Dance Mom?

dance mom 2

I spent three days last week with my daughter at my first…..sorry…..her first dance competition.  She loved it more than I thought was even imaginable.  The jury is still out on if that is a good thing or a bad thing.

It was a new experience for both of us.  I’m not sure who was more nervous on the first day, her or me.  She was doing an acro routine that involved an overhead lift (in which she was the one being lifted), front limbers and a forearm stand thrown in amongst some dance moves.  With only seven girls on stage there was little room for error.  Once it was done I felt like I needed a drink.  Too bad it was only 1:00 in the afternoon.

For the uninitiated, a dance competition involves young girls and boys performing solos, duos/trios and group dance routines that are judged by three judges.  The judges are typically ex-dancers who are now studio owners, choreographers or teachers.  For the competition we attended EVERY dancer gets a medal.  Very PC.  Their score gets them a silver, high silver, gold or high gold.  Within each group the top three performances are announced as third, second or first.  Got it?

dance mom 1

The styles of dance range from classical ballet, to jazz, to tap, to Broadway and acro and hip hop.  There are more styles,but you get the idea.  Ages range from four to sixteen.  All shapes and sizes and colors.  Oh, they have a category for international too.  Saw some beautiful Chinese fan dancing.  Anyway, I digress.

The dedication of some of these girls is admirable.  No, it’s astonishing.  I can’t even imagine the amount of hours they must train a week.  My daughter dances seven hours a week and I thought that was a lot.  I’ve had other mothers gasp (yes, gasp) at how much she does.  In reality it’s only a fraction of what others do.  And I’m okay with that.

And then there’s the cost.  Ya actually I’m not going to go there.  Let’s just say that it’s more than soccer.  And hockey. Combined.

I came away from the first day with a bit of a headache.  My daughter’s ballet teacher compared it to Disneyland and she is so right.  Everywhere you turn is a new costume, headpiece or makeup look.  Gaggles of little girls run around buzzing from too many Skittles.  Moms suck back coffee trying to keep up with the gaggles of girls they are in charge of.  Each time the theatre door opens you get a blast of new music and a fresh wave of costumes dashing by.  It’s head spinning.

dance mom acro

So here’s the tricky part for me.  Dance is art and therefore it is subjective.  Obviously there are some dance teachers and parents who have a different take on what is acceptable and age appropriate for costumes, music and choreography.  Everybody makes their own choices and I’m not the judge of them.  Well…I kind of am.  In my head anyway.

I personally would not allow my six or seven year old to get up on stage wearing red sequined boy shorts, a black crop top and fake eyelashes all while twerking to a Nicki Minaj song.  But that’s just me.

The world of dance competitions, my dance teacher friend told me “needs to be taken with a grain of salt.”  I think that is very sage advice for this new dance mom.  I will try to remember it in the years to come.

The Best Thing in Life is being eight and just loving to dance.

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Five Things I’ve Learned So Far About Renovating a Bathroom

bathroom

I’m getting a new bathroom. Well, actually my kids are getting a new bathroom. (Not the bathroom above, that is way too fancy for them) Our house is over thirty years old and I’m guessing that the second bathroom upstairs has never been renovated. While the lovely yellowish linoleum has been easy to care for through two young kids, it is time for a fresh new look.

The problem is that I know zero about renovations and my husband is knee-deep in organizing an international sporting event, so he is no help. This is just one of the many times that I am grateful to know somebody. When I talked in my first blog post about knowing so many passionate and talented people, I didn’t realize how handy it might be.

My friend is an interior designer. She and her husband designed and built the house they now live in. My project isn’t quite as involved or expensive as that. It’s only a small bathroom. Basic vanity, toilet and tub. How hard could it be? Apparently pretty hard because I didn’t seem to be able to get it done on my own. We are still in the early stages of planning and ordering but here is what I have learned so far:

1.  If they tell you it’s going to cost x amount of dollars, you can pretty much add 20%-30% on top of that when all is said and done. Not because they don’t know what they are doing or are trying to rip you off. It just happens. You suddenly realize that your 30-year-old window will look like crap with your new bathroom. Add $. If you are ripping up the floor anyway shouldn’t you put in radiant heating now? Add $. Yes, the cheaper vanity is okay but the more expensive one will last longer. Add lots of $$.

2.  There are a LOT of different toilets to choose from. “I just want it to flush” I naively said. I didn’t know how many different types of toilets there are. Floating toilets are very popular right now for example. Somehow I narrowed it down to two or three and then I was stumped. I had already picked a rectangular sink so my friend pointed out that two of the toilets had rounder tanks. I should choose the one with the more square-shaped tank so that it continued the shape of the sink. That is the kind of thing I am paying her for.

3.  Colours come in many colours. White tile is never just “white”. It’s cloud or ecru or steel or egg. Grey slate flooring comes in many shades and can range in price from reasonable to ridiculous. Of course the one that is exactly what you want is always the ridiculously priced one. And the colour you choose is usually the one that was discontinued last year.   There may come a point where I just close my eyes and point.

4.  Interior designers are not all created equally. One of the many advantages of using a designer is that they receive discounts from the suppliers you will be using. The discounts can range from 25-60%. Some designers keep that discount quiet and you pay the full price while they keep the difference. Think of it as their insurance in case anything goes wrong. Others take a portion of it. Others (like mine) pass the entire discount on to you.  Love that.

5.  Contractors don’t have to be crooks. Contractors scare me. I will admit that right from the start. You hear so many horror stories about contractors that seem legit or even are legit and then totally screw you. And there you are stuck with a half done project and a huge bill. Knowing that my friend has used this contractor before to build two houses is a huge relief. They actually went to high school together so they have a history and a trust that I would never be able to reproduce with a complete stranger.

I’m sure that there will be more to learn in the month ahead as we rip everything out and see what is underneath. The whole process is a bit of an experiment for me really. A testing ground, if you will, for the rest of the house that is also stuck in the ’80s. The Best Thing in Life is learning from a pro….who is also a friend.

What if…..

Somebody asked me a question last night. Why didn’t you move to Memphis? I gave my standard response and moved on. Later that night I thought about it a bit more. What if we had moved to Memphis? Our lives would be so different. I’m happier now that I have been in years. How did I get here?  What if my life had been different?

What if I had found out about the affair before my first wedding? We wouldn’t have gotten married. Boy would that have made my mom and dad happy.

What if I we hadn’t gotten married? I wouldn’t have an eighteen year old son who surprises and confounds me almost daily. That would have been one of the biggest losses in my life.

What if we had stayed together? Oh good god that’s a scary thought….no matter how you look at it.

What if I hadn’t lost my job and taken that temp position? I wouldn’t have met my husband? Where I sat on the bus to Seattle, where I sat in the bar, where I sat at the basketball game….would all be irrelevant.

What if we had actually bid on that house on Orlohma Drive? And got it? We wouldn’t have had the opportunity to look at the house we live in. And what if we’d never had the second chance to buy it? I love this house.

What if we HAD moved to Memphis? We would live a very different life than we do now. Would I have big southern hair? Would I say y’all a lot and drink mint juleps?

What if we had stuck with our decision not to have any more kids? Duh? We wouldn’t be a complete family. Thank god for that trip to Disneyworld. I’m pretty sure that’s when my husband decided that we needed some sugar and spice in our family.

What if I hadn’t continued to run?  To stay in shape and be active?  I wouldn’t get to enjoy all my backyard has to offer.  Running the trails of Mt Seymour is a privilege and a joy.

What if I didn’t like going to the park? I wouldn’t have met the amazing women I now call my friends and their equally spirited daughters. What would life be like without their constant whirlwind of activity?

What if my husband had taken that job in the valley and not chosen to work for himself? Sure we would have avoided a bit of debt, but how happy would he be? It’s been a tough go but sometimes it’s better to look at the long range picture.

What if I had decided to continue to work instead of focusing on my family? For starters I wouldn’t be writing this post. Pretty sure I’d have more grey hairs and empty wine bottles. Hard to say at this point but I’m pretty sure it was one of my better decisions.

What if I had chosen to ignore how crappy I always felt and just chalked to up to old age? Sure, I would still be enjoying all the yummy (albeit bad for you) foods that I used to eat, but I’m happy I have the support and knowledge of great friends (again) that got me through to the others side.

Life has taken some twists and turns in the past twenty years. I wouldn’t change one of them. They got me here. To a happy Saturday afternoon in my kitchen, listening to music and watching my daughter do handstands in the back yard. The Best Thing in Life is……..living it.

Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is

parkinsons shirt

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about my mom’s battle with Parkinson’s. I ended the post with a promise to myself to get more involved. Last Sunday I took my first step towards that goal and participated in the Parkinson’s Superwalk 10km run. The event included a 2km, 7km and 10km routes in Stanley Park. I chose the 10km run, signed up and paid my registration fee. There wasn’t a lot of info on the web site so I didn’t really know what to expect. I didn’t know how big it would be or, well anything. Early Sunday morning I drove to Ceperely Park and looked for the registration area. My first impression was that everybody was very friendly and welcoming. It wasn’t a huge group but lots of families and groups supporting friends. The group registration line up was twice the length of the individual line up. I think this says a lot about the event. People weren’t just here to do a run and get a t-shirt without knowing what it was really about. People were here to support a specific individual and were happy to be doing it.

parkinsons siwash rock

The run itself was stunning. A gorgeous sunny Fall day in Vancouver never disappoints for runners. It was hot though, especially the first half around the east side of the seawall. The Coho festival was in full swing over at Ambleside and the annual pet fundraiser Paws for a Cause was rocking at Lumberman’s Arch. Inspiring to see so many great causes being supported. I did feel a bit envious though as Paws for a Cause provided their participants (by that I mean dogs) way more water breaks than my run. Seriously considered scooping up that water bowl for some much needed refreshment. I ran for a short time with another lady who was also running for her mom. It was nice to know that somebody else was thinking the same way I was. She mentioned that she had, at first, thought she would just do the 7km but pushed herself to do the 10km. “It puts what they endure every day into perspective”.

parkinsons seawall

I don’t typically run with my phone but I knew that I would want to document this experienced as the views would be outstanding. As you can see they didn’t disappoint. Aside from enjoying the scenery, the run gave me some time alone to think about how I can continue to support Parkinson’s over the next year. I know for sure that I will do the run next year but this time will register earlier and do some fundraising on my own. At the start of the race I ran into a lady who I have met before in my area. She works for the BC Parkinson’s Society and I plan on contacting her to talk about volunteer opportunities during the next few month. This run was just dipping my toe into the waters of the Parkinson’s society.

There has been a lot of publicity and hype over the ALS ice bucket challenge this summer. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great way to spread awareness and raise money for a great cause. However, when my son did it and then challenged me I told him I wouldn’t do it. “What? Why?” He couldn’t believe I would be so lame. (His words, not mine.) The reason I didn’t want to do it was simple. I have chosen my charity and want to be able to support it. We are not lacking in money at this point in time but there have been times in the past when giving to charity just wasn’t an option. I made a decision at that time to be selective in my donation dollars. There are so many amazing causes to give to. Cancer research, AIDS, MS, ALS and the list goes on. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to support them all? Perhaps we could redirect some professional sports players salaries to cover what we can’t?  The Best Thing in Life would be to have enough money to support everybody who needs it but for now the Parkinson’s Society of BC has my full support.

parkinsons finish