Monday, March 31, 2014

bags out and bags in

We were supposed to head south for a few days with family friends but the weather made the roads terrible and so we were stuck at home. I've been falling behind with my 40 bags in 40 days Lent challenge and so today became a great catch up day.

I finally convinced Conrad to let this box of 1980s trophies go:

I also collected 1 box and 1 bag to donate with the trophies (and 1 bag of garbage):

Then another bag of random stuff for Value Vilage and a bunch of electronic stuff to take to the recycling depot:

Goliath helped the kids sort through what stuffies the kids wanted to keep and which could be donated:

and that produced another bag to donate:

Kiandra, Kezia, and their two friends we were supposed to travel with decided to go to the mall. Kaden and their brother went swimming. I did my rounds to get the stuff actually out of my house but couldn't help do a little browsing at Value Village while I waited for the girls to text me that they were finished at the mall. 

I might have brought a bag of stuff home....

5 pairs of shorts for my growing son, 7 pairs of capri pants for his shrinking mom, 3 tops and 1 cardigan for her as well, 3 large bunches of spring flowers and a yellow polkadotted vase (not shown). Between my donations and some musical costume purchases, I had filled up my "stamp" card and got 30% off this purchase. I might need to fill an extra bag to balance out this intake. ;)

Sunday, March 30, 2014


A few weeks ago, we were at Conrad's parent's place on a Sunday and they ended our visit with a good ol' Mennonite faspa meal.  I thought about how faspa is a tradition that my kids are growing up without really the last few weeks I have been planning for faspa at home on Sunday evening before we watch the Amazing Race.

According to this website:

"Faspa" is a low-German, Mennonite term used for a typical late afternoon lunch that for generations has been served in Mennonite homes. The lunch consists of fresh, homemade buns, butter, jam, coffee, and cheese. Faspa can also include fruit preserves, sausage or other sliced meat, and dessert. On a Sunday, Faspa would have been the evening meal, and often relatives and friends would stop over unannounced.

We have served buns (this week I made these--yummy!) cheese, jams, honey, peanut butter. garlic coil, pickles, hardboiled eggs (this week they were devilled eggs) and usually some sweets too.


Saturday, March 29, 2014


Ahhh...first day of Spring Break...I have a LONG to-do list and big plans to get everything checked off it this week...we'll see how it goes.

Today's agenda included catching up on my 40 bags in 40 days challenge beginning with the main bathroom.




(2 bags + 1 pile of old stuff and empty containers and boxes. I found children's advil that expired in 2006, an old bottle of gripe water, and a swim diaper....I guess it's been awhile since I bothered to look in that cabinet!!)

I had planned to go to a clothing exchange in the evening but it seemed to be the only day that it worked to go out for Kiandra's birthday supper so I was just planning to drop my bags off to get them out of the house. Just after I started to make arrangements for that, Kiandra called me to say that the casting director was calling a meeting for the parents at 4:30 and we needed to go to this how show business works? Meetings called just 90 minutes ahead of time?? I still managed to drop these off at Conrad's work to get someone to bring them in for me and then we were off to the meeting. 

The meeting was actually pretty cool. There are 6 main children on the set. The daughter in the movie, her "photo double" (the girl hired with Kiandra), Kiandra -the "stand in", the son in the movie, the son's "photo double", and the son's "stand in". These 6 kids will share the tutor and be on set for the entire filming schedule. We found out that the "stand ins" have better hours because they are "wrapped" (when the get to go home) at the latest 2:30am but the "photo doubles" have some wrap times as late as 6:30 am. The movie is set at night and so most filming needs to happen during the hours of darkness. It was pretty cool to see Kiandra's name on her schedule and her plans for the next few weeks. 

The meeting was about an hour and then we were able to head out to Kiandra's restaurant of choice -Mongolian Stir-fry- and eat together. So delicious!

After supper, we were invited to a family friend's place where we enjoyed a few rounds of telestrations. It was a packed first day of Spring Break.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Formal Day

It was the last day of spirit week for Middle school. Kaden learned to tie a tie, walked the red carpet, and ate lunch in the gym. It was a fitting end to a fun week and a great way to celebrate the last day of classes before Spring Break!

Yesterday, the Parent Association treated us to a "Fiesta" themed lunch. Today there were still enough leftovers for another lunch. This was yesterday's spread:

We are totally spoiled by our parents at school! 

Cheers to a great last day and a week off!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

"Best Birthday Ever!"

Kiandra declared it.

Today, my firstborn turned 17. It's even hard to type that out. I can't believe how fast she is growing up. (Doesn't 17 sound sooooo much older than 16??!) Unfortunately, we could not to celebrate this milestone properly because today was also parent/teacher for me at school....and yet Kiandra could still say it was her "best birthday ever". Why? Let me explain...

First, a little background. It's been almost exactly a year since Kiandra had her first experience on a movie set. She follows a bunch of casting places online and checks often to the websites and facebook pages to find out about movie extra opportunities. Since that first experience, Kiandra has been on 2 other sets as an extra. Last summer, the kids and I all had the chance to be extras during the baseball game scene in the movie "Heaven is for Real" and then while Kezia and Kaden were at camp, Kiandra and I spent a week on the set as part of the church congregation. What a great experience that was as we really got to experience how much work goes into a movie production and all of the background stuff that happens that we didn't even know about.

For example, all major characters have a "stand-in". Even my former student, who plays the sister in the movie "Heaven is for Real", had a stand in. The stand in's job is literally to Stand. In. They follow the scene action to help light and camera crew to know where the "star" is going to be so they can get all of the logistics completed before the actual star arrives. The stand in looks similar to the actor, dresses like the actor (to get the lighting right) and gets to "be" the actor BEFORE the cameras actually start rolling. Finally, when the scene is set, the stand in exits and the star comes on and the filming begins.

During our week as church congregation members, Kiandra (who actually managed to snag a "young evangelical" role during her time on set) had a chance to get to know the stand in for Kelly Reilly. "Benny" (whose name was something else but her Benny nickname was easier to remember!) talked with Kiandra a number of times and Kiandra gushed about what a fun job it would be to become a stand in. Benny was able to be on set everyday. Benny got to be right where the stars were. Benny got to eat in the good tent with all the stars. Benny got to work with the director, the crew, and actually visit with the stars. Kiandra said that one day she'd like to get a role as a stand in.

On Sunday, this showed up in her facebook feed:

Kiandra shrieked with excitement because she met ALL the requirements. All. Of. Them. We quickly rushed outside and braved the cold to take these photos. She emailed them in, with a copy of her resume, and waited...

Yesterday the phone rang...Kiandra got the call to say she had made the "short" list and she should watch her email and this arrived:

She was so excited! I don't even know how much sleep she got last night. The meeting was at 4:30 and Conrad could take her because he had the day off. I had parent/teacher and so I had to just wait to find out how it all had gone. It was so excited for her! Conrad sent me this text after it happened and then again at 7:38.

Then as I had my last parent interview at 8:00 and it went a bit longer I was anxiously thinking about whether Kiandra would get the call because they said that they would let her know either way. I finally wrapped up just before 8:30 and then I checked my phone and I saw that Kiandra had sent this text at 8:13:

I actually sighed out loud with disappointment. I was so sad for her. I rode home from school in silence. I didn't even listen to the radio. I tried to think about all the good things about not getting it and that it was actually a long shot. The ride home was hard because it was one of the few times I felt that I had missed something important because I was a working mom. I should have been there when the bad news came. 

When I got home, Kiandra, Kezia, and Conrad were around the table and I came in and told them that I felt like I had been in the middle of an awesome book and then someone had spoiled the ending. I told Kiandra I wanted to hear ALL the details…and if you know Kiandra then you know I got a minute by minute play by play of the entire time they were there.

It turns out that the "short" list was 9 girls. They had the girls line up and then had the real actress come and then they did side by side photos from all angles. Conrad said that when Kiandra took her turn that the people looked obviously impressed. The next girl right after Kiandra got a similar reaction. Five of the girls were asked to stay back for additional photos and then they were told that they would know by the weekend. 

The call came at 8:00 that Kiandra was chosen as one of two stand ins to get the part. Kiandra insisted that she didn't lie in the text she sent me but she just didn't add that she had been chosen TOO. At the age that they are, they will be missing almost 5 weeks of classes and so they have a tutor to keep them caught up with their studies. Both girls will be on set for the whole time but they can take turns "standing in" and doing their school work.  AAAAAAaaaaaH! How exciting!

The funny thing was that my reaction was not at all what anyone was expecting. When Kiandra sent the text, I believed that she didn't get it. As Kiandra was telling her story, I kept remembering that in the end it didn't matter because she didn't get the part. So…Kiandra got to the part about the phone call and she said, "Then the phone rang…and I got the part!" and I stared at her blankly waiting for her to say….ok no I didn't. Kiandra actually had to repeat it 3 times before I actually clued in that she had, in fact, got the job! Conrad and Kezia laughed so hard at my reaction because it was a real funny moment of slow reaction time. 

So…Kiandra gets to be a stand in for a tv movie being filmed in the next few weeks. It will be a juggling act logistically getting everyone where they need to go with vehicles and such but we'll make it work somehow. She'll have a tutor for her school work and she is over the moon with excitement for this opportunity! AND she'll make some great money too! 

As we tucked her in this evening, she was still wearing the smile she had on her face since the call back…"Best. Birthday. Ever."

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

...and then the phone rang...

...with exciting news...

The only thing I can say right now is that it has something to do with the reason we took these photos on Sunday.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Fortunately, Unfortunately

Fortunately, it's a nice sunny day outside
Unfortunately, the morning check of the weather revealed this:

Fortunately, it was a productive day in Grade 1
Unfortunately, I had 6 students absent and will have to catch many of them up when they come back to school. 

Fortunately, the book project we have been working on is in its final stages.
Unfortunately, I have 6 students who need to catch up.

Fortunately, I work with amazing people who even dress alike (see here)
Unfortunately, I found out we missed someone when we took our photo who was also wearing the magic shirt.

Fortunately, I also work with amazing families too who think of me when they head to the States for the weekend.
Unfortunately, I dropped a can on the floor right after taking this and it sprung a leak!

Fortunately, it's been a stretch of construction free driving on the morning commute for the last few months (First time in years!)
Unfortunately, this sign said that was about to change in April 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Grieving the end

It's hard when things change so abruptly. Musical "season" is intense. Kiandra and Kezia have spent over 13 hours a week after school and Saturdays since the first week in December practicing for this week of performances of "Crazy for You". The week before the musical began was an even bigger time commitment with over 24 hours at school last weekend and practices every night. This last week was the peak of their commitment with a late practice Monday and then 8 shows in 4 days.

Then it's over.

Just. Like. That.

Instead of heading to school for a four hour practice like they have usually done on Saturdays for the past 4 months, Kiandra and Kezia are without plans....well Kiandra took a babysitting job for the evening.

Today, there was a noticeable sadness as the girls rolled out of bed around 10:30. The big pile of stuff that they unloaded from their locker was just a tiny clue to the finality of the end of musical season.

The tokens of 'Congratulations' from family and friends sit in their rooms (safely hidden from our flower eating cat!)

Kiandra and Kezia spent the day quoting lines and singing songs from the show and telling funny stories about the little moments that will likely be forgotten one day.

Kiandra also pulled out her DVD of last year's Sound of Music production and I watched it with my girls and both of the girls talked about how they can't wait to see this year's DVD when it is finally put together. It was so strange to think that Sound of Music was already a whole year ago and yet it seems like it was not that long ago.

Another comfort for the girls was  when the photos of the musical began to be posted on facebook and instagram throughout the day as other cast members were also saying goodbye to musical season. It was so fun for me to be able to peek at these too and see all of the fun that shadowed all of the hard work these kids have put in.

Someone even posted a video of one of the songs and even though my girls said they didn't want me to post it because they think they did terrible in it, I'm going to link it here anyway because I think it is great. This group of students had just a handful of people with any tap experience when the show began and they were able to put on this amazing show.

(Kiandra is in the orange shirt in the front and you can see Kezia in the purple dress with colorful skirt almost across from her in this still shot)

Friday, March 21, 2014

A change in plans

After last night's show, and the talk after the show, and on the ride home with some of the people from the cast, about tonight's final performance...I realized how sad I was to be missing the last show. The fundraiser I had planned to attend was a great event but I would have to miss what will likely be the one of the last 5 high school shows I will have a chance to see Kiandra perform in. It felt worse instead of better when Conrad decided that since he would be home alone that he would snap up a ticket and go for the last night.

A wise friend asked me "In the years to come, which event will you feel worse about missing?" and I realized it was the musical. I texted Kiandra and asked if she could see if there were any tickets left for tonight...and there were! So, I ditched the fundraiser...and went to the last show after all.

I made a good choice.

Final shows are a little more silly and a little more fun. It's hard to see in this photo, but as their closing night "gift", the teacher gave each cast member a red bandana and for fun they decided to wear it on stage for the final scene.

 I loved the emotion of that final number as it sunk into the Grade 12s that this was it. Their final song, their final bow, their final night of their high school musical "career". Some of the actors were noticeably crying as they took their final wave at the crowd. It actually choked me up a bit (I know...what a surprise!) to realize that Kiandra will be among those in just 1 year. Where has the time gone? 

I thought about the stages we go through in life as we begin and end new phases. In the audience today, there were many past musical students. These were the students Kiandra first worked with during her first as the third show concludes...she is about to enter her final experience. During the gifts and speeches time, many students gushed about how much they've learned and how much they have grown as performers and people. Some praised those who had inspired them and in the case of the stage manager...a torch was passed.

We begin a stage. We end a stage. Things. Change. 

I'm so glad that I did make the decision to come to the show this evening. It was great. Everything about it was great. I love that on the last night that everyone stays in their costumes for pictures at the end of the show. 

My tired girls:

"Susie" and "Bobby"

"Susie" and "Polly"

 The janitorial staff kicked everyone out at midnight and Kiandra decided not to go to the after party at someone's house. Kiandra and Kezia were both exhausted from the week of shows and the intense week of practices before that. Instead, we chatted around the table about the show and about hopes for next year. Kiandra and Kezia showed me their notes written by the director and musical teacher to thank them for a job well done and to wish them an awesome final show.  
I don't expect either of the girls to be up early tomorrow...but I guess we'll see!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Night 3

This week has been consumed by all things musical. Truthfully, two years ago, when Kiandra joined musical I wondered why some parents would come to two nights of the exact same musical. That year, we had only bought tickets for the final night just because of other commitments on the other days and so we couldn't have gone again even if we had wanted to. Last year, Kiandra had a more significant part and so I bought tickets for the first and last show. I really enjoyed going twice and I realized that all shows are not necessarily the same depending on prop failures...line ad-libbing...working hard to compose yourself after a particularly funny line...and others.

Tonight, I went to the show with my friend Janice. Kiandra and Kezia's "fan club" from youth were also in the audience to enjoy tonight's show.

After the show, I was able to stay awhile after the show while I waited for Kiandra and Kezia to pack up their things. I was also asked to drive a few of their friends home after the show but before we left it was so awesome to hear them talk about how much they were enjoying this week....or the whole process really...the long practices...the sore feet...the smelly sweaty smell back stage (ok maybe not that!). I'm thankful for this "family" of musical performers and what Kiandra (and now Kezia) have gained from their time in the musical.

The big topic of discussion for this night was the dreaded "last show" the next day. I am totally bummed because Kaden's Quebec fundraiser is tomorrow night and I'd already bought my ticket for that. As they talked about the last night it made me so sad to think about missing it. Why did these 2 things happen to fall on the same night??! Oh well, 3 out of 4 nights is still pretty good.
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