Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Our City Date and the Girls

I like to post my YouTube clips on my blog because not everyone who follows my blog is subscribed to my YouTube Channel.

So here are the latest episodes in "Our Life."




Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Back Stage Review

All day I had been running the song lyrics through my head.

In between getting the kids ready for school and then I put in my head phones while I was on the elliptical.

My back was in pain, but not in as much pain as it had been 4 days earlier.

That was excruciating. I am surprised I was stubborn enough not to rush to the emergency room.

Maybe it was because Monday was the first day we got to be in full costume. I had been so excited to see what my costume and makeup were going to look like. I didn't want to miss out so I waited in agony while Marc took off work early and brought home a stronger prescription pain medicine. I was already taking 3 different ones, so why not add a fourth...

Anyway, at this point I am just happy that the pain is... well... more... ummm... well, I could move without crying out in pain and agony.

We had been having tech rehearsal all week. Tech rehearsal means that we were getting the mics, lights, and "special effects" set to perfection along with all our integral parts.

I was standing in front of the 15 foot wide mirror along with several others putting on make-up. I had done it for 4 days now, so I pretty much had it memorized and didn't have to look at the reference photo as much any more. I kept smiling as I would look around the room seeing the hustle and bustle of everyone getting their costumes, wigs and make-up together.

There was a general buzz of excitement and nerves in the air.

One of our fellow actors had brought an assortment of music that was just getting us all even more pumped up. I was actually surprised when I first ascended the stairs that it was Ed Sheeran blaring in the speakers and not "The Addams Family" music we had been practicing for months. It actually, though, lightened the intensity of THE opening night. We were singing and humming along and bobbing from one place to another as we enjoyed the beats.

As I was putting on the finishing touches to my make-up so that I could get ready for my mic, I just had to say, out loud, "I love you guys! You're all so awesome!"

I wasn't watching anyone's faces as I was concentrating on my own, but there was a general hum of agreement and right-back-atchyas.

OPENING NIGHT!

My first ever!

Junior high doesn't count.

It just doesn't even compare.

This was opening night of a play that would be running until the fourth of October! This was serious stuff here, people!

One of the exciting parts, for me, were the hollers every so often like, "Mic check, 20 minutes!" "Doors open 10 minutes!" "Family meeting in two!"

Family meeting.

That has a lot of meaning for us in the play.

When you've practiced this hard and this long together you do start to get really close as friends and it does feel like a family unit. Ironically, though, one of the lines in the play is, "OK! Family meeting!" So it has just kind of become our call out for coming together.

At 7:15 we started our family meeting.

It wasn't what I expected.

I just thought it would be a "Do your best! Show 'em how great you are! Don't forget your lyrics!" and a "Rah rah, lets go!" kind of cheer.

Instead it was an inspirational, emotion baring, tear inducing speech by our director, Shawn.

I have realized all along what an amazing cast I had the privilege to be a part of, how fun and how friendly, how talented and entertaining, but, this speech was one of the things that brought it home for me. I am so proud to be a part of this cast. I am privileged to have been cast with these amazing people.

Then, it was, "Five minutes to curtain! Places everyone!"

It was so exciting to hear this.

I've heard it in the movies before, but never in my own life... and having it really refer to my part in a play instead of me jokingly trying to make gathering for dinner a fun thing to do.

Curtains closed.

All of us nervously and anxiously breathing.

Then our music cues and we start to sing.

The curtains draw up and now I see some light creeping in on where I am hiding from the audience until it is my time to appear.

"What's my first step? My first line? Should I step over or through?" are rapidly running through my mind as I wince at the pain I am feeling in my back yet reeling with excitement for my first real audience.

My brother, Aaron and his wife, Chelsea and daughter, Ya-ya were there for the opening night.

I couldn't see them.

But, I knew about where they were sitting.

That's one thing about being in a play as opposed to performing with my family. When we perform we see people's faces and their reactions and really sing to them. But on this big stage with lights shining at you in all directions you can't see faces, but maybe a few shapes and blurred colors.

The entire way through I was running on excitement, adrenaline and some strong pain meds.

It was one of the funnest and most memorable nights for me in my life.

I feel so much joy being on stage.

That was the first opening night of my life.

I'll never have another first opening night again.

Pretty awesome when you think of it that way.

After our bows and greeting the audience we gathered in scattered clumps in the dressing room area and were just chattering about how great it was, mistakes that were made, complimenting everyone on everything, laughing and talking as we worked to get all the make-up off our faces. Then going back to the girls dressing room and talking more about our performance and helping each other in and and out of costume and street clothes.

I drove home with a smile on my face.

I walked into the house with a smile on my face.

I greeted Lindsey, who had been watching the kids, with a smile on my face and burst into telling her how wonderful it all was.

I am sure there will be all kinds of reviews of the big debut of "The Addams Family" musical in Utah Valley. Some may be great and some may be not so great.

All I know is that my review from backstage is that this play, with this cast, is a must see! You will see and feel the energy and synergy in our group and it will translate into a wonderful viewing experience. I am sure of it.





Oh, and of course I had to do some chalk art for it! (Notice I added me? --smile--)

Friday, September 12, 2014

Does it get easier?

It's opening night for my play.

Tonight.

All this time practicing and anticipating.

Tonight.

And I'm here in the hospital.

No.

Not for me.

For Brother.

Don't worry, nothing bad has happened... 
well nothing that would seem worth going to the hospital and being sedated for.

Remember that with Fragile X Syndrome there comes a hypersensitivity to, well, everything.

Especially the dentist

I've spent the last 10 years holding Brother down, laying my body on top of his, with assistance for his flailing limbs.

He's too big.

I'm too injured.

So, here we are at the hospital so that he can be sedated for the work to be done on his mouth. They think from what they were able to see at the dentist office last that it will only be about an hour, but if they find more in there it could take longer.

I'll hear about that if it is longer.

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OK, I'm back!

What? You didn't know I was gone? 

Well, sorry, I started getting tired eyes while I was blogging so I made myself comfortable and the next thing I know, Dr. Shepherd (Brother's Dentist) is waking me up... drool sliding down my face and all, Ya, I guess getting only 4 hours of sleep didn't quite cut it.

So he is out of the operating room and still waking of from the anesthesia in the pediatric recovery room. They'll bring him in when he wakes up. I think he's a lot like me and that waking up may take quite a while so I am sure they will bring him in eventually even if he isn't awake all the way.

Anyway, I am so proud of Brother. He was so scared to even come here but he was a trooper and really did a good job. The nurses got a kick out of his sense of humor and he made sure to give them plenty of it. It's really funny to watch a kid who has a love/hate relationship with attention.

I made sure to bring his iPod and his favorite blanket so that he would have some comforts from home and they did help a lot. I didn't know until he showed me, but he took a "selfie" of him in his hospital bed and messaged it to his friend Gracie.

It's so miraculous, surprising, heartwarming and intriguing to see my son do this. He texts Gracie quite often, I am sure it's a tad annoying for her because it can be anytime, everyday or all day but it is so fun to see his communication. How he is trying so hard to put his words into text on a screen. I love that he catches on to this day and age in all our "look-what-I'm-up-to-now" and decides now would be a good time to update his friend on what is happening in his life.

Raising children with FXS is hard, a different hard than the norm. Since Brother was young every little developmental milestone, every social integration, every physical accomplishment has been a lot of work. A LOT of work. There's pretty much not anything he does that hasn't taken complete and total attention, effort and intervention.

But, it's gotten easier now.

Not easy like, "Oh, how nice. He's a teenager and I can have him help out with family, house and chores." It's easier because there is more discovery of what he can do just because he watches and observes on his own. Easier because even though his life is hard he usually can find something fun, funny, or awkward to make a joke about. Easier because we have done enough things routine throughout his life that we can accomplish some things. Easier because he has learned to communicate how he feels most of the time, some feelings are new to him and he hasn't learned how to describe them yet.

But, today was not easy.

Waking him up at 6:30 to get him ready to go to the hospital caused panic and confusion, even with preparation the day before. Watching is panic level increase as we walk through the hospital doors and witnessing him trying to act on and remember everything he has learned to do in times of panic then look at me in desperation and fear as they insert the IV... well, it's hard. Not easy. It's times like that that I am reminded how much he really does not comprehend, yet is knowledgeable of.

He's such a hero in my mind.

He conquers so much every day.

He moves forward, sometimes, in complete fear, just because he knows he needs to.

............

They just brought him in from the recovery room because he was stirring a bit and they figured he might as well come in here with me since his vitals are good.

He wakes up every so often enough to say, "Hi, Momma," I hold his hand and he falls back to sleep. He even snores here and there so I know he is truly tired.

It is amazing to hold his hand. It's so big. So grown up. I can't believe I used to hold his entire hand in the palm of mine.

That's not easy...

letting go of their little-ness.

I miss that I could hold him in my arms and coddle him when he was overwhelmed and panicked about new or big situations. I used to be able to just let him hide his face in the crook of my neck while he squeezed me so tight I thought my head would pop off.

I thought that was so hard then.

Now, in the moments when he has to face life head on I think it would be easier to hold him tight and let him squeeze me unit he could calm down.

He's not just grown up. He's big. I can't carry him to the car anymore when he doesn't want to go somewhere. I have to just hope that he will understand how important it is that he cooperates.

I was nervous that he wouldn't get in the car this morning, but he has learned that he just needs to do hard things sometimes.

That, my friends, is another milestone we have been able to conquer! Even with his extreme fear of the unknown, he is able to take those initial steps to get, at least, to the beginning.

And that makes it all easier. Seeing him grow and mature. Taking on life.

He's inspring!

So I guess in some ways, it does get easier, and in other ways it doesn't.

That's Our Life and, I think, most everyone else's

I want to end with some pictures of our kids doing things that were once not so easy to do, yet seem so simple.

Brother was asked to water the new tree, bushes and veggie plants. He did it all on his own. He even has his sleeves and pants rolled up for the hard work to get done.





Sister watches things her brother does and wants to grow up to be like him. It's such a blessing to have her learn developmental milestones from he older brother who is fully affected by FXS. Quite miraculous in a way. (Her friend, JJ, even got in on the work of pulling weeds.)




We've noticed that Baby seems to be a bit more behind, overall, than her siblings were at this age, but then she sets up her stuffed animals like this and I just have to smile at the extent of her imagination and the ability she has to express it. I can't tell you how many times I have walked into her room and gotten a good laugh at her set-ups she has going in the room.

I mean, look, the dog even has "glasses" on so he can read the book.

I remember all the time spent to teach Sister how to draw a straight line, a circle, a square and a squiggly line. It was so much work and so much effort. Now she is my biggest and most ambitious artist!


Sister also used to fall apart trying to come up with the words to tell me what she wanted or needed and she can now tell me stuff like, "Mom, will you draw this CareBear on my shirt?" Pretty amazing!


Then, there's Baby. Last, but certainly not least. She's learning little by little how to communicate her needs. Sometimes her needs are nothing more than a pile of My Little Ponies. She has even discovered how to carry all of them that she wants in one haul. That takes planning and dexterity—yes, it's the little things in life that bring us happiness.



Moral to this post:

Does it get any easier?

Yes and no.

Your attitude makes the difference.

Hang in there.

Life is hard, life is great!

Life is.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

2 Mormons, 2 Greeks and a German go to Vegas...

Have you ever heard of the Red Bull BC One?

Have you ever heard of a B-Boy?

This was all pretty new to me a few years ago.

Our friend Thomas is the owner/creator of Six Step in Germany. He has been involved in dancing since he was very young and turned it into his livelihood. He is also the founder and creator of "Battle of The Year."

Have you ever seen that movie. It came out in the last few years and it is about Thomas' Battle of the Year. Anyway, cool show and it is fun to see our good friend in it too!

So what does the Battle of the Year have to do with 2 Mormons, 2 Greeks and a German going to Las Vegas?

Well, because of how cool Thomas is for creating "Battle of the Year" he also is in charge of Red Bull BC One. That is Red Bull's B-boy competition.

And it just so happens that the qualifier for the North American B-boy was in Las Vegas this year!

Thomas invited us as his guests to come see the event and hang out with him again, and boy did he ever treat us as guests! He booked us the most amazing hotel room Marc and I had ever been in. It was huge and amazing and huge and now I have been spoiled and don't know that any hotel will ever seem the same to me again...

We also met his other awesome friends, from Greece, Tolis and Georgia!

The 5 of us hung out everyday of the 4 days we were there. We made quite a crew! Between, the German and Greek accents and the American's slang and terminology it made for quite a comic routine with a whole lot of,

"What was that?"

"What did you say?"

"What does that mean?"

"How do you say that again?"

"I hope that doesn't mean what I think it means..."




It was so fun to see Thomas again. It doesn't feel like we live so far away when we get to see him twice in a year's time.

Yep. It's blurry. Thanks for letting me know...
This is actually the 3 of us outside the venue for the B-boy competition.


It was also so much fun to meet our new friends.

They were "da bomb!" (That's old school, Tolis and Georgia, for "You are so epically awesome!")

But we also got to meet a lot of the B-boy dancers and Red Bull staff! That was awesome! I have to admit I was a bit star struck when I got to meet Neguin (who has danced in Madonna's shows and is in a few Red Bull commercials!) and his girlfriend (who was Madonna's yoga instructor) and to see how humble and kind they were to Marc and I—perfect strangers excited to meet people from the B-boy world. (And we never even got a picture with him... dang it!)

We also got to meet Morris, who was one of the dancers in the "Battle of the Year" movie and was one of the competing B-boys in this RedBull BC One competition. He was very nice too.



We met numerous others and I was always equally amazed at their humility and excitement about break dancing. I guess when I think of break dancing I always have a rougher, gruffer, gangsta kind of thing in my mind about what the people are like.

I couldn't have been more wrong.

At least about the many that I had the privilege to meet.

It was also awesome to find out too, that Neguin is from Brazil and with Marc having gone on his LDS mission to Brazil they were able to talk about some of the towns and areas they both knew and had lived. It was fun to watch Marc reminisce and get excited about being able to relate with some one on Brazil. It was also interesting to watch Neguin become so "human" in my minds eye and not just a B-boy star.

Maybe all of that sounds weird, but I really was expecting a lot of cocky, bad-mouthed young kids and what I found were hard-working, dream-driven, strong-willed and talented individuals.

The stereotype in my mind's eye was changed. I am sure there are those who still fit the stereotype and I do think that the stereotype of break dancing itself takes on that persona, but we have to remember that we are all just humans reaching for our dreams and most of us have a good heart and the right approach to getting there.

I watched a young man from, I think he said, Virginia, as he saw some of his B-boy dancing idols and he walked up to them and started asking some questions about dancing and I just assumed they would give him a quick answer and brush him off... but what I saw was 2 of the most well-known B-boys, RoxRite and Neguin (who were also the judges for the competition) start to encourage, teach and inspire a young boy who wants to do what they do. I even watched them, hands on, teach him how to stand up on his hands after a certain move.

After witnessing a lot of the behind the scenes stuff I started to understand our friend, Thomas more and why he is so passionate about break dancing and the people who are involved in it. I see how the hard work and hard times can humble a person and that, hopefully, those life experiences keep them humbled.

I was also excited to see our friend, Stéphane, again and to see his show KÁ for the second time. I love that show!





It was also fun to see the excitement that Stéphane had about the BC One Competition as that was what he also did at one time before he started performing at KÁ.

But it was also just amazing to enjoy time with old and new friends in a place that may seem a bit crazy but really does celebrate talent.

I'll leave you with some pictures...


 The view from our room morning and night.



We also got to see our friend, Ronnie, again (with the JABBAWOCKEEZ). We went to go check out his dance studio and say hello. The big huge vehicle pictured above was parked in front of Ronnie's s

Thomas thinks he's funny... Thanks for taking our picture... Pppffth!

Oh, I'm sorry Thomas did we cut off half your face? Who does that?


 I guess Marc and I are just gonna keep trying to get "that shot"


Nailed it! ...

Johnny Depp seemed so bothered that I was leaning on him to get a great picture, I guess we had just met and it may have been awkward for him to have a beautiful mommy blogger hanging at his side... I have that affect on some people.
He's a lot quieter in person than I thought he would be...

We got burgers at Guy Fiery's place. We all seemed to be pretty happy about that...






Then our food came and we just couldn't believe our eyes! I still don't know how they all ate their burgers.

I went out on a limb and got a salad, kind of second guessed my decision when those massive burgers came out to play!



That burger is nearly the size of his head!


Tolis looks on as Marc snaps an awkward picture of me in front of the High Roller ferris wheel. That thing is gigantic!

Marc gets a pic with one of the judges for the BC One Battle and poster boy for the event, Roxrite. He is such a nice guy. (His wedding was the reason we met up with Thomas in San Diego last year.)


Shake it like a Polaroid picture!

interesting...
 Marc was having fun getting a few night shots as we strolled around the walkways.



Late night run to the Cheesecake Factory... Tolis and Thomas were so excited!






Because it's boring just to look at the view from our room suite window...

My back got REALLY bad on our second night there and I wasn't able to sleep or get my pain under control, so come that morning I just wasn't up for walking around Vegas. So Marc and Thomas ventured out on their own for the first part of the day.

These are the beautiful copy-cat ceiling in our hotel.

Thomas' Japanese tourist pose from Neuschwanstein Castle... he he, memories!



These next three selfies give me a bit of a laugh... love you Marc!



Marc and Thomas checking out the view while waiting for me to get ready to participate the rest of the day.




I took this picture for Brother

I'm amazed at the decoration that goes into some of these hotels and malls in Las Vegas!
(Check out Thomas posing in the background... he he he!)


I love when Marc takes pictures of me eating... it's so ladylike, so flattering, so..... aaargh!

Bon appetite!

Seriously Marc, another one?

OK, OK, you don't have to ask me twice!


After lunch we toured around a bit with Georgia and Tolis until it came time to get ready for the big gig!



And here we are at the B-boy competition! The Brooklyn Bowl!





We even got to stand in the VIP line and get our tickets to be escorted upstairs.


The stage set-up and lighting were so amazing!

Georgia is trying out the "PINK" look.

Tolis and his swagger

Do I have anything in my nose? What the... I'm so glad I tipped my head back for this one...

And this one would have been perfect!


 After the competition we met up with Morris, the one I put at the first

While Thomas talked to Morris, Marc and I were able to meet Kareem. He was such a nice guy and even invited the 2 of us to the Cirque Du Soliel show he is in, Michael Jackson ONE! What! Thanks Kareem, we are excited to take you up on that one! Sorry the picture is so blurry... maybe Marc was tired.


Thanks Thomas for being key in this friend get together and for treating Marc and I to the nicest hotel we've ever stayed at.

Have I ever mentioned how blessed Marc and I are in Our Life?

If not, then I should be ashamed.

We are so blessed in so many ways and by so many people.