The Swing Thing

IMG_4623.jpgSeven weeks ago tonight, Chris and I embarked on a new adventure. For the first time in both our lives, we attended a professional dance class. Why? Well, rewind three years.

I was out in Utah at my very first Grand Meetup (the one time a year everyone in the distributed company I work for gathers together to learn, collaborate on projects and enjoy some bonding over fun events). I had just finished attending a class on public speaking when I joined a group of co-workers in a East Coast Swing Dance class. It was so fun, the class went on for hours. Due to its popularity, the class continued a year later then again when we all met in British Columbia. Then again this year. They even added a new class for those who had been there the year prior, so we could learn more than the basics.

When I went home, I raved about it to Chris. Seeing that I was still excited about it after all that time, he agreed to look into lessons. So I started researching. It’s not that easy to find a dancing tutor or class in northern NY, I found. Local places didn’t respond to messages sent through the Internet or call back when I left messages on machines. Word of mouth requests got me nowhere.

Totally saddened/frustrated by this, I contacted Dennis, the co-worker that introduced me to swing dancing, and he kindly agreed to give Chris and me some lessons while we were all at a WordCamp together. Then I got ill, so that didn’t work out. Last February and last June, when we visited CJ and Lauren in Utah, we had made plans to go to a lesson and dancing with other co-workers, but those plans fell through as well. 😦

IMG_4624.jpgWe looked into Internet classes, but they weren’t really working for us. Then, just when I was about to give up on it all, I hit the jackpot and found the Steve Ryan dance class 50 minutes from our home. With Zippy (a name we have started calling our car), that trip is a smooth one, and it’s 3/4 of the way to the resort we bought season passes for so we can snowboard so we can do both when winter hits 🙂 I lucked out in the fact that the class is Thursday nights, and my “weekend” is Thursday and Friday so I don’t have to work the next day.

The thing is that this is West Coast Swing (very linear). Not East. So it was brand new for me. And certainly new for Chris. We are both terrible (yet learning). But it’s super fun, and the instructor is patient, and the other class members are very kind. Many have dance experience so they share their knowledge, too, as we rotate partners. We are really enjoying getting to know new people and exercising in this fun way. Zeb and Bri have joined us a few times as well, and they are fun to practice with at home during the week.

Twice a month, there is a dance on Friday nights at the studio. I think we are almost ready to hold our own on the floor (with very basic steps). Anyway, our 7-week course is up, but we’re signing up again for the next round, beginning next week. We are taking the beginning class again, just to get solid on it, then right after that (during the next hour each week), we will take the advanced beginner class to learn more steps.

It was a long time coming, but well worth the wait!

 

Luke and Jessica’s Wedding

Bridal ShowerLuke was approximately a year old when my fiancé and I had the opportunity to babysit him (my fiancé‘s nephew). Little did I know at that time that the tiny baby I had in my arms would be celebrating his own walk down the aisle a little more than 25 years later.

Yet somehow there we were, packing our gear into our Honda Fit and heading off to Connecticut for an incredibly beautiful wedding. Zeb and Bri are staying with us for a while so they were able to come along with Mom, Chris and myself.

After dropping Mom and the guys off at the place we were staying, Bri and I headed to the bridal shower where we got to meet the bride officially for the first time. We played games and got to talk with Jessica, who seems like a lovely addition to the family. I didn’t any pics aside from this one since I was busy playing the games (and I won a Starbucks gift certificate in one game–lucky night!), but I can tell you that it was fun seeing all the love in the room.

Since the shower was an hour away, I got to spend some time chatting with Bri while we drove, which I really enjoyed.

The strangest thing happened that night. I didn’t get lost. Anyone who knows me will understand what an odd phenomenon that is. And yet it happened. I kind of liked it.

The day of the wedding was pure magic. I’ve never seen anything go so smoothly. We were able to sleep in and get a good rest then we all dressed up and headed to the venue where people laughed, talked, dined, and danced. Vows were stated outdoors under a pristine blue sky and under a trellis by a lake. Our grand-niece did a fantastic job being the flower girl. Here are some pics of the ceremony itself.

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The photographer took family photos and bridal party photos then we headed upstairs for the reception. Amazing food and awesome conversation!


Bri ended up with the bouquet (with some help from Aunt Susan). There was a funny moment when Zeb wasn’t aware of what was happening, but when he heard Bri got the bouquet, he made sure nobody else was going to get that garter. I do think his cousin, the groom, kind of helped him by aiming his way.

The night ended with a fabulous chocolate fountain and sparklers as the wedding couple went on their way. I already miss all our relatives and friends with whom we were able to catch up with there, but the memory of the enchanted time lingers happily on.

Here are some of my personal favorite pics of the day (click them to make them big if you want):

And finally, here’s a fun video summary of the day thanks to Google Photos:

 

Visiting our Kids at Camp Sandy Cove

Remember going to camp when you were younger? Warm days spent learning fun things, getting dirty, singing silly ditties and playing pranks. Good times, indeed. Zeb, Hudi, Bri and Mollie still get to experience this annually as they work at Camp Sandy Cove in West Virginia (Mollie grew up attending the camp, which is super-fun). In my opinion, their camp is even cooler than most. Not only do you get to do the normal cabin/hiking/swimming sort of activity, but you also get to learn to shoot rifles, cook outdoors, do some high-flying on a trapeze, mountainboard and skateboard (among other activities).

The kids have been asking us to visit for a few years, and we really wanted to go, but it just didn’t fit in our schedules. We had planned to finally get there on the way back from Utah, but that all fell apart. Then we discovered an unexpected window of opportunity.

On July 3, the kids asked if we were coming the next day. Since we were moving a load of beds from our old house to our new house, and we had plans with friends on July 4 (plans we made last February) I told them we wouldn’t make it. Then the load moved super well, and our friends had to cancel. We realized we could make it. At midnight the kids confirmed it would still work for them, and by 5 am, we were on the road in our reliable new-to-us car.

Wahoo! Since we left at 5 am, and I worked on the road, I was able to put in a full work day by the time we reached the camp so I could immerse myself in enjoying time with the kiddos. We got there right in time for lunch. Sons and dad caught up (it was Hudi’s day off, and he was tired. I didn’t notice he was yawning in the image below until much later, and I didn’t get any other shots with just the three, so this will have to do. It’s real, anyway). We also got to officially meet Oliver, Bri’s hedgehog.

My guys (minus CJ). It was Hudi's day off, and he was tired.

My guys (minus CJ). It was Hudi’s day off, and he was tired.

After lunch, Zeb had some time before his next session so he did some skateboarding with Chris.

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I somehow didn’t get images of Zeb’s rifle-ry session that he taught, although it was fun to watch. After that, we attended Bri’s outdoor living session and made waffle smores and learned to tie different knots.

Mollie, Hudi, Chris and I went into town and perused through a few shops that were open on the holiday while Zeb and Bri finished their sessions for the day. We met up for dinner, and the campers put Zeb on the spot to serenade us all. This was a highlight of my day. They started off with a verse of “Sing us a song, Chief Zeb,” which I did not get on film because it was unexpected. Apparently when this happens, if the person called on does not sing the song, they pay a forfeit. Later Zeb said that he was thinking of not singing until they started in with “for your Mother, Chief Zeb, for your mother.” He said at that point he knew he had to do it. What a guy 🙂

Bri still had activities to cover after dinner so we hung out a bit as we waited for her. Zeb had designed this mountain board course, creating elements out of beds that were getting thrown away. He is so creative with scrap. Just like his dad. Some little children helped with the painting to make it look good. This was Chris’ first time on a mountain board, and he is now addicted.

Finally we were all together, and we decided it was too late for a movie. Instead we went out for ice cream, stopping for gas. As I wrote in a previous post, the kids had persuaded us that the Honda Fit was a great car. This is the first official pic of the Blueberry (as we call Bri’s car) next to our Blackberry.

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Sadly, due to the holiday, our ice cream place was closed, but that did not deter us. We each grabbed some treats from the gas station and had an impromptu night-time picnic that lasted until past midnight. So much fun being with those kiddos. It really cracked me up when they mimicked the person in the ad behind them as I took their pic. And guess what? I found Ring Dings! (which are sadly no longer available in our local store).

We spent the night at the camp instead of the hotel we planned on staying in because it was offered to us, and that allowed us to spend more time with the kids. Before we left, we got to see Hudi in action, doing his job.

Hudi in his element - the kitchen

Hudi in his element – the kitchen

That impromptu visit was a treat that is already a highlight of my summer. Love those young men and women!

Here’s a summary of the day thanks to Google Photos:

Complete and Utter Chaos

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I think the game Chaos is sadistic. But some of my family members love it so I play. It’s probably good for me, helping me work on my memory.

Have you ever heard of it? Chaos is a board game from 1970.

It’s basically checkers. With up to four people. With identical pieces, and you have to figure out (in theory–keep track of) which pieces are yours.

Players are assigned a color, but the color is hidden on the underside of a piece. You can’t flip the piece until it’s in the home zone across the board from where you started. If you move someone else’s piece, they can call you on it, and you lose a turn. Oh, and you can’t move your pieces past the halfway point of the board until all the pieces are out of your home zone.

While I somewhat dread playing the game since I’m incredibly bad at it, I do have to admit then on the rare occasion when I do win (or even come in as a close second) I feel incredibly smart for a few minutes. It’s quite gratifying.

Last night I was doing all right. I came in last place on our first game, but was respectably close to everyone else. On the second game I lost first place by one move, so I was feeling pretty awesome. As an evening topper, I knew where all my pieces were on our third and final game. Or so I thought. I hit the home zone and discovered that it was someone else’s piece and mine was aaaaaaalllllllll the way across the board.

Extreme sadness.

But that’s the thing. Everyone gets a chance to shine. Systems win and fail. Jumps soar you across the board in one shot, or you can get gridlocked.

No matter what, it’s always utter Chaos.

While I would still prefer playing a word game, I have to admit that the evening was enjoyable. I found a video on how it’s played:

Sun, Sons and Snowboarding

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After Friday night’s snow who would guess that we would be sipping coffee on the deck Saturday morning? Even better, we were sunbathing by the afternoon. It was over 50 degrees. We slept in, yakked, read, took naps and basically took the day off as a quasi spa day. Pure luxury.

In the evening we headed over to Zeb’s to check out his new home.

Zeb is in a pretty fun living situation now. He’s with CJ’s pre-marriage housemates who also happen to be delightful young men from the area where our boys grew up. Aaron and Thomas and Zeb made some delicious coffee (can you tell we are big on coffee?) and yakked with us until Robert and Anthony came home. Then we chatted a bit more and started playing a game called QuipLash. Anyone with Internet could join our game if they had to code, and the guys decided to call Hudi (back in NY) to join the fun. That made me really happy — knowing my boys wanted to hang out together, even long distance.

After a really enjoyable evening we headed home to get a good night’s sleep. The next day was busy. We went to Lauren and CJ’s church (a church with a view!) then grabbed some pizza and headed off to Solitude for some slope time. It was interesting since we were on borrowed/new-to-us equipment, but we adapted pretty well and had a fantastic time. The road getting there was winding and kinda crazy. There were definitely rocks in the road on the way down that weren’t there on the way up. And it was wild how we had snow, but half an hour away, there wasn’t any.

As the day wound down, we settled in with some nice drinks and tv time.

Monday was our last day there 😦 And we were far from ready to go. But the good news is that we plan to travel back next summer. Sadly, CJ’s car had been backed in to over the weekend so Chris and CJ spent most of Monday finding repair shops to get quotes. Lauren and I worked on websites, read and yakked.

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She made me one final drink (a mint hot chocolate thing this time with white mocha or something. Yum!) then we headed to a burger place they enjoy as we headed back to the airport. Our flight left at 11:59pm, and Chris’ birthday was the next day – beginning one minute into our flight 🙂 The screenshot of the plane is when were were pretty close to flying over their home on our way back to NY.

That trip was fortunately uneventful, and we were home in plenty of time to unpack, plow out the driveway, clean the house and have a birthday celebration thanks to Mom Pollock.

I took the next few days as AFK so we had time to rest up and get our life back in order. And here we are. Back in the flow of our reality, and loving it. With a ton of new fantastic events stashed into our happy memory arsenal for times when we miss our kids and want to look back on times together.

 

Love to All – Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

This holiday season has given me a mind shift and mental reboot, which I hope will lead to my being a better contributor to the human race. After a wonderful day of snowboarding with my family (yesterday), I now sit here and write in front of a lit tree, with a fire on the TV in front of me (I pretend it’s real), “For Unto Us a Child is Born” from the Messiah on my Pandora, our dog, Star, at my feet and a son by my side. Dinner is in the crock pot, smelling fabulous, and church is in two hrs. Pure Bliss.

Our world has shifted radically this year, and I’m starting to come to terms with it, I think. There are steps I’m making to implement changes that reflect the shift. I’m sure I’ll be sharing some of those with you over the next few weeks. For now, though, I’d like to leave you with the warmest of thoughts and two of my all-time favorite holiday songs. From Pentatonix and Straight No Chaser:

May you all be blessed in this upcoming year.