reads "one easy project" right on the packaging. Those people are liars. Simple involves 18 steps. 11 cut outs. Appliques and something that involves paper backed webbing,. I don't even know what this is. Just reading the directions required several forays on google, trying to figure out what words mean. I couldn't figure out how to cut out the pieces of the fabric without calling my Mom. UGH!

So, while my Mom relishes her moments of "I-told-you-you'd-need-sew", I'm putting together a basket for Maggie to take to her house tomorrow. If it's so darn easy to sew, maybe she can figure it these projects. And while you're at it, Mom, can you take Maggie to the fabric store for whatever that backing stuff is? I'm at a loss.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A New Form of Retaliation

One night recently, when the girls were about to get into the shower, La Nina came running into the kitchen screaming with laughter that she'd been "snotted" by her sister.

Snotted? I'd never heard of that before, so I asked for an explanation. La Nina looked at me as if I were dense and said, "Mom, she blew snot on me."

This was disturbing on so many levels. Okay, first, it's just disgusting. Second, La Nina had been about to get into the shower, so wasn't exactly dressed when the alleged incident occurred and finally, and most disturbing, the act had occurred so many times she had a verb to describe it.

As I was absorbing this information, the Magster came running into the kitchen, also screaming laughing that it wasn't her fault. La Nina had provoked her by farting on her.

Now what's a mother to do? Child #1 farts on child #2 and child #2 snots in retaliation. Again, while I was lost in thought as to how to handle this situation, the Magster pointed out that she didn't hit her sister, therefore, had done nothing wrong. She never admitted to actually snotting her sister, but then again, the Magster will deny, deny, deny, no matter how damning the evidence. Let's just say, her sister had proof that indeed a snotting had occurred.

Since there was bodily fluid involved I sent them both to the shower. La Nina really needed a shower and the Magster had most likely been farted on, so she wasn't in much better shape than her sister. Unable to address the issue with a straight face, I dropped the issue for the night. I mean really, how am I supposed to discuss this without crying from laughter?

The next morning, I asked the Magster if she ever snotted her sister. To which, she nodded her head with a gleam in her eye. A satanic gleam. A gleam that said, "oh yeah, and what are you going to do about it, old lady?" To which, I answered, "Never do that to anyone but your sister and only when she farts on you."

To La Nina I said, "Stop farting on your sister or you will get snotted."

This is what parenting has come to in my house. Snotting is fair retaliation for farting. I never thought I'd stoop to this level with daughters. Yet here I am.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


If you live any where in a 15-mile radius of where I live you have no doubt heard of the book, Tales from Swankville. It’s a fictionalized account of raising kids in the exact same city where I happen to live. Thanks to some over zealous critics of this book, the publicity surrounding the book has driven it to must-read status for every mother in Swankville.

The fact I just finished it makes me extremely behind the times. About a month ago, there wasn’t a mother in town who wasn’t reading the book, talking about the book, stressing that they were in the book. But for a lot of reasons, including Thanksgiving, the end of the soccer season and our annual Nutcracker chaos, I just finished it tonight…very unswanky of me, according to the book. Of course, I simply must comment.

A disclaimer: I know who the writer is. I don’t know her by name, but when I saw her picture in the paper I realized her daughters used to dance at the same studio mine does before she moved on to another studio. I remember her being a very committed dance mom, much more committed than I. She was always there, where for my sanity, I drop and run. Perhaps I have some bias based on seeing her around.

My overall read on the book: Are you kidding me? That’s it? Am I missing something? The book is a series of blog posts about competitive parenting and other random thoughts on people who live in this town. Is there competitive parenting in this city? Yep. Is it as bad as the writer describes? Nope. I have two kids in competitive activities. I’ve seen some sh*t, but I don’t believe it’s any worse here than anywhere else. “Here” being an upper class suburb that offers kids an amazing array of activities all of which can become extremely competitive at any given time and parents who are competitive enough to have found a way to earn enough money to buy a home in Swankville. People who live here are fundamentally competitive or they wouldn't live here. It's just a fact.

The thing is everything, every comment, every look seems to phase this woman. Comments other moms make don’t reduce me to tears. I find most overt competitiveness amusing, some annoying, some really crazy. I find some it really sad for the kids. Yet, I feel no desire to move out of state because of it. Do I come home and tell tales of dance mom’s misbehaving? Yep. Do I see parents who keep their kids in an activity that clearly makes the kid miserable? Yep. Do I see kids who compete in 2-3 activities at a time? Yep. While I really hope, I’m not one of those misbehaving moms, and believe me, if either of my kids complains about an activity, I beg them to quit. (They refuse, darn it.) I really can’t say much about overlapping activities as the Magster is pretty busy every October when soccer and basketball overlap. It would be insincere of me to claim to keep my kids to one activity at a time. But I try to keep those over laps to a minimum and if my kids need a mental health day off, they take it.

Is competitive parenting an important issue? It is, but this book is long on pointing it out and very short on offering solutions. At the end of the day, should you read this book? It’s not very well written. It doesn’t really hang together and the writer spends an awful lot of time patting herself on the back. If you’re dying to know what the scuttle is about, don’t spend the $9 on the paperback. It isn’t worth it. It’s barely worth the kindle cost. Call me, I’ll loan you my copy.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Maybe I need to pay closer attention...

I'm driving in my typical distracted mother mode. You know the mode: kid in the car, radio on, mind on the laundry, the messy kitchen, the grocery shopping list, etc. Suddenly a voice from the back seat.

"Mom, don't you think this song is inappropriate for me to listen to?"

Suddenly I tune into the radio as Katy Perry sings, "Last Friday night..." Have you heard the song? I can't remember the exact lyric, but skinning dipping after dark, warrants out for arrest, not remembering if they kissed are all part of the lyrics. Now, I'm considering the fact LaNina is now telling me about songs that she shouldn't to.

Trying to cover myself, I answered, "Oh, can you hear that? I thought the volume was pretty low." I turn the volume down farther. But of course the truth is I wasn't paying any attention to the radio.

"Mom, of course, I can hear it."

"How do you know it's inappropriate?" I ask out of curiosity, because really how bad is it when my 9 year old is pointing out things like this to me?

In her best pre-teen snear she answers, "I'm not stupid. The songs about a girl who drank too much alcohol, got kicked out of a bar and did some bad things."

Okay then. I guess she's figured out a lot more than I give her credit for. And how many times has she heard that song anyways?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where were you when you heard?

When you hear the question these days, you know exactly what they’re really asking. Where were you 10 years ago when our world changed? Where were you when the unexplainable happened? Where were you when planes rammed into buildings and the towers fell?

It’s hard for me to believe that it’s been 10 years since that horrific day. Like so many Americans, I’m still trying to understand it. I watched the terror unfold on television. I didn’t move for a good three hours once I started watching. Going to work felt moot, so I didn’t. Neither did anybody else. I just stood at the end of my bed and watched, chin open, eyes not believing what I was seeing.

I remember thinking, “Why today? It’s just a Tuesday An ordinary Tuesday. It looks like a nice, sunny Tuesday in New York. Why today?” By the way, I didn't have to look up the day of the week. I remember that. I remember thinking how quiet it was with no planes in the sky. I remember wanting to wrap myself in an American flag and cry for my country.

For my generation, 9/11 is the moment that Kennedy’s assassination was for my parents’ generation and Pearl Harbor was for my grandparents. As someone born a few years after Kennedy was shot, I never really understood why my folks talked about where they were when they heard about Kennedy until 9/11. I never understood why they always mentioned it on my Aunt’s birthday until 9/11. For me, Kennedy’s death remains the part of a movie when everyone cried and I could only look around and wonder why. 9/11 will be like that for my kids, I suppose. It’s a part of history they’ll never really understand on an emotional level.

I’m a West Coast girl. I’ve been to New York, but only on business. I’ve seen the airports, a couple hotels, a couple of meeting rooms and that’s about it. Never been to the Statue of Liberty, Central Park or the Empire State Building. I don’t know anyone who died on 9/11, but it doesn’t change the loss I felt that day and still feel watching the old clips. So sad so many innocent people died. So sad it was all so senseless. So sad the victims never knew the loss the nation felt at their passing.

I don’t know that I’ll do anything special today. My friend who is a pilot will be flying. So, I’ll say more than a few prayers for her. If I see a firefighter, I’ll probably thank him. It’s a symbolic gesture at best, but that doesn’t mean it’s not the most heartfelt thing I can do.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Top 10 Things The Dad Can Do When He Starts Driving Again

Many of you know that for the past 11 months the Dad has not been able to drive. And let me tell you, I've been keeping a mental list of all the things he can do when he starts driving again. Here's my top ten:

10. Make all late night store runs for milk.
9. Drive the dance carpool 4 times a week.
8. Park anywhere he likes without my commenting on what a horrible parking spot he selected.
7. Take the kids to school...every.single.morning.
6. Figure out where soccer practice is, then drive there. It's a moving target.
5. Fight to get the kids ready to go anywhere on time (except dance...La Nina is always ready for dance.)
4. Be the designated driver for any social event.
3. Take himself shopping for new clothes.
2. Leave the house with the kids so I can be home alone. Think about it. It's been a year.
1. Repay the year's worth of bad kids movies I've seen because "You have to drive anyways."

Let's hope this chapter in our lives is getting close to behind us. I'm very ready to have another driver in the house.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Unfavorite Visitors

Every year, for the past 10 years, the Dad has hosted a charity golf event at a local country club. This event has raised 10s of thousands of dollars for the local hospital cancer research group. This year is no different. As he has done in the past, he's hosting a golf tournament in the same venue, at the same time of the year, for the same cause. Oh, but this year is different, because the country club is involved in a labor dispute and has locked out its union. That has left our family at the mercy of the unions.

I was raised in a union household. I had health care, braces, an education all because of a union. So to be privately attacked by a union is shocking. Attacked a strong word? Here are the things that have happened in the last month.

1.) Every hour for an entire day the union called our house to "encourage" the Dad to move his golf tournament.

2.) The union printed and past out fliers with our home phone number on them encouraging their members to call us at home and pressure "the Dad" to move the golf tournament.

3.) They've shown up on our door step to pleasantly ask the dad to move the tournament.

However, we teach our kids not to bow to bullies and neither will he. It's awful that grown men and women are so willing to try to intimidate people raising money for charity with these tactics. They should be ashamed of themselves. No matter what their beef with their employer it has nothing to do with us, so why are we getting drug into it?

The kids now know: the front door is to be locked at all times. We prefer they play in the back yard until the golf tournament is over. We don't answer the phone if we don't know who it is (unless Mommy is in the mood to do a acting.) :) Let's just say, the years of unsuccessfully trying to cancel my husband's Playboy subscription came in mighty handy to stop those phone calls.

I wish my kids didn't have to learn these lessons, but at the same time, I'm very glad they learned we don't give into bullies. And if those Union thugs show up on our door steps again, I may just have to really go all out in my acting. I can act CRAZY really good.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Learning New Words

There have been some new words floating around school, and the girls have been "experimenting" with them.

Last week the word was "constipation". The girls were using it in a song, rhyme thing they were singing and when I asked them what it meant, it was clear they had no clue. So, of course, this led us into a discussion regarding it's definition. Both girls got a funny look on their face when I explained it and sort of dropped the subject. Until it was time to use the word, now everyone seems to have it. Yep, "constipation". We're constipated morning, noon and night here. Under normal conditions, this amount of constipation could require medical intervention. Luckily, the "situations" seem to be resolving themselves very quickly once they've used the word.

While we're still bantering about last week's word, a new word came home yesterday. La Nina had heard the word at school. "Hore", she was pretty sure it was short for horrible and therefore, really not a bad word at all. And I'll be darned if she didn't have a "hore" day because she was constipated.

However, she and her friend tried to look it up in the dictionary, but you know, they just couldn't find it. She was a bit confused about why she couldn't find this new word under "h", so she thought she better ask the Dad about it. He wisely advised her it wasn't a nice word or a short version of "horrible" and she shouldn't be using it. But this didn't really answer her question as to why it wasn't in the dictionary.

Next she hit me up and asked why it wasn't in the dictionary. Note: not what it meant, not if it was bad, just why she couldn't find it. So, I answered the question. I pointed out that in English there are some letters that are silent in front of "h" and that could change the spelling. Either way, "hore" was not a good word and she should never use it even if she found it in a dictionary somewhere. (Following all the parenting advice I've ever received, I only answered what I was asked and I wasn't asked for a definition...whew!)

Now, of course, I'm walking on eggshells and I'm trying to figure out how to explain "prostitute" when she finds that word in a dictionary defining whore.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Running the Child: Session 1

For those of you who have met the Magster, it will come as no surprise that she has an issue with excess energy. She's a bit like a puppy. She needs to be run. So, really, for her, sports like soccer and basketball are perfect They wear her out. But this isn't soccer or basketball season, and let me tell you, we made it one week without soccer. Between her little high pitched voice and over enthusiastic helping, it's time to make sure this child gets her "run".

So, tonight, while La Nina was at dance, I decided I would take my puppy for a hike. I actually gave her a couple of choices: running on a track, riding bikes at a park near our house, hiking up the ridge. She chose to hike up the ridge. For those not from the area, the ridge is fairly steep incline and it goes for miles. Our goal was to make it to the first gate, about an hour round trip hike.

When she jogged up the steep first part, we took the steeper of two paths up the hill. I walked at a fairly normal pace up the hill and she kept pace with no problem. About half way up the hill, I broke a sweat. She did not. About three-quarters of the way up the hill, I was huffing and puffing, she was not. When we had a choice about continuing to the top to get to the first gate or heading down the hill, she chose to keep going. She was terribly offended when anyone passed us on the trail and at one point, told me I needed to hurry to catch the people in front of us.

She made it to the first gate in about 23 minutes and her only regret was that we had to head down to go pick up her sister. I promised her we would take some time and hike to the second gate on a weekend in the near future.

The good news is she was nice and mellow when we came home and she wants to go up the ridge again. In fact, she's hoping we can do it soon. I hope I can keep up.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Life Lessons in Dance

La Nina wrapped up her 4th competitive dance season this past weekend. It's been a good year for her. Her groups have generally done very well and while the dances get harder every year, she always rises to the challenge and performs beautifully.

This year was her first year competing in a style of dance called, Lyrical. It's a cross between ballet and jazz. I think it looks like contemporary, though I'm sure many dance experts would scoff at my untrained eye. For young dancers, when you're cast in a lyrical piece, it's a sure sign you're growing up and being viewed as "a big girl" by your studio. I don't think studios see it that way, but I know at least one young dancer who does. Her group danced to the Rob Thomas song, Little Wonders, a personal favorite song of mine and a lovely piece of music with a great message.

Lyrical is a tough style of dance. The judges are demanding. Toes need to be pointed. Shoulders need to be relaxed. Movement needs to be fluid. Tough, tough, tough when you're going slow and every goof up can be spotted easily. Her trio of two 8 year olds and one 9 year old saw very little success in terms of scoring. This dance was consistently her lowest scoring piece and deservedly so on more than one occasion, which brings us to last weekend.

When the Little Wonders took the stage, they performed well for the first 1/2 of the dance, then tragedy struck...they lost music. And what do you suppose those dancers did? Well, like the professionals they are, they kept dancing, keeping time in their heads and keeping an eye on each other to ensure they stayed together. It was just an amazing thing to see these little girls carry on to the cheers of their mothers and really nothing else. I was so proud of them.

Backstage, I asked La Nina how she knew to do that. Had her teachers told her if they lost music to keep going? No, she said. She saw her friends kept going and she didn't want to let them down, so she just watched them and imagined the music in her head. What a great answer.

My biggest concern about her choosing dance over sports has been that she's missing the team experience, but last weekend changed my mind completely. I finally saw team work truly happen in the realm of dance. Her answer proved to me she had learned her lessons about team work well.
Now, wouldn't you think that this mishap and professionalism would help them out in scoring? Well, you'd be wrong. Dancers are expected to continue and not react to unfortunate happenings on stage. They did only what was expected and were scored appropriately. But somehow I think the life lesson they learned facing that challenge is worth a lot more than any scoring award. Personally, Friday's High Silver will be the performance I remember most vividly from this season.

The picture above was taken during the performance of Little Wonders. It was snapped before the a cappella portion of the dance started.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Slumber Parties

On Friday night, we wrapped up La Nina's 1 1/2 birthday celebration with a slumber party. For those unfamiliar with the event, it's when 8-10 girls sleep over at one girl's house. There's lots of squealing, screaming, running and talking. There's food and drinks and movies. And lots more talking. Most of you know what I'm talking about. But some do not. The reason I know this is the Dad really had no idea what a slumber party was until it started at our house.

Sure, he went to sleep overs as a child, but he'd never quite seen or heard anything like this. At first, he braved the party. He helped serve dinner. He poured beverages. He may have even cleared a couple of plates. Then, I lost him. He just disappeared. And I swear, I couldn't find him. I looked in the office, I looked in the bedroom, I checked the garage...nothing.

I was too busy keeping track of kids to worry about him, so I sort of forgot about him. About 10:30, I headed to the back of the house to begin the falling asleep ritual so crucial to the success of any slumber party. It's the part when I, the mother, tell the kids to be quiet and go to sleep. The kids ignore me, as expected. And the games really begin. I found the Dad huddled in the bedroom and his eyes widened when I walked into the room. I've never seen him so frightened in all my life.

"What happens now?" he asked.

"They don't go to sleep," I answered. "It the best part of the party. I tell them to be quiet, they ignore me. Then I tell them again, they ignore me. This could go on for hours."

He looked bewildered. He looked confused. He looked hopelessly male. "Why?" he asked.

"Because this is what happens at slumber parties," I answered. I swear, did this man not have a childhood.

The ritual began: I sternly warned, the kids ignored, I sternly warned, they ignored. Finally, they quieted down and I fell asleep. In the end, the party went great. All the kids agreed it was fun. And we actually got more than 6 hours sleep. La Nina's birthday is finally over, and I finally know the one thing that truly scares my husband: the dreaded slumber party.