2020- We Didn’t See That Coming!…Confessions of a Dance Mom

This year was my daughters second one dancing at the Performing Arts Centre (PAC). When COVID-19 closed the studio in March, the Davenport sisters immediately turned to virtual classes and a week later…PAC danced! When our county began to open up in May, the Davenport sisters strategically worked out a plan to keep everyone safe, re-opened the studio and…PAC danced! After weeks and weeks in isolation, dance class was the first place we returned and our hearts filled with joy and…we danced!

As June approached and the dates of the annual recital inched closer, it seemed next to impossible to hold an event of such magnitude, let alone one that loved ones could safely attend. Would PAC even have a recital this year? How will they ever orchestrate such a production when auditoriums and theaters across the country are closed and there are social distancing protocols in place? Without fail, the Davenport sisters got to work and with a bit of creativity and tons of grit, PAC held their forty-sixth dance recital on June 20, 2020 and…PAC danced! Nothing can stop PAC from dancing, not even COVID-19!

Our sweet little dancer posing after her recital.
My daughter with her multi-talented teacher, Ms. Tracy Davenport.

How Did They Do It?– They constructed a stage in PAC’s parking lot, laid out a detailed seating diagram, to ensure safe social distancing, and held nine separate showtimes throughout the day that consisted of eleven numbers each. Each show was live-streamed on-line for those who couldn’t come in person.

The detailed seating chart.
Fans were handed out to keep everyone cool during the outdoor performance.

From the Noteworthy Dance Mom- As a second year dance mom I wasn’t alone in feeling nervous about the recital this year. COVID-19 made the recital challenging for everyone, even the experts! My daughter and her adorable class did a sweet tap routine to, “If I Knew You Were Comin’ I’d’ve Baked a Cake.” My daughter was fantastic and I’m so very proud of her. Having Ms. Tracy Davenport, PAC owner and artistic director extraordinaire, made for an amazing PS4 dance year! As a second year dance mom, I was faced with new costume challenges like attaching shoe bows and a hair piece. My prayers were answered when my mom and dad appeared at our doorstep, unannounced, just minutes before it was time to leave. Pops helped me style my daughter’s hair and successfully attached the head piece in just the right position. I am proud to say we survived our second dance recital, although it will go down in history as the one we didn’t see coming!

Pops styling my daughter’s hair for the recital.

A Beautiful Birthday Celebration…Days 72 and 73

Yesterday we celebrated my mother’s birthday. Birthdays are a big deal in our family and nothing was going to keep us from recognizing Nana’s special day, including COVID-19!

The pandemic caused Nana’s birthday celebration to look a bit different this year. Thanks to my daughter, Nana received a homemade gift made out of recyclables due to stores being closed and my daughter unable to shop for the perfect gift. When we went to pick up Nana’s birthday cake, we found our order waiting on a table outside the bakery and we simply picked it up with no human contact. Since Nana’s favorite restaurant was closed, Pops prepared an Italian feast for all of us to enjoy. And instead of blowing out the candles on her cake, Nana fanned them out with a homemade fan crafted by my daughter! This is defiantly a birthday to remember!

Nana extinguishes her birthday candles with a homemade fan, lovingly created by my daughter.

From drive-through graduations, birthday parades, virtual trivia nights and streaming church services, spring celebrations throughout our world have been altered due to the pandemic. New traditions are being established as we find creative ways to recognize these important life events. And through it all, nothing is stopping us from celebrating!

Now What?… Day 66

Our school year is over and summer vacation has officially started. As I sit here thinking about the days ahead, all that comes to mind is…Now What?

As states begin to open back up many uncertainties remain. And our media is no help as it is flooded with mixed messages and different opinions. Early on I thought once the stay at home order was lifted things would go back to “normal.” Now I know that transitioning out of isolation will be a gradual process. Through the transition we will need to continue to practice social distancing. Will we be required to wear masks? Hand sanitizers and extra hand washing will be imperative. So many unanswered questions remain… Will swimming pools open up for the summer? What will worship look like when our church reopens? Will we have VBS in person this year or will it be virtual? Will schools conduct professional development sessions and will I train teachers this summer? What will the 2020-2021 school year look like?

Among all of the unknowns, one thing is known, the pandemic is something we have never experienced before. As we transition back to “normal” we need to be accepting of others, allowing every person, every family, to enter back into society in a way that makes them feel comfortable. We shouldn’t judge others but focus instead, on what feels right for our family.

I continue to find comfort through God’s word and am reminded not to worry about tomorrow. Although COVID-19 has changed our world and the summer continues to hold many unknowns, we will get through this together.

Staying Connected Through a Birthday Visit, Fancy Surprises and a Virtual Concert…Day 63

During a time where we are socially disconnected, in many ways we are connecting even more! We are simply finding new ways to stay in touch and show we care. Today included a surprise birthday visit to a family friend, a heartwarming surprise package in the mail and a virtual live concert by a talented church friend.

A Birthday Visit and Fancy Nancy– Perhaps one of the most enjoyable things we have done during the quarantine is dropping off surprises to teachers, family members and friends. Today we surprised a family friend with a special birthday card. This eleven year old didn’t want a birthday parade, so we recognized her special day with a short outdoor visit. I’m sure this will be a birthday she will never forget! We were treated to laughs and a bag full of “Fancy Nancy” books to take home! If you have a young child in your home I encourage you to check out the character, “Fancy Nancy,” a French loving six-year with a fancy wardrobe and an even fancier vocabulary! In her world of fancy things, “Fancy Nancy” celebrates the things that make us unique and different. CLICK HERE to visit a website filled with fancy fun!

A Generous Surprise– My daughter was excited to receive a spring craft packet in the mail from Katelynne, a mommy blogger, who is also know as The Disguised Super Mom. CLICK HERE to check out her website. What a generous surprise! We can’t thank you enough! 

 Virtual Concert– I filled a wine glass with some liquid therapy, sat on my comfy couch and experienced my first virtual concert with “Live at the Library With Bethany Coad.” Bethany is an extremely talented contemporary folk singer/songwriter who also happens to be a member of my Zion Lutheran Church family. It was a relaxing hour of fabulous music, storytelling and escapism. Her original songs took me on a delightful journey and for a few minutes I forgot about social distancing, disappointment and the pandemic. I could relate to the peppy tongue and cheek “Lincolntown” as I have made the laborious drive from St. Louis to Chicago too many times to count! I also enjoyed the beautiful ballad titled “Lewis and Clark.” Her newest song, “A Place Where Time Stands Still,” conjured up happy memories of playing concerts, dining with family and attending festivals and parades along our historic main street in what has become my daughter’s hometown, St. Charles, MO. If you missed the concert, no worries, it was recorded. CLICK HERE to listen to Bethany Coad’s virtual concert at the library.

 

 

What Are You Watching? (The Shows That Helped Me Through the Quarantine)… Day 56

During this time of isolation many people have asked for binge worthy viewing suggestions to get them through the quarantine. I have a five year old so much of my screen time, if any, has been filled with cartoons like “My Little Pony,” “Llama, Llama,” and “PJ Masks.”

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist– There is one show that I began watching during the pandemic that I simply can’t get enough of. It’s a quirky little show filled with immense talent, popular music, emotion and a love triangle! This extraordinary show is “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist.” The series is a comedy-drama about a young women named Zoey who can hear the inner most thoughts and desires of the people around her through song and musical numbers. The viewers get to know the people in Zoey’s life through these musical messages. You may be thinking, “this show’s not for me,” but I encourage you to give it a chance. After the second episode I became a fan.

Although “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” won’t become a mainstream classic, spending years upon years in syndication, it was there for me when I needed an escape. This little show got me to think outside of myself and made me forget COVID-19 and all of life’s new challenges for a few minutes at the end of the day. This feel-good show, with musical numbers, also contains an emotionally charged storyline that made me care about the characters on the screen. The series gave me something to look forward to on days that seemed never ending. And that’s why this Noteworthy Mommy hopes this extraordinary show, with plenty of heart, gets renewed for a second season!

All Rise– This courtroom drama about a newly appointed judge who pushes expectations and boundaries, premiered in the fall and I began watching shortly after. This series gives the viewer a look at the personal lives of the judges, lawyers and clerks, who fight for justice for the people of Los Angeles in an often flawed legal process.

When COVID-19 shut down television studios, “All Rise,” filmed a creative episode virtually. Titled “Dancing at Los Angeles,” we find our beloved characters experiencing a mandatory shelter-in-place order. Through Zoom like screens, the viewers get to see how the characters are coping with isolation, their lives being affected by COVID-19 much like ours. We find a clerk, who after being furloughed, takes on a part time job as a Shipt Shopper, see a daughter worrying about the health and safety of her high risk mother and view two friends having a virtual happy hour with wine in hand at the end of the day. We see characters spending more time in their kitchens, finding lost letters while cleaning out closets and navigating relationships while social distancing. Some are passing their time by exercising while others experience sleepless nights. That’s where the on-line nighttime DJ comes in. With his music and commentary, he weaves the story line together. Images of a desolate Los Angeles reminds us how our major cities, once bustling with people, now contain empty streets during the pandemic. As the characters make an attempt to conduct a bench trial virtually, we are reminded of the adaptations those fortunate enough to work from home have made during this time. Being the first drama series to be produced remotely, with actors filming everything from their own homes, this episode is historic in many ways.

The Masked Singer– Perhaps the most frivolous of  shows is“The Masked Singer.” With a majority of season 3 airing during the isolation, this is a show my daughter and I can enjoy together. A singing game show where celebrities disguise themselves under elaborate costumes with big ridiculous heads, it is the perfect cure to another day spent in isolation. This season is filled with the unimaginable. Seeing Sarah Palin unmasked as the technicolor bear who sang Sir Mix-a-Lots, “Baby Got Back,” will either make you laugh out loud or make you shake your head in disbelief at what our world has succumb to.

THE MASKED SINGER

What are your favorite shows to watch? Have you gotten interested in a new series?Leave your comments below. I promise not to judge. I hope you are being thoroughly entertained as you find something that helps you escape from the world (if only for 60 minutes) during this time of uncertainty.

 

Tasty Tuesday With Pizza and a “Soup Opera,” (Week of the Young Child).. Day 43

Today is Tasty Tuesday! This fun, food themed day is about more than cheese and crust! When we cook with our children we incorporate math, literacy skills and science, while teaching them about good nutrition.

Pizza– My daughter and I made pizza for lunch. She topped her pizza to look like a funny face complete with pepperoni eyes, ears, and mouth, and dressed with cheese hair. My little one doesn’t like cooked cheese so that’s why her pizza face only had a wee bit of cheese hair. In keeping with the pizza theme we read one of our favorite books, The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza written by Philemon Sturges. A modern twist the classic tale, this retelling has our mouth watering every time! CLICK HERE to read The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza.

Jesus Feeds 5,000– We read the Bible story about Jesus feeding 5,000 men with just five loaves of bread and two fish. The story validates that God provides miracles when we trust in Him. CLICK HERE to watch an animated version of the story. After watching and discussing the story we traced my daughter’s hand and made a collage with Goldfish to remind us of God’s miracle.

I Can’t Eat the SOUP!– We really enjoyed watching the “soup opera,” I Can‘t Eat the Soup! by the extremely talented children’s performer, Jim Gill. A few summers ago we were lucky to see Jim Gill in concert at our local library. After watching several different versions on line, we enjoyed acting the “soup opera” out ourselves! CLICK HERE to watch the most recent version of I Can’t Eat the Soup! and CLICK HERE to watch one complete with a symphony orchestra!

What’s Behind the Picture? Documenting Our Time in Isolation…Day 40

A photo captures a single moment in time, a framed slice of reality shot by the photographer. A good photograph can conjure emotion, take the viewer to places he or she has never seen or create a memory for the future. Photographs are wordless ways to share and document life but they never tell the whole story. As you view my blog and the photos embedded within, note that the photos I choose to share simply capture fleeting seconds during hours of isolation. Our days during this pandemic are far from picture perfect, filled with a storm of emotions represented by the good, the bad and the ugly. Along with the struggle, fear, disappointment, frustration and anger, God has blessed us with beautiful moments of tenderness, love, joy and laughter. When all of this is over the carefree moments that brought us closer together as a family, a community, and a nation are the memories I want to remember.

The Many Faces of Lillian Clare– I took Easter pictures of my little one in our backyard and got a variety of facial expressions!

Showing Love for Curious George?- Although this photo shows a smiling little girl sitting next to my beloved childhood friend, Curious George, the introduction was anything but cordial. When she saw my vintage Curious George she refused to hold him, let alone hug him! To get this adorable photo I had to bribe her with candy!

In Isolation– Taken moments before virtual circle time (with her preschool class), this picture shows the frustration, uncertainty and disappointment we have all experienced during the pandemic. My little one finds comfort cuddling with her favorite blanket, affectionately named Nae Nae.

Childhood Moments with Gary the Puppet and the Great Outdoors…Day 39

Today was a good day and at first glance it looked like a typical spring day with a preschool child and her stay at home mom. The weather was perfect, lending itself to lazy walks and carefree exploration. My daughter had early childhood chapel and this Noteworthy Mommy went to happy hour where I laughed until I cried with some of my best girlfriends! When you take a closer look you’ll see that although some things are indeed the same, they have been altered; filled with unexpected adaptation due to COVID 19.

Outdoor Fun– Observational walks around the pond in our backyard have become a staple on peak weather days. Today we heard the chirps and splashes of spring frogs as they quickly jumped into the pond, protecting themselves from our anticipated arrival. We were lucky to discover a big frog, camouflaged among the murky waters, hoping to go undetected. The picture of my daughter blowing seeds off of the season’s first dandelion is accompanied with talk of the abrupt shift to virtual learning. I am brought back to our new reality when she says, “I wish I could go back to school, I really wanted to plant lettuce. I could plant lettuce with you but it won’t be as special.”

Gary the Puppet– The early childhood classes at my daughter’s school have chapel every week and Gary the Puppet often makes a special appearance. My daughter participated in chapel today where she learned that as Christians we continue to celebrate Easter and sing our Alleluias! CLICK HERE to learn how to make an Alleluia Shaker. Even though COVID 19 has shuttered the doors of her physical school, she continues to hear the message of Jesus’s love through weekly virtual chats with Pastor Rouland and Gary the Puppet. She finds joy and comfort in them and seeing familiar faces is a highlight of her week. This will become a cherished childhood memory. CLICK HERE to view this week’s message.

Noteworthy Mommy’s Happy Hour– Occasional happy hours with my girlfriends are cherished but during our busy lives they unfortunately are few and far between. In the midst of the pandemic I am reminded how important it is to spend time with my girlfriends, enjoying a glass of wine and sharing a few laughs! Our happy hours are now more frequent (weekly) and have become virtual with iconic Brady Bunch squares, funny stories and glasses (some weeks, bottles) of wine. Taking the time to relax with friends, even virtually, is helping me navigate the weeks upon weeks spent in isolation.

Throwback Tuesday With Wildflower Mud Pies, YES, Please!…Day 36

When I was a child I loved the outdoors! My parents practically had to drag me into the house for dinner and then afterwards, I immediately returned outside and a confrontation to get me indoors and into the bath ensued.

Today was a throwback to my childhood because the weather was gorgeous and my daughter and I spent our entire afternoon outside enjoying spring! As we engaged in the activities below we unplugged for a few hours, leaving the stresses of the world behind.

Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt– My daughter rode her Big Wheel and then her scooter around the neighborhood and we used the card below to play Neighborhood Bingo! Along the way we stopped to say hello to our favorite pup (Lady) and rescued some worms from getting fried by the sun. My daughter giggled when she decided to follow the “bird poop trail!” Anyone who thinks boys are the only ones who are obsessed with bodily functions must have never raised a girl!

Outdoor Picnic Lunch– What a delight it was to eat lunch on a blanket in our backyard. While eating. we read some favorite books and closed our eyes and listened. What sounds do you hear? (lawnmower, birds, dogs, a siren). The ability to differentiate sounds is the beginning tier of phonological awareness, an umbrella term that incorporates phonemic awareness (differentiating sounds) and a range of oral language skills necessary for reading and writing development.

Wildflowers and Mud Pies- The highlight of the afternoon was playing in the mud! One of my fondest five-year old memories is playing in the mud with my best friend. We were covered from head to toe in wet gooey mud and were having the best time. Our carefree play captured the eye of a local photographer and he snapped a photo that appeared on the front page of our hometown newspaper. When we returned to kindergarten the next day we were instant celebrities!

Although my daughter didn’t get anywhere near as messy as I did at her age, she certainly had fun scooping up dirt, mixing it with water and adorning her creations with delicate wildflowers carefully handpicked from the pond behind our house. The simplicity of it all made my heart happy. While playing she commented that today was the best day ever! Then she asked if I would like one of her mud pies and I enthusiastically replied, “YES, please!”

A Preschool Birthday Parade, Paint Sticks and Virtual Storytime… Day 31

Today my heart was happy. We safely interacted with others, got out of the house and surprised my daughter’s teacher with a birthday parade! The day was filled with fun and friendship, ending with a sweet surprise from a dear friend who is like family.

Surprise Birthday Parade– Birthdays are fun and surprise birthdays are even better! When I realized we wouldn’t get to see my daughter’s preschool teacher on her special day, I organized a preschool birthday parade. I think Mrs. Stanglein was surprised because when the birthday parade drove by she was in the shower! With wet hair and no shoes, she ran outside waving. She enjoyed seeing the sweet faces of the class she no longer gets to see in person. And the children enjoyed seeing each other, waving from decorated cars, the smiles on their dear faces providing proof.

We enjoyed decorating daddy’s truck for the big parade (we had 12 cars participate) and my daughter made a special card to go with the present. And what do you get someone on a birthday celebrated in isolation? A quarantine survival kit of course…beer, chocolate and toilet paper!

Chunkies Paint Sticks– My daughter created a beautiful painting for her teacher’s birthday with her Chunkies Paint Sticks by Ooly. There was no mess because the paint is contained in a plastic barrel. They are easy to hold and dry instantly, making them perfect for little hands. My daughter got the 24 count variety pack from the Easter Bunny. What a blessed little girl! Virtual Story Time– We ended our day with a virtual story time with my friend Jaime. My daughter calls her Auntie Jaime and we have all missed our monthly get togethers. Auntie Jaime sent my daughter the book Grow, Candice, Grow by Candice Cameron-Bure. The second in a series of books about a little girl named Candice, this book teaches the importance of patience when planting a garden. Auntie Jaime bought two copies of the book, sending one to us and keeping the other so she could read the book to my daughter virtually. My daughter followed along with her book and listened attentively; excitedly answering questions asked of her. It was a brilliant idea and a special gift for me and for my daughter. My daughter isn’t always engaged during virtual meetings but for this one she was. She even requested I leave the room, gifting me with something that has become rare, a few cherished moments to myself!