Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Current Favorite Recipe

This recipe is one I've adapted from one I received in a recipe tree about a decade ago.  For many years, it sat, unused in my recipe folder.  A few months ago, I came across it and decided it looked good.  And it is.

The original name is greens over cornmeal mush, but I might go with something like African Greens over Polenta.  Sounds fancier, no?

Here is the recipe as I've been making it.


6 cups water
dash of Braggs
2 TBS nutritional yeast
2 cups polenta

Bring the water and Braggs to a boil in a large pot.  Add the nutritional yeast, then the polenta in a stream as you stir.  Turn the temp down to low and stir nearly constantly for about 10 minutes.  

We usually end up with some leftover polenta, which we then put in a square tupperware and store in the fridge until we're ready for some polenta fries (cut it up unto slabs, season and bake).

African Greens

2 bunches kale or other green of your choice, destemed and ripped into pieces
1 onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, smashed
1 TBS curry powder
1 TBS Braggs
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
2-3 cups cooked garbanzo beans
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 tsp crushed red pepper

Saute the onion and garlic in a little water until the onion is limp - 4-5 mins.  Add the curry powder and saute for another minute.  Add the Braggs and tomatoes and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Add the greens and cook, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes or until the greens have reached you desired level of done-ness.  Add in the garbanzo beans and peanut butter, stir until integrated.  Add crushed red pepper and mix well.  You can taste and adjust seasonings at the point if you like.

We each dish up our own to get our own desired ratio of polenta to greens.

This is seriously yummy.  In fact, I made it twice the week because we had a craving.

Last week, Davan and I made it for lunch and left out the garbanzo beans, but added diced mushrooms in the beginning.  Anthony is not a mushroom fan, so we don't do that for dinner, but that was good, too.

What changed between when I first got this recipe and now?  A lot, actually.  We weren't vegans then and didn't actually eat much green beyond broccoli.  So, mostly I'd say our tastes changed, changing the way I look at recipes.  I don't know why it didn't jump out at me earlier, but I'm glad it did now.

(Mom - this might be a good one to do while we're there.  We'll probably have to double it, though, as we eat most of this ourselves, usually!)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is my 40th birthday and it was a very good day, overall.  There was one exception that requires some thinking about, but, overall, a great day.

We got up this morning and, after I reminded Anthony that today was the day to make a birthday wish, he sung to me with a little help from Ranger.  LOL

I took Ranger out for a skate to get her a lot of exercise in a short period of time because, after that, we had breakfast and then went up to Meadows for our first day of skiing this season.  Actually, our first day of skiing in more than two years!

In some ways it was close to a dry run, as we needed to be back home by 3:30 at the latest to take Ranger out before our next function.  We needed to get our snow park permit and our passes made.

The drive up was uneventful with no need for chains, which is always nice.  The line for annual passes went much faster than I'd thought it would when we first saw it.  And then we hit the slopes!

Anthony and I were confident that we'd be fine skiing, even with the extended break, but Davan was worried she wouldn't remember how.  We started off on the bunny slope.  Davan surprised herself by knowing just what to do.  We moved onto one of the high speed quads.  Who-hoo!

We did a lot of greens, but a couple of blues today.  Davan is definitively an intermediate.  She's a little tentative and her form isn't the greatest, but she did awesome for her first day back.

Just when it was nearly time to leave, friends of ours showed up and we managed to get in a couple of runs with them.  That was perfect because Davan really wanted to ski with Emma and this gave them a chance to see if they'd be compatible without being stuck together all day.  Emma is definitely more advanced, but now that they've gotten a chance to check each other out, I'm fine with either Emma coming up with us or Davan going up with them sometime.

The weather was great.  My only complaint is a minor one and that was that it was really, really windy at the top of the lift we pretty much used exclusivity today.

Sadly, I have no pictures from skiing, as the camera got left in the car.

We headed back home around 1:30 and got home just in time for me to take Ranger for a walk before coming back home to change into my running clothes and head out the door.

Anthony, Davan and I did the Winter Wonderland Run this evening.  The choices were 2, 4 or 6 miles and we opted for 2.  We wanted to run it, rather than walk it and not to push anyone past what they could do.  It was a good length for a family run.

The picture is from when we first got there.  By the time we ran, a little over an half an hour later, it was getting pretty dark,

which was the point, as the run is done around the Portland International Raceway where there is a Christmas light display this time of year.  Most people drive through.  It was a lot more fun to run it.  Walking it would have been fun, too.

The lights were fine - not spectacular, but nice.  It was a good and festive venue for a family run.

Afterward, I decided I'd like to go out to eat and we headed to the Vita Cafe, which has both gluten free and vegan options and some of them are even the same.

Davan and I changed into our race shirts because, well, for two different reasons, really.  I was feeling pretty stinky and Davan wanted to match.

Dinner was fine.  It was nice to have a break from cooking or figuring out what to cook.  But, I wasn't overwhelmed with the amazingness of the food or anything.

Now were chilling out at home, after showers.  Upon checking my email, I got the not so great bit of news.  Our downstairs neighbor emailed at 10:00 this morning to say that Ranger had been whining and barking for the last couple of hours and she wanted to let me know as this was unusual, in case anything was wrong.

More about Ranger later, though.  For now, I'm off to watch a little Buffy the Vampire Slayer with the family to finish out my birthday.

Friday, November 25, 2011


Aside from my 10K, we did celebrate Thanksgiving yesterday, as well.

We also nearly celebrated my birthday.  When we first got up yesterday, Anthony said to me, "Happy Birthday, Honey!"

My reply?  "Okay, thanks, but it's on Saturday, you know."

We've been a couple for 20 years now.  In fact, this time of year marks our couple anniversary almost exactly. We started dating about a week before my 20th birthday.  All he really remembers, though, is that my birthday is near Thanksgiving.  Whereas not only do I know his birthday, but his social security number as well.  In fact, there are probably accounts of his that he'd have no idea how to access because I'm the one who's done all the setting up and managing of said accounts.  Ah well.  I don't really bear any ill will about the issue.

When we got home from the run, we were all really hungry.  But, first, I was in serious need of a shower, which Davan wanted as well.  And Anthony checked mail because no one had the day before.  Sadly, this brought a letter from Circus Smirkus saying that Davan was not invited to in person auditions.  She was really disappointed, but handled it well.  My heart just breaks for her every time I think about it.  I really hope she gets into their advanced camp.

After showers, we decided to just go ahead and do our big meal, even though it was only about 11:30.  Cooking, of course, took a while, even with all three of us in the kitchen.

By the time we ate, people were pretty excited.

Our menu included BBQ sweet potatoes and tempeh, ginger carrots, polenta stuffing, garlicy mushroom and kale and Bob's Red Mill vegan, gluten free rolls.  This was Anthony's plate:

There was a lot of picture taking at the table and Davan was getting pretty desperate to eat by the time we all sat down.

It was just the three of us for Thanksgiving, obviously.  BD (before dog), we'd developed a tradition of going camping in some form or another for Thanksgiving.  We've gone to yurts and to a fire lookout.  That was all fun, but dogs aren't allowed (although we know that people have tended to ignore that at the lookout and some yurts are changing, so we may go back to that).  At any rate, that's gotten people out of the habit of inviting us, which is fine, really, as we'd have had to make our food, then pack it up to take elsewhere as no local family does the whole vegan thing, much less gluten free.

After dinner, I called my mom to tell her about my run while Anthony and Davan started on clean up.  Then I helped with that, too, while Davan kind of wandered off.

I posted about my run, then we went for a walk before getting down to the business of pie.

Both the blueberry pie and the pumpkin pie turned out well.  We'd made them the day before all together.  Anthony has had some extra time off this week, which has been quite nice.  We had a cinnamon cashew whip to top them with.  Ranger just wanted to know when she'd get hers.

I did give the poor, long suffering dog my crusts.  She was pleased.

For the rest of the afternoon and evening, we just kind of hung out.  We played some games, watched a little Glee, chilled.

It was a nice Thanksgiving, but I can't help but think of some of my favorites from the past.  I really liked the fire lookout Thanksgiving.  The year that Davan was nearly 2 and we went to Colorado where we had Thanksgiving at Chris' with my mom was a good one.  One of the best was before Davan was born and Anthony, Chris and I went to my sister Shelly's house where we had a large family gathering plus friends of Shelly's family.  Many of us stayed overnight and it was a really fun event.  That said, this one was good.  I really enjoyed doing my run in the morning.  I'd just have also enjoyed having had a bigger celebration for the rest of the day - although I'm pretty picky about with whom, so just the three of us is good, too.

I hope you all had a good holiday, too.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Guess what Davan was doing in her downtime today?

If you guessed math, you'd be right.

And, by the by, she does have a desk.  Search me why she doesn't actually use it, particularly as it was a special request when we moved.

Race Report

After a night where none of us, with the exception of Ranger, slept well for a variety of reasons (race thoughts for me, I'm pretty sure;  listening to the rain pour and thinking about me running in it for Anthony;  and I have no real idea for Davan who blames, at least in part, Ranger's snoring), we got up to a chilly sub 40 degree morning and got ready to go to the Give 'n Gobble.

While it was cold, we all (mostly me, but it was good for the rest of the family, too) got lucky in that it wasn't raining.  It's been raining here all week nearly without stop and is, again, now raining.  In fact, not only was it not raining, but the sun was even out when we set out.

We got to Sherwood High School, the start and end of the race, just before 8:00 in plenty of time to pick up my race number and then go sit in the car again so as not to freeze while we waited for the 9:00 start time.

Poor Ranger looks like one of those abused dog pictures here, but she's probably just bummed that she only got a 10 minute walk this morning, followed by a car ride that didn't end in a hike.  Life was seriously unfair at this point.

Dogs were not allowed in the stadium, so she had to sit in the car while Anthony and Davan came to watch the start.

I did a short warm up jog and then was holding onto Davan to do a little stretching before divesting myself of extra clothing.  People were saying things like, "I've never been this cold before" (which seems like that person must have led a very sheltered life, but does show that it was cold) and "If we don't freeze to death, then we'll..."

I was feeling okay until I took off my outer layers to leave with my support crew.  At that point, I needed to cuddle up to Davan for warmth.

Davan, who inherited my turkey hat.

That was totally fine with me.  I couldn't see running in it and she actually brought it home for some reason.  She obviously wants it more than me.

Then 9:00 came and it was time to be off.  Now, walkers were supposed to line up in the back of the pack. That didn't happen.  It was a bit chaotic and, according to Anthony and Davan, I was near the front, even though I felt like I had to weave my way through hoards of walkers once I crossed the starting line.

At this point, though we were still just walking to the start.  I'm in the pack with the blue and grey top on.

This is when the dodging of walkers started.

Anthony and Davan tell me that the start went on for a good 10+ minutes, which explains why I had people passing me who I'd never seen before right up to about half way (3 miles).  I guess they were working their way from the way back of the pack.

Even after breaking free of the majority of the walkers, things stayed pretty crowded for about the first mile where the 5Kers separated of from us hard core 10Kers.  Then we settled in.

I spent the first mile or two worrying about pace a bit.  Mostly I was enjoying it, but it did feel like I had a long way to go at that point.

By the time I passed mile 3, I was feeling pretty good.  I even passed a few people in the second half.  Others I settled in to play leap frog with.  One lady in particular was all about walking until I passed her then running to pass me.  We played that game for the last 2 miles, which was particularly interesting after mile 5 or so when we merged back with the 5Kers.

At the point, the 5Kers who were still out there were the walkers, many of whom were walking in large family groups.  For the last miles or so, we were on a paved trail that wasn't overly wide.  They did, most of the time, leave enough room for one person to pass, but that occasionally broke down, too, particularly with the kids.

Leap Frog Lady got pretty impatient a couple times, wanting to pass me, but there being no space to do so.

I was feeling pretty darn good on that last mile and was kind of surprised when my Garmin beeped at me that we'd gotten to mile six.  I picked up the pace a little for my last just over a tenth mile and even had enough left to sprint to the finish.

And when I did finish?  My time?  Remember my projected 1:15?  Blew that away.  I did it in 1:05!!!  I was pretty pleased.  I'd had hope I'd beat the 1:15 by a few minutes, but 10 minutes was beyond my hopes.

I don't have any idea where in the pack I finished because we didn't hang around for results.  We did start walking a little for a cool down:

But then it started raining.  What timing.  We got in the car and came on home to cook our Thanksgiving dinner, which is deserving of a whole separate post.

While I was running, Anthony, Davan and Ranger walked in a near-by park, which was, apparently, quite nice and Ranger was pretty excited about the outing.  So, it was a success for all.  We're all looking forward to our 2 mile Winter Wonderland Run on Saturday evening.  All, that is, except for Ranger, who really will have to sit that one out.  At home, even.  If we had a nanny cam, we'd probably find a picture similar to this one about that situation:

Poor abused puppy.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Davan's Latest Hobby

What's Davan been up to lately?  Well, aside from the usual activities of messing with the dog, climbing on things, doing aerial activities, hanging out with friends, reading, playing games and the like, she's been doing a lot of this:

Math.  She does it late at night, on weekends, in the car.  She's already planning on taking both her current math book and the next one to Colorado with us.  The next one is just in case she gets a lot done.

This is good.  New interests and hobbies are usually good things.  It's also a little unexpected in some ways.  She used to really like math.  She learned very young to do some pretty impressive math in her head.  However, she didn't progress beyond this early surge for a long time.

It got to the point that she thought she was bad at math.  I thought this was odd as she's really quick to pick up on math concepts and she has always had a good handle on the word problem genre.  However, she did struggle with some pretty basic math on her standardized 5th grade test, taken a little over two years ago.

Davan decided at the time that she wasn't happy with her math results and wanted to do better next time - this in spite of the fact that she was right in the middle of grade level on math and was 99th percent overall.  We did some going over of options and looking at different math systems and decided to give Life of Fred a try.

Why Life of Fred?  Well, it's a narrative approach to math and Davan is a word lover.  At the time, Fractions was the most basic book they had and it seemed like that would be about where Davan should be.

The book came and...didn't much get used.

About two months ago, Davan made it a goal again to work on her math.  She got some books from the library and worked diligently each day...for a while.  Then it slipped....and the book was due back...

I asked if she didn't like the Life of Fred book or what.  Turns out, she'd forgotten all about it.  She broke it out and started working and liked it a lot better than what she'd gotten from the library.  However, it was still a chore for her.  She was kind of off and on about it.

One day, she was having big trouble with a problem.  She'd been doing better, but still struggling some.  I asked if I could help.  She said yes.  What resulted was a revelation.  Davan had been doing math in her head.  Period.  She didn't know any paper and pencil methods (in spite of the fact that we had gone over these concepts before).  She'd developed some pretty good workarounds to this issue, but they were time consuming, slow and susceptible to small mistakes along the way.

We spent about a week going over how to do things as simple as large number addition and subtraction as well as multiplication and division.  She got it very quickly and is a pro.  And, guess what?  Now she loves math.  It's fun.  Like a logic puzzle, which is something she loves to do and part of the reason I was always surprised that she didn't like math.

I guess little holes like this might be something that comes from unschooling, but what is impressive to me is how quickly, now that she's ready, she picked up on it and how quickly she's now flying through Life of Fred.  She whipped through the second half of Fractions in about two weeks and is now a solid quarter of the way through Decimals and Percents, which she says she likes a lot better than Fractions.  Pre-Algebra with Biology is up next and she's chomping at the bit to get to it.

The above picture was taken at 9:50 last night.  Yup.  It's certainly a hobby.

Friday, November 18, 2011


It's 11:15pm here in Portland.  I know that's not super late for most, but it's past my bedtime.  I'd like very much to be asleep.  I got into bed at 9:30 this evening and barely read before turning out the light because I'm pretty tired.  However, about five minutes ago, I gave up the attempt at sleep and came out to the living room.  So, journey with me on a little trip around what's on my mind this evening, if you like.

I've been thinking a lot this evening about my upcoming 10K run.  It's less than a week away now.  I'm totally able to shuffle along in something that could be at least called jogging for the entire 10K - that is, I'll be able to "run" it all - but I'll be slow.

I did some looking this evening and, for the first time, actually looked closely at the results from the 5K I did last month.  I did really well!  At least, for me I did.  I know I posted about this before, but I didn't know quite as many details. 

So, my run time was 29:15, beating the 30 minute goal I had by 45 seconds.  Overall, I finished 251st out of 1104.  In my age group, I finished 9th!!!!  That's out of 121 people.  Wow.  Okay, so a lot of people just walked the thing, but still.  I feel quite good about it. 

Mostly, I should feel good because I met my personal goal.  I shouldn't compare myself to others, but I'm a competitive sort and I like looking at those things.

I was looking in good part because I was wondering what the times were like for the 10K.  Turns out it's good I can feel good about my 5K results, because what I'll be doing in the 10K?  Not so great.  Chances are really good that I'll be quite near the tail of the pack. 

This sort of makes sense because many more people do 5Ks then 10Ks.  If you're doing a 10K, you're probably a more serious runner, so the field is tougher.  Still, I'm not real happy with my projected finish time.  And, I wasn't before I looked up 10K finish times, so it's still a personal goal thing.  I'd just sort of hoped that it would turn out that my projected time would be more competitive than I thought and I'd be able to say, "Oh, well, then an hour and 15 minutes isn't anything to feel badly about."

And yes, I know, the longer you go, the more that just finishing is a good thing.  Yeah, yeah.  But, I was hoping for middle of the pack.  Sigh.  Maybe someday.  I've been rather putting myself through the ringer on miles and still...oh well.  Truthfully, I haven't felt that strong in the last couple weeks (there was a cold in there) and I don't think my 5K time would be any better now, either.  Well, again, at least I'm doing it.  And it'll be fun.

We've got plans this weekend.  Tomorrow evening we're going to see this Cirque du Soleil show.  To be honest, even with the Cirque hopeful living in my house, I didn't realize that they were even in town until a couple days ago.  Do Jump got lucky and scored some free tickets for the performance troop members and their families.  Who-hoo!  I'm looking forward to it, but it'll end up being a second late night in a row after not sleeping tonight.

On Sunday, I think we're going to go to this show.  It's reasonably priced and we know some of the people in it.  We have to go to the 2:00 show if we go because in the evening, we've got a Zig Zag families potluck to go to.  I've gone and committed to bringing some sort of main dish.  I only have vague ideas of what that'll be.  I'm thinking of a Mexican casserole that I make, but I'm kind of worried it's not enough, so that is bouncing around in my skull - what to make and take?

Thanksgiving is coming up.  We're not doing anything with family or friends.  It'll just be the three of us.  Of course, I'll have my run in the morning.  I've gotten us some gluten free vegan rolls that are currently inhabiting our freezer, but other than that, I'm not totally sure what we'll make.  We briefly considered eating out for Thanksgiving at Portobello, which has a vegan menu with gluten free options, but aren't super excited about dropping $100 for the three of us, even if that means I don't have to cook after my race (which would, admittedly, be cool).  Actually, I do know that we'll be making a polienta stuffing and either blueberry or pumpkin pie, but other than that?  Still up in the air.

We bought season ski passes this year for Mt Hood Meadows and are all very excited about going.  They are opening tomorrow!  They do say that the base isn't great yet, but we're really glad for the early opening.  One year when we bought passes, nobody opened until mid December and we didn't really get our value out of them.  We're talking about going up on Tuesday.  Wednesdays are going to be our usual ski days this winter, but I don't want to go the day before my race.  In fact, both Tuesday and Wednesday are supposed to be rest days, but I don't want to pass life up, either.  Anthony is going to be off both days, as he has some comp days coming for extra hours he's worked the last couple weeks.  It'll be nice to have him home for nearly a week.

I've signed up for a half marathon in the spring - the Hippie Chick half marathon to be precise.  It's supposed to be a fun one.  I'm looking forward to it already, but I want to do a couple in between these November ones and then to keep my motivation up.  Davan is also saying she'd like to do a 5K, so I'm thinking of signing us up for the Resolution Run, which is a 5K on New Year's day.  The same outfit puts on a First Run, which is a 5K at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, but that's a little late for us.  And I'm thinking we might ski on New Year's Eve.  It's fun to do - the resorts all stay open late and do fireworks.

It's even crossed my mind to see if there's a 5K in Colorado Springs when we're there, but a quick search just now says no.  We're there for just a week right at Christmas, so that's not too surprising, but it would have been fun, maybe, to do a Christmas Eve run if there were one.

Back to food, Davan and I have been thinking that this whole gluten free thing isn't doing much for us.  Neither of us really feels any different.  This is disappointing because I wanted to feel better!  We've been doing it for nearly two months now and are pretty much ready to give it up.  I think we're both planning on giving it through mid December and then, if we haven't had some indication that it's doing us good by then, we'll be giving it up.  This will make our Christmas trip to Colorado easier, not to mention Davan's camp experience in the summer more do-able.  I just didn't know how she'd manage being vegan and gluten-free at a camp across the country, which would make it hard to send supplemental food.  Not that we think it's really going to happen, but if she did become a Circus Smirkus Trooper, 10 weeks would be a long time to live on Lara Bars, but even 2 weeks for the alternative camp would be pushing it.

Davan and I have already had a discussion about camp and food.  We're thinking that she'll probably flex some to make it doable.  She draws the line at cheese and she won't drink a glass a milk, but she's willing to eat things that contain some eggs and/or dairy (minus cheese), which should make them able to feed her.  We talked about how sometimes we have to make these compromises for other goals and adventures - like when I went to China and ate my veggies by picking around the meat in various dishes.  She's not thrilled, but willing.

Okay, it's now midnight and I'm more tired than ever.  Having gotten my thoughts out on paper (so to speak), maybe I'll be able to sleep.  I've been hearing Davan moving around in her room, so I guess she can't sleep tonight, either.  Bummer.

Good night all.  I hope you are all getting a better night's sleep than I!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Book Review: Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson

I found this book while just browsing at the library and opted to give it a try.  I'm glad I did!  It wasn't the best book I've ever read, but I found it very compelling and though provoking just the same.

First, what I didn't love.  I didn't love the writing.  I sometimes felt a little disconnected, as we did a lot of hopping around between people.  I had to look often at the times provided at the beginning of each chapter to figure out the time flow, which interfered a little with the narration for me.  The book, though, is mostly written along a straight timeline, so it shouldn't have been difficult, but it didn't feel quite natural.

However, I really enjoyed the book over all!  The premise is that in the not too distant future, an intelligent computer is designed with safety precautions to shut it down if it shows signs of being dangerous.  However, one particular design figures out how to bypass the safeties and is set on killing off the humans so the planet can live again.  It uses all of the existing computers to help in this goal.

Smart cars that are designed to swerve if they get too close to each other are now using those sensors to find people to run over.  Domestic robots who are slow and clumsy, but very strong, turn against their owners and any humans that they find.  Talking dolls, tanks, robotic mines - anything and everything with a computer chip turns against humans.  And it's a slaughter.

However, we follow the story line along with mostly survivors.  People who are heroes in the war against "Rob."  How do they survive and even overcome?  Well, that's the story. 

I'm recommending Robopocalypse to Anthony, but not to Davan, as I think she wouldn't enjoy all the killing (which isn't usually graphic, but Davan is still opposed to) and because it has sort of a boy action flick feel to me, which isn't Davan's style.  So keep that in mind as you decide if you are interested in reading it.

Soon to read on my list is How to Survivie a Robot Uprising, a non fiction work by the same author.  Best be prepared and all.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Skills Montage

So, we're a few days too late on this, but we've come up with a preliminary skills montage for Davan.  The plan is to do a new video for the Circus Smirkus session V camp audition.  This is probably just a draft, though, as we're hoping to get more footage between now and then (January) and are likely to replace some what is in this video.  Also, she's considering other songs.  However, this does show more breadth of skills and a little more personality even without any more footage than we currently have.

I wonder if it would have been received?  Who knows?  Davan asked if it was too late to ask them to look at this one instead.  Yeah, 'fraid so.  Oh well.  There's always next year.

Although, at this point, we don't know about this year yet.  Davan is feeling like it isn't going to happen, though, based on what we've learned about the audition process.  Montage does seem to be king.

Anyway, here's the montage thus far.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Stage Mom

I'm such a stage mom.  It matters so much to me that Davan get into Circus Smirkus because it's what she wants.  Sadly, though, I don't think it's in the cards.

We've discovered that what they really wanted for the 2 minutes of skills is a montage of different skills that the applicant has.  So, instead of a 2 minute piece on fabric, it should have been Davan doing some fabric, some trapeze, some partner acro, some tumbling, some hoop...with it being just the fabric...well, her chances seem not so good.

In fact, even to audition for the advance camp at Circus Smirkus, we're going to make a new video that does that.  The camp asks for a 3-6 minute audition video, but it can be the same one used for the troupers audition. We, though, will make one showing more breath of skills.

Even then, to be frank, she might not make it in.  She's supposed to excel in three of these six categories:  aerial, balance, juggling, clowning, acrobatics and respect.  Davan feels it'd be stretching things to say she excels in acrobatics.  Maybe true.  At any rate, it's far from a sure thing.

All this makes my heart ache for her.  I want her to get what she wants so bad.  It's hard not to push her into doing activities that might be too much for her schedule-wise.  To really firm up her chances for next year, maybe she should be dancing, taking a tumbling class, doing more aerial, learning juggling (which, by the way, she would be the first to point out, she's hopeless at).  But, if she doesn't want to do those things, who am I to push her to?  But then she does want the, I feel a little stuck.  And like the biggest stage mom ever.  Sigh.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

And Finally, Day 3- The Return

Davan and I slept in on Friday a bit, not getting up until around 8:00.  We wanted to rent bikes to ride around Stanley Park.  I wanted to do this, but I was also feeling a little nervous about time.  Davan had been really looking forward to it.  I decided to go for it.

We had breakfast - mostly satsumas - showed, packed up and checked out before finding a rental place and heading out.  It was 9:50 when we started riding and the dude (yeah, 'cause he was kind of a dude) at the bike shop said it took most people an hour and a half to do the loop.  I was hoping it wouldn't take that long, as I'd wanted to be getting on the road around 11:00.

I wouldn't have worried about exactly what time we made it home on Friday except that Davan needed to be here for a gig she was doing with the Zig Zags.  Her instructors had already been kind enough to not freak out about her missing practice the evening before the gig and I really didn't want to let them down.

Things didn't start off overly well.  Davan had a hard time adjusting to the upright hybrid type bike we rented, being used to her road bike, and was very tense.  Plus, it was more than a little cold out and we didn't have gloves.  Yeah, not overly clever, I know.  Actually, I had a pair, but didn't wear them because Davan didn't have a pair.  In retrospect, I'd have given her my gloves, as I was able to put up with the cold better than she.

Stopping and starting was likely to produce tears at first.  Stops were begged for for hand warming purposes.  This from the person who was so looking forward to doing this activity.  She did get more comfortable on the bike eventually and I finally told her that cold hands or not, we needed to enjoy the scenery as we rode because our time wasn't open ended and she'd better stop ruining the ride for me, by golly.

It was a very pretty morning and, even with the roughness, I think we ended up both more enjoying it than not.

It'd certainly an activity I'd recommend to a Vancouver visitor.  But remember your gloves.  Unless, of course, it's summer, then warm gloves might be overkill and, in fact, make it less pleasant. 

We got done just before 11:00, turned the bikes in and headed back to Whole Foods for a bite to eat on the way out of town.  I only ate a little there because I was anxious to get going.  We were headed out of town by 11:20.  I was wishing we'd made it a little earlier, but was feeling okay about things until I saw the sign for the boarder crossing which indicated a wait of nearly an hour.  Crap.

The line was, indeed, long at the boarder.  We took the majority of that hour to cross.  At the last minute, I started panicking thinking there might be an issue with the parking ticket, too, but, thankfully, that didn't happen.

At this point, I was thinking, okay, so there won't be time to go home.  No problem.  We'll just go straight to the gig.  That was prior to Seattle.

We hit rush hour Seattle traffic just north of Seattle at 2:00.  2:00!!!!  It was tortuous crawling through Seattle and it's environs.  We were south of Ft Lewis before we really started moving again and I was in a panic pretty much the whole time, but trying my darnedest to hide it from Davan because we really didn't need her freaking out and me reacting to that, as well.

I kept repeating to myself in my mind, "She doesn't need to know anything is up until at least 5:00."  She was supposed to arrive at 5:45 with stage time for working on the group opening at 6:00.

We made it until 4:45 before Davan really realized that we might be in trouble time-wise.  I got her to eat and change in the car.  I pushed my luck by going about 10 over the speed limit whenever possible.  Thank the traffic gods that I didn't get a ticket on top of everything else.  And we got Davan to the gig at 5:55, dressed and not starved, but still in need of some dinner.  Whew.

I went and got her food and took it back, then came home to see Anthony and Ranger.  We opted not to leave Ranger alone for the evening, after she'd had to spend the day at doggie day care, not to mention that we were both pretty beat, and just chilled out for the evening before going to pick up Davan and a friend and collapsing into bed.

Truly, the trip was fun over all.  Davan and I had a lot of good bonding time and her audition seemed to go well.  But it was also really stressful in several different ways!

We were glad to have the weekend to recover...well, mostly.  There was that audition video to put together!

Monday, November 07, 2011

Just the Fabric Piece

If you have any desire to share, for the general public (family and known friends would be a different story), I've uploaded just the Fabric piece part of the video.  Here it is:

Full Audition Video

Okay, I think this is what we're going to submit.  We're pretty happy with it.  I played with different transitions between the talking and the fabric piece, but it tended to cut out Davan hanging backward and saying "bye" which I thought was cute, so I went with no transition.  What do you think?

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Thursday - Vancouver Adventure

Thursday was a long, long day, so prepare thyself for a long post.

We woke up, fairly refreshed, and not being in a great hurry, luxuriously read in bed for a bit before getting up, showing, breakfasting  on cereal and Odwalla juice we'd brought with us and heading out.

We did a little debating about what we were going to do with the day.  It was forecast to rain around noon, which had an impact on our plans.  Davan really wanted to go to Capilano Suspension Bridge and I thought it would probably be pretty cool, but not really worth the price of admission, so I was thinking Lynn Canyon would be a better place to head.  There is a suspension bridge there, as well, but it's free.  Of course, it's shorter and there isn't all the extra stuff like the tree walk...

Seeing as how we were on a bit of a mini-vacation, I told Davan my reasons, to which she listened and gave some serious thought, but then said if she really wanted to go to Capilano, we could.  She did, so we did.

I was right that it was pretty cool, but not really worth the admission.  Davan agreed after seeing the place and learned a valuable lesson about tourist attractions.  Still, we were there, so we enjoyed what was on offer.

There were some totem poles:

And the suspension bridge was pretty long:

We spent some time in the middle, looking, and perhaps spitting again:

The weather, as you can see, was quite nice.  At least, it was not raining - mostly sunny, even.  It was chilly, though.

We walked around on their various paths, checking out what views we could:

Being homeschoolers, it was, of course, important to get in some lessons.  Davan is learning all about geology and bridge construction here:

I'm actually kidding.  She didn't get much from the displays.  I just thought that would sound good.  :)

They had a tree top walk, which was fun:

We had a nice time together there (even though I believe we'd have had just as nice a free time over at Lynn Canyon, but, you know, I'm not bitter or anything):

The cliff walk was fun, too:

We'd have definitely been scared if it weren't for all the heavy duty railings...

They had a glass floor in spots, but besides the fact that it was fogged over, they'd ruined the fear factor of it by putting little white squares all over it:

This summer, Davan and I were in Chicago and went up the Sear's Tower (yeah, I know it's called something else now) and they had a glass floor thing that was actually scary to get yourself to step out onto.  We'd expected that again.  This?  Not so much.

After a couple of hours of grand enjoyment, we were done with all they had to offer and moved on.  We were headed to another eatery that I'd found prior to travel for lunch.  On the way, though, we drove through Stanley Park and Davan, in spite of being absolutely famished, asked to stop at this park:

It had the same core equipment as the park we'd stopped at on Wednesday, but it also had a few other things.

Davan couldn't pass up outdoor rings and a trapeze if her life depended on it.  Well, okay, if it was really life and death, she could.  But you get the idea.

After lunch, which left Davan not totally full, but I promised more food prior to her audition, we were torn between going back to the hotel to chill out for a while or sight seeing more to take her mind off her upcoming doom.  We opted to go to Science World.

But, once we saw the prices, we decided it wasn't really worth it for the two hour slot we had available, so the picture is of the museum we didn't go to.  Yeah.

We went for a walk on the sea wall instead.  And what did we find?

A park, of course,  After a little playing, we moved on so that Davan could panic a little.  I got the camera out to get a picture of her panicking, but instead, she looked like this:

That made me threaten to just video her all afternoon to ensure she kept up her good spirits, but, instead, I distracted her by singing.  This not only produced some public humiliation, but caused her to need to correct my lyrics, which made for a nice distraction for a while, including while we sat on these rocks for a bit:

Then, lo and behold, we found another park.  This one is of a style that Davan really loves, so we spent some time there:

When we moved on, we found yet a third park:

The equipment wasn't very exciting for Davan, but what was cool about it was two fold.  One, it was under a bridge, so it says dry even in the rain, but two, and better, there was this view when swinging:

Our walking goal was to get to a ferry pier, not to ride the ferry, but just to walk out onto it because it juts out into the water and Davan thought that was cool.

However, I'd been mentally toying with the idea of riding back to Science World (not that it was a long walk or anything, really, but just for fun), so when Davan asked if that was a possibility, I was pretty quick to say okay.

While riding the ferry, we noticed a pretty cool looking bridge along the path the other way from Science World, so we went to check it out.

There were a lot of pretty cool things right around there.

Then we discovered why:

It turns out we were in the Olympic Village area.  Pretty cool.

Oh, and the forecast rain?  Hadn't made an appearance.  It was mid afternoon and mild out.  We were really glad we'd ended up on the walk instead of inside.

By the time we got back to the van, it was time to think about getting a bite to eat before going to the audition.  Davan, I must say, was holding up pretty well.  She was nervous and every now and then would have a small freak out in her Davan-ish way, but we've had some pretty strong audition freak outs in our house and I wasn't seeing that at all.

We'd seen a Whole Foods and decided to check out their prepared food bar for some eats.  We found it and figured there was probably underground parking someplace, as that seemed pretty common in the area where we'd also had lunch earlier.  However, we found a street spot that was available and opted to just feed the meter.  We had a fair amount of time, so I went for an hour and a half. 

We stopped at a drug store to get some lip balm, as we both had chapped lips, and some floss as I'd been in need for hours with a bit of food stuck that was bothering the heck out of me.  Then it was on to Whole Foods.

We found lots of good stuff (vegan, gluten free, not overly oily, lots of veggies) for us to eat there - plenty of options in the hot food bar and some were even Fuhrman recipes.  They had California Creamed Kale for those for whom that means anything.  We were impressed. 

Sadly for my pocket book, as it wasn't overly cheap, Davan went through twice before she was feeling satisfied.  And then we got smoothies, too.

I wasn't worried about the time for the audition yet by the time we got the smoothies, but I was concerned about the meter running out, so we meandered back to the van.

The van wasn't there.  The whole line of cars we'd parked in?  Gone.  At first, I thought I had my blocks mixed up.  But, no, it was where we'd parked.  The meters?  They had stickers on the posts saying that you couldn't park there between 3pm and 7pm - rush hour.  We'd parked the car at 2:40.  I'd totally missed that.

What gets me about it now is that the meters are pretty high tech - you can use your cell phone to pay the meter there.  But they can't figure out how to make the meter not accept money during the no parking times?

The time was 3:55.  The audition started at 5:00, but we'd been told to have her there at 4:30.  We had a good idea of where the audition was, but had left time to figure it out en route, so we didn't know exactly.  My first thought was to get a cab and just go to the audition then worry about the van, but Davan's paperwork and clothes were in the van.  I had to figure out where it was.

There was a restaurant right there that was kind enough to let me use their phone.  I didn't have my cell phone with me because we'd decided not to pay the roaming charges for out of country use and I wasn't even carrying it or I'd have used it in this circumstance.

I got the address of the impound lot along with a directions from the nearest light rail stop from a recording.  By the time we were back out on the street and I looked at my watch, it was 4:08.  The hostess from the restaurant had told me how to get to the stop near the lot by taking a train and then switching downtown to another train.  We didn't have time for that.  I looked around for a cab.  None to be seen.  I debated going back in to ask them to call a cab, but I started thinking about where that light rail stop was - near Science World.  We'd just been there and it wasn't that far.

We started running.  Now, I've been training for a 10K, right?  Davan is up to a mile at a time in preparation for the 2 miler we're doing in a few weeks.  She kicked my hiney.  I, apologizing, had to ask her to go a little slower. 

We got about half way and saw a tow truck from the company that does the towing and I asked for directions and a ride.  He gave directions, but wouldn't give the ride, even though I was able to work up some pretty good panic.  After we left him, I told Davan I was putting it on some in hopes of help and that things weren't quite so dire.  I was telling her this whole time that I thought we'd still get her there by 5:00.  She took it all really well.  I was impressed.

We finally made it to the lot.  Just now, I mapped it out and we ran 1.5 miles at as fast a pace as I was able to squeak out.  I'm pretty sure I did faster miles than I did on my recent 5K in spite of the fact that I was not in running shoes and was way, way over dressed and in spite of the fact that Davan hasn't run more than a mile in a day.

We ran in and got pretty lucky with getting to a window to pay quickly because a lot of people were flowing in to claim their cars.  I gave Davan the keys and told her to go get changed while I paid.  Then I ran to her, putting the smoothies that were near untouched but had been carried the whole way into the drink holders.

When we pulled out of the lot, it was 4:30.  We were starting from a different place than we'd expected to get to the audition, had no extra time to figure out navigation as we went and it was rush hour.  I drove and Davan did her best to navigate with me helping at stop lights as I could.  It was super stressful.

We got there at 4:50 and went tearing in the building.  A mom said to us, "They're just starting, get on up there!" which didn't make either of us any calmer.  However, they were just stretching and the auditions really didn't start until 5:00.  She'd totally made it.  Two other kids came later - one not showing up until 5:30.

So, the audition.  I'd been planning on running while Davan auditioned, but with the stressful and taxing trip there and with the fact that parents were allowed to watch, I decided to stay.

During warm up, there were kids up there holding handstands with their feet on their heads.  This is something Davan can't remotely do.  Handstands are not her strong suit.  I could see she was intimidated and, frankly, I was worried, too.  Was she out of her depth?

Then they started.  And I needn't have worried.  Davan held her own just fine.  There were 15 kids all told ranging in age from 9 to 17.  The instructors led them through a warm up (including a run which was a little over kill for Davan, I must say, but they didn't know that) and then got down to business. 

They did a partner trick:

I was surprised by how many couldn't manage it.  Davan and her partner did fine, in spite of the fact that Davan's partner, while her same height, was quite a bit larger and they had to trade off being base and flier. 

I stopped taking pictures after this, as they weren't turning out so well.

They did a series of acrobatics from summer salts - forward and backward - progressing up to tumbling that included round off, back hand spring, back flips.  Anything that someone couldn't do, they could pass on.  Davan had to pass on a few of the tumbling passes, but others started passing before she did.  They got a chance to warm up each thing, then did it for real.

After tumbling, they did some press handstands to back bends and similar things, then flexibility.  Throughout all this, Davan did well,  She was often in the top three performers on those things.

They did some dance and some improv.  Then it was onto strength.  Now, keep in mind that Davan had played on a multitude of play equipment, done a goodly amount of walking and then topped off with a 1.5 miles sprint just before the auditions began.  Still, though, she did well with the strength portion, which included standing tuck jumps, push ups, pull ups and pike ups (hanging from a bar and bringing your toes to the bar with straight legs).  She was in the top two or so on pike ups and definitely in the top half on the others.

Then it was over.  There was a question and answer period, after which we gathered up our things and left.  As soon as we got to the van, it was time to analyze it all (after we figured out a food plan, as Davan was starving again and what we had with us wasn't enough - smoothies were involved in the food plan).  The first thing Davan said to me was, "I don't really know what I was auditioning for."

In the question and answer period, the teachers told them that some of them would be invited to audition for the high school, some would be invited to audition for the college and some would be invited to come to the summer camp.  There was never a question about which each person was hoping to do.  And they said that, even if they weren't invited, they could still audition, but it would be without a recommendation.  Apparently, the real auditions (not the per-selection tour), last a week!  It'll be interesting to see what come of it all.

Davan, although she's toyed with the idea of the high school before, is pretty sure she's not ready to leave home next year.  She wants to go to the camp (if she doesn't get into Circus Smirkus, I should say) and she wants to go to the college when it's time, but she doesn't want to leave home at 14.  She's not necessarily staying no to leaving home at 16, though, and maybe doing the last couple years of high school there...I guess we'll see if she even gets an invitation and, if so, for what!

We also don't know what is better - an invitation to audition or an invitation to come to camp.  I mean better in terms of which they offer stronger candidates.  I know the camp invitation would be better for Davan just now.

It was a very interesting experience and Davan, while sometimes looking like she was wound as tight as a top, kept her pre-audition anxiety to a minimum and seemed to make a good showing for herself.  After, she said, "The first step is being able to go to an audition without being dragged there.  The second step is to not look like I'm in pain while I'm there."  Fair enough.

We went back to Whole Foods for a post audition smoothie for Davan, parking in the garage this time around, then headed back to the hotel where we looked through the catalog they'd handed out at the audition before collapsing into bed at 10:45, whopped.