It’s been a busy year so far!

I started this post back in February, before the Pandemic hit the US, before quarantines, and before “new normals”. Rather than talk about that aspect of life in this post, I’m going to complete this post, as I have too many incomplete posts that I started, but never finished in my queue… this post was pretty much done, all I had to do was add pictures…

“Without dance occupying so much of my time, I thought I’d have a lot of extra time. Boy, was I wrong!

Since the beginning of the school year, much of my time has been full with other activities. Some of them include:

The Bear Water Run starts early with on site registration and bib pick up.

 

 

 

 

Michaels 1st Homecoming dance. He has been friends with most of these girls since early elementary school.

  • Watching Michael go to his very first Homecoming dance with a group of friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Besides the ones we paid for, there were photo ops everywhere at Galaxycon!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grace and the other performers did a lot of dancing, but they also sang at the tree lighting ceremony at Keg and Case.

  • Watching Grace perform in her first show and several promotional performances at the Mall of America, Keg and Case, and the Southern Theater, with the Minnesota Dance Collaborative

 

 

 

 

 

Rumble on the Red is a HUGE tournament in Fargo, ND every year.

  • Watching my step son, Dysin, wrestle Varsity for the White Bear Lake Bears (he’s a Senior this year). Wrestling took us to Fargo, ND for the Rumble on the Red, and to Rochester, as well as all the local schools.

    The first tournament of the year, Dysin got 2nd place. It was pretty awesome!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My brother and his wife joined us on the Halloween Pub Crawl.

  • We went on a Halloween Pub Crawl with a bunch of my friends.

 

 

 

 

Michael has had a few Jiu Jitzsu lessons with Grand Master Pat Worley.

 

 

 

 

We had so much fun playing Nerdettes in the 2020 show!

 

 

 

 

 

  • We finished our karaoke room, and had several karaoke parties, including an 80’s themed one, a Tropical Themed one, and a great New Years Eve party with neighbors and friends.

 

 

 

 

 

We saw the Chainsmokers with some of our neighborhood friends.

 

  • Jason and I have been to see a few concerts, including seeing The Chainsmokers and Deadmau5. We actually saw Deadmau5 twice, once here in the Twin Cities, and once in Chicago.

    We saw Deadmau5 in the Twin Cities with some of Jason’s friends.

We saw Deadmau5 in Chicago with our friend Tasha.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In between all of this, I have been sick with stomach issues, and cold after cold (perks of being a preschool teacher where I’m being coughed and sneezed on all day, every day). I have been hoping to do more blogging, but my energy has been lacking this whole school year. Illness, and being busy have eaten up a lot of my time.”

 

Well, here’s hoping that being quarantined gets us all healthy, and helps me find my energy. I am hoping to take more time to do the things I enjoy, while also learning to do things like work at home. As you can see, I love being around people. It’s great being with our family, but looking forward to being able to hang out with our friends again. Happy 2020!

GalaxyCon 2019

The weekend of November 8-10, 2019, we went to GalaxyCon in Minneapolis. The weekend had so many highlights, it will be hard to put them all in one post.

GalaxyCon is described as a “celebration of fandoms”. We saw lots of people dressed in cosplay for many different “fandoms.” We saw people dressed in Star Trek, Doctor Who, Marvel MCU (including Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, X-Men, and Deadpool), DC, Pokemon, Sailor Moon, My Hero Academia, Disney Princesses, Ghostbusters, Scooby Doo, Back to the Future, Steven Universe, many video game characters, and Jay and Silent Bob cosplays. There were too many to list them all.

In addition to cosplayers, there were aisles and aisles of booths, selling everything from Fan Art, to comic books, to jewelry, to clothing items for everyday use, or for cosplay. I got some Incredibles earrings to wear when my preschool team dresses as the Incredibles for Super Hero Day. My son got a Battle Ax from the game “Gods of War”. All of us bought art.

There were booths with celebrities, comic book writers and illustrators, voice actors, wrestlers, cosplayers, even nerdlesque performers. There were several stage areas set up for different panels, classes, and shows. There was a video game area where people could play video games for hours, tabletop games area where people could check out and play (or learn) hundreds of table top games, and a wrestling mat set up for wrestling matches and panels.

Skeletor vs Deadpool

Many events that can be found at other cons for an additional fee were included in the price of admission for all attendees. Among some of the free events were the FSCW (Fantasy Super Cosplay Wrestling) that took place each evening, Costume contests, celebrity panels, shows (such as the cosplay tap shows by Noise Complaint, and the Nerdlesque show by The Vigilantease Collective), karaoke, dance parties, sing-a-longs, and more! I even got to take a tap class with Noise Complaint on Friday night.

Selfie with Catherine Tate. She was so much fun to hang with for our 5 minutes or so!

Many celebrities were at this event, and available for Photo Ops, Autographs, and Selfies. These were available for an extra charge. Since this was only the second Con we had ever been to as a family, we took advantage of the fact that so many people we wanted to meet were there. We were most looking forward to meeting David Tennant, but he canceled the week before the event. We still met many cool celebrities from Guardians of the Galaxy, Star Trek (original and TNG), Doctor Who, Karate Kid/Cobra Kai, Clerks and Mallrats, and more. Highlights for me, were Michael Rooker (Yondu from Guardians of the Galaxy), Catherine Tate (Donna from Doctor Who), Alex Kingston (River Song on Doctor Who and Dr. Elizabeth Corday on ER), and Jonathan Frakes (Will Riker on Star Trek TNG). A highlight for my daughter, was meeting one of the creators of Spider-Gwen, Robbi Rodriguez. She was cosplaying as Spider-Gwen, and he signed some of the art that she bought.

Photo Op with Sean Gunn.

Photo op with some of the Guardians of the Galaxy cast.

We bought VIP tickets for me and Jason, so we wouldn’t have to wait in the long lines for Photo Ops. It was well worth the money! If this had been my first ever Con, I’d have been hooked from Day 1! I will definitely go again when GalaxyCon comes back next Fall!

Michael went into our photo op with Michael Rooker with an untied shoe. Rooker stopped the photographer, and tied the shoe, much to my embarrassment. We all had a good laugh in the end.

Guest Choreography

Over the past several years, our studio, Lake Area Dance Center (LADC) has branched out into having guests choreograph different routines. Most years, it has been small groups or solos. The exception has been that the Senior Hip Hop group was the only large group having guest choreography. Choreographers have included teachers from other local studios, and, in more recent years, other professionals from the dance world.

The benefits of having guests choreographers are many. Dancers who learn from a variety of instructors, whether it be guest choreographers, or through Master classes or conventions, become better dancers. They get to learn new techniques and styles they might otherwise not experience.

Grace’s first experience with a guest choreographer was 3 years ago. She was in the Senior Hip Hop Group. Katelyn Bloomquist (formerly Rademacher), was the choreographer. The routine was called “Bake Shop”. It was a fun routine, with a unique twist on hip hop and baking. 🙂

2017-2018 – “Ya Ya” with Anthony Gabriel and Cory Booker

The next year, her hip hop routine, “Starving”, was choreographed by Anthony Gabriel. It was a smooth hip hop routine. They got special judges’ awards for their style and performance. Last year, her hip hop routine was also choreographed by Anthony Gabriel, with Cory Booker as a co-choreographer. This was a hard-hitting routine called “Ya Ya”. Our dancers again received judges awards for this routine, with comments about how different this routine was from any they had seen from LADC before.

2017-18 – “Love Me or Leave Me” with Kaleena Miller

Last year, her tap small group was choreographed by Kaleena Miller. We have been to many of her tap shows before, and are big fans of her style. Last year’s piece was called “Love Me or Leave Me.” Her rhythmic tap style made for a happy, fun routine that challenged our dancers. This piece was also selected to perform in the 2018 Twin Cities Tap Festival. This year’s tap small group routine has also been choreographed by Kaleena Miller.

 

2018-19 Graduating Seniors – lyrical small group with Katelyn Bloomquist.

This year, Grace has 5 routines (including the tap small group listed above) that are guest choreographed. She has lyrical and contemporary small groups, both choreographed by Katelyn Bloomquist.

Her hip hop large group has been choreographed by Erik Saradpon. Once again, this is a very different style of hip hop for their group.

 

2018-19 Hip Hop with Erik Saradpon

 

She is also part of a new Heels large group that has been choreographed by James Kinney, and Alex Nordin. This group routine has a completely different feel than any our studio has performed before. The girls were all extremely excited when they finished their choreography session with these two!

2018-19 Heels routine with James Kinney and Alex Nordin

Grace loves all of her dances she has learned so far. It’s going to be a great Senior year!

Ghoulbusters – WBL Lions Club Show 2018

Last month, Grace and I were part of the 72nd annual Lions Club Show.  It is one of the largest fundraisers each year for the White Bear Lake Lions Club, typically raising about $12-$14,000. Money raised goes back into the community. One of the current projects the WBL Lions Club is working on, is the refurbishing of the Veteran’s Memorial Flag Pole in downtown White Bear Lake. According to their website:

“The White Bear Lake Lions Club Foundation is committed to serving our community through many different ventures such as:

  • Annual Holiday Toy and Food Drive
  • Lions’ Eye Bank and the collection of used eyeglasses for recycling
  • Lions’ Hearing Programs
  • Lions’ Diabetes Programs
  • The White Bear Lake Area Emergency Food Shelf
  • Local Scout Troops
  • Local Seniors’ Services
  • Area Schools
  • Scholarship Programs
  • Community Park Improvements”

The title this year was “Ghoulbusters”. It was a musical loosely based on “Ghostbusters” written by Lion Lisa Rockwood. The show was directed by Lion Janine Delage. Choreography was done by Carol Anderson from 4th Street Dance Centre, and Jen Finger, a fellow cast-mate with great skills!

This was my 4th year being involved in the show, and my 2nd favorite (the first being the year I played Lena in “Lena and Ole’s Wedding”).  This year, I played a waitress who got “slimed” with silly string. It was a fun role, with lots of singing and dancing – my favorite part of doing the show! This year’s writer  Lisa, was the other waitress. Our boss was played by Dave Hunt, who I have known for many years. We had a great time being the “staff” of the Beartown Cafe! Thank you Beartown Grill for supporting the show.

 

Just a small portion of the set that looks like real stores from White Bear Lake.

The sets were amazing. I was so impressed with the work done by our set crew! Their goal was to recreate our town of White Bear Lake, MN; they did a fantastic job! We had some incredible painters this year! Our backstage crew cannot go without mention either. They worked so hard to get set pieces on and off stage quickly in order to keep the show flowing. They run like clockwork! Sound and lighting have been done by Jeff Willey, who works for the school district. We are fortunate to have him, as he is really good at what he does!

I mentioned that Grace was part of the show. This was her 2nd year being on the hair and makeup crew for the show. Due to her dance and work schedules, she doesn’t have time to take on a role. She enjoys doing makeup, so this is a great way to be a part of the show, and do what she enjoys.

The Lions Club Show typically runs the first weekend in March. It traditionally features a local dance studio. Cast members are members of the local Lion’s Club, and community members (like myself) who are not part of the club. We are always looking for new members of the cast and crew. You can reach out to the club if you are interested in being a part of it. Auditions are usually in December. Rehearsals are usually on Saturday mornings and Wednesday evenings in January and February. Set construction is done at all different times.

The Ghoulbusters with their loyal Office Manager, Donna. Pictured are (left to right): Katie Vadnais, Paul Williams, Kate Hunt, Chuck Hunt, and Scott Engman.

Maybe you aren’t interested in being a part of the cast or crew… come be an audience member instead! The more people in the audience, the more fun it is for those of us on stage! We can pretty much guarantee that you will laugh at least once (though, we hope to keep you laughing the whole time). We appreciate every person that comes to see us perform. It is a fundraiser, after all…  without an audience, there would be no show. Thank you for supporting the White Bear Lake Lions Club Show!

 

 

Kevin Smith – Surprisingly Inspirational

Jason and I went to see Kevin Smith (Twitter: @ThatKevinSmith) tonight at the Acme Comedy Company. This is the second time we’ve been to see “An Evening With Kevin Smith”. It’s a Q & A style show where a few people in the audience get to ask any random question they want. Kevin responds by telling one story which leads to another, which leads to another, and somehow circles back to answer the original question that was asked. It’s impressive how he pulls it all together!

This is the second time we have gone to this show. Tonight’s topics went from his wife, to his dogs, to various people that inspired him in different ways. He spent quite a bit of time talking about George Carlin after someone asked him who his favorite story teller is. I might have to pick up Carlin’s semi-autobiography, Last Words – he sounds like an interesting guy. He picked on Ben Affleck a bit, as he always does… he tends to talk about his friends quite a bit. He also talked about being drawn to people that are grounded in who they are, and how they inspire him.

One very enthusiastic audience member asked Kevin Smith about a movie he had been part of a long time back. That got him talking about the director and how he just went with his vision no matter what people thought about it. Then he brought it back to himself to talk about how he made Clerks because he had been “waiting his whole life for this movie, and no one ever made it.” He wanted it, so he made it. Mostly for himself and his friends. He advised the audience that people shouldn’t be afraid to fail. He said [not quite a direct quote, but close enough], “Get out there and go for what you want… tell your story, whatever. The story you are telling yourself about how it will fail is just a story… you never know what will happen. If you fail, so what? At least you went for it…  You can only fail up… failure is just success training (I know, it sounds like a cat poster)…” If you know Kevin Smith at all, you know there were a few F-bombs in there, such as, “You can do whatever the f*c< you want, the important thing is that you try.” He encouraged people to write down all our ideas… do that podcast, write that book, make that movie…

I went to this show expecting to be entertained. I expected to laugh. I did not expect to be inspired; yet I was. He reminded me how much I enjoy telling stories. I want to write the blog posts that have been floating around in my head. I’m going to try to make a point to carve out more time for that.

The more I see Kevin Smith’s show, the more I like him! I look forward to seeing him again next time he’s in town.

 

Conversation starter: Comment on what it is you have been wanting to do that you are putting off. Maybe you are putting it off because you haven’t made the time for it, maybe you have been afraid to fail.

Tough Mudder 2017

Yesterday, my husband and I, along with 6 other friends, completed the Tough Mudder. If you aren’t familiar with this event, it’s a 10+ mile muddy, wet, and very challenging obstacle course. If you don’t like mud, getting dirty, getting wet, or having wet feet, this is NOT the event for you!

The event was held at the Wild Wings Gun Club in Hugo, MN. We were glad it was so close to our house. Parking at the event was $20, so everyone met here, and we took 2 vehicles to bring everyone there. Afterwards, our team came over for pulled pork, baked beans with bacon, and some good old-fashioned reliving the event we had just completed together.

In preparation for the event, I was working out at the gym, focusing on upper body, and core strength. On the playground at preschool, I had been practicing crossing the monkeybars. The first day of school, I couldn’t do any. Last week, I was able to cross five. I was feeling very encouraged by this! My legs have gotten quite strong over the past year, so I didn’t worry too much about those. I just added some weight to my squats (sometimes using kettlebells, sometimes using hand weights). A few weeks’ back, I messed up my back, so I had to take the most critical time of training to deal with that. 😦  It was a good thing I took that time though, because it held up great through the entire event! I was really nervous it wouldn’t. Thank you to chiropractor, Dr. John Tomlinson for helping get it back on track!

Laura and I after Tough Mudder. We were the only two women on our team.

It was a super hot day. Temps were over 90, with very little cloud cover. There was no amount of training that I could have done or not done to prepare me for the heat. We were all sweating and stinky before we even started. At the first obstacle, they told us weather conditions were red, so they were recommending people not run, and drink plenty at the water stops.

After parking, we walked about a mile to the check-in location. Then, we dropped our bag in the bag drop area, and headed for the queue at the starting gate. Our assigned start time was 11:00. It was about 11:15 when they let the group for the Tough Mudder Half go. We probably got to head for the actual starting gate around 11:30. There, we waited more, and probably around 12, got to actually get started.

We jogged the first 1/2 – 3/4 mile, before some of us started to walk. We had well over 10 miles ahead of us, why expend all that energy early on? We always made sure at least one person stayed with the person at the back. Sometimes that was me, sometimes Dan, Tim, or Jason. No matter who it was, no one was left behind. My goal was not to get it done fast, just to finish it.

We had to carry this wood as a group. It was heavy! Due to a miscommunication at the end, it was even more difficult for the couple of teammates who carried it all the way to the end.

The first obstacle we came to was called Kiss of Mud 2.0 . You can’t see me in the video, but you can watch as my husband crawls through the mud, under barbed wire. Teammate Charlie caught this video. I was to the right of him, so you catch me periodically. It wasn’t too bad. On another obstacle that started out in a similar way, I did get poked in the butt by barbed wire near the end. I thought I was all the way at the end, but I wasn’t quite done yet. Oops.

Post-Mudder selfie.

As the event went on, there were walls to climb over, mud to crawl through, pipes to climb up, wood to carry, etc. Most of the terrain was hilly, and uneven. I was definitely not prepared for that. It made for some very sore muscles, even with us walking most of the course.

The easiest obstacles for me tended to be the climbing ones. I guess my years of rock climbing paid off (even if I’m not very strong any more).  The hardest obstacle for me personally, was called Everest 2.0. This was a steep halfpipe, with a rounded top. Apparently, the trick is to use speed to run up as fast as you can. People at the top help each other, but they say not to aim for the hands. This obstacle was at the half way point for us. For whatever reason, I felt like I was completely out of gas. I struggled to muster up the energy to get enough speed to make it to the top. After 3 tries (plus one where I started to run, and started laughing at something someone said, so bailed), I was ready to admit defeat. I was frustrated and exhausted. I hadn’t eaten in several hours, and had long since burned through my breakfast. I decided to try one more time. This time, by a miracle, Chris, one of my teammates, caught my hand. Matt, another team mate jumped next to him to grab my other one. Charlie, our team captain, was trying to grab my leg. I didn’t have the strength to even swing it over… after hanging for what seemed like an eternity, I mustered the strength to swing it over, where he grabbed it, and they all pulled me over.

Luckily, I found a second wind after that. I managed to make it through all the rest of the obstacles. There were 3 obstacles I did not complete…. two had to do with going through electric wires. I got zapped pretty bad in high school, and didn’t want to relive that experience, so I skipped those two. The third obstacle I did not complete, was called Kong. It was a Legionaires-only obstacle. That means that only people who had completed the Tough Mudder  at least once could do that obstacle. Since it was my first time, I couldn’t try it. That was ok by me, because I knew I would fail. The obstacle before that one had monkey bars, etc. I was very disappointed in myself that I only made it across two monkey bars before I fell in the water. I was hoping to make it at least halfway across. Oh well, maybe next year.

Didn’t realize how banged up my knees were, until after my shower.

Four hours or so later, we finished the Tough Mudder. We were hot, sweaty, sore, and utterly exhausted! At the same time, it was thrilling to know that we had done it. We all had some battle wounds – cuts, bruises, scrapes, and lots of sunburn (despite putting plenty of sunblock on before hand). Some of us struggled with muscle cramps during the event, but it was all worth it!!

I now know how to train differently. I need to make sure I have a bigger breakfast that day, to make sure I pre-hydrate, and do some practice run/walks on hilly terrain. I will continue to work on being able to do things like pull ups, rings, monkey bars, and climbing walls. I will likely also go to a “Ninja Gym” to practice doing things like climbing ropes, and running up walls. I will be better prepared to not only complete obstacles, but also to be a better teammate, more capable of helping others over the obstacles.

I loved that this was such a team-focused event. We all worked together, and we made it! I am looking forward to doing the Tough Mudder again in the future!

 

 

 

School Trip

My scrapbook page from our band trip to Chicago, Junior Year of high school. This was just after dinner at Ed Dbeviks.

Tomorrow, my daughter heads out to Chicago with her choir. I’m not sure who’s more excited, her, or me?

While in Chicago, they are going to have some really cool experiences! They are going to see a production of Chicago, going to see The Blue Man Group, and going to the Aquarium. They are also going to Millenium Park – because you can’t go to Chicago as a tourist, and not take pictures in front of the Bean! They are also going to Navy Pier, and a few other locations. Of course, they also are doing some singing while they are there. Instead of a dance master class, like Grace is used to, they are doing a choir master class with a college professor.

She is so excited for her 4 days in the Windy City with her friends, that I’m surprised she’s sleeping at all!

I am excited for her, because I remember my band trips from high school very fondly! Some of my very favorite high school memories were made on our trips to Chicago (Junior Year),  and Toronto (Senior Year). As an adult, I have had the pleasure of visiting Chicago a few times. I saw The Blue Man Group, the parks, etc. and enjoyed them all.

I can’t wait to hear all about her adventures when she gets back!

 

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