Sunday, June 21, 2009

like mother, like daughter

So I know today is Father's Day and I should be blogging about Olivia's amazing Daddy. I do have plans to share some very cute father/daughter pictures very soon, but there is one other thing I must share first. Last Sunday marked a very special occasion for Olivia. It was her first dance recital. You already know how much I have been looking forward to this considering my background with dance and my history at Northeast School of Dance. Well this was extra special, because not only was Olivia taking the stage for the first time, but I was putting on my tap shoes and taking the stage for the first time in almost 13 years!

This year marked the 40th anniversary of my old dance studio. I practically grew up at this place and I spent every second of my free time dancing until I graduated from high school. Well to celebrate the 40th anniversary and honor the amazing owner of the studio, Beth Schiebel, all of the alumni were invited back to participate in a surprise dance at the conclusion of the recital. We had been meeting once a month for the past 6 months to practice and it all came together perfectly with over 100 alumni taking the stage to pay tribute to this amazing woman who has kept this dance studio going for 40 years! Needless to say, it was a very special night.

The day started early with Olivia going to her dress rehearsal, hence the yawning. There was a lot of anxiety on my part on how she would handle dancing on a big stage in front of hundreds of people. Once I was able to convince her to put her costume on (still a struggle), she went out with all of her friends and did a great job! There seemed to be no nervousness on her part, being up there in front of others. Even though this was just a rehearsal I could already feel my heart just swelling with pride! After seeing her practice I had no doubt that she would do great that evening.

After getting Olivia home, fed and put to bed I had to head back to the concert hall to attend a hush-hush final practice for the alumni dance. This was going to be the first time we would all come together to finalize things on the stage. There were a ton of us and it was pretty hectic but we pulled it together. The special thing about the dance we were performing was that it was the dance the owner did for her senior solo in high school. The dance held a special place in her heart so it made sense that it would be the dance we would all perform for her. Once my practice was over I had to rush home and get Olivia up and ready. After we were all set I headed back to the concert hall for the third time that day for the actual recital.

Olivia was all dolled up in her adorable pink costume. Surprisingly enough, after being asked to wear it so many times over the past few weeks she did not give me one bit of trouble when it was time to get dressed...thank goodness! It is too bad that the costume is not more comfortable, because she is darn, stinkin' cute in it!

The little kids always perform at the beginning of the show so they can leave if they want. She was #2 so I did not have to wait long to see her. I know it sounds funny, but I was nervous for her. I did not want her to freeze up and forget all of the steps she had worked so hard on all year. As I sat there with butterflies in my tummy I watched as she performed every step to perfection (or as perfect as a two-year old can). Her whole class did great! She tapped her little heart out and I could not have been more proud!

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Once she was done I went to meet her so that she could come watch some of the dancing with me. She watched a few numbers then left with her daddy for a bit to get a celebratory ice cream cone and squeeze in some play time on the playground. I knew there was no way she was going to sit through a 2+ hour recital so they left and came back in time to watch me dance. She sat on Todd's lap during my performance and I was told she clapped very loudly for me. I have only one picture from my dance. See the arrow? That's me!

Overall it was a great night! Olivia tapped like a pro and made us very proud! I got to put my tap shoes back on and remember what it was like to perform, as well as see some great, old friends. I think the best part of the night came when I was putting Olivia to bed. Earlier that day I told her that I was proud of her for dancing on the big stage. That night when I put her in bed she looked at me and said, "Mommy, I am very proud of you for dancing on the big stage!". Oh my goodness...it just does not get any better than that!

I will be so honored if my daughter grows up to love tap as much as I did growing up. I am fully prepared for her to tell me that she has had enough in a few years, and that will be fine too. If anything I can always look back on this year and tell her that both mommy and Olivia tap danced on the big stage!


Monday, June 08, 2009

our little star

Yep, that's our girl. She was recently named the winner of the 2009 WMEE Baby Idol photo contest! I think most of you are aware of the contest because we hounded you for almost a full month to vote for her, over and over again. Well this past Monday the winner was announced and it was Olivia! This was the longest contest in history, with round after round of voting until it was finally narrowed down to the final two. I think I sent out four sets of e-mails reminding people and begging them to vote for her each time. Although this was a cute baby photo contest, and of course we think she is the cutest thing out there, what it all boiled down to was who would be able to round up the most votes. I guess we were! Hooray for us!

Even though Olivia has no idea that she won this contest we are excited for her to use some of her reward. We receive a $500 gift card to Meijer for winning! We have many plans on how we would like to use the money but we want to make sure that Olivia is able to pick out something special for herself too. I think our big purchase is going to be bicycles for the family. We want to be able to ride bikes together in our neighborhood and this money will allow us to do that! I know that $500 seems like a lot of money, but I have a feeling it is going to go very fast.

I want to give a big thanks to Betsy King, of Betsy King Photography. She was the talented person who took this gorgeous photo of our sweetie. I cannot tell you how many compliments we have gotten on her work. This is by far one of my favorite pictures of Olivia to this day. Finally, I want to thank all of the people who voted for Olivia. It is because of your help that we were able to win. I promise not to bother you with e-mail voting requests for a very long time. Olivia may look back on this one day and think it is pretty corny and cheesy, but hopefully it will make her smile. I know I smile each time I think about her being named the 2009 Baby Idol!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

twinkle toes

This Sunday Olivia will participate in her very first dance recital. As many of you know I spent the majority of my younger years in the dance studio. I studied tap, jazz and ballet until I graduated from high school. I hoped that one day I would have a daughter that would enjoy tap dancing as much as I did as a kid. So the second she was old enough I enrolled her in her very first tap class, at the same studio I attended, Northeast School of Dance. I told myself that I would not push her to like tap dancing. If she started the class and decided she did not like it, we would stop. Well what two year old doesn't like to make loud noises with their feet? She has loved it from the very beginning and in a few days she will perform everything she has learned this year in an adorable dance while wearing an adorable costume. I can't wait!

A few weeks ago we got to see Olivia's progress during parent visitation. Having all of the parents in the room while the kids were trying to pay attention was a bit distracting for them. But we did get to see Olivia tap those toes and show off her moves. There is nothing funnier than a room full of 2-4 year olds trying to dance.

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They start the class by warming up with the teacher and a few high-school aged helpers. Then they take turns practicing certain moves while the other kids watch. As you know, Olivia's personality is bigger than life, and so are her movements. Every step she takes is exaggerated to the fullest extent. She definitely does not hold back. She tends to favor her right foot and leg so her movements are a little lop-sided, but I am sure that will even out if she continues tapping.

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After their warm-up they usually work on their dance for awhile. Olivia's teacher, Miss Karmen is a brave woman! I cannot imagine getting a room full of toddlers to pay attention long enough to teach them a routine. That is not only challenging, but very impressive. She has managed to get them to remember their dance, with a little bit of encouragement and constant reminders of what comes next.

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I have a couple of fears regarding Olivia's first dance recital. First, there is the issue of the costume. It is beyond adorable. Pink, frilly and poofy...and she HATES it! It is not the most comfortable thing to wear (which makes no sense, since two year olds are expected to wear it!). We have been trying on the costume on a regular basis with the hope that she will not feel the need to rip it off on stage in front of hundreds of people! She still tells me that it is itchy but I think she will forget about it once she is on stage with all of her friends.

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That brings me to my second fear...the stage. I am afraid that she will freeze when she realizes that she is dancing on a big stage in front of a huge group of people. We have been talking about this as well, with the hope that I can keep her from being nervous. I have positioned it this way...Elmo dances on the big stage in Sesame Street Live (which she saw), so it will be Olivia's turn to dance on the big stage just like Elmo! She thinks that sounds pretty cool, so we will keep our fingers crossed.

Regardless of what happens at the actual recital one thing is for sure...it will be cute and funny! She has enjoyed all of these months of tap class and has made some nice friends, and that is most important. Even if she freezes on that big stage during her big moment, my heart will melt, knowing that my little girl is doing the same thing I was doing at that age. If she loves it half as much as I did I will be thrilled, but if she decides it is not for her I will not be sad. If I have learned one thing about Olivia since she has come into my life it is that she is strong willed. There is no way I am going to make this child do something she does not like to do. She will be sure to let me know if she has had enough. So far her face lights up each time we pull into the dance studio parking lot, so I think she is happy.

I hope to have full coverage of Olivia's first performance next week, so stay tuned. Until then keep your fingers crossed that she agrees to put on her costume and go out on that big stage. One never knows!