Sunday, August 13, 2017

Catching up

I don't take as many photos as I used to.  I guess that is just a fact of life.  We are busy, Grace just barely tolerates looking at the camera (when she is in the mood), and, as much as I try to find new things to do, there aren't as many novel activities any more.  You may not know that at the end of each year, I print the entire blog from January 1- December 31 in a book.  This is the chronicle of Grace's life and a testimony to our love for her.  Someday I will be gone, but she might be able to look back and remember.  In fact, sometimes she does take the books off the shelf - chooses a year at random - and looks through the photos for a few days.  So, the effort is worth it, right?

Although I try to snap a few photos here and there, most of them these days are on my iPhone rather than my DSL camera.  Someday I plan to get back to more frequent use of that expensive equipment. I envision street photography - portraits of the every day - while traveling with Kyle to every country we can think of. But for now...the iPhone it is.  Which brings me to this "catch up" of a few events in July.

Annalise came over for a 24-hour playdate and sleepover.  These girls really connected at Hudson Conservatory of Ballet.  Unfortunately, they don't see each other at dance any more, but we hope the remain good friends.  While Annalise was here, we made some #NortheastOhioRocks.

And hid them on Sunday.  We keep checking the Facebook page to see if anyone found ours.  This time, I was smart and made sure there were some for me to do...I always want to do the craft project the kids are doing.  Can you guess who made each one?

Another BIG thing we did was the Potterfest in Kent, Ohio. This was the second year they turned Kent into Harry Potter-land.  The stores had different themes, there were people dressed as the characters, magic shows, and a replica of Daigon Alley.  It was pretty fun to walk around - even if you aren't the biggest HP fan.

Grace wore her Hermione cape from Halloween.  She also got a lot of compliments on her wand, which lights up when you cast a spell.  She was working on a "skinny and tall" spell for me...still perfecting that one!

Oh, and yes, she got her first henna tattoo!  Yikes!

Speaking of first...Grace also got her first back massage.  We went after her last day of summer dance intensives.  The Chinese couple who run the spa told her that their daughter is also 10 and named "Grace" and they wrote Grace in Chinese so she could see what it looks like.

We have also been getting Blue Apron - a box of fresh food delivered to your door.  Grace has shown an interest in cooking and she is much better at trying new foods if she took part in the preparation. Her outfit cracks me up!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Ballet Theatre of Ohio...let's begin

If you haven't noticed, Stow, Ohio is not New York or LA or Chicago. But, there is a lot of access to the arts in this area.  In fact, within 30 minutes we have Playhouse Square and Severance Hall in Cleveland, Blossom Music Center in Peninsula, and the Civic Theater in Akron.  Not to mention all the colleges and universities in the same radius.  There is a lot of exposure to music, dance, and theater - from local, state, and national performers.  For Grace, each winter since she was 3 years old, we have gone to the Akron Civic Theater to see the Nutcracker.  And, many springs, we have attended ballet performances such as the Wizard of Oz and Cinderella.  So, it was a real dream come true when she auditioned this spring and was offered a place in the Ballet Theatre of Ohio's performing company.  This means she is going to be dancing at the historic Civic Theater in a show she has seen 7 times!

As part of her commitment to the company, Grace participated in summer intensive classes.  She loved every minute and was sorry to see those classes end just as she was starting to form bonds with the other dancers.

After not dancing for almost a month, Grace was reunited with the other dancers today at the annual BTO family picnic.  It was held at Crystal Lake, a private lake with a beach and pavilions for picnics.

There are 35 dancers in the company (2 boys!) this year.  The new BTO company members were introduced and each one received a fleece jacket with the logo and their name embroidered on it. It is a big honor and the young dancers seemed very proud.

It was fun to listen to the older dancers when they told stories of getting their jacket and how big it was on them...but now it fits!  I guess these "newbies" also have big shoes to fill!

After lunch the kids swam, jumped off the diving board, built sand castles, and ran around.  The parents also had an opportunity to chat and get to know each other.  I am a little overwhelmed with the expectations for volunteer and rehearsal time, but everyone assured me we will get through what the next year has to bring and by this time next year we will feel more comfortable and confident.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Hunting for moose

We vent to Boulder for lunch (and dinner!) on our final day in Colorado.  We all agreed it was a great place and we need to go back in the near future to spend more time there.

Our main goal this day was to hike "off the grid" (a little) to find some mountain lakes and maybe see a moose or two.  We left Boulder and drove into the mountains to Brainard Lake.  It was a  gorgeous 3 hour hike with hills of melting snow along the trail. We made it to Mitchell Lake where Kyle took a dip in the  crystal clear, freezing water.

Unfortunately, we didn't see any moose (but Grace bought a little stuffed moose to take home.  She named him Mitchell after Mitchell Lake).

And...luckily, we didn't encounter any mountain lions!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Living at altitude

On our last day in Colorado Springs, we learned more about how altitude affects your body.  Our day started by visiting the Olympic Training Center for a tour.

This facility is where some US athletes come to live and train.  They have dorms, doctors, nutritionists, physical therapists, trainers, and some of the best technology in the world for our athletes.  It was so interesting to see the pools, shooting range, and the para-Olympic basketball team and men's gymnastic team practicing.

We saw a room where they can change the temperature, altitude, and humidity so the athletes can train in the same conditions they will see when they compete.  There was also a treadmill that allowed an injured athlete to run on an injury by reducing their body weight to as little as 20%.  Our guide said injuries heal faster when athletes continue to use their muscles during recovery.

Later that day, we got a real taste of what it feels like when you are at over 14, 000 feet on the top of a mountain.  The Colorado Geological Survey says there are 58 mountains with peaks that are over 14,000 feet high.  Pike's Peak might be the most famous one because the cog railway makes it accessible to most people.

It was recommended that we attempt this trip later in our visit after we felt acclimated to the altitude but when we got to the top after the 1 1/2 hour ride, you could definitely feel the difference in the air density and temperature.

Parts of the ride were just trees on both sides.  But then we rose above the trees and saw this spectacular view.

You could see for miles and we kept talking about what is must have been like as an early settler discovering this and then trying to cross it.  It was interesting to see the old carriage trails that were used to get up the mountain back hundreds of years ago.  There was even a hotel about halfway up!

As we got closer to the top, the scenery seemed more like the surface of the moon.

And, then, as it did most afternoons when we were in Colorado, the clouds moved in just as we reached the peak.  We could see a little but the view wasn't as good as it was on the ride up.

You are only at the summit for about 30 minutes, which is enough.  By then we were feeling a little dizzy and lightheaded.  It was funny how everyone on the train seemed so tired on the way back down.  I guess that is what limited oxygen will do!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

And the summer fun continues...

I am not done posting our Colorado photos, but the summer keeps moving along.  We are working through our summer bucket list with many fun activities.  Plus, some surprises have popped up!

On the bucket list was Grace's first visit to Cedar Point. We went on July 4th with Jill and Jacob and had a great day letting the kids take the lead.

They both ended up trying rides that they might have if they had been alone.  We also discovered that Grace likes roller coasters!  She rode Gemini, the Iron Dragon, and the mine coaster.

One of the things on our list is a visit to a Lake Erie beach.  We live about an hour away from the lake but to always seems so far away.  The tall ship festival at Fairport Harbor was a good excuse to drive up there.

We started out by exploring the one ship that was docked at the festival site.  After a little walk we came back but no other boats had arrived.  When I inquired about why there was only one ship, they said the others didn't show up and they offered us a FREE 90-minute ride on the lake.  This was the equivalent of $130, which was great, but we had about an hour to wait until the next trip.  So, while we waited we walked over to the beach.

We also climbed the 69 steps to the top of the lighthouse and squeezed through the hole at the top for a 360-degree view.

When we came down, Grace found a painted rock that is part of #NortheastOhio Rocks.  We have found a few so far.

When it was time to set sail, we were ready for a peaceful ride on the lake. We rode the Madeline, a 65-foot schooner from Michigan.  The captain told us that after today in Ohio they were going to sail for 72 hours to get back to their home port.  They will have half their crew working and half asleep in 6 hour shifts for the entire sail back home.

Grace was the only child on board and she volunteered to help raise the sails.  She was very interested in learning how they use the sails to move the boat and asked a lot of questions.

Sailing a tall ship was not on the list, but we added it when we got home.  Check!