Saturday, June 24, 2017

First overnight at the cottage

I've mentioned before how Rich and I don't go out and buy gifts for each other for Mother's Day, Father's Day, etc.  There were homemade presents from the girls, of course, for Father's Day.  Rich's only request for the weekend was that we sleep overnight at the cottage.  On the cleaning front, it's not close to where I want it to be (thanks, OCD) so I still consider it to be a bit like camping.

There's an ice cream place at the end of our street and a bakery/take-out breakfast place around the corner.  We walked to both which blew the girls' minds.  They aren't used to walking anywhere as there really isn't much to walk to where we live.  Plus, Anna can only walk so far and we have to take that into consideration for each outing.  On Sunday morning, the girls and I were waiting outside for Rich.  I went to grab something out of the van and reminded the girls that we were walking and not driving, so don't get in the van.  Rich came out and was all like, "What? We're walking?"  Need to burn off some of those calories!

Last year, when the girls and I stayed overnight at my friend's rental in Chatham, I couldn't believe how dark it got at night.  My friend agreed.  Maybe we're used to living close to cities and with all the lights, we don't know full darkness.  Saturday night, the sky was overcast to begin with and then the fog rolled down the street from the ocean before complete darkness took over.

It wasn't exactly "beach weather" but that's okay.  There'll be plenty of time for that coming up.  It's still pretty quiet down here.

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Dance Recital Tips and Tricks

Most of what I've learned these past few years has come from other dance moms which has been so incredibly helpful.  This year's recital was the most complicated thus far in terms of organization of costumes and costume changes.  The girls are in the big kid recital now at their studio and therefore responsible for their own costume changes.  What you'll usually see are moms coming back to the dressing room to help their kids out when they have to change.  This is for kids still in elementary school.  As I mentioned before, there were clasps on the ballet, tap and jazz costumes that the girls were having trouble with.  I'm also fearful of having a costume misplaced as there are a lot of girls and a lot of costumes.  Now that the girls are older, I try to watch as much of the recital as possible and not hang around backstage when I'm not needed.  Emily's hip hop outfit was the only one without the clasp issue so she was able to get herself changed and ready for her next dance on her own.    

This year, between the three girls, there were 8 costumes and 13 costume changes (Allie 5, Emily 5, Anna 3.)

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So how did we do it?

1.  The dance studio emails the program to the parents in advance of the recital.  I printed two copies of it and highlighted which dances the girls were in.  I then wrote next to each one the accessories required and if there were any costume change-ups.  For example, their tap costume had a red bow with it so I wrote "red bow right side" next to their tap dances so we wouldn't forget.  They also had a plaid skirt and a tutu to wear with their tap costume.  I wrote down which belonged with which dance.  I had a copy of the program in my bag and the girls had a copy backstage.

2.  I stored all of their costume accessories (headbands, glove, hip hop hat and bows) in a giant ziploc bag with "Allie, Anna and Emily" written on it.

3.  I consolidated all of their costumes so we wouldn't have to drag 8 costume bags around.  For example, all 3 ballet costumes went into the same costume bag.  All three girls wear the same size costumes and are almost the same exact size for height and weight so it didn't matter who wore which costume.

4.  Now this idea came directly from another mom.  We used this tripod apparel rack to hang the costumes on backstage.  She warned me that heavy items need to be stored on the inside or the racks could snap.  This is a very inexpensive short-term solution if you have one recital a year.  In this case, we used it twice - once for the rehearsal and then the next day for the recital.  I know you can purchase suitcases with apparel racks specifically for dance but those are pricey - especially if you aren't going to be using it multiple times a year.  (That's my frugal side talking.)  The only negative to using the apparel rack was transporting the costumes and the rack.  The girls were carrying their water bottles, dance shoe bags, the food bag, the hair and make-up bag and the accessories.  I had to carry the apparel rack and all the costumes, which was a bit cumbersome.

5.  Layer tights!  The girls had tan tights for tap (Emily also wore hers for hip hop and Allie for jazz) and pink ballet tights.  When they had a ballet dance, they simply pulled their pink tights on over their tan tights.  This saved time from having to take tights off and then put them on again later.  Their very last dance was ballet and they were so hot and sweaty, Allie said it seemed easier to just take the tan tights off and I agreed.

6.  The girls wore these camisole leotards under their costumes so we didn't have to worry about where they changed costumes backstage.  (Note that no men/boys are allowed in the changing area.)  We tried on a few different brands and like Capezio the best.  Be warned that most of these, regardless of the brand, run small. Be sure to size up.  For everyday clothes, the girls wear size 7/8.  We went with a children's size large and I'm expecting that these will fit the girls for 3 years.  The straps are clear and can't be seen, and the back scoops down low.  You can also adjust the straps to different lengths and positions.

7.  Idea for next year!  This came from another dance mom.  When the girls take their costumes off in a rush, they drop them on the tables and benches.  (The backstage area is in the school cafeteria.)  I usually have time to grab the costumes and hang them back up but if I want to see the girls dance, I don't always have that time.  Solution -  use a laundry basket to keep items corralled.  I think this is perfect and will definitely be trying it out next year.


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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

To paint or not to paint

Straight up.  I am not a fan of natural wood.

Rich and I made the trip to the cottage last Monday sans kiddos (they are still in school) in order to work and clean and paint.  The contractor had informed us that the bathroom was almost complete.  Apparently, there was a leak in the incoming water pipe (surprise, surprise) and the plumber was having issues finding proper size replacement parts due to the age of the pipes.  So we had no water.  Well, we could drain water from the hot water tank but we couldn't use the bathroom or the kitchen sink.

The bathroom looked great except for some areas of the floor where the grout was thin.  Rich spoke to the contractor later that day and he blamed it on the floor.  He wasn't a fan of the tile I picked out but I know enough about grout and tiling to know that it was simply a grout issue.  They left the container of grout at the cottage so I'll take care of that this week to give it a few days to dry without little feet walking on it.  It should hopefully be less than an hour's worth of work.  When I was there the week before, the grout was wet and we were walking all over it.  I think too much was displaced and wiped up with a wet sponge.  In any other situation, I would have fought with the contractor over having someone fix it but I just want these people out of my house.  Otherwise, I think they did a great job.  I gave them free range with some things and I know they had wonky walls and other crap to deal with, but it looks really good.  Emily told me it looks like a bathroom that should be on HGTV.  (Ha ha - I love these kids.)

The contractor called us after the bathroom door was put back on and told us how it all looked good but that we may want to reconsider the bathroom door.  He said he could have someone sand and paint it.  We told him we would take care of it later.  While I would love to have someone sand and paint the whole place, I don't want workers in there any longer and it costs $$.  Painting is something I can do.  Free labor.

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We've got bigger fish to fry right now but each day I'm leaning more and more towards painting all of that natural wood.  One bedroom is floor to ceiling wood paneling and I think the room would look so much brighter painted white.  The other two bedrooms are half wood panel/half wall.  The walls are not drywall - it's some sort of wood, almost like particle board.  The home inspector told us it was commonly used in the '50s to build cottages.  That wood is dark and darkens rooms.  Rich and I started priming the walls in the two bedrooms with those walls.  With school getting out this week, I think painting the bedrooms is going to have to wait until September.  We're going to be sleeping there now and no one wants a paint-smelling room.  Unless we paint on the days we are heading back here.  I don't know . . .  

The plumbing was resolved later in the week and we did sleep there Saturday night.  The girls need to get used to it as their second home.  More photos later!  

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Big Dance Recital Post

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Last Sunday, the girls danced in their sixth recital.  Admittedly, when I registered them for a preschool dance class, I did so with a slightly selfish intent.  I'd always wanted to dance but hadn't had the opportunity.  They did enjoy dancing though and my hope was that at least one of them would stick to it.  Dance and gymnastics in this area are very popular with the younger set - preschoolers, kindergartners.  We've watched the class sizes shrink and shift as more kids have jumped ship for sports or other activities.

Our dance studio has two recitals - one for the younger kids and one for the older kids.  There's a full dress rehearsal on Saturday and the recital is on Sunday.  You basically dedicate almost your entire weekend to it, but that dress rehearsal is so very helpful.  This year, we had multiple costume changes and the rehearsal let me see what worked and what didn't.  The recital is broken down into two acts and each class performs one dance per act.  So, for each class, you have two different dances.  All three girls were in the same ballet and tap classes this year.  In addition, Allie took jazz and Emily was in hip hop.

Act I was calm until halfway through when Allie had about six minutes in which to change from jazz to ballet.  That wasn't really too bad.   After ballet, all three girls had three minutes to change into their tap costumes.  That was crazy.  Their tap, ballet and jazz costumes had clasps around the neck which they couldn't seem to master by themselves.  Their friends were having trouble too.  Speaking of friends, it was so awesome having their friends help out, tying tap shoes and handing them costumes.  There was only one hectic moment during Act II when we had two songs between tap and ballet.  I think that was the moment I decided my outfit choice wasn't such a practical one as I ran from the auditorium to the backstage area.  The recital takes place in one of the local schools and as with most schools around here, there really isn't much in the way of air conditioning.  It was in the high 80s on Saturday, and Sunday was the first day of a heat wave with temperatures over 90.  It was hot.  At one point, Anna said, "I'm so hot and I haven't even danced yet."

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Photos and videos of the recital are not permitted, but we are allowed free range during dress rehearsal.  I actually prefer this because you can relax and be in the moment during the recital and not have to worry about capturing it.  You also don't have to worry about the person in front of you blocking your view with an iPad.

I think in the past I've thought they didn't have all the stage lights on during rehearsal.  This year, I realized the lights are just not that good.  There's a row of bright fluorescent lights at the back of the stage while the front has traditional stage lighting.  This leads to the back of the stage being too bright.  The front of the stage is lit just right but the middle is all shadowy.

These are all photos from the rehearsal.  Yes, I know there aren't as many of Anna as there are of Emily and Allie.  Emily and Allie were each in a third class, which means I had more opportunities to photograph them.  Also, Anna told me I was only allowed to take four photos of her.  Ah, yeah, sure.  I was right up against the stage so she could easily see me and I didn't want to stress her out.  Rich was there too and he took video - she couldn't escape that!

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Emily, hip hop

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Allie, jazz

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Left to right, Anna - Emily - Allie, ballet

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Left to right, Anna - Emily, tap

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Allie, jazz

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Emily in the lead, tap

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Left to right, Allie - Emily

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Front to back (or right to left), Anna - Allie - Emily, ballet

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Same as above

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Allie

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Emily, Allie and Anna are in the back row

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Emily

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Left to right, Allie - Anna - Emily

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I had wanted to take portraits on recital day before we left the house and I usually take some backstage shots, etc.  Well, this was the only portrait I took and I was too busy running back and forth from the auditorium to the backstage area for much of anything else.  Oh, well.

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 I've learned so much the past few years in terms of organizing and how to quickly change costumes.  I had intended to include that all here but I'm so late in posting this, I'll have to share it later.

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