Thursday, February 28, 2013

San Francisco Part III: He Dances

He Dances

Friday afternoon and evening was the contemporary category.  Isaac had never presented a contemporary dance and I had no idea what to expect.  Even after he danced, I had no idea.  Over the years, I have come to understand classical somewhat, but with contemporary, I couldn't tell just what was good and what was bad.  Were they supposed to do that?  Was that an accident that turned out nicely?  I couldn't tell.  Isaac's dance was weird.  He was beautiful, he filled up the stage and expressed great emotion, but I had no idea what to think of it.  Once again, I had to trust Sergiu's taste and experience (he chose the music and choreographed the piece).

After he was done, he didn't want to sit around and watch the other dancers--he felt it would make him nervous.  So we left.

We went to the hotel so he could shower, remove his make-up, and eat dinner.  We all felt a little giddy and needed to move so we went to get ice cream. I had remembered a cute frozen yogurt place near where we had eaten the day before and thought that sounded good.  Upon entering, we discovered it was a self-serve type of place with eight or ten varieties of frozen yogurt (pomegranate, cake batter, raspberry) plus every topping option you could imagine (Reese's, Captain Crunch, animal cookies, every kind of fruit, jelly beans, hot fudge).  Here's where it got complicated; you could mix and match as much as your heart desired.

She got half red velvet cake and half chocolate with a random sampling of toppings.  She was delighted with the freedom to choose.  At least it was a decent size.  
The boy?

He got a freaking bucket of dessert. Pomegranate with strawberries and Captain Crunch.  
I got vanilla with cookie dough and chopped peanut butter cups.  Tried and true--no risks with my dessert! Delicious.

Just around the corner was the Apple store.  San Francisco was an Apple town.  I don't think I saw anyone with a smart phone, tablet or laptop that wasn't Apple.  Isaac was like a kid in a candy store.  He wanted to touch every screen, listen to every device and stroke every case.

Someday, son, someday you can buy yourself something with this symbol. 

Until then, you are getting the sale thing from the local Shopko.

Coming up tomorrow, an early morning and classical.  The vacation is over.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

San Francisco Part II: Prep Time

Friday morning.
Competition day one.  

Hotel breakfast, long, hot shower and off to see some beauty.

We started out at the Conservatory of Flowers.  The day was incredibly beautiful with temperatures in the low 60's and a bright sun in the blue, blue sky.  California's Spring is so far ahead of North Idaho's.  Flowers were blooming there in February that don't bloom until at least May and more often June.

My sweet girl had her Christmas 3DS with her to use as a camera.  I didn't even know that it could do that!  She took hundreds (I think) of photos as we strolled along.

This was one of the best parts of the trip.  We didn't have the stress of the competition yet, we weren't tired and it felt like a vacation. These two had fun together and were good companions for me.

This is what I look like right now.  I tried and tired to get a photo of all three of us using the timer on the camera, but I can't really run right now.  We The kids had a great time laughing at me trying.  Now that I sit here days later, I wonder why the heck I didn't make the fit and active boy do the running?  Oh, geez.

After we finished wandering outside, it was time to go into the greenhouse.  It was perfect!  The air was thick and felt so good, since all of us were fighting head colds.  It was a completely beautiful tropic scene that was peaceful and quiet.  Just what the doctor ordered.

Yes, she is nine.  When I said, "Smile," she made this face.  
I adore her.

There we go.  One of all three of us.  
Isaac smile is a little posed and I've my late-pregnancy extra, but it does show all of us together!
Some more pretty.

We still had time and it wasn't far so we decided to see the Japanese Gardens next.  On the way, my girl spotted a Whomping Willow.  
(It isn't a willow and it wasn't whomping, but it did have a crazy cool trunk.)

Right off the path was a thicket of bamboo shoots.  The kids noticed some little game trails that wandered in and around so we went in to explore.  It was quickly discovered that there was nothing to see so I turned and headed out.  The girl went a ways further then came out herself.  I happened to be on the path already and got to witness the next event.  

There was a man strolling along, enjoying the lovely Spring day when something large jumped out of the bamboo.  He jumped and, clasping his chest, squealed a terrified squeal.  I couldn't help myself.  I burst out laughing as I mockingly warned, "Watch out!  Kid!"  He was scared out of his wits and I enjoyed it entirely.  It wasn't until hours later that I thought maybe it was a mean reaction and I should have been more concerned about his petrified heart.

It is probably wicked to say that it made my day.

I love the serene green layers of a Japanese garden and this was no exception.  It was lovingly crafted and cultivated.

Playing on the super steep steps.

And the super steep bridge.

No trip to anywhere would be complete without at least one ballet pose!

Now that we were relaxed and rejuvenated, we were off to dance.  
Bring on the stress.

San Francisco Part I: Getting There

One of our goals in going in to this globe-trotting world of ballet with our son, is to make sure that we include our daughters in the adventures.  I was supposed to bring our third child with me to Denver last year, but an extra plane ticket was just out of range.  We made a real effort this year to make it possible to bring her to San Francisco; it was her turn to fly, after all.

Being nine years old and having never flown in an airplane, it was terribly exciting.  I've always like flying, but being with a child who has never flown made it an even better experience.  Everything from the window shade to the traditional bag of peanuts was exhilarating.

I had my camera, but had left it in our meter-parked car some distance away.  I don't have pictures of the rest of this first day so I will describe it.

We arrived in the city at about 10:30 and our son wasn't to get in until 3:30.  We took advantage of the time.  We found a darling conglomeration of shops and restaurants not far from our hotel and decided on a Mediterranean restaurant.  I got some kind of pasta with goat cheese (if the menu says the item has goat cheese, I'm probably going to order that) and my sweet girl got lamb kabobs.  It was a little bit of a fancy restaurant, what with the leather seats and cloth napkins, though the lunch-time menu made it completely affordable.  We could see the chef in the kitchen and he was a flamboyant cook--large gestures, flames in the pan, a little dance with the music required it.  All of it was fun.

After lunch, we went to a bakery for dessert.  The moment we walked in, I knew we had discovered something special.  It was just like the bakery you would see in a picture book.  It had a large U-shaped glass case counter filled with every kind of doughnut, pastry, danish, cupcake and cookie.  Behind the case stood racks of fresh loaves of bread of every kind, rolls with cross-cuts, and freshly decorated cakes. 

I told my daughter she could choose anything.  Right next to the entrance was a small raspberry mousse.  It was SO fancy.  The actual mousse was pink, then it was covered in a beautiful pink glaze that dripped purposefully down the sides.  Centered on the top was an artistically arranged pile of carefully cut kiwi, raspberry and strawberry surrounded by a delicate chocolate swirl.  My, oh, my was she in heaven.  Here we were, on a gorgeous sunny day sitting at a sweet bistro table on the sidewalk of a darling street with a dream dessert and I didn't have my camera!  Well, my mind's eye will never forget it.

After our lunch, we went to the grocery store to pick up food for the rest of the weekend.  Eating out the whole time is not only expensive, but so unhealthy.  With the boy dancing, I wanted to make sure he was filling his body with helpful foods.  I'm proud to say we didn't have one hamburger!  We checked into the hotel then went to pick up the boy.

As soon as we met in the airport he said, "You'll never guess who was on my flight!  John McCain!"  I was proud of him for recognizing a politician and thought it was funny that that was his first celebrity sighting.

The rest of the day was spent settling in to our hotel, running a few random errands, preparing and eating dinner and watching hotel TV.  It was a good first day and we were all set for the events to come . . . about which I will tell you in the next post as this is running long.

Ooooh, suspense.  Well, now you feel just a tiny bit of my emotions for the weekend!  More coming soon.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Competition Time!

Tomorrow, tomorrow, we leave for San Francisco tomorrow!!

Isaac's competition was in Denver last year, but his coaches thought San Francisco was a better fit for him.  He is bringing four solos including his first contemporary piece which I have not yet seen.  (He shows me his dances while he is home for breaks.  He's usually in jeans and is dancing on the grass so I don't get the full picture, but I can at least get an idea.)  While we are in San Francisco, he is auditioning for the Bolshoi Ballet Academy which is Russia's premier ballet school.  The competition is very stiff so we shall see.  I will keep you all posted.

Since it can't always be about Isaac, I get to bring along our nine year old, too.  It will be her first flight and she is bursting at the seams with excitement.  I mean, she loves her brother and all, but really it is about the airplane.  The three of us will get to do some touring together.  We've established the tradition of visiting a local botanical garden the morning of the competition.  It gets us out of the hotel room which is prone to stewing and nervousness, it isn't physically taxing, it is warm and it is a calming atmosphere.  On the first day of competition, we will visit here:

San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers.
Cool building, huh?  On another day, we will visit the Japanese Tea Gardens.  These gardens are something like 130 years old and seem amazing.

We hope to some of the traditional tourist things like visiting the piers and watching the sea lions, going to Alcatraz and driving some of the famous SF streets.  There will be times when Ike will be in rehearsal and can't come with us.  During one of those times, we will go to the Legion of Honor Fine Art Museum.  My very artistic girl is looking forward to that almost as much as the airplane ride.

I am 8 months pregnant and at the advice of a flight attendant friend, got a note from my doctor.  It should be interesting to fly with my huge belly full of water!  I also have a head cold which I am praying will suddenly disappear before tomorrow morning.

Today is cleaning and packing day.  My dearest sister is having the other three children over to play for a couple of days so everyone has something SUPER great to anticipate.  (Mollie is that cool aunt who plays video games, makes fun foods and tells mildly inappropriate jokes.  She is also mother to many beloved cousins.)  I need to buy food that my husband can throw together quickly after work or that our oldest daughter can prepare on her own.  Work, work, work so we can play, play, play!

Watch for regular updates!


PS  If you should feel so inclined, please keep our boy in your prayers.  It is a ton of pressure for a young boy.  This weekend could potentially decide his life's career path.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Valentine's Day with No Pictures

Someone erased all of the pictures on my camera.  That isn't as terrible as it may sound to some of you because I am pretty good about downloading pictures regularly so I probably only lost twenty or so--and none were birthday or other major event photos.  The only big problem with that is that I have no pictures to illustrate my blog stories.  This makes me not want to write at all, but I shall.

We had a wonderful Valentine's couple of days.  We stretched it into two for various reasons.  I share my bed with such a good man.  As I get older and more and more of my friends separate, divorce or just complain about their husbands, I appreciate him more and more.  It is like a mathematical equation.  My belly is burgeoning right now with this beloved new son, but my husband is sincere and kind in his compliments to me.  I had a friend recently tell how her husband is not physically attracted to her while she is pregnant and how that is painful for her.  No kidding.  I know how hard I am on myself right now and if my husband was even a tad bit cruel about my size or new dark spots on my face or goofy way I have to walk/bend/sit/stand, it might be more than I could bear.

Back to Valentine's Day.  Justin and I celebrated on Wednesday by going to a great movie (Lincoln--love movies that make me think and send me home to do research on questions it made me ask) and dinner (prime rib covered in onions and mushrooms--oh my).  Mom watched our girls and they had a fun day with her.  She bought a juicer and so kept them busy making potions. They also crafted and played in the hot tub.  Grandma's house is so fun!  Just as we were leaving, my dad came home with two bouquets of flowers for my mom.  Since I was standing there, he gave one of them to me.  :)

Thursday, the actual Valentine's Day, was spent at home.  We wanted to have a fancy luncheon, but wanted to invite someone.  Most of the kids are in school and we don't have room for whole families to come dine, so we invited Joette.  She is always great company.  We had all kinds of fancy foods from croissant chicken salad sandwiches to strawberry floats.  The girls had a great time decorating the house and themselves in all shades of pink, red and white.

Today is gloriously sunny and bright.  It is still cold outside, but the girls and the dog are happier than they have been in months.  Sun in February is like a straight injection of joy!  I had better go take pictures.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Chugging Along

I am on the downward slope of my pregnancy and that means that I am having a more difficult time sleeping regularly.  I'll go to bed exhausted at 9 only to wake up at 1--and we're talking fully awake, not just awake enough to use the restroom, which, of course, I do anyway.  I'll fall back asleep some two or so hours later and sleep restlessly until 6 at which time, my body gives in and I sleep soundly until about 7:30 or 8.  It is kind of annoying, but also okay because my little human seems to be most lively during those middle-of-the-night awakenings.  It is our own secret time, he sends me messages about how he is alive and I send him messages about how glad I am that he is coming, how grateful I am that he is in there and how much I already love him.

After we, mother and son, communicate for a while and he has settled sleepily back into his warm home, my thoughts turn to our house.

Our architect, John, is busily doing his thing.  He is now working on the structural engineering part--making sure the building won't fall even if we get record (heavy) snows or a quick spring thaw (flood).  We have the bones securely in place and barring any sudden realization of something major missing, the basic plans are done.  John has a lot of technical things to do, but my job for the next while will be figuring out how to make our plans jive with our budget.  I've already had to make many concessions, some of which were difficult dreams to let go (sloped, fantasy roof line, for instance).  This time I will be making concessions that aren't necessarily long-term.  Some of the floors won't be the surface I most want (brick), but may be linoleum until we can (want to) afford the upgrade.  There is a stand alone tub in the plans for the master bath so I've scoured Craig's List for old tubs that are suitable candidates for refurbishment.  Some things I want done the cheaper way because I have a custom building idea that I'll have to do because I don't want to pay someone else to do it (library shelving).

So I lay in bed and dream about two ovens, windows that aren't foggy from condensation, two shower heads so one person doesn't have to stand in the cold while the other rinses off, and a kitchen with plenty of functional outlets.

And then I try to figure out when that money tree is going to start growing.

Friday, February 1, 2013

I Give You to His Heart

Most of you know that our oldest child is a ballet dancer and has had to live away from us for nearly two years, now.  He first left to live with a host family when he was only twelve.  It has been one of the most difficult things I've ever had to face--not having my son in my home.  As time has passed, it has gradually become easier, but never easy.  This week I have found my emotions closer to the surface than usual.  I really miss him.

Today I heard a song that I'm not sure if I've ever heard before.  It is by Alison Krauss and is called I Give You to His Heart.  I have sometimes felt like Jochabed and Hannah, loving mothers who gave up having their child in their arms for a higher plan.  I doubt Isaac will save any great nation and he will probably not become the Lord's prophet, but I know God has a plan for him that is greater than anything I could plan.

Some of the lyrics:

The wind is blowing down the quiet river,

a shining road that carries you alone.

Baby boy my love will last forever.
If you're to live, I must give you up to God.

I know our God will guide, protect and keep you.
Teach you faith and hold you by the heart.
Though your mother's heart is broken by your leaving,
her Father knows just who he is and who you are.

That is the challenge of this life, isn't it?  To give up our own will and to give it to God.  No matter how many tears are shed and how badly we think we want to do it our way, our Father knows who He is and He knows who we are.

So, I give my boy to God's heart.  Not because it is easy, not because it is what I want, but because it is right.  (Interesting that we gave him the name of Isaac.)

I am thankful that I still have my house full of girls and that the Lord has not required them of me--at least not yet.