Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Road to Selma

When Grandma and Grandpa come to town we find ourselves packed into the minivan loaded with snacks for some kind of road trip.  This time, we made our way north to Selma, AL.  Grandma and Grandpa had seen the recent movie about this sleepy little town and wanted to check it out for themselves.

We decided to stay the night in Montgomery and then head into Selma.  I'm so glad we did...  We had visited Montgomery a few months earlier over the MLK holiday when we unknowingly stumbled into the 50th anniversary of the now infamous march from Selma to Montgomery to secure voting rights for African Americans.

Well, as luck would have it, we ended up back in Montgomery for the culmination of the celebration. The marchers originally entered the capital on March 24th and held a rally on March 25th, the morning we were headed into the city.  Roads were blocked off again and police were gearing up for a major event.  I felt right at home, having maneuvered these same barricaded streets just a short time ago.  I knew exactly where the free parking would be.

We were early, which was a good thing.  We got to see them setting up.  Oprah and Pres. Obama stayed home this time, but Dr. King's daughter was scheduled to speak.  We caught the first tour of the church and were well on our way to Selma before the marchers started re-creating their march to the capitol.

I really liked this cross walk filled with footprints headed towards the capitol...

The original pulpit from the 1800's.  The pews were original too. 

I find it really beautiful that these ideas started and ended at churches...

Crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge.  It's hard explaining what happened here, but there is a beautiful spirit and I think that helped the boys understand.  We made the march backwards, but it didn't matter.  I'm grateful we could experience some history, see more of this state, and be with family.  

Friday, March 27, 2015


"Mom, we can't go without finding you a heart rock." 
                                                                - Alan, Live Oak Cemetery,  Selma Al.

Joining Mamabyrd and others in their weekly impressions. Add your own here or there...

Monday, March 23, 2015

Lovely Ladies

Last year I found out Les Miserables was coming to Dothan. I remember thinking "this is it... If you ever want a shot at being in this musical, now's your chance."  The night after auditions it all sunk in. I remember my conversation with Dean.  It went something like this...

me - "I don't have a great shot at being a lead."
Dean - "that's ok, you're new here, you can still be a part of it."
me - "the women's chorus is mostly prostitutes. Are you ok with that?"
Dean - "I think you need to ask yourself if you're ok with that"
me - "really the only woman who won't eventually be a prostitute in this production is Eponine, and let's face it, I'm not going to be Eponine..."

So, there I was, cast as Lovely Lady #5.  I was also Poor Woman #3 and On Looker #4, but the Lovely Lady role loomed over my head.

It was like everyone kept avoiding this scene.  There were children in the cast, so whenever we got to Lovely Ladies, the directors would skip it, or send us to another room to practice only the music.  We finally did a bit of blocking, but there was no shaking of hips and general sluttiness was avoided.  

I was feeling good.  I even told Dean they were keeping it really tame.  We live in Dothan, AL, after all.  But, my hopes of tame prostitution were shattered when they called in a choreographer.  We showed him what we had so far and he sat us down for a little chat.  

"You ladies know what you're supposed to be, right?" -  cue uncomfortable silence...
"Look, if you can't do this you need to leave right now and I'll find someone who will..."  
He had us slapping our thighs and raising our skirts before we knew it.   

A cast member added the "waffle house" caption just for the picture.  I promise it wasn't there for the performance

I have to say, in the end, this scene was my favorite.  They gave us Lovely Ladies our own dressing room and curtain call.  We bonded, and the crowds loved us.  That said, it wasn't easy being a part of Fantine's descent into misery and despair night after night.  

I'll leave you with some haunting words from our number.  Words that hit me in the gut every time we sang them.

"C'mon dearie, why all the fuss
you're no grander than the rest of us
life has dropped you at the bottom of the heap
join your sisters, make money in your sleep..."

"...Dearie knows her place..."

"Lovely Ladies, going for a song...."  

I have one more post about our Les Miz experience planned, but I knew the Lovely Ladies needed their own post.  It sounds silly, but it is one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. And though we were making light of it, with our swaying hips and provocative gestures, I know every single woman on that stage felt the plight of their character deeply.  Lovely ladies indeed...

Friday, March 20, 2015


What can I say?  It controlled our lives for the better part of four months, but it was the chance of a lifetime.  Even Sadie still asks for the "Look Down" song in the car.  I'm still recovering.  I've even managed to put dinner on the table four out of five nights this week...

Joining Mamabyrd and others in their weekly impressions. Join us and post your own here or there.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Moving Day

They call it Moving Day.  The day we were able to finally rehearse on the stage where we'll be performing.  We've been rehearsing at the community center, on a different stage, but it's "go time" now.  It's almost like re-doing the whole thing.  Blocking needs to be tweaked.  Props and sets don't fit like they should.  It even sounds different.  But oh, what a lovely place to be moved to.  The Dothan Opera House was built in 1915.  100 yrs old this year.

Only a small sampling of the costumes used in this production.

One of our directors giving some notes to Thenardier's gang

A view from the balcony.

 It's a small and intimate theater.  Smaller than the Capitol theater in SLC, but the three balconies give it the same feeling. Nervous anticipation, that's the only way I can describe how I feel today.  There are no pictures of Ben and his "gang" today because they were all too busy exploring all the nooks and crannies of this new place.  A few dress rehearsals to go and then it's the real thing.  We. Can't. Wait.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Character Parade

Their principal is a new character every year.  This year, Amelia Bedilia.

You could almost tell the grade levels by their characters.
Kindergarten definitely embraced Pinkalicious and the Cat in the Hat.

The boys had their annual character parade last Friday.  Everyone comes dressed up as their favorite book character.  They have to bring the book along with them, and while some kids chose the book just so they could dress up like their favorite character (Ahem, Elsa, and Darth Vader) Alan and Ben chose their charter because of their favorite books.

Sherlock made another appearance.  I'm so glad we got double use out of this costume.  Alan chose to be Gerald from the Elephant & Piggy series by Mo Willems.  He desperately wanted Sadie to be Piggy, but in the end he settled for a word bubble that said, "Piggy, we are in a parade!"

There's an assembly at the end of the parade with teacher games and music.  This year featured a really cool 'life-size' Jenga game and a musical parody of 'All about that Bass'.  My kids came home singing, "because it's all about those books, 'bout those books, keep readin'..." Well, all except Sadie who slept through the entire thing.

There's also an awards ceremony for the kids who really embrace their costumes.  Ben won for his grade level for the second year in a row.  He's really enthusiastic about his characters.  Last year, Bilbo Baggins, and now Sherlock Holmes.  The librarian caught me afterwards and said she couldn't wait to see what he's interested in next year.

We'll see...whatever it is I hope it doesn't require too much creativity in the costume department.

Saturday, March 7, 2015


It's called "skin marker" for a reason.  Completely permanent, so the surgeon knows exactly where to cut.  I guess it's just one of the occupational hazards of working in the O.R.  Hopefully Dad will learn not to bring his work home with him... It might be funny in a few weeks, after I'm done mourning the loss of a perfectly new set of sheets.

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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

Our Elementary really gets into the Dr. Seuss spirit the first week in March.  We've had "Birthday Hat day", "Cat in the Hat" day, where everyone wore red and white and brought their favorite Seuss title to school, "Cozy up with a good book day", they wore their bedroom slippers, and watched a Cat in the Hat play with popcorn,  and finally,  "Reading is crazy fun" day, where they got to wear crazy hair.

Tomorrow we have the character parade.  Each child chooses their favorite book character and dresses up like them.  Southeast Alabama's answer to the Halloween parade we never get to have. There are prizes and treats and green eggs and ham for lunch, but more on that in it's own post later.

It's been a busy week.  Rehearsals and baseball would be more than enough for any family but we've managed not to forget any of the fun at school either.  GO US!

Monday, March 2, 2015


 A late-over, or un-slumber party, is an activity that includes all the good parts of a sleep-over, the snacks, fun, late night silliness,  movie watching, tent building, etc, without the actual sleeping over part.  The kids are sent home just before the tiredness turns to crankiness.  There's no late night phone calls, no staying up all night, and our kids wake up relatively happy and ready to do chores Saturday morning.  It also completely does away with the anxiety kids can have during a night away.

I don't know if our "no-sleepover" policy will be strictly enforced as our children get older.  Right now sleep-overs are limited to cousins and grandpa and grandma, but both Dean and I enjoyed sleepovers when we were growing up.  I do, however, remember one particular sleepover in eighth grade that I wish I hadn't been a part of.  I was huddled in the bottom of my sleeping bag while the others were watching The Shining, playing weird "Bloody Mary" games in the bathroom mirror, and sneaking out to be with the boys who had snuck onto the balcony.  I'm sure it wasn't evil and terrible, I went to church with every one of the girls (and boys) involved, but I do remember it being uncomfortable for me.  Enough so that I had to pretend to be asleep while they stole my training bra and my toothpaste.  I remember hoping an adult would come down and make everyone go to sleep, but no one ever came.

I wish I had had the courage to make my Sunday school teacher proud and just leave, but I remember it all happened so gradually.  No one "announced" that boys would be sneaking into the house at midnight, or gave me a heads up about the bloody Mary thing, it just happened.  That's the way sleepover's work.  It's the reason a recent church leader counseled us as parents not to have sleepovers.  And so, for now, the late-over is the perfect solution.

I have a feeling our no sleep-over rule will continue.  Of course there are always exceptions, good friends that feel like cousins will probably make the exception list, but those huge sleepovers with hormonal pre-teens probably won't.  We'll be the dorky parents picking our kids up at midnight.  But we'll also be the parents that know their children are safely in their beds at midnight, and best of all, our children will always have the "no sleep-over" ruler to fall back on.  They can blame their lame parents and save face when they feel uncomfortable.

Our late-over's now are pretty tame. Even Sadie gets to be a part of them.   Poporn and Grapico, (this stuff tastes like Dimetapp, but the kids LOVE it!) Ninjago and Bay Blades,  but I know we'll graduate to truth or dare and toilet papering soon enough...