"The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep."

~Robert Frost

Monday, March 29, 2010

Jazz hands!

Today was a brand new experience for me: my very first lesson in jazz dance, from my friend Sarah, who was sweet enough to come over and spend a couple hours trying to impart some of her skill to me. I say "trying" because there seemed to be some trouble with the reception on my end....

This spring I am rejoining Northwoods Performing Arts, Newport's community theatre, for their June performances; my dad, sister, and I were a part of Northwoods for several extremely happy years during my teens, and I'm having a blast working on a show with them again! One of the pieces in the show we're currently preparing is a fun, jazzy number called "Shine", which is popping with energy and just begging to be accompanied by a showy, Broadway style jazz dancer. My director agrees, and basically told me to come up with the choreography. And this is where my friend Sarah comes in, because she knows jazz dance, and I do not! I figured I can fake my way through it, if I can just get some instruction and help from someone who actually knows what they are doing.

For previous Northwoods shows I've faked my way through an Irish dance, a square dance -- even a saloon dance! The Irish dance was by far the most difficult to pick up, and remembering how many endless hours I put into mastering those energetic high kicks, skips, and jumps, I felt confident in my ability to tackle another new dance style. Well, let me tell you, Irish dance has got nothing on jazz dance. Nothing! (There is the fractional possibility that my evaluation of their respective difficulty levels is affected by the fact that I am wrestling with learning jazz dance a full seven years and three children after I blithely skipped my way into Irish dance bliss. But as I said, that possibility is merely fractional. So much so that we will henceforth discard it.)

Jazz dancing is hard, people. And Sarah shimmies her way through it as naturally as if she's strolling through the park. And she looks absolutely charming and adorable while she does it -- which is really impressive, and makes me want to growl at her a little bit. I tried to follow along and mostly hopped and jerked around the room as if I was swatting at imaginary buzzing insects, directing an incoming plane, and playing hopscotch, all at the same time. She was gracious enough to let me film her demonstrating a lot of the steps and movements, so that perhaps I will be able to slowly improve on my own.

However, my current status of jazz dance expertise was summed up in this little exchange with Ashley after Sarah had left and I was trying to recreate some of the moves she'd shown me.

Ashley: "What are you doing??"
Me: "I'm dancing like Sarah!"
Ashley: "No...you're not.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Anatomy According to Ashley

According to Ashley,

elbow = Elmo

bellybutton = bellybutt

forehead = poor head

And this morning she told me, "If it was raining then it would be like there was a big shower, so we could go outside and be naked as long as we had a towel on!"

Monday, March 22, 2010

Don't Step on My Foot!

I had a rough Monday. It was a discouraging and difficult day, both inside and outside myself. And it rained off and on all day so that even when the girls and I tried to go outside to play and cheer ourselves up, we were chased back in by dark clouds and cold spitting rain ten minutes later. I didn't realize how prophetic I was being when I joked just before breakfast this morning, "You know it's Monday when your two year old tells you, 'Mummy, I love you, but I really love stepping on your foot!'" *sigh* It has been very much a stepping-on-my-foot kind of day.

Today I've had physical limitations and weaknesses stepping on my foot. And some unbelievably unpleasant fussing and fighting amongst my offspring. Self-criticisms and fears and insecurities. And an orange juice spillage incident. My whole soul has been stepped on so much today that I feel bruised.

Fortunately, one of the biggest perpetrators when it comes to foot-stepping is also one of the biggest remedies for a day like this. My girls are so precious to me and so good at wringing a smile out of tears. And even when they go to bed still grumpy and difficult like they did tonight, I have pictures! Tonight I actually sat down at the computer after putting them to bed and spent half an hour browsing through pictures of their happy times, and feeling the warmth slowly creep back into my somewhat numb self. And because Hannah's pictures kept making me giggle, I decided to post a handful of them in case anyone else out there had a foot-stepping Monday like I did. May you smile, and relax, and sleep well, and have bruise free feet tomorrow!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Dreaming of Buffalo...New York, that is!

Ladies and gent (I'm sorry, I don't have plural gents following my blog, so what am I supposed to say?), as you are no doubt aware, tomorrow is a very big day. It comes only once a year, beginning a season of great joy, following months of anticipation, speculation, and -- no, no, no, it's not Christmas, you silly ladies and gent. It's the first day of March Madness, of course!!

Anyone who knows me very well at all knows that I am a huge fan of Gonzaga basketball, and more or less college basketball in general. Yes, I am aware that some people find that strange. I guess I don't give off a "rabid college basketball fan" vibe. I've heard plenty of comments along the lines of, "Do you just put up with it so you can spend time with your husband during basketball season?" And, "Lamont is really lucky you don't mind watching with him." Heh. Heh heh heh. For those people, here is a little story.... I sent my mother into hysterical laughter while we were on the phone one day when one of the girls started crying and she heard me dealing with the situation.

Bethany: "Waaaahhhhhh!!!!"
Me: "Ashley, why did you push her over?!"
Ashley: "I was just trying to walk by and she stood in front of me!"
Me: "No, I saw what you did -- that was not a block, it was an offensive foul!"

Oh yes, I did really say that. It wasn't even basketball season at the time. I'm hard at work teaching the girls to love the sport as well. Ashley must have been barely two the first time she hollered at the tv, "Come on, get the rebound!", and even younger the first time she protested, "That was a foul!" And Hannah inspired herself on the toilet during potty training by cheering, "Here we go, Bulldogs, here we go!" Lamont is on the faculty at Gonzaga, so he can get two free tickets per game (presuming he wakes up around 4 and stands in line for two hours, which he is thankfully a dedicated enough fan to do), and Ashley, Hannah, and myself all hope for the honor of being his date to the games! Both the older girls can spell Gonzaga (this is where I admit sheepishly that Gonzaga was actually the first word either of them spelled, before even their own names), and if you ask either of them what they want to be when they grow up, I'm pretty sure they'd tell you they want to be Spike, the team mascot.

This year's NCAA college basketball tournament begins tomorrow, and our household is falling asleep tonight unreasonably but unapologetically excited about it. My Zags play their first round game on Friday in Buffalo, NY. I will be with them in spirit!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Today we went adventuring. The girls woke up from their naps to a beautifully sunny afternoon, chilly, but one of those early spring afternoons that holds so much promise that you just have to go outside and be a part of it. So we bundled up and set off on a long hike.....

Ok, it wasn't that long. There's a big hill in the park area behind our house, and the girls love to climb it, so up we went. And while it may be just "a hill" to me, to the girls I think it is a giant mountain! Bethany clung to my hand and needed a lift over some parts, but she was so determined to be as big as her sisters and make it all the way up, so she did. And Hannah, upon finally and breathlessly reaching the top, flung her arms up triumphantly and crowed, "I did it!" She looked so little to me up there, even though she felt so big....
On the other side Ashley found giant boulders and embraced her inner mountain goat to clamber around on them. When silly worried me suggested she might want to wait until she was bigger to climb on the big rocks, Ashley confidently chirped, "It's ok, Mummy, I feel like I'm 4, so I won't fall down!"
You know how everything looked so much bigger when we were little than it does now? For five years when I was 7-12, my family lived on 20 gorgeous acres on a mountain above Colville, WA. I remember it as a wonderland of wilderness. There was a steep, steep sledding hill that was at least a mile long. A deep ravine lined with willows and other trees whose long branches made great launches into piles of snow in the bottom of the ravine during the winter. A rushing stream whose waters carried me and my sister downstream more than once, in a fit of shrieking giggles after an accidental tumble from the bank. It was never scary because the rushing stream ended in a big, beautiful pool above a towering rock dam. Now that I'm all grown up and can't get in trouble for the revelation, I'll even admit that there were quite a few times we "accidentally" fell in on purpose, just so we could play in that pool.

A couple years ago Lamont and I drove up that mountain so that I could show him my favorite childhood home. As we neared it I regaled him with tales of the things I used to do while wandering that vast, wondrous place. Then we rounded the final bend, and before my astonished eyes lay a version of my memory that was just so much smaller. Everything was more or less where I remembered it; the sledding hill still beckoned inviting, but it was a gentle slope of maybe a tenth of a mile. The deep ravine was more of a 3 foot ditch! The rushing stream...well...a modest creek trickled its way past the house to a shallow pool where it was held back by a a little pile of rocks. *sigh*
I prefer the versions in my memory, bigger and brighter and larger than life. It's part of what makes our childhood memories so sweet, isn't it? The wonder that is still inspired when we remember what a big, exciting world we lived in back then? I hope when my little girls have to be grown up, they remember the big, thrilling things like I do. I hope they look back on the adventure we had today, playing on what I see now as a little hill, and think that they truly scaled towering mountain peaks!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Welcome to my brand new blog! My first post is an apology...that I really have no clue what I'm doing. Just getting started tonight, and stylistically I know that I'm slightly deficient. Bear with me and I promise it will get better, if only because this blog will be graced with pictures of the most beautiful little 1, 2, and 3 year old girls in the whole world!

Before I sign off, I absolutely have to point out the amazing cleverness of my blog title. Robert Frost poem, anyone? Play on words with my last name, anyone?? Seriously, it has so much meaning I'm not sure my own brain is even wrapped all the way around it yet!

And to leave you with a smile, here is our super contagious Hannah grin on a recent afternoon enjoying our gorgeous early March sunshine. That girl just reflects the sunshine right back at us....