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!

 

Yellowstone 5K 2017

One of my goals in my fitness journey, is to run a 5K.

I have technically done two Polar Plunge 5Ks before, but I walked both of those. Yes, I technically finished them both (and was at the back of the pack in both). Yes, I got a shirt from each one. This said, neither met my goal of running a 5K.

A couple months ago, Jason pitched me the idea of doing a virtual 5K together. I didn’t really know what a virtual 5K was… basically, you pay the entry fee, and you run a 5K wherever you want. You send in your time by a certain date, and they send you a medal and shirt. I decided it might be a good way to ease into this whole running thing. I have been doing some running at the gym, but not as much as I’d like. One day, Jason sent me a message and said, “Let’s do our 5K tonight.” Neither of us had done much training, but what the heck… why not? Jason had a goal of finishing in 45 minutes. I did not want to commit to that time, but was committed to finishing.

During the show I was recently in, I talked to one of the cast members who has been doing a lot of running and biking over the past couple years. I told him about the little training I had done, and about my struggles to maintain a running pace. My stamina was terrible! Even though I didn’t think I was very fast compared to other people I had seen at the gym, he told me I was running too fast. His advice was to take the speed down a bit, and shoot for small goals – running for x number of minutes, or one mile, whatever. My goal while Jason and I did our 5K was to run for one mile straight. I set it at 4.8, really more of a jog, but one I thought I could maintain. I was able to maintain a speed between 4.8 and 5 MPH for an entire mile, then walked (at a fast pace) for a short while. I jogged for a half mile, and walked a little more. I was able to keep the intervals of jogging and fast walking going for the entire 3.2 miles. The last half a mile was tough, but I kept going.

In the end, I finished in 42 minutes, 34 seconds. This was under the 45 minutes that I didn’t think I’d make in the first place! That means I averaged 4.53 MPH for 3.2 miles!! I can’t walk that fast, which means that I officially did it! I ran a 5K! The best part? I beat Jason by 20 seconds!!

Today, Jason and I got our medals and shirts from the Yellowstone Virtual 5K. This race raised money for Yellowstone National Park, which we loved when we went a couple years ago. It was a good cause for a first race. The medal was based on the Grand Prismatic Spring, and was much more beautiful than it looked online. The shirts were great quality too! I look forward to wearing it.

Jason and I, showing off our swag!

This summer, Today, Jason and I plan on doing a couple more. Not sure if they will all be virtual races (which feel like less pressure), or if I will run a race with other people at the same time, but I will definitely do more.

 

White Bear Lake Lion’s Club Show 2017

Sleeping With the Television On – our opening number. Thank you to Jen Goplen for this great photo!

This past weekend, I had the privilege of being a part of the 71st annual White Bear Lake Lion’s Club Show. This is the local Lion’s Club‘s largest fundraiser each year. All the proceeds go back to the community in the form of scholarships, books for schools, food for the food shelf, etc.

My character, Heidi Bomboozala.

This was my third year being in this show. The title was “Lost in TV Land 2.” It was about a man, Herman, who has been disrespectful to his wife by spending too much time golfing and watching TV. The Spirit of Neglected Housewives took Herman through some of his favorite old shows to teach him about respecting his wife.  My role this year was to play a female villain from the show Get Smart. I was also a backup dancer in two other scenes – M.A.S.H. and The Munsters. This was a fun show to be a part of, despite quite a bit of down time in Act 1.

3 out of 4 of the members of the makeup and hair crew. Grace, Jen, and Kari.

 

 

 

My daughter joined in the fun this year by being part of the hair and makeup crew. This was perfect for her, because she loves doing makeup and hair, and didn’t have the same time commitment as those of us “acting” in the show. There were a few makeup changes mid-show, and it took the whole team to help get them done on time. Almost every scene of the show had at least one person wearing a wig. When they weren’t doing makeup changes, the group was helping prepare wigs, helping people put them on, etc. Shayna (not pictured) led the team. I think they all had as much fun being behind the scenes, as we all did on stage! Every time I was in the hall where they were set up, I heard a lot of laughing!

Scott E. aka Herman Munster. This was one of the main makeup jobs that needed to be applied mid-show, and then again before the end.

One of my favorite things about being a part of the Lion’s Club Show, is all the friendships made. The people involved in this show are mainly Lions (or friends/family members of Lions). They enjoy serving the community. During the rehearsals, we heard over and over how “we want to put on a good show, and make people laugh.” The focus is always on raising as much as we can, so the Lions Club would have more money to give back. Not only do most of the people in this show have a “heart of servitude”, they are genuinely pretty great people! I enjoy spending all the hours of rehearsals and dance practices with them. We all laugh a lot!!

Kathy, Suzie, and I. We all tap dance together, and participate in the show together. Both women are huge inspirations to me to keep on moving, no matter how old I may get. The best part? They are ALWAYS smiling!

In the show this year were: people I have only met and spent time with during show season (some I had watched in shows when I was younger); women I tap dance with; one woman I danced with in Jr. High (and her niece that used to dance with Grace); one guy I graduated from high school with; and lots of family members of people I went to high school with. I will miss the hours we all spent working on the show, dancing, and laughing together. I’m already looking forward to being a part of next year’s show!

After the Friday night show, the cast traditionally goes out for a karaoke party. This year, it was at The Stadium. There was lots of singing, dancing, some poker playing by the teenage boys (not for money), and a few other shenanigans. I don’t think anyone there didn’t have fun!

On Saturday night, a few of us brought all the teens out for Pies and Fries at Baker’s Square. I think this was the third year we did this. There was a lot of laughing coming from their table. I think they had fun!

 

Next March, if you want to laugh, and see a fun show, please consider coming to see us! It is usually the first weekend in March, at Central Middle School in White Bear Lake. Laughing for a great cause… what better way to spend a couple of hours?

2015 Was a Great Year

All the spouses and friends who came along on SQL Cruise.

All the spouses and friends who came along on SQL Cruise.

At the end of the year, we often reflect back on the year gone by, and dream about what the new year will hold. Overall,2015 was pretty great! We went on a few vacations, participated in new adventures, and made new friends. Here are some of the highlights of the year:

SQL Cruise

My mojito tasting partners on the cruise!

My mojito tasting partners!

In January, Jason and I went on SQL Cruise. We took a Norwegian Cruise to St. Maarten, St. Thomas, and Nassau, Bahamas. During our days at sea, Jason was in class, learning new things about SQL, while I sat on the deck reading in the sun, or “tasting” mojitos with a few of the other wives. We got to spend the week with old friends, and made some new ones.

At a beach side cafe on St. Maarten with Jason. So beautiful!

At a beach side cafe on St. Maarten with my husband, Jason. So beautiful!

My favorite day of the cruise was our day in St. Maarten. I’m pretty sure it’s the most beautiful place I have EVER visited! I did, however, learn that the “nudists” aren’t always as well hidden as I might have expected.

 

WBL Lions’ Club Show – Peter’s Pants

Here are all the Lost Children from the Lions Club Show.

Here are all the Lost Children from the Lions Club Show.

Last year was my first time being a part of the White Bear Lake Lion’s Club Annual Show. The title last year was “Peter’s Pants” (loosely based on “Peter Pan”). Some of my closest friends and their families have been involved with the Lion’s Club’s largest annual fundraiser for years. I have been wanting to be a part of it for many years, and finally made it work! My role was as one of the Lost Children. It was a very fun role with lots of singing and dancing. I made some great new friends being part of this show, and got to spend time with many old friends I don’t get to see very often.

Grace and a few of her Teen Company team mates dancing in the Lions Club Show.

Grace and a few of her Teen Company team mates dancing in the Lions Club Show.

I also got to watch Grace dance in the show with the Lake Area Dance Center dancers for her 2nd year. This time though, I got to watch from backstage.

 

Grace in her solo costume at StarQuest.

Grace in her solo costume at Hall Of Fame.

Grace’s 1st solo – Billie Jean

Grace did her first ever solo last year! She did a tap solo to the Vitamin String Quartet’s version of Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean. It was so amazing to watch her perform all on her own in a group of top competitors in tap! She did very well. While she did not place in any of the competitions, she got a platinum score at two competitions, and high golds at the rest. Doing a solo really helped Grace grow as a tap dancer too. It was a great experience for her.

Participating in my first recital for LADC

Here we were, dancing in the recital!

Here we were, dancing in the recital!

I have been taking the adult tap classes at Lake Area Dance Center for about four years. This past year, we finally participated in the recital! It was both nerve-wracking and exciting! It had been several years since I had been in a recital… I don’t know that I’ll ever not get nervous! I had a lot of fun dancing in the recital with teacher, Miss Maria, and several friends (most of whom were also in the Lion’s Club Show). We danced to Lady Madonna, by the Beatles. In the same shows I danced in, I also got to watch my son dance in his first tap dance, and perform his 3rd hip hop dance. 🙂

Being asked to teach summer school

I was asked to co-teach summer school this past year in our district’s Kindergarten Readiness Preschool  (KRP) program. I taught at Evergreen Park World Cultures Community School. KRP is a 4 day program, to which children are bused each day. They ate breakfast, and we had preschool. We had a playground that we got to go on every day (something I miss at my site). It was a lot of fun to teach in a new setting with a teacher I have not yet had the opportunity to teach with. I am hoping to have this opportunity again next summer.

Enjoying the view at Lake Vermillion.

Enjoying the view at Lake Vermillion.

Vermillion

We made our annual trip to Lake Vermillion to Jason’s family’s home on the lake. It’s always a fun long weekend with our family, as well as the in-laws, and all the cousins.

We spent our time playing games (both board games, and card games), fishing, hanging out by the fire, jet skiing, swimming, sitting in the sauna, etc.

The kids spent most of the days catching crayfish, swimming, playing games, and enjoying their time together. At night, when they were not hanging out at the fire, or playing a competitive game of SkipBo, they would play flashlight tag…

 

20 Year High School Reunion

It’s hard to believe, but yes, it’s been 20 years since I graduated high school. We had our 20 year reunion this past summer. I really enjoyed catching up with people I haven’t seen in years. I also got to see many friends I still see on a regular basis, and/or that I keep in touch with via facebook.

Yellowstone

Our family at Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park.

Our family at Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park.

I’ve written quite a bit about our Yellowstone adventure this past summer. You can read some of the highlights here. We went through South Dakota’s Custer State Park, to Devil’s tower, then on to Yellowstone. We had a great trip, despite having all 5 kids packed into an SUV for hours on end!

 

Michael competing, so much improvement! 1st place in both divisions (Fall). Up to Advanced Brown Belt

174I have really enjoyed watching my son, Michael, compete in karate this year. His first tournament of this past year, he took first place in both form and sparring. It was awesome! He also got his Advanced Brown Belt this fall. Next up, black belt – quite the accomplishment!

 

Grace’s first high school musical

Grace was in her first high school musical, Nice Work, If You Can Get It. She played the role of a flapper girl. She discovered that she loves theater as much as she loves dance! I have always known musical theater would be her thing! The show was a lot of fun. The theater did an incredible job putting it on!096

 

Chosen to play the bride in the Lion’s Club Show – loosely based on Tony & Tina’s wedding

Starting tomorrow, we begin rehearsing for this year’s Lion’s Club Show. It is called Ole and Lena’s Wedding. It is loosely based on the show Tony and Tina’s Wedding. I am playing Lena (the bride)! YIKES!!! I’m both nervous and excited, but mostly, I feel completely honored to have been chosen for the role!

It’s going to be a great show. You won’t regret it if you come check it out! The show will be March 3-5. Follow the link above for ticket information.

 

2016 is starting out with a busy rehearsal schedule, followed by show weekend, then competition season, then, who knows… what I do know, is I plan to have just as great a year!

 

Nice Work, If You Can Get It

My Grace, in her flapper costume. Photo by Patrick Timmons (Cookie McGee in the show).

Grace, in her flapper costume. Photo by Patrick Timmons (Cookie McGee in the show).

My daughter is in her very first high school musical, Nice Work, If You Can Get It. This past weekend was opening weekend. I went twice. It was a great show!

I didn’t realize that White Bear Lake’s Theater Department was well known for being so incredible! Several people (from other districts) have told me that was the case – recognition well deserved!

The casting, costumes, choreography, singing, live music, set, effects… all fantastic! The roles were perfectly cast!

Everyone involved worked so hard. The cast alone was practicing every day after school from about 3:30-anywhere from 9-10:30 at night. I can’t imagine all the hours the directors, crew, costume moms, music directors, set construction crew, etc. put in on top of that!

Here is a group shot, taken by Kathy Burnham.

Here is a group shot, taken by Kathy Burnham.

I went to both shows on Saturday, and heard several comments that are a huge congratulations to everyone involved! Here are some of the things I heard: “The costumes are fantastic!” “Where did they get those great costumes?” “How did they find so many kids who could dance?” “I can’t believe these are high school kids.” “They make it look so fun!” “Great singing!” “Wow, all the colors really pop off the stage!”

What impressed me about the show (on top of all that), was that even when things went less than perfect, the cast and crew continued on without a hitch.

Nice Work If You Can Get It is a prohibition era, boy meets girl comedy. There is a lot of singing and dancing with bootleggers, flappers, and a clueless pretty boy. It is a hilarious show, and SO MUCH FUN!! I am looking forward to seeing it one more time before it closes. I’d recommend you do the same.

Another fun shot of the cast taken by Kathy Burnham.

Another fun shot of the cast taken by Kathy Burnham.

There are still three shows left: Thursday, 11/19; Friday 11/20 and Saturday 11/21. All shows are at 7 PM. You can purchase tickets at the following link: https://apps.vendini.com.

 

Side note:

088

This was probably my favorite of the headpieces I made. This one was for my daughters flapper costume.

While I was not as involved as I would have liked to have been (due to lack of time) in this production, I did get to help with headpieces. I had a lot of fun being creative with the miscellaneous supplies that were offered to us! The moms were pretty great too. That was definitely something I would do again!

Our Western Adventure – Cowboy Dinner

Some of the kids and I on the semi-covered wagon, heading out to the Cowboy Cookout.

Some of the kids and I on the semi-covered wagon, heading out to the Cowboy Cookout.

Our last evening in Yellowstone, we went to the Cowboy Cookout.

There were two options available; we could either ride horses to the cookout, or take a wagon ride. A couple of the kids didn’t want to do the horseback rides, so we went on the wagon ride. It was a lot of fun!

We got there plenty early to get checked in, go to the bathroom, etc. This was a good idea, since the line was quite long for the bathrooms. Then, we waited while they got all the horses hooked up, etc. One of the wranglers gave us some important info (such as “DON’T RUN!! It attracts bears”) that we needed to know before heading out. Then, they told us which wagons to go to, and we were off for a 25 minute or so wagon ride out to the cookout site.

Our fantastic story-teller of a wrangler.

Our fantastic story-teller of a wrangler.

Our wrangler was awesome! The whole way to the cookout, he entertained us/gave us a history lesson us with the story of Truman Everts, a man who was stranded in the park for 37 days, before Yellowstone was a National Park, or was fully explored. He got about halfway through the story on the way there, and finished on the way back. He was a great story-teller. So great, that after dinner on the cookout, he was telling “cowboy stories” around the campfire until it was time to go back.

The cookout food was delicious! It was a buffet with steak and all sorts of side dishes. My favorite was the apple cobbler. YUM! After a week of eating sandwiches for lunch every day, it was a welcome meal, and oh, so good! There were several choices of pop, lemonade, and “cowboy coffee.” The coffee was made over the campfire. Not sure how they did it, or what was different, but it was my first real coffee all week, and it was good!

I love that Grace is laughing so hard at this cowboy story!

I love that Grace is laughing so hard at this cowboy story!

During dinner, there was a man and woman playing guitar, singing cowboy songs. After dinner, the entertainment moved around the huge fire pit, for more songs, and the cowboy stories I referred to earlier.

Overall, this was a really fun time. The whole family enjoyed it. I would definitely go again, though, next time, I want to do the horseback ride!

Side note

On the way to the cookout, we drove up Mt. Washburn. The road going up was treacherous. I was glad I wasn’t driving. I’m sure Jason wished I was! Despite the extremely poor road going up, it was a gorgeous view at the top. I’d say it was worth it!

The petrified tree

The petrified tree

We also stopped to see the petrified tree. It was cool to see, only because we had never seen one before. Other than that, it was kind of sad. It was fenced off so people wouldn’t steal parts of it…

AMAZING!!

On the way back to our campsite, we saw the most amazing double rainbow any of us had ever seen. The entire sky was purple. The rainbow made a complete arc across the sky from end to end, with the brightest, most amazing colors ever! I kind of understand where the guy in that famous internet video was coming from… I think we all sounded about the same. It was a perfect way to end our awesome Yellowstone vacation!

This picture does not do the beautiful rainbow justice, but it gives an idea.

This picture does not do the beautiful rainbow justice, but it gives an idea.

Our Western Adventure – Boiling River

1645On our second to last day in Yellowstone, we went to the Boiling River. It was one of the favorites for almost everyone.

What makes the Boiling River swimming area special, is that it’s an area where the Mammoth Hot Springs empty into the Gardner River. Temperatures fluctuate from feeling icy cold, to burning hot. There are places you can stand where one leg feels super hot, while the other is cold. It’s definitely a neat experience!

Other features include a couple of small waterfalls (but they are too hot to go under), and stone sculptures. People created these small sculptures in the areas where the water is colder, the current flows faster, and/or, on the other side of the river. When you notice them, you can’t help but be impressed by the balancing acts of the stones (and admire the patience of the people who created them)!

We were eating at this picnic table literally less than 5 minutes before this picture was taken. We had no idea there were any elk around!

We were eating at this picnic table literally less than 5 minutes before this picture was taken. We had no idea there were any elk around!

Side Note: We had hoped to be able to spend some time in Mammoth, but time just didn’t allow. It’s definitely on our “must see” list for next time. What we could see from the road while driving through, looked pretty cool. We stopped on the way to the river to have a picnic dinner just outside the Mammoth Hotel. No more than about 3 minutes after we got up to throw our trash away, a few elk came (seemingly out of nowhere) and took over the area we had just been in. After we left our picnic, we headed out to do some swimming.

When we got to the parking area, it was full. We had to park in an overflow lot across the street. When we walked across to begin the hike down to the river, there were a couple of elk next to the road/driveway in a grassy area. The female that was closest to the parking lot seemed a bit agitated, and kept bellowing (or whatever you call an elk’s sound). I was wearing a red shirt. After an experience I had as a kid, when I was chased by a bull while wearing a red jumper, I was feeling a bit nervous. I was sure she was yelling at me. I walked very slowly by her, trying to give her as much space as I could.

Part of the trail leading to the swimming area.

Part of the trail leading to the swimming area.

To get to the swimming area, it is anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 a mile hike down a path. It was a nice walk, and well worth it in the end. That being said, you never know what you might encounter…. Jason and most of the kids had gone ahead. Michael came back to change, since there was no port-a-potty or other area to change down by the river. This would have been helpful to know before we started walking down there… Michael and I saw a small snake cross our path as we walked.

This guy decided to block the main entrance to the river.

This guy decided to block the main entrance to the river.

For some reason, I ended up getting to the river last. Four of the kids were already swimming, while Jason and Nikolai were “watching our stuff.” There were quite a few people there! As I was getting to the final part of the path that went to the water, I watched an elk cross the river, and stand directly between me and where everyone else was at. I tried to wait him out, but he was enjoying some tasty grass… I decided to back track, and walk in the water to where everyone was at. That was tricky, but I did make it.

I would recommend for anyone planning on swimming in the Boiling River to wear some sort of strap on sandals or water socks. The rocks are slippery, and some are rather large. It can be tricky to maneuver around in the water, especially when you are looking for the perfect spot to sit or swim. I tried the first time bare-foot. I learned my lesson, and wore my sandals when I went back in (after setting my bag down on the shore). Jason was wearing flip flops, and when one caught on a rock and popped up, he slipped. It could have been a disaster!

The water in the warm half of the Boiling River is not very deep.

The water in the warm half of the Boiling River is not very deep.

There were 2-3 areas that almost seemed like the rocks were placed just so, creating man-made hot tubs (I’m guessing people put the rocks that way to create sitting areas). Temps in these areas were perfect for basking. Unfortunately, those areas were pretty full of families who got there long before us.

Our kids had a great time swimming, testing the different areas, and skipping rocks across the river (which isn’t very wide). We would definitely come back the next time we come to Yellowstone.

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