Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A time to Dance

que Tchaikovsky, it is Nutcracker Season!

The girls have been dancing since October to prepare for Nutcracker. Our studio, The Virginia Regional Ballet, has offered a Nutcracker Performance every Christmas Season for over 30 years. I love that that my girls have the opportunity to be part of this tradition and that our studio tries so hard to allow them to be little girls at the same time. We have been rehearsing since October but only one day a week for about two hours (and they aren't rehearsing for the entire 2 hours. While a commitment to me this does not seem like an excessive amount of rehearsal for a professional show.) This has allowed my younger daughter Bitsy (currently 8 years old) time to dance and time to watch the older girls. Last Sunday at rehearsal she was sitting with the girls on pointe and trying on their shoes. They are very sweet and just let her be their little mascot. Bitsy will dance in the role of a Little Ginger this year. She was a Ginger last year too. This is her second year performing in the Nutcracker.

Bitsy and the Little Gingers

Last Friday night the Little Gingers danced in a preview performance at the New Town Art Gallery.

MLyons (now 9 yrs old) danced as a Little Ginger for the last two years. This year she is in the party scene as a "Little Party Boy."

M in the blue hat at tech rehearsal

She is supposed to be a trouble maker but she is much too polite. I found myself laughing at that this evening at Tech Rehearsal. Her "party parents" as they are called keep encouraging her to pretend to be naughty but she really doesn't know how. Tomorrow MLyons and the cast from the first act will perform a matinee to be attend by local school children. We have a school show on Thursday and Friday morning as well and then two shows Saturday and a matinee on Sunday. The Little Gingers won't be in the school shows so they get a little break until Saturday. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

October 4th, Thalia earned her BH

(because I have at least one blog land friend who likes to see my dog on occasion)

Thalia and I trained on our own all summer, in and around the kids and their "stuff" and had about 4 weeks to get our act together for our dog trial. Crazy. And we were almost ready... and then Friday October 3rd was not a good day and ended in a rare tiff with my husband that left me in a sour mood for several days. The dog couldn't figure out what was wrong but she didn't want to be anywhere near me, hard when she is supposed to be glued to my side staring at my face. So... our entry into the world of Schutzhund Trials was not spectacular, but we passed.

Oh and the paper work. I mailed off paperwork in May knowing that I would be gone all summer. It wasn't received. So in September applications were being emailed back and forth to Germany somewhat madly and I still owe our Trail Secretary a Drink and probably 1/2 of my club for helping me pull all that together... but it got done in time and again... we passed.


And Jose despite being in the trail himself provided some photos. And maybe his daughter helped? I don't remember.

walking the routine

It was a warm day, but not too hot. Thalia's tongue hung out like that the whole time. I actually had people ask me if she felt okay, but I really think she was stressed because of me.

this is us training 2 or 3 weeks prior to the trial. She is nice and tight to my leg and looking up so pretty and paying attention. The difference is slight but you can see she is more "into" it than when we were trialing. What I don't have pictures of in the trial is when she started to lag behind me, the club didn't post those :) 

sitting lopsided

You heel 10 to 15 paces and tell the dog to sit and walk away, Thalia sat a little crooked but it was good enough to pass. For our IPO 1 she'll need to straighten up though.

an album with pictures of all the dogs in the trail can be seen here https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.882299648446910.1073741907.121641831179366&type=3 if you are interested

This bit I am proud of. Thalia is naturally defensive. She doesn't like to be approached, she'd rather you stopped a foot away and let her come to you. For her to sit and have people she doesn't know walk around her, and to down and let people walk around her was an accomplishment. We worked hard on that.

lots of feet very close to us, and more walking around
she did great!

In all it was a good experience. One of the dogs was trialing for her IPO 1and another for his IPO2 watching them was also good experience. I had naively thought Thalia and I would be ready for IPO1 in the spring but I think we will work a bit and try to be ready next fall.

I train with the Tidewater Schutzhund Club
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tidewater-Schutzhund-Club/121641831179366
website: http://www.tidewaterschutzhund.com/Tidewater_Schutzhund/Home.html

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Back at Wintergreen, and there was Snow!

Now that we have a place in the mountains we find every excuse to head up there. Thanksgiving was no exception and to make it more fun, a good number of our ski buddies were there too. And then much to the relief of some northern states, the snow moved in our direction. Have you seen the pictures of Buffalo NY last month? Can you even imagine? Yikes! But we in the Blue Ridge Mountains were gifted almost a foot of snow. Yay for us! And it was so pretty.

blue ridge mountains, snow, thanksgiving, wintergreen resort, virginia
Devil's Knob Loop before the Snow Plow

our house, behind snow covered trees. love it!

Wintergreen Resort, Wintergreen Virginia, snow, Thanksgiving 2014, pretty snow
and one more pretty winter scene

the sun came out and so did the kids

burton jacket, spyder ski pants
this year she got on the ski lifts all by herself!

they named him Olaf

The ski slopes opened on Friday and Tim took all 6 of the kids out skiing. Bitsy was feeling vertically challenged last year and struggled a little with the ski lifts but this year she got on them all by herself, even Big Acorn (which is faster.) Little Hawk is going to be hard to keep up with soon, he loves to ski at only 5 years old. The Wintergreen Ski Team had practice on Saturday and the 5 oldest kids reported in. And so Ski Season begins. I got to ski on Saturday. On Friday my mother and I went consignment shopping in the area. I bought trivets, we needed some, and a lovely german shepherd dog shaped door stopper that I saw last spring and regretted not purchasing, offered by Envy Antiques. But it was still there patiently waiting and this time I didn't pass it up. They have a Bavarian Deer Sculpture that I've got my eye on, but it costs as much as skis and so I'm saving pennies with fingers crossed. We also discovered a wonderful bookshop and cafe in Waynesboro Virginia called Stone Soup. Good food, nice people, cozy setting, we will go again.

I haven't blogged in a bit, but Outdoor Wednesday continues so I'm linking up with them

Our (mostly) Vegan Thanksgiving

People often ask us what we eat for holidays especially for Thanksgiving; after all, for most households Thanksgiving revolves around a family meal that revolves around turkey. Prior to my husband announcing that he was vegan and he wanted the family to move in that direction as well, I always pretended the turkey was the main dish but pretty much lived for my mom's cranberry jello salad and french silk pie. As the pie has eggs in it, raw ones, that has gone by the way side with all this vegan eating but the jello remains! woo hoo. (back story, my McDonald's loving husband goes vegan cold turkey, no pun intended, here )

Okay, back to dinner.

Yes there is food, lots of it. We still make green bean casserole, just not with heavy cream and butter. (Wit and Vinegar has a good recipe here) My mom still makes her cranberry jello salad. There was red cabbage because my husband really likes it and corn and asparagus and mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce and stuffing and what my husband calls "vegetable strudel." Basically pan fried veggies rolled in fillo dough and baked up.

vegetable dinner, vegetable strudel, thanksgiving
Tim's Veggie Strudel

vegan thanksgiving
Our Vegan Thanksgiving, lots of color

vegan soup, butternut squash soup, thanksgiving
Butternut Squash Soup in Grandma's dishes
And pies, apple, pecan and pumpkin. I found a website called The Vegetarian Snob while looking for a pecan recipe. And I downloaded their Thanksgiving ebook and made "Homemade Bourbon Vegan Pecan Pie without Corn Syrup" wow. Delicious! I also made their Butternut Squash soup recipe, well they have more than one. I made "The Comforting Coconut and Butternut Squash Fall Soup" which everybody loved. Sometimes mom makes pie crust but this year we went with Immaculate Baking Pie Crust which does have whey (milk) and a whole lot of fat too, but was yummy!

apple pie, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, vegan pie, thanksgiving
Yay for Pie!
Yes we need more pie plates!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

trying to make sense of it

Yesterday I went on a school field trip to Jamestown. Our tour guide took us to the boats first. If you have never been to Jamestown Virginia there are three outdoor exhibits: reconstructions of the English ships: The Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery; the settlement or fort where one finds the Governor's house, the church, a storage building and other buildings to depict life in early Jamestown; and the Powhatan village. (If you haven't been, look it up. It is worth a visit.)

Our class went first to the ships where we boarded the Susan Constant. We went bellow deck and while there thought about living in these quarters with many other people for approximately 3 months was it? without showers, with little food, with chamber pots for toilets... and most of us agreed we must be very desperate indeed to consider such a journey.

And yet I thought to myself, people stow away every day to reach the shores of this great nation believing it to be a better place than the country they were born in.

That day I held hands with a 9 or 10 year old young man. He gets in trouble a lot at school and I see in him my son. They are both smart, easily distracted, impulsive with difficulty keeping their hands to themselves. At some point I had my hand around his shoulder to help him stand still and he realized the sweater I was wearing was soft, and he snuggled in. For the next hour we were buddies.

Later in the evening the news reported that the Grand Jury would not indict the officer in Ferguson. And riots started. And the news reported that the National Guard was called into other cities around the nation as well.

I thought about that young man I'd held hands with earlier in the day, who is a black boy. And how will people look at him in eight years when he is 18 and tall and still struggling to grow up. How will he look at me?

And I thought about those people who stow away believing that this country offers them a chance that they will not be offered in the country they were born into.

And I thought about all those people who were born here in this country and who feel that it does not offer them the same opportunities that it offers me. This isn't about glass ceilings. This is about safety. This is about mother's who fear for their sons and daughters. If not here where? If not here in the land of promise where does a mother go to raise her son in safety?

A man named Tony wrote this:

I WISH we could have an honest conversation about race relations in America.
I WISH that people would not be offended by the phrase "white privilege" and just be cognizant of the systematic social, political, and economic advantages inherent in being part of the majority.
I WISH that we as a nation were more educated and would accept that "race is a social construct designed to fulfill one purpose. racism."
I WISH that we would stop assuming that the color/hue of anyone's skin correlates to their work ethic, integrity, intelligence, or natural aptitude.
I WISH that we could put down our guards and try to truly understand each other's experiences and how that affects our world views.
I WISH I could walk into interviews, classrooms, and department stores and not worry about being stereotyped and judged before I have the chance to speak.
I WISH that my white friends would stop trying to point out how articulate President Obama or some other notable Black American (as if he is the exception) merely in an attempt to not seem racist, ( I know your heart and that you mean well).
I WISH that all of us, as Americans, would realize that the protests over the KILLING of black youths like Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin, and Jordan Davis is NOT because Officer Darren Wilson or the other shooters are overtly and explicitly racist. The public outcry is because there is a predisposition (that has existed for over 300 years) in all of America that Black Americans are inherently more dangerous and more violent. We as black Americans, are NOT given the benefit of the doubt, and in life or death situations it means that we have been and will continue to be killed.
I WISH we truly could be judged by the content of our character and not the color of our skin.
I WISH we could embrace each other as humans and see value in each other because we are all part of the Human Race.

I do not know him and I have shared it with out his permission so I use only his first name here. But I share this because I feel that sometimes we, we white people, just need to shut up and listen.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Ferguson -

I don't remember which state exactly I was driving across when I saw through someone's Facebook post that Michael Brown had been shot to death. And I wondered how and why and why it was a national thing. And couldn't help but think about the man who was choked to death in NYC just a week, a few weeks before? And I did wonder how was it that this man had been in a place that ended in him being shot, to death. Because in my nice middle class white world, you don't get shot by police officers without reason. Right?

And in between driving 7 or 8 hours a day and tucking small people into beds in hotel rooms and then getting back up and driving some more so I could go on even more vacation, I would catch glimpses of reactions on social media. And amongst my friends, those glimpses of reactions were limited to pretty much only the black women I know on Facebook.

And I stayed out of it.

Because I haven't watched the news in a month and I have only read the news as it pertains to work and I don't know what is actually being reported about this.

But my heart is sick.

Because I know of several little boys but there is this one in particular. I've only just started to get to know his mother. And I've only had one conversation with his father. His dad is a big black man. Quiet spoken and very well educated. His mother is has only once said in a forum I am might be in something like "another black man in the news, I'm turning on the tv to see if I can catch a glimpse of our president tonight, please no Obama haters. I just need some hope for my son."
It was that plea that really caught me.

I cannot imagine not having hope for my son because of his color.

And then a woman I know, a former classmate and now an educator posted on Facebook an article about talking about what is happening in Ferguson in school:

5 Ways to Teach About Michael Brown and Ferguson in the New School Year

by Christopher Emdin published in the Huffington Post

And I was horrified. My kids are blissfully unaware that a man was shot to death and that there are protests, and the protests have led to some looting (I think) and I saw somewhere the National Guard was called in...

I said as much. My classmate called me out. White Mom privilege. As in, if you were the black mother of 3 sons you'd be having conversations with them about this. Would I? I don't know. I am not a black mother with 3 black sons. But I hear the implied, if you were you wouldn't have a choice. 

This morning she posted an article again published by the Huffington Post "White Mom Privilege" which articulates much of what I am thinking and feeling. But there was a different one that caught my eye Dear White Moms by Keesha Beckford. And in this post she brings up that small innocuous thing I mentioned before, few if any of my white friends and connections are discussing this. It is like the elephant in the room, nobody knows what to say so they are just ignoring it. And that hurts. And it doesn't do anything.

Apparently there was a shooting in 2001 in Cincinnati and Timothy Thomas was shot dead. (I don't remember it. 2001 was a blur of small children and traveling husband.) Cincinnati.com ran an article:  Could Ferguson happen here... again? 

what I see when I read the article is what Cincinnati did: "Cincinnati's riots gave birth to the Cincinnati Collaborative Agreement, widely viewed as one of the most innovative plans ever designed to improve police-community relations."

While I expect discussion and change is ongoing - this gives me some hope, and possibly some direction. And asks the question, what lessons can the rest of us learn from the Collaborative that will help us circumvent these tragedies? How do communities outside of Cincinnati learn more about the collaborative and what has come of it? 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Huckleberry Season

It is Huckleberry Season in Govy. The kids have been picking the berries almost since we've arrived but it seems like in the last week the bushes have really peaked and there are ripe Huckleberries everywhere you go. Berry picking has become one of our main activities.  And we've been baking with them. I made a blueberry/huckleberry pie, a huckleberry pie, banana huckleberry muffins, and yesterday plain huckleberry muffins.

Funny, the dogs like huckleberries. One of the kids put their little plastic container of berries down while picking and Thalia stuck her nose in and took a mouthful. Kahn Sol literally begs the entire time we are picking until he gets fed up with begging and tried to pull them off the bush himself. This is a lot of work for him, working only with his mouth, and is amusing to watch. I have discouraged the kids from giving the dogs too many berries, I am not up for any misadventures with canine digestion, but the berries they've had don't seem to bother the dogs one bit.

KahnSol picking berries