Sunday, July 8, 2012

"School's out for summer!"

You just sang that in your head, didn't you? :)

The kids had a wonderful year at school.  Their teachers were all fabulous and I am so thankful for all the time and effort they put in to teaching my children. We have loved all the teachers and administrators at the school and I enjoyed every time I would go in to volunteer.

Morgan missed the last couple days of school to go to Oklahoma, and I was sad that we missed her "continuation" as she will be leaving Prairie Ridge to go to Coal Ridge Middle School.  (She didn't miss it at all.)  We were able to go to Peyton's kindergarten program and the picnic at the end of school celebrating all the kids.  It is always a fantastic way to begin the summer break!

Kindergarten program showing off what they had learned.

Peyton and Katie with their ceftificates.

Peyton with Mrs. Dreitz

Trevor with Miss. Doughty

Friday, July 6, 2012

Flyin' Solo

My parents thought it would be great to spend time with each grandchild one-on-one.  They decided to begin a tradition that the summer a grandchild is 10 years old, they would fly them out to their home, and spend about a week with them.  Since Morgan is the oldest grandchild, she was the first to try this new, grand condition!

The day before school got out Cooper and I were able to take her to the airport, got special passes through security, and took her to the gate.  She was escorted onto the plane and given the royal treatment, even getting to go into the cockpit.  She said she was a little nervous, but her excitement to visit Grandma and Grandpa outweighed her concerns.

While in Oklahoma she
  • got ice cream at Braum's
  • went shoe shopping with Grandpa
  • went to see The Avengers
  • went shooting at Grandpa friend's house
  • had too many happy hours at Sonic
  • went to a graduation
  • helped Grandma host friends for dinner
  • was Grandpa's caddy on the golf course and even got to drive the cart
  • have a blast with her Grandparents!

We were glad that she had such a blast, but it was wonderful having her home again!

Take Note Spring Season

Just imagine going back in time to the music of Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, and Ella Fitzgerald.  That it what we tried to create with our spring program of "the great American songbook".  Talise and I had a lot of fun choosing music and putting this together. We were also aiming for performing at the UNC Jazz Festival so we spent time looking for some innovative and difficult arrangements.  The pacing was a little more challenging because, well, there were a lot of ballads so finding good, women's arrangements that were uptempo was tricky.  We ended up with a program that was a little slower than our usual, but I think all the familiar songs made up for it.

Here was our set list:
     Anything Goes  arr. Philip Kern (Solo: Dianne Hedahl)
     Don't Get Around Much Anymore  arr. Ward Swingle
     Over the Rainbow  arr. Celtic Women
     My Funny Valentine  arr. Kirby Shaw
     Straighten Up and Fly Right  arr. Sweet Adelines
     'Round Midnight  arr. Randy Crenshaw (Solo: Rebecca Vavla)
     Fly Me to the Moon  arr. Kirby Shaw
     What'll I Do  arr. Kirby Shaw
     Summertime  arr. Martina Freytag (Solos: Talise Chandler and Emily Larson)
     When I Fall in Love  arr. Kirby Shaw (Solo: Carolyn Turner)
     Orange Colored Sky  arr. Deke Sharon (Solo: Carli Siders)

In addition to our normal gigs at nursing homes we got to do several performances for church and community groups.  It was great having some paying gigs and a larger audience.  One of the funniest experiences was our last performance was on a gray, rainy day at a nursing home we had never been at before.  We were going along with our set and the audience seemed to be responding well -- lots of them singing along and some even dancing in their wheelchairs.  Something about "Fly Me to the Moon" must have rubbed one older woman the wrong way.  Started mumbling "that's terrible", "stop", and "that's awful".  As the song went on she started getting louder and more emphatic.  We were all doing our best not to completely lose it by cracking up and her fellow residents were giving her death glares.  Someone finally told an aide and they wheeled her out as she continued to heckle us.  It was very difficult to stop our laughing and keep singing.  Luckily, we are pros and we pulled it together to finish out the set. :)

At one of our last gigs, we took a video.  We were missing a couple of us and the piano is horribly out of tune, but I will include a few of our tunes.

As always, I love singing with these ladies!  We have such a good time together making music and serving in our community.  We have some staffing changes coming up, but I hope we continue to improve and raise the level of our musicianship.  Next spring we want to take several of our songs up to perform (and get critiqued) at the Jazz Festival.  I look forward to pushing ourselves when we come back from our summer break.

My "Super Achievers"

With their certificates and ribbons.

Peyton and Cooper were there to cheer them on!

This spring Ken decided to get involved with the BAMTA, Boulder county's chapter of MTNA (Music Teachers National Association), and was excited that his piano students could be adjudicated at the Piano Achievement Festival at CU.  The festival consisted of tons of piano teachers, including some from CU's music school, judging on different categories such as performance, scales, chords and arpeggios, theory, additional artistic performances, and collaborative performances.

Ken volunteered there throughout the day so I got to take Morgan and Trevor to be judged.  It was such a great experience for them and the adjudicator gave wonderful feedback and helpful comments.  Both reached the level of "super achiever" by performing well in five different categories.  Ken and I were so proud of them and it was really fun for the kids to be in that kind of environment.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


My last hurrah.  Well at least for awhile.  My dear friend, Celia, is getting married (YAY!) and is moving from New York city this summer.  Even though the scheduling was crazy, I knew I had to go to the big apple one more time before she left.

Ken was attending a conference in Denver the week I left so I was lucky to have wonderful friends and a great after-school babysitter to help pick up the slack.  I drove to the airport on Wednesday afternoon, parked, and had an uneventful flight to NYC getting in late.  I was directed to a driver by the cab line and getting to the city was an interesting experience, to say the least.  On the bright side, he was super interesting to talk to, a true example of the American dream.  He was an immigrant from Haiti and he drives and does other odd job but felt that education and hard work was the way to success.  He focused on that with his kids and now his daughter is head of cardiology at a hospital.  It was great chatting with him.  On the dark side, I was worried his car would fall apart and we didn't get over 45 mph the whole ride.  In any case, I was glad to reach Celia's apartment where we both fell into bed because it was so late.

Celia had to go to work the next morning so I took the opportunity to sleep in.  I finally got up and decided to got to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and walk through Central Park.  I took the subway uptown and ate lunch at Shake Shack (yummy) before walking over to the Met.  It was such a treat to wander by myself, listening to a book (Cutting for Stone), and seeing amazing works of art.  It is almost like I can feel the culture and history seeping in through my pores when I'm in a great museum.  After several hours, it was getting close to when I was to meet Celia, so I headed out to walk towards her apartment via Central park.  It was an absolute glorious day and the park was humming with activity. I walked just under an hour through the loveliness before finding a subway back to Celia's.

In front of the Met
Central Park
We freshened up before heading out to dinner.  I am such a food scaredy cat and I was determined to try something new while I was there.  Celia took me out for some Thai food in Chelsea.  I know it is totally silly of me, but I was really proud of myself for being brave.  I liked it, but it is probably not something I would crave.  It was a great dinner, out on the sidewalk, with some great people watching.  We then headed over to the New Amsterdam theater to see Broadway show #1, Mary Poppins.

Trying Thai food... I'm so brave.  Well, for me anyway.

Waiting for Mary Poppins to begin!
Mary Poppins was thoroughly enjoyable!  I loved that it was a mix of the songs I know and love with some fun new ones.  Overall, I thought it was magical and by the time Mary flew out over the audience, both Celia and I were entranced.  I think my favorite scene was "Stepin' Time" where Bert dances on the ceiling.

Friday morning I dinked around while Celia worked in the morning.  I then headed up to near Celia's work where we met for lunch before catching the subway and heading downtown to see the 9/11 Memorial.  It was incredible to see the hustle and bustle of downtown and all the construction around the world trade center.  I was especially impressed with the construction of 1WTC.  Upon completion it will be the tallest building in the western hemisphere.  We went through security and then walked out onto the plaza where the WTC towers once stood.  The resulting memorial was very beautiful and very sad.  Thinking about that day still results in a big lump in my throat.  The HUGE fountains that mark the footprints of the towers seemed to represent a certain peace, but sadness.  Seeing the names of those who died all around the edge of the fountains was a beautiful reminder of all those who lost their lives on that horrible day.  I enjoyed how it was contrasted with the hope and courage of the Survivor Tree.  I'm really glad we took the time to go there. And remember.

At the 9/11 Memorial with the new 1 WTC in the background.
Under the Survivor Tree.
It was fun walking around downtown seeing Trinity church, the famous bull of Wall Street, the steps where Washington delivered his first inaugural address, and city hall.  We tried to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge, but weren't able to get all the way before having to to turn back so we could change and freshen up to meet Celia's friend, Bridget, for dinner.


Brooklyn Bridge

Park near City Hall.  I LOVED the gas lamps.
 Our evening's entertainment began with a delicious dinner at Tony's.  After dinner we walked through Times Square on our way to see the show "Nice Work If You Can Get It" starring Matthew Broderick and Kelli O'Hara.  The show was cute and had some standout performances.  Of course, the music of Gershwin was right up my alley!  There were hilarious one liners and I found myself repeatedly laughing out loud.  The show wasn't life changing, but it was very entertaining.  After the show we had just enough time to run up to Magnolia bakery and get a cupcake for dessert.  It was late, but we walked over to Rockefeller Center to enjoy that bit of deliciousness.  Such a fun night!

On Saturday we started slow which is just about my vacation speed. :)  Lunch was at the Carnegie Deli and Celia and I shared the most delicious cheesecake.  Yum!  After we stuffed ourselves we wandered up to the Sephora on Columbus circle and had makeovers.  It is true.  I am getting old.  I wanted fresh eyes to help me with my skin and makeup.  I am not so good at understated makeup.  What say I say, I LOVE red lipstick.  With our new makeup, we walked through Central Park and enjoyed the beautiful day before getting some Mexican food, and returning home for a Downton Abbey marathon.

After our makeovers.
Sunday we walked over for lunch at Chelsea Piers before changing our minds and heading up to try and get aboard a sightseeing cruise around Manhattan.  As we were buying our tickets, a whole tour bus came up and got on the boat just in front of us and we missed getting on.  Celia was leaving that evening to go up to Canada for some interviews so she had to leave for the airport before the next boat would leave so we couldn't go on the cruise together.  Boo hoo.  We took the opportunity to go to B&H to look at cameras and sound equipment. 

It was so sad to part ways with Celia.  I love her so much and I am so grateful for my friendship with her.  we don't get to see each other often, but when we do, we pick up right where we left off.  I look forward to going to her wedding.

After saying goodbye, I walked back over to the cruise and thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful views of the city and especially the Statue of Liberty.  Ah, how I love New York City!  I walked back over to Times Square to enjoy a late matinee of Newsies.

I was so stinkin' excited to see this show.  I have been a Newsies fan for years and was really excited that the show was going to be on the Great White Way.  It was by far my favorite show of the visit.  The singing, dancing, and acting were all incredible!  I was so thrilled to see many of my favorite SYTYCD alums on stage.  The show was moving, inspirational, and I left on a total high.  Since I was just by myself, I decided to stay after and wait for the cast to come out.  It was fun to get autographs and pictures with some of my favorite cast members.

With Evan from SYTYCD and Newsies.

With Eric from SYTYCD and Newsies.
I enjoyed a nice steak dinner by myself before going back to Celia's apartment to get a good night's sleep before heading home the next morning.  I was a little worried when I woke up to a crazy downpour that I wouldn't be able to catch a cab to the airport.  After about a 40 minute wait, I was finally able to find a ride and made it to the airport in plenty of time.  My flight home was uneventful and I lots of time to read.  It was great to return home to my family.  I always love coming home to then, especially after a break. 

Thanks Celia for letting me come visit you in the big city and thanks Ken for picking up the slack so I could have a get-away.