Tuesday, June 10, 2014

My Apologies!! I Forgot To Mention!

Last summer at dance camp, Maddie auditioned to become an "All-American".  She had to learn a dance and then audition in front of the entire camp.  She passed the audition and received an invitation to dance in the London New Year's Day Parade!  After discussing the tour, we decided to allow her to go!  She knew she was the only person from Jacksonville going and she still wanted to do it.  She had to travel to Orlando to meet the Varsity group.  She left the day after Christmas.
In Orlando ready to go!
Meeting friends on the long plane ride
I remember seeing this first picture posted and thinking, "Wow!! She's really there!!"  She stayed in a hotel close to Big Ben/Parliament.  She loved being right in the middle of the city.  
And she made it!!
 I kept texting her to get certain pictures.  I wish I had been there to be her photographer, but she did a decent job of it.  After she was home, I asked her about friends, and how she handled not knowing anyone.  She just told me, "I knew I'd have to be outgoing and meet new people, so that's what I did."  Amazing!!!  So proud of her and her good attitude!

How come every time you come around…Nevermind 
Tower Bridge 
Not quite sure what it costs to feed the birds these days.  
St. Paul's Cathedral
Atop St. Paul's - she thought this was pretty fantastic.
She went with a group to King's Cross Station to Platform 9 3/4 
Could they be any cuter? 
Riding the London Eye
Windsor Castle
The guards
Riding the Tube - Mind the Gap!!
WINDOW shopping at Harrod's
The New Year's Eve Party
Finally it was New Year's Day and time for the Parade - the real reason she went all that way!  The fun part was that we were able to watch it live on the Internet.  This is a little group picture that was taken after the parade.  As we watched the parade, the rain got heavier and heavier.  I just thought of Maddie in that rain being so wet and cold!  And then in rained HARDER!!

My computer screen - It was so great to see her!!
Then all of a sudden, I saw her on my computer screen!!  She was alive and kicking - literally - in London and in the parade!!  I screamed!!  And got a video of her with my phone.  Luckily there were also some nice parents there that took some pictures and happened to have Maddie in their pictures that were posted on Fb.  
Someone else's picture with Maddie happily waving to the crowds!!
Then it was time to come home.  We drove to Orlando to pick her up.  She was exhausted, but happy.  She had the time of her life.  She missed London.  She said it smelled like cigarettes and food.  She loved the old architecture and history.  She also loved the cosmopolitan feel of the city.  I'm so thankful she had this opportunity.  Her gift for Rozzie was the Kate Middleton mask - like she needs it!!  What a fantastic week for Maddie.
She's home - with Kate!!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Oh Scotland, Scotland!! - Macduff (Macbeth, Shakespeare)

Two years ago, the teacher next door to me, Teresa, started talking about taking a trip with students.  She wanted to go to Ireland, Scotland, and England.  She had researched and found a student trip with EF (Education First).  She has done this a number of times before and so she was toying aroudn with the idea.  I commented on how badly I wanted to go to those places.  So she invited me along.  Now we had to get 12 kids signed up.  That didn'dt happen, so the trip was postponed and then changed to eliminate Ireland but include Paris.  Then all of a sudden, this year, 16 kids signed up and we had ourselves a tour!!  The deal was also that Rozzie wanted to go in the worst way.  With our move and all that hullabaloo, this trip was made possible.  [I forgot to  post about Maddie's trip to London - Ill have to do that next.]  So March 20th rolled around.  This was the moment we had been preparing for for 2 years!!  Here is our group at the Jacksonville airport, all ready for our trip across the Atlantic.    
The two guys in the back on the left refused to cooperate nicely for pictures!!  So many smiles, tho!!
When I prepare for a trip, I think about my nails.  One reason I do that is because nail polish helps keep my dreaded hangnails at bay.  I had to do something festive tho.  The gal had a really tough time understanding the Union Jack idea.  I had to tell her how to do it.  She was completely lost on the French flag, so I just got 2 Union Jacks.  Oh well,  I got great comments on them all over the UK!
On the flight from Atlanta to Amsterdam.  The kids loved that they had their own TVs with so many movies to choose from.  I had two of my own students on the trip and they both watched "Gatsby" we we were reading it in class.  We flew over night - not that I got any sleep.  One of my students, Kenny, had never been on a plane before.  As a matter of fact, he had never left FLORIDA before.  We are only 45 minutes from the border!!!  So this was a really big deal for him.  He stayed up all night long watching movies, not wanting to miss a minute of the experience!
Dani, Lillia, and Rozzie
We flew into Amsterdam and then switched planes and went to Edinburgh, Scotland.  It was exciting to get our passports stamped for the first time!  We were driven directly into the city and dropped off for the day.  There were 2 other schools joining our tour and they came in later, so we had the day to shop and see.  We were all feeling a bit grimy from the previous day, but we  didn't let that stop us.  They say it is best to just stay up and keep going to help adjust to the time difference.  We all divided up and started seeing what there is to see.  Edinburgh is a beautiful, old city.  We stopped and got lunch.  I decided to get pictures of all my food and the establishement too keep track of what we did.  My first meal there was bangers and mash (sausage and mashed potates with gravy - brown sauce) and it was DELICIOUS!!  We shopped for plaid scarves.  It was pretty chilly, but not bad, and it wasn't raining so that was great!
The first telephone booth!
 I loved the old, gothic architecture.  This church was very impressive.  It is now used as a restaurant and city offices.  This is where I had my bangers and mash.  This is in the old town on the Royal Mile, which is the street that runs from Holyrood Palace to Edinburgh Castle.  Everything on this side of the city is officially old - middle ages.  The other side of the city is pretty new - 1700s.
There were a lot of street performers.  I enjoyed hearing the bagpipes as we walked around the city. 
Rozzie matched the piper pretty well!!

How these girls look so nice after a night on the plane, I'll never know.  Again, tho, beautiful buildings!!! 
The kids were FREEZING and so at lunch they all ordered hot chocolate and immediately fell in love.  The hot chocolate in Europe is "SO MUCH BETTER!!"  It was fun to be along with Rozzie to experience her reaction to everything.  She was 100% happy to be off in Europe walking around seeing things. 
This smile says, "I love being here!"
Later, we met up with the rest of the tour group to go to dinner.  By this time we were starting to get really tired, but we tried to keep plugging along and enjoying everything we could.  We took a few pictures while waiting.  This structure behind us is Edinburgh Castle.  I love how it looks like it just grew right out of the rocks.  

This is the Sir Walter Scott memorial.  Again, the gothic architecture that I love.  I didn't climb the 200+ steps inside it, but now I wish I had. This also became a central meeting point for the group.  It was daffodil season in Scotland and England and so all the gardens were so pretty with the yellow flowers.  The trees weren't leafy yet, but the grass was all very green. 
Points to anyone who can remember our rhyme about Sir Walter Scott.
We all slept very well that first night and were up and ready to go the next day.  We met up with our tour guide, Keith, and were off for a driving tour around Edinburgh.  Keith was very entertaining with his stories and all.  He claims that he wears his kilts nearly every day.  He only wears his clan's tartan, so that answered one of my questions.  However, people today like to wear whatever tartan they like - more of a fashion thing rather than a clan thing.  We really liked listening to Keith.  We stopped at Holyrood Palace.  We didn't go in, but walked around a bit.  There was an very cute little building that was Mary Queen of Scots' bathhouse.  Holyrood means the holy cross.  A long ago king was attacked by a stag and (as the story goes) the stag came at him to kill him, he looked up and he saw a cross in the antlers of the stag.  He was saved and on that spot is where he built the Holyrood.  There is an abbey there and all.  This palace is at the base of the hill that leads up to Edinburgh Castle - the Royal Mile.
Me and Keith

The iron work is all done by hand - very old.  You can see the stag with a cross in its antlers.
Our next stop was Edinburgh Castle.  As I said, I love how it looks as if it grew right out of the rocks.  Edinburgh Castle was never taken over by enemies.  It sits high up on a hill and it takes a lot of energy to get up to it!!  It was chilly up there and the wind was blowing briskly.  
Castle wall - natural rock changes right into the stone of the castle.  

Posing for pictures.  The building behind us houses the Scottish crown jewels.

There are lots of these crests and they are all brightly colored.  
Me and Teresa way up high over looking Edinburgh.
A dog cemetary.
Looking over another section of the castle. 
Our little group over looking the city.
Note the date of this chapel.
And here is the chapel.  it is very tiny, but was so cute.  Military personnel can still have their babies christened here and also be married here - if you only want 12 people in attendance.
Another section of the castle.  It was very hilly within the castle walls.
We stopped for a little shortbread and hot chocolate!  It was DELICIOUS!
The building behind Rozzie was the inspiration for JK Rowling's Hogwarts.
I just thought this was artsy.  There isn't a whole lot of room for each home, it is all stacked upward!
Rozzie was adamant of visiting Elephants and Bagels as this is where JK Rowling wrote much of Harry Potter.  They were the one place who let her sit and write instead of kicking her out.  It is an Indian cafe and smells of curry!
Our last night in Edinburgh, we went on a witchery tour.  These two hooligans took us around and around and up and down - so many stairs - and told us of witchcraft and murder in medieval Edinburgh.  If you were accused of witchery, you were bound and thrown in the lake.  If you sank and drowned, you were innocent to a witch.  Your family was notified of the "good news" and your body was given back to them to bury in honor.  If your body floated, you were a witch and then it was good that you were already dead, or they'd kill you.  This tour was just fun and games.  We did a lot of laughing.
And that wrapped up our time in Edinburgh.  We just loved that city.  Rozzie smiled constantly and enjoyed every little thing we did.  She never complained about walking a lot, about the food (which was good), or the weather.  She knew she was part of something special and I loved experiencing it with her.  Although it was chilly, we had clear weather and were reminded that we had nothing to complain about!!  I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity to see Scotland and think of my dear, Scottish grandmother, Isabelle Ritchie Hawley, who had so recently passed away.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

February was FANTASTIC! Let's Move on To MARCH MADDNESS

As I said, February was great and fun things happened.  My JV Cheer team won at Nationals and my varsity team came in 3rd (which is really fantastic - see the title).  March was more fun, tho.  

The month of March began with the national dance competition in Orlando at Hard Rock - Universal Studios.  It is always a fun weekend and exciting; however, this year was a little more harrowing than usual.  Due to a misunderstanding, the team came very close to not making finals!!!  There was a HUGE deduction that put the team into 10th place. We didn't think they'd take more than 9 to finals.  The girls were horribly sad.  We couldn't believe the season would end like that.  But when the finalists were announced, Fleming Island made it!!  Whew!  So they danced another day!
Maddie helped out with makeup
Maddie getting her makeup done.
Each year, Rozzie and Nora get pictures taken right here on this "sofa" at the Hard Rock hotel
Then it was time to dance.  We were pretty sure that they could move up from 10th place, but how far up was left to be seen.  The teams were really good.  

Rozzie with her coach and other captain, Dea
It was really exciting as they announced 10th place and it wasn't us!!  We came in 4th and were very happy with that finish.  

Maddie has made some friends on the West Springfield team (who have won the competition 4 years in a row)
I don't have all my dates straight in my head and I'm sitting here typing.  If I get up, I don't know if I'll finish this, so I'm just going to continue typing.  In March, my grandmother passed away.  I was happy to be able to travel to California (Yuba City - outside of Sacramento) for her funeral.  It was wonderful to see so many of my cousins - many I haven't seen in over 20 years, and may never see again in this lifetime.  Grandma's funeral was wonderful.  Her casket was brought to the grave preceded by my cousin's husband playing his bagpipes.  Grandma is Scottish, so this was appropriate and meaningful.  
Aaron on the pipes in full regalia
Grandsons and a great-grandson as pall-bearers
Aunt Laurie, Aunt Marylee, and my Dad 
A cousin picture
And now because it is graduation and her 18th birthday, I give you Rozzie!!!