Thursday, June 22, 2017

Dancing Queens {Lexie & Lily's Dance Recital}

DANCING QUEENS - Lexie & Lily's Dance Recital

We did it! We officially survived our first year of having two girls in dance. Over the past month, it felt like we lived and breathed dance, but watching Lexie and Lily dance at their recital was worth every minute (and every single penny)!


For the past nine months, every Tuesday and Thursday evening was spent at the dance studio. We had to juggle our schedules at times, but we made it work. Thanks to Grant leaving the office early on Tuesdays, and my parents watching the rest of my crew on Thursdays, I didn't have to drag my other kids to the studio twice a week. I also had a dear friend step in to take Lily several times when I had other commitments.

Overall, it was a great year, and my girls had a lot of fun! Lexie was in the tween hip hop class, and Lily learned tap, ballet, jazz and acro. Lexie just dances as a recreation, and this was Lily's first year. Let me just say I have a feeling that I'm going to log in many years at the dance studio!

The dance recital is a HUGE deal where the girls dance. I'm talking major production. The studio has an award winning competitive team, and several "stars" danced at that studio (think Dance Moms fame). People actually drive from out of state each week to dance there!

The girls opted to do the recital finale, in addition to their regular dances, so they had a lot of rehearsals leading up to the recital. They spent two entire weekends before the recital learning the dance for the finale, and on Friday, they had a full dress rehearsal. Each dance had a time slot to take the stage, but of course Lexie and Lily's times didn't coincide in any way!  I ended up taking Lily for her two rehearsal times in early afternoon, then returning with Lexie in the evening for several hours. 

Ballet

Dance Recital Dress Rehearsal Ballet

Hip Hop

Dance recital dress rehearsal Hip Hop

I learned a few important lessons at dress rehearsal!

  1. Buy a portable clothing rack for next year.
  2. Do hair and makeup BEFORE arriving.
  3. Buy hairspray and bobby pins in bulk.
  4. If you think you are applying too much makeup, you really aren't. 
  5. Find an empty spot when you arrive and stake claim IMMEDIATELY. 
  6. Make sure the girls pee before they put on their leotards. 
  7. Get close to the stage and take all the action photos while they are onstage during the dress rehearsal. 
  8. Don't bother taking video, because you are just going to order the full DVD anyway!


So...we survived the dance year and we survived the dress rehearsal. We were exhausted by the time we arrived home that evening, but we still had the recital ahead of us!

Because the studio that my girls dance at is very big and very popular, the recital was split into two times. Thankfully, both Lexie and Lily ended up in the 1:00 show. And thank goodness it was split, because their show lasted 3 1/2 hours!


The girls were a bundle of nerves when we arrived at the auditorium, but also very excited! I let Grant and Dylan find the perfect seats while I went backstage with the girls to help them get ready. (We opted to leave Liam with our awesome "framily" for the recital since we knew it was going to be a long afternoon.)

I think I was just as nervous as the girls! It was incredibly stressful trying to fix two heads of hair and apply makeup to two faces, plus make sure they were wearing everything they needed for their first numbers. I have tons of personal experience with performing, but I'm not quite sure I'm cut out to be one of those dance moms!

Somehow, I pulled it together and had them ready 10 minutes before showtime. I even managed to snap a few pictures first. They looked so cute!

Dance

Dance

Dance Recital

Dancers

Dance Recital Hip Hop and Tap

I wasn't sure if I should stay backstage since Lily is so young, but I knew Lexie would be with her most of the time, and I really wanted to watch the show. I decided that Miss Independent would be perfectly fine, so I kissed them goodbye and left them near Lily's dance teacher at the stage entrance.

Dancing

(They were fine! Lexie said Lily got a bit weepy when they were lining up, but as soon as she stepped onstage, she turned back into a little ham!)

Apparently, things were just as chaotic and cutthroat in the auditorium! Grant said his seven saved seats in the perfect location were almost stolen several times in the 10 minutes before our family arrived! 


By the time I got to my seat just before curtain, he was already overwhelmed, and had no idea what to expect since he had never been to a dance recital. He had only been to the dance studio twice before. He was completely impressed after the first 30 seconds of the opening number! (The teachers and dancers are incredibly talented.) This year's recital theme was Pop Royalty, featuring songs from Madonna, Prince, Michael Jackson, and many more!

Lily was the first of our girls to take the stage for her tap number! I'm not going to lie. My hormones were in full force and I was practically sobbing! She looked so sweet up on stage!

Tap

Tap Dancing

Tap Dancing

Lexie took the stage next. I was so impressed with her confidence and stage presence! She even missed 6 weeks of dance due to her broken wrist, and it wasn't even noticeable!

Hip Hop

Hip Hop Really Don't Care Dance Recital

The entire first half was amazing and I was able to watch the entire thing! As soon as the lights came on during intermission, I raced back to the dressing rooms to get Lily changed for the second half. I was very surprised to see the girls already dressed for the second half! Lexie got Lily completely ready, and they were sitting on the floor eating snacks, putting on makeup and watching the recital on the TV.


Dance Recital

Dance Recital

Dance Recital

Lexie and Lily said they loved dancing onstage, and they couldn't wait for the second half! When I left them to return to my seat for the second time, I didn't feel the least bit guilty!


Lily performed her ballet/jazz number during the second half! It was so sweet, and made me cry even harder than the first dance!


Ballet

Ballet

After her dance was over, I raced back through the dark auditorium, to get her changed for the finale, then returned to my seat. The girls were energized, excited and ready to perform!

Dance recital finale

Dance Recital


Lexie and Lily's first dance recital was fantastic! The excitement on their faces during the finale brought tears to my eyes, especially when they released the confetti over the stage. They were caught up in the excitement and so thrilled to be a part of something so special. They were both bitten by the dance bug that afternoon!

Studio 19 Dance Complex

As for what the future holds, I'm not sure! Lexie was completely certain that she was giving up dance in the Fall for soccer, but now she wants to dance again. Lily will be starting Summer dance on July 3rd, then taking a few classes during the regular season. After that, she can decide whether she want to join the competitive team or not. I may not be the "perfect" dance mom, but I will do what makes them happy! And it looks like dancing does just that!


Sisters

I ran back to get the girls, and help them gather the tutu and glitter explosion, as soon as the curtain closed. We rushed back to the lobby so my mom and dad could congratulate them on a great performance. (Grant's mom and nannie left immediately after Lily's second dance, but I'm so glad they got to see most of the show.)

Dance Recital

We were blown away by the dance recital and so proud of our two dancing queens! I can't wait to see what the future holds for both of our girls!


Dance Recital


Dancing Queens The Dance Recital


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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Flower Garden Sensory Bin

Flower Garden Sensory Bin

Sensory Play has always been a favorite with my kids! I'm a firm believer that childhood should be messy, and that kids should be allowed to explore and learn through different textures. I just prefer that the mess be contained, which is why I love Sensory Bins!


Sensory Play is especially important for Liam. After we received his Down syndrome diagnosis, I began researching, and I discovered that sensory issues can be quite common. I was determined to help him as much as I could, so I introduced sensory play and sensory bins when he was a baby. Thankfully, he's a BIG fan of messy play!

My girls love sensory bins, too. They get a lot of use in our home! I try to come up with at least one new sensory bin and sensory activity each month to keep things interesting, and they usually play with that bin for a few weeks before switching to a different sensory bin filler in our stockpile.

When I was brainstorming ideas for this month's theme (purple) for the Year of Color link party that I co-host, I decided to make a flower garden sensory bin using fake purple flowers that I recently bought. They paired perfectly with the black beans sensory bin filler that is part of our usual sensory bin rotation!


Flower Garden Sensory Bin

The Flower Garden Sensory Bin

This fun sensory bin is very easy to set up, and is perfect for sensory AND pretend play! All the scooping, filling and pouring really helps strengthen Liam's fine and gross motor skills, too!

SUPPLIES:

  • Sensory Bin with a lid (An under the bed storage tote works perfectly!) 
  • 8-10 lbs of black beans
  • Several bunches of fake flowers (I just used purple for the theme, but get creative.)
  • Small flower pots
  • 2 garden shovels
  • 1 garden rake
  • Ziploc gallon bags for easy storage


The Flower Garden Sensory Bin


SET UP:

  1. Empty the beans into a clean sensory bin.
  2. Separate the stems on one bunch of flowers, and cut each stem so they are only about 10-12 inches long.
  3. Pull just the flowers off the second bunch (no stems).
  4. Toss the flowers, flower pots and gardening tools into the sensory bin.
  5. Have fun! 


NOTE: I highly recommend playing with this sensory bin outdoors. Those beans have the tendency to go everywhere! (I learned that lesson!) We also use THIS ROUND PLAY MAT all the time! It's perfect for pretty much everything, especially toys with small pieces. After the kids are done playing, I just have to pull the drawstring, and it turns into a toy storage/travel bag. We take it on vacation every year!

The Flower Garden Sensory Bin


PLAY:

Here are a few ideas to get started:

*Rake the beans with the garden rake.

*Plant the small flowers in the bin.

Sensory Play

*Fill the pots with beans and plant the flowers.

Sensory Bins

Sensory Bin

*Create different floral arrangements by adding different flowers to the mix.

*Take pictures of their creations.

The Flower Garden Sensory Bin

Pretend Play

*Pick up the beans with a shovel and use it to fill all the pots.

Down Syndrome Awareness

*Scoop up the beans with the pots, and pour into other containers.

*Dig into the beans with bare hands for a full sensory experience!

Sensory Bin


CLEAN UP:

When the kids are done playing, clean up is so easy! I just shake all the beans that landed on the play mat back into the bin, put the flowers in a gallon ziploc bag, and let the kids pour the beans into a few gallon bags. I place everything back into the bin, put on the lid, and store it until the next use!

Sensory Bin

Sensory Bin

If your kids love sensory play as much as mine do, this fun sensory bin will keep them busy for a long time. And that, my friends, is a mom win!


Sensory Bin

Sensory Play

Sensory Play

The Lucky Few

Sensory Play


All of my kids have played with sensory bins filled with beans before, but they loved The Flower Garden Sensory Bin! It was so much more than just sensory play, so they played for hours. This is definitely and idea that we will be adding to our regular sensory bin rotation!


Sensory Bin

The Flower Garden Sensory Bin

In case you are wondering, the "A Year of Color" link party with me, Little DoveMacke Monologues, and Work It Mommy happens on the third Friday of the month. Each month focuses on one color and you can link up any post that revolves around that particular color: Fashion, Recipes, Activities for Kids, Crafts...ANYTHING is welcome! The link will be open for a month, so you can link up any time. We hope you will join us!


A Year of Color Link Party

Obviously, it's NOT Friday. I'm posting a bit late this month, but with good reason. Lexie and Lily's dance recital was on Saturday, and the week leading up to it was unbelievably chaotic. We lived and breathed dance, and I didn't have time to do anything else. It was well worth it, though. I will be sharing that adventure on my blog tomorrow, and let me just say, it's definitely the start of a new journey!


Plan ahead for next month:

Stop by on Friday, July 21st, to link up your RED posts!

A Year of Color Link Party July Red


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Tuesday Talk!!!

It's time for Tuesday Talk! Grab the button, link back to your hosts and add your blog post link on the widget below!


Tuesday Talk


Tuesday Talk

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Link up for Tuesday Talk!



Link up for A Year of Color Purple!