Saturday, June 4, 2011

Whereby My Week is Predictably Anchored by Weekends on Both Ends

The weekend is upon us.  And I haven't even recovered from last weekend, yet!

Last weekend was a Big Weekend for two of my kids, Camille and Joel.  Camille is a dancer.  She really is. From a very young age, all she wanted to do was dance or watch other people dancing.  She was especially drawn to ballet - and even at the age of 2 and 3, would sit and watch an entire ballet spellbound.  The same went for opera.  She's only been to one live opera, but has seen several on television and she is always sucked in, quite literally, to that world.  Even if it is in Italian and she hasn't a clue as to what is being said, she knows what is going on.  "That's the bad guy! There's the princess!"  And always....jumping up in between the action to expressively dance the story, or what she thinks is the story.  And can I just add that she'll dance with anybody?  At one time her most willing partner was Jasper.  Not so much the case anymore.

When Camille was three, she started dance lessons in our little town with Miss Erin, who looks, walks, and talks like a dancer, so Camille worshipped her.  She loved it immediately, as expected.  She was one of the more social little girls in the she often didn't know what steps she was supposed to be learning...but when the music came on she danced anyway, and she wasn't bothered at all by the fact that she was often doing completely different steps from the other girls.  It was all rather adorable.

Camille also read about ballet through picture books and some little chapter books that Jeff read to her every night, and when she was 7 she asked me when she would get on pointe.  I explained to her that Erin's students didn't dance on their toes and she sort of freaked.  "But it's my life long dream!" she said.  Now let me just explain something to you about Camille at the age of 7.  SILLY GIRL.  Goofy, giggly, funny, and silly girl.  And here she was crying about her life's dream possibly slipping through her fingers.  "If I don't start training soon, it's all over!" she cried.  I was like, what???  But I did a little research and it turned out she was totally right.

Well, it would have been quite easy for me to blow this off....really really easy to talk about how unlikely it was that she would become a professional ballet dancer and the futility of it all....but I'm a sucker for life long dreams.  And we didn't blow off Ellie when she said she wanted to be a concert pianist, and guess what? She's well on her way to becoming a concert pianist. So even though Camille's personality and nature were the opposite of Ellie's in every way, I still thought she deserved a chance at a real classical ballet education, although I absolutely expected it to be short-lived.  I figured that as soon as Camille was told to be quiet, or forced to do something uncomfortable or difficult, we would be right back with Miss Erin.  But at least this way, there would be no regrets over what might have been in regards to a life long dream.

San Antonio has a professional ballet company, and Camille now takes with its academy.  It has been almost two years since she started there, and there is no indication that she's losing any of her initial enthusiasm. There are rules against silliness, talking, and even yawning, if you can believe it.  The classes are long, repetitious, and consist mostly of strength-building and technique-perfecting drills.  There is no booty-shaking behind the teacher's back (one of Camille's former favorite tricks).  She loves it. After the first class, Camille had come out with her little legs shaking.  She was sore the next day.  And even sorer the next.  But when it was time to go back the following week, she packed her little dance bag and got in the car.  And she's been doing it ever since. 

I'll never forget the evening I picked her up to find her standing quietly in the lobby, looking quite stunned.  I thought maybe she'd gotten in trouble, or someone had been mean to her....something had obviously happened.  "What's wrong?" I asked.  "I've been promoted," she whispered, clearly not believing it.  So now she dances with Big Girls Who Have Bras And Everything.  And she goes more than once a week, which is a sacrifice for me in the driving department, but one I'm happy to make.  Camille, after all, is doing the hard work to justify it.
So: Back to the previous busy weekend.  Camille's ballet academy holds a year-end demonstration.  No sparkly costumes or any of that.  It is simply a demonstration of skills learned before they begin summer lessons.  Camille takes two classes at the academy, jazz and ballet (she's adding lyrical next week).

Her jazz demonstration was on Friday.  Here she is with her teacher, and yes, you do have to be gorgeous to teach dance at this particular academy.  Or at least that seems to be the case, anyway.

The next morning found me dropping Joel off at the crack of dawn for his black belt test.  He's been working toward this goal for years.  He had to write an essay about his journey to get to this point in Tae Kwon Do, and it was beautiful.  I don't think I realized how much it meant to him until I read it.  Of course, it was Pure Joel so there was plenty of goofy business in it, as well.  In fact, when he handed it in to his teacher he made her promise she wouldn't read it unless she was playing Journey's Don't Stop Believing in the background. 

Joel was a pre-pubescent kid when he started....a little on the cuddly/fluffy/not-quite-chubby side....and now....well, he runs at least a mile each day and he's big and tall and has a super low voice and here he is putting on his brand new black belt after a grueling day of testing that included running a mile on what ended up being the hottest day of May (98 degrees or so....).

He didn't want me to stay for the test (what is it with my kids and the Please Go Away Now thing?) but when I came back for the presentation ceremony I got to see him do this:

At this point he was so tired he could hardly stand up straight, but he did break that dang board with his head.  He also fought 3 black belts at once (I missed that but I'm told his strategy was to run like hell and that it worked brilliantly for a while).

Here he is with the other candidates.  The gorgeous blond in the middle who looks like one of Charlie's Angels is his teacher - she's the mother of 7 and a grandmother several times over.  It really raises the bar for the rest of us who were just kind of looking forward to granny rockers on the porch.
My dad had a busy weekend, as well, seeing as how he is a glutton for punishment and likes us to drag him around everywhere.  Here he is posing with Joel....he was trying to show off his hands as weapons but I think his steely gaze was more effective.  Jeff snuck in the back with a Kung Fu Panda Face.
No rest for the weary, we threw everyone in the car and headed back to the ballet studio (an hour away) for Camille's ballet demonstration.  It would have been entirely too convenient for her jazz and ballet demonstrations to have been on the same day.  So here she is with Miss Sally...who comes with the added bonus of speaking with a lovely British accent.

We ended the weekend by going to see The Hangover II which was predictably funny....but so predictably funny that this time it wasn't quite as funny.  But it still had this guy in it, which made the whole thing Worthwhile.

Technically, he's Bradley Cooper.  But he's also known as The Cute Guy From The Hangover.  Jeff didn't know there was a cute guy in The Hangover.  "Which one is the cute one?" he asked, thereby proving once again that he's not gay.  If you google Cute Guy From The Hangover, Bradley's face pops up.  There isn't any first runner-up or anything like that.  There are several guys in The Hangover, and one of them is cute. That's all.  And he's very cute.  I appreciate the heck out of his cuteness.  What I don't appreciate?  Is the fact that multiple morons brought their kids to see this movie.  What is wrong with people?  I just don't get it. 

Memorial Day found us grilling and gardening and doing yard work and entertaining and taking Joel to and from work life guarding at the city's pool.  And by us, I mean Jeff.  I mostly recovered from the previous two days by reading non-stop. 

Now THIS weekend has already gotten off to a busy start.  Last night Ellie was supposed to meet her boyfriend at a wedding, only her car was having problems so we drove her into the city and dropped her off at the wedding.  As in, WE ALL DROVE HER.  All of us, plus Joel's girlfriend (pink-haired little doll in the back seat). Ellie loves it when we take her places.  You can tell by how happy she looks sitting there next to Jasper.  Camille also seems to be trying to get as far away from him as possible.
After dumping Ellie we headed to the movies where we split up.  I took the two littlest kids to see Kung Fu Panda (not The Hangover) and Jeff took the older 3 to see the latest X Men movie.

Today finds Ellie packing while her boyfriend and his dad (a mechanic and boy has this come in handy considering Ellie's unfortunate luck with automobiles) work on her car.  In an hour or so we'll take her a few hours away to leave her for a week....she's one of 25 kids accepted from around the world to attend an International Piano Festival.  We'll also be getting Joel to and from work and doing the other usual things that will hopefully include my curling up with a book or two or three.

So there are lots of things weighing on my mind right now.  I'd like to blog about them. But since this blog is mostly my own journal, I find it necessary to occasionally record the day by day happenings of our lives. The things you might not find very interesting, but mean the world to me, nonetheless.  I know that years from now, these will be the posts that will bring me the most joy to read.  Opinions come and go, as do thoughts about this or that....and nobody misses them once they've been expressed and put away....but the small moments and events of my family's lives just run through my fingers like water....and this blog is my small attempt at catching some of them before they evaporate into hazy memories.


  1. While I can't speak for everyone, I know that I find your day to day happenings some of your best posts. You have an interesting life, you have a beautiful writing style no matter what you are writing about, and I love your perspective on things.

    IMO, knowing you through your more personal post gives more meaning to the other posts you do.


  2. I was just about to say pretty much what Cari said. Love to read your day to day happenings. Way more intersting than..good blogging about cleaning? YUP.. your day by day is way entertaining for the rest of us.:)

  3. I just breathed in this post, this personal, so-very-much-yours post. I felt like I was sitting with an old friend (that being you) over tea (or alternate beverage), catching up on your life. Like, I'd asked, So, how are the kids? and you started speaking, and all I had to do was nod and smile, and feel so happy for them, and you, and be so proud for you, and pleased as peaches to be connected to your life in some way.

    That's how this made me feel. And stunned, too, at how full your kids lives are, and so very THEIRS. Yeah, it's inspiring.

    And I love, just love, the photo of everyone taking Ellie to the wedding. Just perfect!

  4. Hi there, I saw your post over on Ami.Mental about trouble with posting comments. I have the same problem and am forced to post anonymously. I normally use IE, but have switched to Safari where everything is as normal. My guess is that it is some kind of IE problem, but then I also found another blog listed as my blog that is not mine. Go figure.

  5. Thanks for the gushing - I appreciate gushing like nobody else (except for maybe Mark). Nicole - I love to read about your cleaning but thus far, it hasn't inspired me. I'm intimidated I think. And Linda...thanks for the advice. I have no idea what you said, though. It's a problem and one that endlessly frustrates everyone who tries to help me with anything that plugs into a wall or uses a battery. Sorry - I honestly don't see this getting any better as I age....but I seriously appreciate the effort you made to help me. Yay! I also apparently have a non-functioning e-mail link on my profile - people have tried to explain this to me...and I kind of pay attention initially but yeah...then I stop. Now on Ami's I was able to comment but then on another friend's I tried the same trick and it didn't work. I know you're trying to teach me a new trick but you know what they say about old dogs...

  6. "Jeff didn't know there was a cute guy in The Hangover. "Which one is the cute one?" he asked, thereby proving once again that he's not gay."

    Haha, thanks for the chuckle, as always.

  7. LOVE the first photo.

    I think this post was lovely, too. 'Cause my blog is primarily a journal as well, and I'm really glad I've kept writing.

    I already look back and smile.

  8. Thanks Ami! Yes - I LOVE that photo of Jasper in the sparkly girly costume. He used to love to dress up with Camille in whatever she chose - now it has to be Ninjas or something like that. No more tutus for Jasper.

  9. Another big girl post. I'm so proud of you. I was actually going to start off this comment by writing, "Bitch, you totally stole that last paragraph out of my head!" But, I didn't think I should. I got manners, you know!
    I agree wth all the lovely ladies above me. I enjoy the daily boringness of it all. Maybe we all do because we are all going through the same thing. Plus, I love hearing about your kids. And they are all doing so well. You must crack the whip around there. You and Jeff must run a tight ship. What is your secret to perfect parenting?
    Great post! I enjoyed it and I want to see more. It was totally worth the money. m.

  10. First, I'm no longer quite so worried about posting something that will embarrass my kids on my blog!

    Second, you morphed into a Zen master in that last paragraph. Thanks for the memories. They are all beautiful.