Installation

The directors of the dance studio are considering an installation of several pieces from my photographic collection, reflective of the year in dance at LSOD. To be displayed at their new location downtown, they will add color to the Open House extravaganza. Exciting. Thumbnail versions follow for their review. I hope my selection is reflective of the studio's variety and diversity.
Part 1: Ballet

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Part II. Jazz
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Thoughtful Tuesday

JJ had the great idea of starting Thoughtful Tuesdays, and it's as if she knew I had something I needed to post about and she gave me the perfect way of doing it.

Thoughtful Tuesdays is when we post about something we are either thankful for, an act of kindness we witnessed or of a way we "paid it forward".


I'm actually cheating a bit and posting on Wednesday but backdating it to Tuesday because although I tried to post yesterday we are having a nap strike in this house and quiet computer time is a very precious and rare occurrence. I started writing it on Tuesday anyways.

I was recently very touched by a parcel I received in the mail. The parcel came from a woman who lives in my home town. I haven't lived there in about 15 years and haven't visited in over 5. This particular lady didn't know me well when I lived there because there was a bit of an age difference and probably also a difference in interests (if she wasn't frequenting parties and slinking around bars then I probably didn't see a lot of her).

In the past year I have become quite friendly with a few great ladies due to Twitter. Kristen is one of them. Kristen is a young mother of four. Yes, FOUR. She's got commitments and kids in sports and a husband that is often away from home due to work. Yet this woman found the time, money and thoughtfulness to send me a little parcel that contained an adorable pair of little boy shoes for Lincoln and a Starbucks card for me with a card that said "A little pick me up for those shitty days".

It really, truly meant so much to me. And I happen to know she's done a lot of really awesome things for a lot of other women/friends in her community. For example when another friend had major surgery, Kristen rallied their friends and had everyone make a meal so that the friend who had surgery wouldn't have to cook for weeks after her surgery.

I am thankful to have come from a place where the women band together and look after each other and help each other out. And I feel lucky that the kindness has reached me, 1000 kilometers away.

Week One Predictions

After not bothering to preview the Big East (OK, so we think that UConn are going to win the division), we've got to quickly move onto the first week of the college football season, which will (thank you Jesus!) be upon us from Thursday.

I'm going to stick my neck out there and say that yours truly - this horrible weekend aside because I'm attending one of my closest friends' wedding up in Scotland and probably won't be able to watch a lot of/any live college football on Saturday - will be watching a hell of lot of college football this year. And so (bearing in mind you're kind enough to read this rubbish) are you.

Anyway, here's some predictions for the Week 1 of the college football season.

Thursday


Marshall at Ohio State: Terrelle Pryor, the abbatoir known as The Horseshoe, and the No.2 Buckeyes are going to be too much for the Thundering Herd, who will get beaten by 30 points after a slow start from Jim Tressel's men.

Southern Miss at South Carolina: It's not been an easy off-season for Steve Spurrier's men. Wesleye Saunders will be lucky if he ever puts on a Gamecocks' jersey again, and there's possible NCAA sanctions hanging over their head. Oh, and they've also got an unpredictable QB in Stephen Garcia. They should be thanking God that they're at home. South Carolina by 14

Pittsburgh at Utah: Last season Pittsburgh were hellish unlucky NOT to win the Big East after a frenetic last game of the year against Cincy. This year, they are once again predicted to do well in the Big East. We think they'll win in Utah, but it's going to be very tough. Pitt by 7

Friday


Youngstown State at Penn State: While we think that the Nittany Lions will comfortably win, all eyes will be on the team's performance with Alabama up next week. Will Joe Paterno be able to work out who his QB is by the fourth quarter of the opening game? Will it be a mystery? Will there be two QBs? How will the offensive line hold up? How will the injuries affect the team's speed? Is Chaz Powell going to play both ways? We can't wait until Saturday, folks.

Louisiana-Lafayette vs Georgia: This is more about future indications for UGA's defense than anything else. Oh, and how good this kid Murray is, too. And welcome back, AJ Green - college football's most exciting play bar none.

Purdue at Notre Dame: The ghost of Charlie Weis will only finally be put to bed if Brian Kelly has a successful season this year, in our view. With Jimmy Clausen, Michael Floyd and Golden Tate all departed to the NFL, the Irish are going to be slightly depleted in their offense, while Purdue's QB Robert Marve has been getting a lot of noise from Boilermakers fan. Oh, and Notre Dame's defense will suck, too. Purdue scores the upset in one of the most exciting games of the week, 31-26.

LSU vs North Carolina (in Atlanta): Much has been talked about North Carolina - although sadly most of it has been about UNC defensive tackle Marvin Austin, who was one of the stupidest Twitter authors of the year. While we don't know what the NCAA are going to do to Butch Davis' program (probably not all that much, if we're honest), Davis' defense is definitely an exciting one to watch. Mind you, so's LSU's too. Jordan Jefferson can play under pressure (as he did at UGA last year), but let's be honest - the Tigers' offense isn't a thing of beauty. LSU wins 21-10 in a game not really worth getting psyched for.

Oregon State at TCU Much is going to be made of TCU (again), now that they are ranked sixth because Gary Patterson's such a darned good coach and TCU's got every good guy coming back except Jerry Hughes, who's landed himself some serious money in the NFL. Oregon State has some weapons too -especially Jacquizz Rodgers, who can slice and dice a defence at will. We're calling the upset like Babe Ruth calls shots: Oregon State 38, TCU 35 in a classic that we'll be seeing again on ESPN quite soon.

Monday

Boise State at Virginia Tech. The 3-10 match-up is generally one we wouldn't go near during March Madness, but we'll have a quick stab at during Week One of this season. Much will be talked about Boise State and the possibility of an appearance in this year's National Championship Game, and you could well be right. But how in the hell - on a neutral venue - is Boise State going to be able to stop Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech's very good and very elusive running back, as well as Tyrod Taylor, who may well be the second (and taller) coming of Pat White? I'm sorry Boise, but I'm not feeling the love. Virginia Tech by 7.

And here's my soundtrack to Week One - and this is extremely catchy. Remember to sing along with the "Hey Heys!".


What I Learned Today #19

Today I learned that an entire bottle of Gripe Water, when poured spilled on your hardwood floors and then stepped in with little feet and smeared around your house, will subsequently make your hardwood floors quite shiny and despite washing the floors with hot soapy water will still leave a licorice scent throughout your house and only a slightly sticky surface that no matter how many times you wash it with scalding hot water will remain for quite some time.

And also that shortly after the last drop is spilled on to the floor your 2 month old baby will get violent hiccups and an upset tummy.
That Miss Teapot worldofmisst.blogspot.com/ continues to create and amaze. Her tiny-world abilities confound and inspire. How does she work with such care and detail in miniature? This little birthday gift for Miss S arrived via post tucked in among yards and yards of crepe paper tissue. Who knew so much treasure and fun could be packed into one custom hinged and outfitted walnut shell, complete with German Dresden, fired metal clay, hand dyed silk velvet, and miniature pastries linked by her capable fingers. Giant
 thanks, Miss T.


It's Big Time in the Big Ten

The Big Ten's going to be big-time this year. After one of the best seasons in its history, this conference might well be strong from top to bottom.


First, let's talk about Ohio State Does a tremendous performance against Oregon in the Rose Bowl erase memories of dreadful National Championship performances in 2007 and 2008? No. But it sure erases memories of a heartbreaking losses to USC and Purdue in 2009. This year, Ohio State - as usual - are stacked. And when we mean stacked, we mean stacked. Athletic quarterback Terrelle Pryor will once again prove to be the danger man, but running back Brandon Saine and wide receiver Devier Posey's also going to prove a threat. Oh, and they can also call on a pretty darned good defense, too. While the schedule isn't that easy (banana skins may be Miami at home and road trips to Wisconsin and a potential Big Ten decider at Iowa), but it's manageable.

Sorry, Wis-who? We tried to stifle a giggle when Mark May said that his pick to go to the National Championship game (hrumph) was (ha!) Wisconsin (cue hysterical laughter). We get that the Badgers have got running back John Clay, 15 returning starters, and a joke schedule, but they've still got to play Ohio State and Iowa, who last time I looked were better teams. They may well also lose at Michigan State, who's got a strong offense coming into this year. If they beat Iowa or Ohio State, they'll be worthy conference winners. But we don't think they will. Sorry, Mark.

Iowa, anybody? Iowa scared the crap out of Ohio State fans at the Horseshoe, and if luck had gone for them, they may well have been playing for a Rose Bowl last season. After a superb start to the year, Iowa stumbled somewhat going into Ohio last year - probably after the stunning home loss to Northwestern. This year, they've got one of college football's best defensive players in Adam Clayborn, a strong wide receiver in Derrelle Johnson-Koulianos, and a soon-to-be-super running back in Adam Robinson. Combine that with returnee running back Jewel Hampton, a superb coach in Kirk Ferentz and a schedule that includes home games against the 'biggies' (OSU, Wisconsin and Penn State), and this team's scary.

A few Penn State guarantees Firstly, Joe Paterno WILL reach his 400th victory. He WILL not retire after this season - despite what members of the media might think. As for the team, the offensive line WILL be better than we think it will be (the VFA says, touching wood). The quarterback situation WILL get sorted by the start of the Youngstown State game. And the other guarantee? That's a horrible road schedule the Nittany Lions have there.

A tale of two Michigans The only thing I don't hate about the University of Michigan is their colours - maize and blue's a pretty good combination. We've also really enjoyed the demise of Michigan Football since Rich Rodriguez took over, and it's safe to say that if Michigan isn't a couple of games over .500, he'll probably be shown the door. Which is a pity, because the Big Ten NEEDS a strong Michigan. RichRod has Tate Forcier, who's an exciting quarterback, but the defensive loss of Brandon Graham is going to mean that things aren't going to be wonderful on the other side of the ball this year. The schedule, which sees tricky trips to Notre Dame, Ohio State and Penn State aren't going to make things fun either.
But funnily enough, Michigan State fans might have something else to smile about (other than Ann Arbor's collapse). Kirk Cousins will anchor the offense, which has 7 returning starters, while on the other side of the ball, 7 more starters return. Like Penn State, there are still question marks about the offensive line, but the greens could cause some headaches to teams in 2010.

Northwestern: Continued Improvement? In a word, no. While some people might have good feelings about new incoming quarterback Dan Persa, we think he's too experienced to be great in 2009. But Pat Fitzgerald has a knack of proving us wrong, so you never know. We just don't think so. Unbelievably, they've managed to avoid Ohio State (lucky, lucky purpleshirts), but we think they'd rather play Michigan than face Iowa, who will be up for revenge after last year.

'I' in the gutter? Frankly, we're pretty stunned that Ron Zook is still the coach of Illinois after back-to-back poor seasons, but Bill Lynch must feel pretty unlucky after a heartbreaking loss to Michigan early in the season. This year, both sides will be ecstatic if they reach a bowl. Frankly, we think neither of them will.


BEST FANS: Penn State (of course)

BEST CHEERLEADERS: Ohio State (although PSU's got the best mascot in the Nittany Lion)

BEST GAME OF 2009? 

Send Help! (or vodka)

I am woken up at 7:19am to Ruby crying - as she does every morning. I drag my exhausted ass out of bed and go to her as quickly as possible to prevent her screeching from waking up Lincoln. I walk into her room and cheerfully say "Good morning, Ruby!!"

And she screams at me, "NOOOOO!!!!!!"

After wrestling with her and finally holding her down to change her diaper we head to the kitchen where she demands to be fed yogurt.

By this time Lincoln has heard the ruckus and he is crying. He wants to be fed. At the same time she does. NOW.

I manage to bounce him until I get her yogurt down and give her a granola bar to run around with and smear all over the furniture while I nurse him.

The cup of coffee I made myself to get through the morning sits cold on the counter.

She soon gets bored and comes over with "Darla" (her doll) and sits beside Lincoln and I on the couch. "Darla" then scratches Lincoln in the head with her hard plastic hand. This upsets Lincoln and before I can get Ruby and Darla distracted and removed from the situation (baby attached to my boob), "Darla" headbutts Lincoln.

Lincoln screams. I mean he screams!!!! High pitched, heart wrenching screams. Like I've never heard him scream before and I wonder if he's seriously injured.

In the meantime, Ruby stands and stares at me while she shits in her diaper.

I settle Lincoln and put him in his bouncy chair which is on the kitchen table which is the only place he is safe from Ruby and/or Darla.

I wrestle with Ruby again to change her diaper and barely prevent her from flinging her shitty diaper across the room.

Later I manage to get Ruby to go down for her morning nap and pray that Lincoln will sleep too so I can have some time to myself to reset and recharge. Except Lincoln is fussy today (maybe something to do with the earlier attack from Darla). So I spend Ruby's nap time feeding, changing, bouncing Lincoln.

Normally he might have a nap in his baby swing but it got broken last night.

Before I know it Ruby is awake from her nap and yes... crying.

I interrupt nursing Lincoln to get her up from her nap.

Since it's now noon and Ruby's had little more to eat than a kids yogurt and half a granola bar, I ask her if she is hungry. She tells me "eat!"

Apparently by "eat" she means she'll have 3 bites of lasagna and then chew up and spit out her 4th bite, then pour her sippy cup out all over her highchair. Lunch is over.

Lincoln continues to fuss. He wants to be rocked (Damn, I am missing that swing).

Since I am holding and rocking Lincoln, Ruby stands in front of me with her arms up saying "Mommy knee?? Mommy knee??" If I was able to put Lincoln in the baby swing I could hold her on my knee. Then again, if Lincoln was in the baby swing she wouldn't want to be on my knee. When I explain to her that I can't pick her up right now she decides to empty out her toy box. She does it by staring at me and removing each toy then holding it high above her head and then SMASHING it to the hardwood floor. Toy, by, toy.

I decide that I need to get us out of the house for some fresh air and exercise. It is then that I realize that Steve has driven our only vehicle to work and left the stroller in the back of it.

I'm trapped in my house with a fussy 2 month old and a renegade toddler.

This computer has now been unplugged 6 times and I've been bitten twice.

Birthday Tea

Amy celebrated her birthday in what has become an annual tradition - a garden tea complimented by gentlemen's service, followed by a dip in the pool. Bon voyage and au revoir, Miss Hanna! With the laptop at the doctor's, these are nearly straight off the camera. Thank you Donna and Brian. :)

Another Year of Madness? ACC Preview

Last year the ACC proved to be the most exciting conference the country. Everyone beat everyone, and for some reason Clemson and Georgia Tech rose to the top and played a game worthy of their conference.

This year, there's going to be no CJ Spiller. No Derrick Morgan. No Demaryius Thomas.

But there will be a Jacory Harris, Kendrick Burney, and THAT North Carolina defence, that - if it plays well - could well draw comparison to Butch Davis' teams at Miami (but definitely NOT Cleveland!).

So here are our questions?

1) When will UNC find out its fate?

Last time I looked, the chaps at Chapel Hill weren't exactly in the NCAA's good books after senior player Marvin Austin tweeted that he was having an incredible time at THAT South Beach party. We've only got around two weeks until the start of the year, and the powers-that-be has kept mum as to UNC's fate. On the other hand, UNC's defense is a cracker. All over the place there are exceptional defensive players, and that alone could win them the Atlantic division. Which will be nice - because the offense is nothing to shout about.

2) Will Miami continue its renaissance?

After the Hurricanes beat Oklahoma, people started talking about the University of Miami being 'back'. Jacory Harris is their eccentric (or weird, depending on which group of people you believe) quarterback, and if the questionable offensive line stops him getting killed, he could be a dark horse for a Heisman this season. But if you believe some websites, that'll be a big "if".We think they'll win the Coastal.


3) Who's going to be the running back star at Georgia Tech?

Georgia Tech's triple option last season was one of the funnest things about the ACC last year, and it'll pack quite the punch this year too with Roddy Jones, Anthony Allen and Preston Lyons. Oh, and Jonathan Dwyer's not a bad QB, either - although he'll need to find a replacement for Demaryius Thomas, who decided to go to the NFL at wide receiver if Tyler Melton doesn't do his job properly. Having said that, who can defend THAT running attack? 

4) Virginia Tech: National Championship Dark Horses?

I've raised my eyebrow about this, but some people are talking about the Hokies being dark horses for the National Championship.  The QB/RB combo of Tyrod Taylor and Ryan Williams bodes well for Hokies fans, but the fact that only four of their defensive players are returning is something of a worry. Added to that a schedule that takes in Boise State on a neutral field (although it's practically a home game) and back-to-back tricky visits to North Carolina and Miami, and I'm not so sure.

5) Florida State: Better regular season than offseason?

After starting linebacker Nigel Carr was arrested for FIVE (that's right, FIVE) felonies and wide receiver Jarmon Fortson was booted out for blazing a trail, Jimbo Fisher's side can't wait for the season to start and finally kick away the ghost of Bobby Bowden, who, while much-loved, probably should have left a season or two earlier. Christian Ponder's a good quaterback (if he stays healthy), and FSU has always been able to recruit speed. We'll pick them to lose to Florida in their annual in-state battle, but they've still got 13 starters coming back to the team CB-KR Greg Reid, who may well be the second coming of CJ Spiller. The kid can fly, boys. We'll predict an 9-3 record, with losses coming to Florida, Miami and someone else. But thumbs up, Jimbo, on your first full season.


6) What will be the games to watch?

TiVo Boise State vs Virginia Tech (midget vs giant), Florida State vs Miami (it's always great), North Carolina vs Virginia Tech, Virginia Tech vs Miami (revenge game for the 'Canes, who were hammered in a rainstorm in 2009), Miami at Ohio State (we'll see how good this 'Canes team really is), South Carolina vs Clemson (always a war).


PREDICTIONS: Miami (Coastal winner) beats Florida State (Atlantic winner) for the ACC Title in a game for the ages. Which is unusual with FSU and Miami.

BEST GAME IN 2009 (among many):

Wordless Wednesday: Grins

Or... Wednesday of few words...

On my shittiest of shitty days (and yesterday was up there, or down there depending on how you look at it), THIS smile infects me and can put a smile on my face and fill my heart with happiness.

Meet Giselle, the first lucky wearer of the new tutu lovingly constructed by my dear friend Miss Teapot. This little cherub makes me want to kiss her cheeks, she is so doll-like. I resisted. :) 

Love the swing.
Light. Always.