Creativity in Costuming and Props

Over the past couple years, I have become increasingly amazed at the creativity that comes with costuming and prop creation for shows.


The other night, I was working at the front desk at the dance studio. My task for that shift was to assemble some headbands for one of the competitive dance groups. The flowers I was gluing to the headbands, I had pulled off a garland a week before that. At that time, they were pink. Since then, they had been spray painted white, purple, and two shades of blue. I did not come up with the idea, I was just doing the tasks I was given… I was amazed at the creativity behind the creation of those headpieces! To look at flowers on a garland, and think, “I could just paint those these 4 colors, glue them to a headband, and get exactly the accent piece I am looking for.” WOW! That is not a talent I have!

Over the past several years, I have had the privilege of helping assemble/prepare many of the props, so I know how much hard work goes into them. Props and costume pieces for our dancers are often pieces that come from something completely different than what they are turned into. In many cases, I have found myself saying, “I would have never thought to make this out of that!”


Currently, I am participating in the White Bear Lake Lion’s Club Show. This is my third year participating in this huge fundraiser for the Lion’s Club! This year, we have an amazing number of props, sets, costumes, etc. While many of us are putting together our own costumes, and bringing in some of our own props, there are MANY pieces being created by a fantastic crew of people. They are working very hard to try and find or create authentic-looking costumes and costume pieces. They are able to come up with ideas that I would have never thought of. Even if I had the creativity to come up with the ideas, I do not have the talent to create such pieces! I appreciate the people who spend many hours pulling together pieces, doing alterations, etc. to make us all look the parts.

Last year, my daughter was in the musical at her high school. The women who worked tirelessly to put together 20’s era costumes were amazing! Many items came from Goodwill or other thrift stores, but were then altered significantly to turn it into something from the right time period. One of my daughter’s Chorus Girl dresses, was created from a figure skating costume. By the time the show took place, the costume fit the show perfectly!

I am in awe of people who can look at something, and just know how to create something completely different out of it! The performing arts world is a better place, because of the creative people who are able to make costumes, props, and sets with limited budgets, pieces that were intended for other uses, and even from raw materials. Thank you all for your hard work, and creative ideas!


We Adopted Two Kittens!

Anyone who knew me growing up, knows I always had multiple dogs and cats. We showed Samoyeds, and usually had 2 or 3. We also had at least 2 cats most of the time. I could never imagine a house with no animals. For a good part of my adult life, I had no pets. It always seemed like there was something missing.

When Grace was 3 or 4, we got a cat, Snugglebug. Grace loved the cat, but was allergic. The cat also started peeing and pooping in the house when we weren’t home. We realized at that time, that we just weren’t home enough to give the cat the attention it needed and deserved. My mom helped us find another home for her.

About 7 years ago, I got Duke, a black lab mix. We have thoroughly enjoyed having him as part of our family.

Recently, my husband started talking about getting a cat. I thought he was kidding. He wasn’t. We talked, and decided we wanted a female kitten, preferably with short hair… I started looking around, and found out it’s harder to find kittens to adopt than you would expect. I looked online, and I went to several Petsmart stores, since a friend of mine said she saw kittens at one. I stopped at a local Humane Society, and found no kittens. On a website of a local shelter, they said they have adoption events at Petsmart locations on Saturdays from 11-2. After over a week of searching, we decided to take a chance, and see what they had for animals at the adoption event.

20161231_114216When we first got there, there were several crates lined up with young cats. They were all so cute! As we were looking at them, I jokingly said to my husband, “Can’t we just take them all home?” He looked at me, and said, “Do you want 2?” Again, I thought he was kidding. Again, he wasn’t. There was one female (with long hair), and one handsome male that really grabbed our attention. We ended up with both of them. We named them Luke and Leia, because we are that geeky!

The kittens are from different litters, but are only a day apart in age. They were fostered in the same home, so are siblings for all intents and purposes. The agency that we adopted from was St. Francis of Assissi Animal Rescue of Forest Lake. They are a foster-based shelter. The family that fostered these kittens was there to answer all our questions about them. The foster mom, Tia, obviously loved the kittens. She had had the girl kitten since birth, and got the male a short while later. We are very lucky that they were in such a great home for the first 3-4 months of their lives!

Luke and Leia seem very happy in their new home!

Luke and Leia seem very happy in their new home!

Both kittens are very cuddly, playful, and adapted very well to their new home. They haven’t been at all nervous or shy like the shelter thought they could be. They have explored the house, found favorite places to lay, and They are not afraid of the dog. We are taking our time introducing them, using only short “meet and greets” a few times a day for the next couple days. The female cat seems very interested in him. We’ll see how it goes as they get to spend more and more time together.

I am glad we got two kittens… they entertain each other, and us! With 2 adults, 5 kids (though one spends most of his time away at college), 1 dog, and 2 cats, our house now feels complete! 🙂

12 Days of Fitness

Lifetime Fitness had a “12 Days of Fitness” challenge. If you completed all 12 workouts, you’d be entered into a chance for a Spa services. Since I could really use a massage, I went for it. In the 14 days of the challenge, I managed to complete 8 of the workouts. I also had a personal training session with Kevin, who showed me how to properly use kettlebells, and showed me some of the equipment listed on some of the workouts, so I would know what to do to complete them… I also attended a Kettlebell class as part of the 60 Day Challenge. That class kicked my butt, and I decided to let my body rest for the next 2 days (during which time, I completed all of my Christmas shopping, and baked most of my Christmas cookies).
Am I disappointed that I didn’t get all 12 workouts done? A little, but I still feel really good about what I accomplished during that time! I tried new things I previously wouldn’t have. I took pictures of some of the workouts that I enjoyed, so that I can do them again in the future.
I’m not going to lose a bunch of weight right now… I’m working towards a healthier me, I’m working to maintain where I am at, I am working towards building up my strength. Once the holidays are over, I will get back to focusing on what I’m eating again, while continuing to work out. I might not get skinny again (heck, when I was, people were offering me a sandwich everywhere I went, and that’s annoying). That said, I don’t ever want to get to the point where I am disgusted by what I see in the mirror – not ever again!!
The journey is what it’s about, and that journey is still going. 🙂

Abstract Art

Tonight, I had conferences for my 6th grader, Michael. I thought I’d share a story I heard from his art teacher .

His teacher said she had to send Michael to the principal’s office the other day, but it wasn’t because he was in trouble…. of course, I was concerned… that is, until I heard the reason…

After lunch, Michael came to class with cheese in his hair. He went up to her, and said, “Look Miss Vadnais, I’m abstract art!” I couldn’t help but laugh at that!! It totally sounded like something he would do! In fact, I thought there was a chance he did it on purpose, since he loves to make people laugh. She said it looked like it had splattered, and she thought he might be trying to cover for a mistake at lunch…

The reason she had sent him to the office, was to get the cheese cleaned out. She said, “I couldn’t just let him walk around the rest of the day with cheese in his hair. That wouldn’t smell very good. But… I wasn’t going to let him clean it in MY sink!”

The whole situation made me laugh!! I was so worried about how conferences might go, I totally needed that!

The MyFitnessPal App

As part of my journey to get in shape, and be more healthy, I have been using is the MyFitnessPal app. It’s a free app in the Play Store. My husband uses the paid version, which just gives him a few more benefits. For me, the free version is good enough. Here’s how I use the app:

  1. First, I entered my goals, and it calculated how many calories/day I should eat.
  2. I enter my food and exercise every day, and it keeps track of how many calories I have left, or went over for the day. What’s nice, is that it adds calories to what I can eat, based on the amount of exercise I do. For someone like me, who loves to eat, that’s great motivation to work out!
  3. screenshot_20160911-222452The app breaks down what I’ve eaten into percentages of protein, carbs, and fats. It tells me what I should aim for, which is very helpful. What I’ve found, is that I don’t eat enough protein. Using the macros on the app has gotten me to pay attention to balancing out the foods I’m eating, so that I get enough protein, or watch my carb consumption in the next meal when I’ve had way too many already that day.
  4. It also tells me how I’m doing on getting enough vitamins/nutrients. I’ve discovered, that even though I’m eating a banana every day, I’m not getting enough potassium. That is one that’s hard to find decent supplements for, but I’m now taking multivitamins, as well as some other supplements (such as flax seed oil – which I will be switching to fish oil when these are out). I said in a previous post that I didn’t want to rely on supplements to feel better, and that’s still true. I am, however, trying to make sure I get enough nutrients to keep my body able to work hard. So far, it’s paying off. 
  5. Finally, by entering food into my food diary, I am also educating myself about my food intake. For example, when I go to Caribou Coffee and get a piece of cinnamon coffee cake, and a Campfire Mocha with skim, I am consuming about 1/3 the number of calories I should be having in an entire day. That is generally what I would have 3 or more days per week as a snack for much of last year. No wonder I gained so much weight! This does not mean I am going to quit going to Caribou (it’s my favorite), it simply means I will pay attention to how often I am going there. I will most likely save it for a day I have worked out, or am planning on eating a lot of protein (to balance out the carbs and fat in the mocha).

As a bonus, MyFitnessPal syncs with my fitbit. When I walk a lot of steps, but haven’t necessarily “exercised”, it gives me a calorie credit based on the number of steps I have walked. Not only that, but my water consumption, weight loss or gain, etc. updates in both apps as I enter them (regardless of which app I initially enter it into).

Similar to much of social media, you can connect with your friends on the app. The only one I am “friends” with right now, is my husband, Jason. We can “like” or leave comments on each other’s progress with exercise, weight loss, etc. A feature that I have taken advantage of, is that I can see Jason’s diary each day. If we both ate the same meal, and he entered his first, I can just copy it right over to my own food diary. This comes in especially handy when it’s a custom meal that he entered the recipe for.

The final feature that comes to mind that I use often are the health and nutrition articles that are available on the app. When I first open the app, and let it know that I want to track my food, exercise, water consumption, etc, it opens my “newsfeed”. This shows me not only my notifications/progress, but Jason’s as well. Interspersed, are useful articles. None of them are too long, and most that I have read, have great information.

I would recommend this app to anyone trying to get a handle on their eating, or just trying to improve their weight or fitness level.

Celebrating Small Successes

I’ve spent the past two months or so, working really hard to get back in shape, and get healthy. We did the Whole 30 diet (mine was modified), I lost a total of about 8 lbs. I also gained some better eating habits, such as preparing ahead, and being willing to do more cooking of real foods. It also got me looking at labels more, and made me realize how much added sugar there is in so many foods that you wouldn’t think of.

In July, I started going to the gym at least 3 times a week. That has since increased to about 5-6 days/week. I’ve been doing a lot of Zumba, but also core and full body strength exercises.

Jason and I joined the 60 Day Challenge at Lifetime. This has been great, because, not only does it offer support from a personal trainer, it offers “Try-it Tuesday” classes two times a week (Tuesday and Saturday). Sometimes the classes are group fitness classes, sometimes, they are seminars about nutrition, metabolism, etc. As part of the challenge, I also signed up for Precision Nutrition (PN) online. This is another way to be held accountable, while learning new, healthier habits. Luckily for me, Nichole, the trainer I’ve been working with, is also a PN coach, and is continuing to be my partner in accountability.

When I first met with Nichole, my body fat was at 38%. Yikes! With all the working out, eating better, etc., I have dropped that number down to 34.2%. I still have a long ways to go, but that is progress I can feel good about!

Today, I caught my reflection in the sideview mirror of my husband’s Jeep. I didn’t see my double chin. For a while, I could see two whenever I’d catch my reflection in the mirror or my phone, but not today! 🙂

At the beginning of my journey a couple months ago, I could maybe do 7 push-ups total (with knees down). Nichole wanted me to try to do 3 sets of 8, with a minute of rest in between each set. A month and a half ago, I couldn’t do it. I averaged 7-8, then 5-6, then 3. Just over a week ago, I did my first complete 3 sets of 8 each. I am still keeping my knees down, but now that I’m able to do three sets of eight consistently, I’m going to work to do full push-ups.

I am celebrating the little signs that I am getting stronger every day. I am celebrating each little success, and using it as motivation to keep pushing forward. I am feeling less self-conscious about my weight, and looking forward to continued progress!



A Scary Evening at Children’s Hospital.

This was written on Monday of this last week. I didn’t realize I never published it:

“Tonight was a scary night.

When I got out of the class I was taking at the gym, I checked my phone, and saw 5 missed calls from the adult that was at a community pool with Michael and his friends. She left a message, but I didn’t check it, I just called her right back. The first thing she said is, “He’s in the ambulance, but the bleeding’s mostly stopped.” I asked what happened, and she told me that she had just recently seen him do a flip into the pool, and she asked him not to do it again. He did, and hit his head on the side of the pool. He had gashed his head pretty good. They wanted me to come right away. You can imagine how panicked I was!

I left the gym, and headed to the pool right away. While I was on my way, my daughter called me, frantic, because a Sheriff had come to the house to see if I was there. They were concerned that they couldn’t get a hold of me. Apparently, the sheriff got to our house right before I got a hold of the mom that was with Michael. I went to the one I thought they were going to, but they were actually at a different pool. When I got to the right one, I saw an ambulance, two sheriff cars, Renee, the mom Michael was there with, and another friend of hers that I knew from the dance studio.

Despite the annoying collar on his neck, Michael was in great spirits.

Despite the annoying collar on his neck, Michael was in great spirits.

Michael was in the back of the ambulance with a collar on his neck, a heart rate monitor on his finger, and a huge gash on the top of his head. The paramedics told me he was going to need staples or stitches at the very least. They didn’t think he had a neck injury, but they had to put a collar on him as a precaution. The paramedic told me Michael didn’t have a headache or nausea. He could remember everything that happened, my phone number, and our address. That was a good sign. One of the paramedics told me that Michael was a riot. He said he’d love to have him in his ambulance all night!

They asked me if I wanted to take him to the hospital, or if they should. I asked them what would be the safest for Michael. We all agreed the ambulance would be the safest, just in case anything were to happen. They asked what hospital I preferred, I asked what they thought. They said they’d recommend Children’s Hospital, but ultimately, it was my choice. I’m so glad I listed to them!

I was shortly behind the ambulance, as I had to meet my husband to switch vehicles. I was driving a loaner that had to be brought back to the shop, and his vehicle had to be picked up tonight. When I got to the hospital, I walked the halls between the ramp, and Children’s Hospital. That part was very confusing, since there are two hospitals that share the hallways, and I had no idea where I was. One nice nurse not only told me the way, but came with me, all the way to the emergency desk!

I got to Michael’s room, and he was happily watching Tomorrowland. Several different people came in to talk to Michael (and me). All of them introduced themselves, told us what their role was, why they were there, and exactly what they were going to do. Every step of the way, we knew what to expect. The “doctor teacher” that came in to explain to Michael the procedure of getting stitches was amazing! She showed him all of the equipment that was going to be used, and how it would be used. When he said the word “stitches”, she asked if he was comfortable using that word, and then did so herself. She used very child-friendly terms, and made him feel ok about it (even though he was a bit nervous). Before long, the two of them were talking about super heroes, both Marvel and DC, as well as the Suicide Squad, and what makes them cool.

The Dr. was pretty fantastic too. She was very interactive with Michael – they all were. She explained why she wanted to get an x-ray before she took his collar off. He really didn’t like that thing. He’s too active a kid to be restrained like that.

Sasha, the technician who actually did his stitches was very confident, and didn’t even waver despite how much worse the injury looked once it was cleaned up, and ready to stitch. It was much worse (deeper and longer) than we originally thought. I looked at it before she stitched it, and she asked if I really wanted to see it. It was pretty gross. I don’t know how people do that job! By this time, Michael had switched to Big Hero 6, and she was talking with him about it while she was applying 3 layers of stitches to the top of his head.

When we finally left, he had gotten a popsicle, which he was pretty excited about. As we were trying to find our way back to the ramp I parked in, we happened to cross paths with that same nurse that had walked me to the ER in the first place. She walked us all the way to the door, and told us how to find our ramp. Twice in one night, she went out of her way to be helpful!

Everyone we met at Children’s Hospital in St. Paul, MN was wonderful! Not that I ever want to have to go there again, but if we did have the need, I wouldn’t hesitate. Thank you to the doctors, nurses, x-ray tech, and everyone else we dealt with. You helped this Mama, and more importantly, her son, through a stressful and scary night!”

This was taken the day after Michael got his stitches.

This was taken the day after Michael got his stitches.

Now that a few days have passed, his head wound appears to be healing up pretty well. His stitches are looking good, and he’s back to his old self.

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