Monday, November 30, 2009

2009 Western Region Oireachtas

:::Edited at 3:59 PM (MST) on 11/30/09 to add the smaller video below that somehow didn't show up on the first publish.:::

I know, I know.....I have negelected my blog. I'm sorry. It seems to be a common theme around me, if you haven't yet noticed. And if you haven't yet noticed, then just look away. No need getting yourself all worked up over nothing.

So, like I said, I've neglected my blog, my house, laundry and even helping the kids with their homework. All due to sheer exhaustion. Anyway, since September, we've spent countless hours at dance, play practice, Oireachtas class and all the driving that all entails. Like my gas gauge, I'm frequently drained.

With that said, I thoroughly enjoyed the Thanksgiving break we had. Thanksgiving was wonderful and was spent with my mom & Nana. We were able to see "Old Dogs" on Friday, pulled out all the Christmas decorations, cleaned up a bit and just relaxed. Oh yeah, I played LEGO Indiana Jones II on Wii for several hours, too. The kids went back to school and I went back to work this morning. We are ready to forge ahead until the next break, which, luckily is only a few weeks away.


Once I get some photo's of Casey in the play, I'll be sure to post them. The play that my middle son was in, Bah Humbug, was amazing and we are so proud him. This was his second play and he did amazingly well in both of them. I am glad it's over. The driving to pick the kids up from school, then back to pick him up just a couple hours later was a little overwhelming after a few dozen times.


If you've been following me on Facebook or Twitter over the past week, you are aware that Irish dance is a huge part of our lives. I am, by all means, a Feis (pronounced "fesh") Mom and I'm proud of it. I have very talented Irish dancers and that happens to be the thing I am in charge of around these here parts. I make sure they get to class, practice, performances and I also volunteer a ton at the school. I also try my best to keep up to date on all-that-is-Irish-dance. This is not an easy task. Do you know how many rules and regulations there are? Not to mention trying to keep up with with your own dancers when they progress so quickly. Not that I'm complaining. I'm not. I'm excited and embrace all the newness surrounding us.

The 2009 Western Region Oireachtas which was held November 21-23 in Denver, CO. We flew in to Denver on November 19 and stayed in a beautiful hotel that my awesome mother paid for. Thanks mom!!!

Christmas decorations filled our hotel lobby. I loved feeling festive.

We left without the new dress for Chloe and prayed that her dress would be finished in time. We had a backup just in case, but it was not something we felt would be appropriate for Oireachtas. Styles change and this was an older style, for sure. Around 6:30 PM that evening, a group of our Crawford friends arrived with the dress in tow. We were estatic and relieved.

To celebrate our arrival at Oireachtas we went to a local Italian restaurant and the kids carb loaded.

Chloe and her dance friends.

Then we headed back to our hotels for the night. It's hard to fall asleep when you're nervous about the next day and how it will go, but thankfully sleep came easy for the three of us.

The next morning I awoke about 5:30 AM to shower and get ready. Rob and I got Chloe up and I began the long process of putting on her wig and make up. She was a trooper while I pulled and tugged her hair into four minature ponytails, then topped the top two off with bath puffs to give her wig some height. When the wig was snug and taut with bobby-pins, I placed her headband carefully around her ringlets and began to weep. She looked like a Champion dancer and I could no longer contain my emotions.

At the venue, we were able to put her dress on for the first time (with her wig). It was the complete package, part of what she is judged on along with her dancing skills, and again.....I began to cry.

Haha. There isn't one competition we've attended where Chloe hasn't pulled a face for the camera. It's just her way. I think it's her way of rebelling when I say, "Be sure to smile! Show the adjudicators that I don't force you to dance."

Chloe was at her second Oireachtas and so much was at stake for this little girl. If it didn't work out, that was okay. We would come back the next year and the next and the next until she didn't want to do it anymore. However, on that day, she was ready to show the adjudicators what she had worked so hard on since Oireachtas 2008.

First was her hornpipe, a hardshoe dance. I clung to my husband as our daughter approached the stage. My stomach was in knots and I was filled with emotions I cannot explain. I couldn't take my eyes off of her and at the same time I prayed that me watching her wouldn't make her nervous.

Standing in front of FIVE adjudicators, these three girls (out of 51 U10 competitors) danced their hearts out. All three of them wanted a recall. Wait, all fifty-one wanted a recall. Maybe some of them wanted to qualify for the North American Championships and others, perhaps, dreamed about qualifying for Worlds. Chloe, she just wanted to be one of 26 that would be recalled.

Then came the soft shoe portion of her dance, a reel. The one dance she tripped up on last year and the one I know she was worried about.

Girls leaving the stage (after bowing to the judges and musicians).
Chloe's group waiting.

They started the U10 hardshoe competition at 8:00 AM and we were done with both dances by 9:30 AM. Then we waited for what seemed like an eternity. Would Chloe get the chance to dance her "set", Hurry the Jug? We wouldn't know until we heard the recall numbers.

While the girls waited they stole my camera and decided to have some fun.

Can you have more fun than this?


Apparently so.

We were able to steal her away for a family photo. I'm so rarely in a photo because I prefer to be behind the lens, but I figured it was a special occasion and should you (or I) need proof that I actually do exist, well...there you have it.

My "Pack Mule" RULZ!

Finally...around 11:30 AM we just happened to be walking into the ballroom when I heard the number eight. Sure, we could have stayed in the ballroom and waited for two hours, but we don't roll that way. Chloe needed to do something besides freak out and I needed to stop worrying about how to comfort her if she didn't recall. We stayed in the back listening intently as a TCRG (certified Irish dance instructor) called out the recall numbers. There was a slight delay in the reading of all the numbers because that TCRG flubbed big time. BIG time.

"...16, 18, 20, 21, 22..oh, wait..21, 24....." ACK! Are you kidding me? A loud groan came from the audience as she took out #22. I felt so sorry for that little girl. I wanted to cry for her. Can you even imagine how that little one must have felt, for just that moment? Terrible fauxpaus.

Then she went on and called out #31! I shrieked and grabbled Chloe (raising her off the ground), we were both crying. Our TCRG came in to the ballroom a little late and saw us crying, but had not heard the numbers. She wondered if it was a "bad cry or a good cry". It was a good cry, Jill! Definitely a good cry!

That evening, as we waited for the award ceremony to start, Chloe started to feel sick. She was nervous and it was starting to get to her. The only thing that worked was a lot of "Daddy Love". I love the fact that my daughter isn't too embarassed to get some snuggles from her daddy. I hope she never loses that.

And then it was time...........

Sorry about the screaming! I almost fell off the chair I was standing on, but my pack mule saved me. Thanks babe! If you want to know what I am screaming at, you'll have to listen closely to the announcement.

Chloe receives her crystal vase and a certificate for the NAC's.

She doesn't even know what is going on! It wasn't until she was standing back in line, while the other girls were called, that she was reading the certificate and started to wonder if she was qualified for National's. She really didn't know for sure until I told her after she came off the stage. Once I told her, she burst into tears and this is a tiny bit of video I was able to get after she found out.

After U10 was finished we all went out into the hall to celebrate, wipe away happy tears, and take photo's.

Clare WQ, Moira WQ, Chloe NQ & Jill (TCRG)

I just love this photo.
The Crawford Oireachtas girls all in one photo with their amazing instructor.

We had a great time in Denver. I enjoyed watching our Senior Ladies team.

Obviously, they aren't actual "seniors", as in 55+, but that's what they are called here in the Irish world. We actually had two teams. One was the Adult Ladies, which could be 55+, but none of them are. This is the first time Crawford has brought teams to Oireachtas and everyone was so proud of them. I was sad to miss the Adult ladies team compete. We ran from our hotel and missed it by just a few minutes. They started early and I guess we cut it too close by hoping they would stick to the schedule. Hmmmph!

Before we went home on Saturday evening, we were able to hang out with (almost) the whole gang for a bit. They were all starving, so we headed to Chipotle.

I have never been to Chipotle, to actually eat, but man did this place look yummy! Unfortunately, we had lunch just an hour before so we just enjoyed the company. I guess I'll just have to try Chipotle another day.

Monday, November 2, 2009

"Why don't you celebrate Halloween?"

Inevitably, I get asked the Halloween question at least once a year. And, you know what? That's okay. I really don't mind.

In our family, the answer you get really depends on who you ask.

Lara from The Lazy Organizer (one of my favorite blogs!) has chosen to host a blog carnival for anyone who does things a little different on Halloween. If you want to read how The Lazy Organizer and others (like me) spent the holiday, go here.

Personally, I really don't care to bore you with all the different perspectives and beliefs, or even my husbands in-depth view of Halloween.

You're welcome!

However, I will tell you my main reasons for not celebrating the traditional Halloween (or "Hallelujah" as I like to call it) and why we don't make it such a big deal.

The Practical Reasons:
  • I really do not like spending tons of money on bags of candy. When I see pallets of Halloween candy in the stores, I break out in hives. Seriously. It causes me to have a mini anxiety attack just thinking about the upcoming holiday. Plus, when I must think of ways to spread out our groceries, I cannot fathom spending $20-$50 dollars on treats to give away. Call me a scrooge or call me frugal. I'll accept either and I will not be offended.
  • Costumes* cost a lot of money and even though we haven't purchased costumes for Halloween in 8 years, it's inevitable our children will cry for one. This year was no exception.
  • I enjoy going to one venue and letting the kids (and myself) be warm and have fun. In Utah, it's not unreasonable to have a foot of snow on the ground and when that happens, TOTing isn't fun. At all. Thankfully, this year we didn't have to deal with that, but it was a bit cold. Rob and I were a bit laid back this year, too. Still suffering from the craziness of the day we were both exhausted and just needed some down time. We pretty much stayed together in various parts of the church while the kids had fun with their friends and siblings.
  • My kids are learning a valuable lesson. That just because the world chooses to celebrate a holiday one way, it does not mean we have to follow along. We can be strong and adhere to our own personal convictions because ultimately, at the end of the evening, we want to feel good about the choices we've made. We have to take into account our own personal beliefs and go with that. It's okay to be different and while your friends may not understand, it's not your friends who will be with you 10, 20, 40 years from now, it's your family. Family is the most important part of any holiday.

The following are just a few photos I was able to snap in the evening from my iPhone. The day did not go as planned. I was a bit stressed out by the time we headed to the party and I forgot my camera. We had an impromtu Insta-Care visit for Chloe, a last minute Worship band practice for Rob and, of course, Irish Dance practice.

I don't even know who the kid is, but the Boba Fett costume is awesome! Or is it, Jango Fett?

Chloe waiting to throw some hoops.

This was a new game that pretty much died an hour into the evening. Oh well, the kids love it while it lasted.

We all know what this game is! Can you spot the blue frog? Sorry...I forgot my good camera.

This year they had a toddler area for the little ones. It was a great spot for the parents to rest, too.

Caleb beat me at this game. Obviously, my 8 year old has a better trigger finger than I.

I'm not really sure what Chloe was. I told her she was a "Biker Chick for Jesus!".

There were so many other games and areas of the church that I didn't even get to photograph. They also had a puppet show that I didn't get to see. They served chili, hotdogs and nachos for Free, so even though it wasn't healthy, it was something other than candy. The kids also had fun on the hay ride, sipping hot chocolate and keeping an eye out for the items on their scavenger hunt list.

* Costumes:

Every year our children try to get us to buy them something. Each year the whining is much less than the year before because we haven't given in, but it's whining none-the-less. This year, Chloe and Braden were fit to be tied because Caleb was getting an army costume and they were getting "nothing". Not because we were buying him one, but because his birthday falls right before Halloween and every year he has chosen to purchase some sort of costume with his birthday money.

Caleb enjoying his cotton candy while waiting for his turn at another game.

Last year it was a very high quality Disney "Jack Sparrow" costume and the year before he was a Star Wars Clone Trooper. When the kids were younger, I would hop into Gymboree or Gap Kids to see if there was anything on sale. I abhor cheapy plastic costumes and refuse to spend good money on them. They'll be useless within a week or two. Several times I scored big and was able to purchase dress-up costumes for play, not just for Halloween. Now that the kids are older, we require them to use their imaginations and refuse to spend money** on anything for Halloween. I am amazed at how creative my children can be when they must think up something themselves. The whole "No TV" thing has helped foster creativity, too, but that's a whole other story.

**I did cave this year and bought Braden (one of my almost 16 year olds) a $0.97 plastic top hat so he could be "Slash" or "Ozzy", or whatever he was. Plus, the reason I bought it was because I wanted to surprise him. It's not often he only wants something that is 97 cents, so I got a huge smile, a "Thank You, Mom!" and a happy teenager for only a buck. That is something to be Joyful about!!
  • Brenden (16)-Some emo/punk person with really tight purple pants. (Oy!)
  • Braden (16) -Slash/Ozzy. Someone with long black hair and a top hat.
  • Casey (13)-A mix of different pieces of clothing that he said was a "mime".
  • Chloe (10)-A biker chick for Christ, but it changed often.
  • Caleb (8)- An army guy.

Chloe waiting for her turn to pop some balloon's.

Too Old to Celebrate (with family)?:

This year was a bit different in how we spent the evening. While we did go to the Harvest Party at Calvary Chapel of Salt Lake City, we did not go as a whole family. This was our first Halloween apart. It was quite apparent that our teenager's didn't want to have anything to do with the Harvest Party. We don't attend CCSLC, so they weren't able to volunteer to run game booth's, etc. So, instead of hanging out with us, our (almost) sixteen year old twin boys decided they would rather spend time with their friends.

I'm not sure why they would want to do a thing like that, but I'll try not to take it personally.

The twins actually had something else planned. Our home church was holding a youth conference on "Heaven & Hell" and a Halloween Howl (dance) afterwards. It's been a bit difficult trying to find something that they could do that didn't contradict everything we've instilled in them the past eight years. Some friends were going to haunted houses (Nope!) and some school friends were having parties (Um, I don't think so!). The dance (at the church) wasn't quite what I had hoped, in fact, I doubt we'll allow them to attend a Halloween event at our home church ever again.

Next year I am thinking we may just try to find a service project to do. Maybe serve soup to the homeless? We have a year to plan, but I would rather do something as a whole family while we still can.

Regardless, a great time was had by all at our non-traditional celebration. What did you do on Hallelujah or Halloween?