Wednesday, November 30, 2011

2011 Buffyfest Ornament Swap!

YAY!  It's that time again for the Buffyfest 4th Annual Whedonverse Holiday Ornament Swap.  This is my third year participating.

My first go-around I carved stamps.   My second year, I played with Shrinky Dinks!

Click on the label "Buffy Ornament Swap" to see all the posts showing what ornaments I received in exchange for mine.  They're great fun.

This year, I decided to get old-school on myself.  I used to be an avid cross-stitcher.  One of my many talents, yes.  I went on Etsy and found some terrific patterns for sale  from seller "Velvet Elvii,"  so I purchased some.

I started out doing a regular old stitch.  When I was done, I looked at my work and realized it was ginormous! How was I going to make an ornament out of this huge thing?

I decided to try again, this time cutting the stitching area in half.  And this is where I killed my eyes.  I wear contacts to see far but don't need them to see close.  If I was wearing my contacts, my eyes could not focus on the teeny tiny stitching I was doing.  I would have to take my contacts out every time I decided to work on my projects.  The deadline loomed closer and closer and I actually asked the Buffyfest peeps to put me in a small group, because I was afraid I could not get these done in time.

And what did I chose to stitch?

To give you a sense of the size, here's a picture of the first one I did in the standard size along side the small one I did.  The quarter is for size reference.

teeeeeeeny stitches

Then it was time to mount them and at this, I fail.  I did not space them apart enough. Derrr!  Even with an Xacto knife, I am full o failure.  It was ugly and there was a lot of pulling of hair and gnashing of teeth.  In the end, though, I think I fared well.

I am also including some spare inch Artist Trading Cards I made with a stamp I carved, for a swap back in March.

I will be mailing these out tomorrow or Friday to the 4 other people in my group. If you're interested in really cool cross-stitch patterns, check out Velvet Elvii on Etsy.

Monday, November 28, 2011

2011 Florida ACDA Honor Choir

Again, Jacob auditioned for and made the 2011 Florida ACDA Honors Choir.  He made it last year too. Both years, he was the only one from his high school to go.

The 2011 Deland Music Festival?  Remember it landed last year on the same day as ACDA?  Yea.  Same thing this year!!  Last year I combined the day; this year I will do two separate posts.

Driving Jacob all over the place for rehearsals was soooo fun.  Um hmm.  They come from all over the state, including the Keys, so they can only rehearse the 2 days before.   That Thursday's rehearsal was at night but he had to miss school on Friday because it was an 8-hour rehearsal day. Saturday, I dropped him off at 9 a.m. for more rehearsals, before we went back for the 12:45 p.m. performance.

I love seeing these kids be so excited about chamber music!  Makes me have hope, you know?

 After the performance, his new teacher (who we ended up sitting next to totally by chance; he's the only kid from their school there) and we all went outside for pictures and talks about Candlelight at Epcot. Yes, more singing! I know you are thrilled!

Jacob with Mrs. King, his new choral director

After the concert, we headed off to lunch at Don Pablo's, where Jacob got many looks due to his attire.  :)

Here is one of the three songs performed at the 2011 Florida ACDA High School Honor Choir performance.

"Zadok the Priest" by Handel.  (Wait for it.  Scared the dickens out of Isabel when they started singing.)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Family Food & Fun

It is not often you get the five sisters ALL together in one shot.  Last time, it was 10/10/10, Brenda's wedding.  Before that?  I'm pretty sure it was my wedding; 09/15/2002.  We're just never available at one time!  This year, we were all together for Thanksgiving.  We were only missing one adult nephew and one spouse.

There was WAY too much food; it was a little ridiculous.  Tons of meats and tons of dessert.  I made a quick cake too.

Guess who took some home? No one!  It's all in my fridge!  Anyone wanting a snack? Come on over.

Dad and Kaleb have a staring contest.  Dad won.

Baby Giana eating her dinner.

Baby Ava snoozing away.

Lyric, the last one at the kiddie table.

Damian holding Sookie and Vixen.
We decided to go outside and take family pictures.  As I set up the tripod, I started taking random test shots. This picture below was totally candid.  They had no idea I was taking pictures.  It looks like some men's ad.

Youngest sister Lissette & hubby John

Eldest sister Brenda & Hubby Freddy

Let's go people! Why's Isabel so cranky?  I think Jake's yelling at her. 

The "good" family pictures are on the previous post here.

We decided to take a shot of the five sisters.  I went to the formal living room a.k.a. the piano room to set up.  The lighting is minimal in the room so I decided to mess with the shutter speed.

Oooooooh, ghoooooost!

Brenda, Janelys, Kaaren, Vicky & Lissette

My step-mom Nellie with the girls

Dad & Nellie with the girls in age order
Two sisters and dad/Nellie left that evening, while two sisters spent the night with their kids and hubbies.  It was a truly fun day.  I am thankful we were together.

Happy Thanksgiving

from my family to yours!

All 5 sisters, their spouses (minus 1), my dad and step-mom
 and all grandkids (minus 1)

Kaaren, David, Brenda, Freddy, Jacob, John, Lissette holding Gigi,
Nellie, Victor-Dad, Kaleb behind Janelys holding Ava, Jocelyn, Vicky
and Damian. Front girls are Isabel and Lyric.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Day Two of "District Three: The Thespians Strike Back"

Technically, it's Day 3 of the Festival, we just did not have to be there on Friday.

Saturday and we're at our high school at 7:30 a.m. to pick up the kids riding in my car for the festival. It was going to be a LONG day.  Closing ceremonies were not until 7-9:30 p.m. that night!!  Ugh!

This day was filled with all the individual acts I mentioned in my previous post.  Our Troupe had entries in Duet Acting, Publicity Design, Duet Musical, Ensemble Acting, Student Directed Act, Solo Song, Monologue, Costume Construction and Costume Design; in all we had 22 separate events.  I made a spreadsheet for myself so I knew where each kid was during the day.

Two students put finishing touches to their costume
 construction for "Chicago."

The chaperones had to man a room all day.  Our Troupe chaperones got to be in the Duet Musical room.  We had 4 ladies, but only needed to fill 3 positions, so every once in a while, once of us would skip out to see our kids in other areas.  In our room, we needed a time keeper (5 minutes per performance), an outside door person (who would not let anyone in during the performances) and an indoor person (who would not let anyone out during the performances.)  75% of the time, I was time keeper.

It was SO much fun. SO much fun.  I got to see duets perform songs from all kinds of musicals including "Spamalot," "Phantom," "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change," "Chicago," "Wicked," Tick Tick Boom," "Guys and Dolls," "Sweeney Todd," Spring Awakening," etc. etc. etc.

We were a finely tuned machine.  Each act had a specific time to be on, with usually 3 minutes before to set up and turn in their evaluation sheets.  Once they were done, I would walk to the judges (3) and show them the timer so they could log the time.  I kept my own time log as well.

We got a break for lunch and headed out to the main area.  The kids were stressed but having a ball.

Jacob, Ezequiel and John run lines

Jacob, Hunter and Ezequiel

To add the pin craziness, we had a new addition: balloon hats - Star Wars style.

The balloon artist, wearing his tauntaun creation.

Princess Lea balloon buns.

C3PO and R2D2
X-Wing Fighter

Darth Maul's Light Saber

TIE Fighter. 

Boba Fett hat

Me and my Saber with a Storm Trooper
Chewbacca hat in the background.

I was able to leave my post to see Jacob, John, Bobby and Ezequiel perform an act from "Waiting for Godot."

And the Student-Directed performance of a scene from "Red."

Please note: There is cursing in this video below.

After everyone was done, we met back out for dinner from the various vendors in the courtyard.  The results slowly started coming in.  You need a "Superior" to move on to State (Superior, Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor.)  The troupe was receiving "Excellents" and "Goods."  Our One-Act Play that Jacob stage-managed got "Excellent," but we were waiting and waiting for the results of two.  The Student-Directed play Melissa (director), John, Bobby and Julian called "Lend Me a Tenor," and the Student-Directed play by John (director), Jacob and DJ, video above.  What was taking so long?

Suddenly, one of the girls yells out! She got a Tweet (yep, she subscribed to the districts Twitter feed because they were tweeting the results.)  Both of our student-directed plays got SUPERIOR!  We're heading to State in 2012 and Jacob's included!!

The kids react to the news.

The evening ended with the closing ceremonies.

Awards were handed out.  Us parents/teachers were EXHAUSTED.  Fifteen hours later, and we could finally head home!

Oh, and how did we fare with our pin hunt, Jacob and I?

Wampa, Akbar, Fett, Vader, Maul, Frozen Han, Imperial Guard,
 Ewok,  Jabba, Palpatine and Lando!

Jacob's Favorite

My Favorite

Isabel's Favorite

We had a BLAST! We're going to State!  Woo Hoo!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Day One of "District Three: The Thespians Strike Back"

We (Jacob and I) have just survived an intense, yet gratifying 2 of 3 days at the 2011 District Three Thespian Festival.

This was a long, long weekend and yet, it was so much fun.  SO well done!  With 32 schools in 4 counties signed up, and over 1,000 participants in 29 one-act plays and 490 individual evens in 18 categories (Costume Construction, Costume Design, Duet Acting, Duet Musical, Ensemble Acting,  Large Group Musicals, Monologues, Pantomime, Playwriting, Publicity Design, Scene Design, Small Group Musical, Solo Musical, Student Directed Scenes and Senior Scholarship performance.)  It was A LOT to take in and so very well organized by the District Chair and the high school and its troupe that hosted the event.  Kudos!!

The theme for this year's Drama Festival?
Everything from our T-Shirts

to our badges were Star Wars themed.

We arrived at the host school around 11 a.m.  Days 1 and 2 were for the schools' One-Act performances; one-act plays lasting exactly 40 minutes or less.  Ours was set for Day 1, Thursday at 6:15 p.m., so we had the entire day, pretty much, to watch other One-Acts, eat lunch and mingle.

The kids get a talking to by their drama teacher.

We ate lunch, watched a few performances (and got completely blown away by one show called "Emotional Baggage."  (The last 8 pictures on the bottom right of this link are from the school that performed the play but not actual players that performed that night. Might be a previous years' cast, but you can see the masks.)  No talking, all done with beautiful/horrible face masks and body language.  Fantastic!  I'm getting goose bumps just thinking on it!)

Yet, the number one activity for the kids on day one, beside their one-act?


As in these.

The District 3 Mascot is a Penguin (in Florida.  I know.)  To raise money for "Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids" Joe Norton of said organization, along with illustrator Dawn Schreiner and tons of other sponsors came up with the memorabilia for the festival, including these $1 pins.  Every dollar went to "Broadway Cares."

The kids. went. nuts.

NUTS for these pins.  Some you could outright buy, others you have to take a chance in the "Mystery Bucket," and yet others you had to know the "secret" to getting them. (Jacob and I never got the illusive District 3 one.)

Kids were spending their lunch money on these! They were trading, bartering, begging for these pins.

Ewok penguin and Admiral Akbar penguin.

I got Han Penguin frozen in carbonite and the Imperial Royal Guard penguin


Five forty and the kids had to start getting set up to go on at 6:15 p.m.  We chaperones/teachers headed into the 900-seat capacity auditorium to get ready for the show.  It's 40 minutes long so I won't post it here, but eventually I will upload it to my YouTube account.

Jacob was the stage manager and nervous as all get-out.  He had an assistant stage manager, a sound guy and a lighting guy.  Our show, "Shoes Along the Highway" is a very slow, sweet story, not a high energy one like "Godspell Junior," "Iliad, Iliad, Iliad" or not to the level of the amazing "Emotional Baggage," and we had some technical difficulties along the way with equipment and cues.  Jacob was upset.  Some of the kids were very distraught, others mad, others just took it as "oh well, we'll get them next year."  They were heroes in my book.

We could not load out until the last performance was done; 8:45 p.m.  Isabel had arrived on site at around 5 p.m. so she got to see her brother on stage after the performance getting critiqued.  She also ate with us. I ended up getting 5 pizzas for the kids - well discounted at $5 each because I know some people at the store (*grin*) because half these crazy kids either did not bring lunch money or spent it on the pins.  We ate outside in the courtyard and all the kids helped load up and home we went.  I think I got to bed at 11:30 p.m.  Ouch! Long day!

Day 2: Friday was the second day of One-Acts, and so we did not have to be there for it.  Saturday was the day for the 490 individual evens in 18 categories.   Jacob was to be in an Ensemble Act (Waiting for Godot) and a Student Directed Duet (Red.) So excited for it!