Sunday, November 28, 2010

Giving Thanks with Friends

I hope you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving. We had a really nice week! Travis took the week off and the schools were out all week so we had a lot of togetherness as a family. Morgan started her job on Monday and really likes it. She has finished up working at the mall and has a "store opening" meeting at the new location on Tuesday!! I got to spend a day in St. Augustine with Lani for her birthday.

We celebrated Thanksgiving with the Collard's. We went over for dinner at 3:30 and ate our fill. We took carrot souffle, mashed potatoes, rolls, and some bubbly. Dinner was delicious as always. The conversation was even better. We tried something new this year. We ate, then took a nap break and reconvened later in the evening for pie! During the nap break, we added a couple girls to our gaggle. The Steinhour family moved away last year, taking their daughters with them. How rude!! Ashlyn and Maddie were happy to get back together.
Ciera and Rozzie had been plotting this reunion for a couple months. They were able to spend just a little time together, but it was well worth the effort. The girls spent the night, too. It was so fun to see them.
We took them all over to the Collard's and here are the other girls in attendance - Morgan, McCall, and Hannah - the other Smiths joined us for pie.
Hannah has noticed how often she appears on my blog. I guess it is because we like her a lot.

Here is a picture of the pies. Someone always asks what pies we had so here they are (clockwise from the top): chocolate (2 pieces left), pineapple upside-down cake, banana cream, strawberry/rhubarb, pecan, peach, pumpkin, and another pumpkin behind the flowers. YUM!
The girls retired to the back room for a lot of laughing and some creepy TV.
I sure miss my family on these occasions. However, I am grateful for such good friends to gather with and feel like we belong with them, too.
Friday brought new activities. Fleming Island is in the state playoffs and we had a big game. We won it, so that leaves the boys at 12-0 for the season!! Before the game, all the Golden Girls came over for pizza and poster making for an upcoming fundraiser that I am running: Candy Gram sales!!
This is what the whole house looked like for a couple of hours.

I went over and sold tickets at the game and it was full. We were so surprised to have that many people there on a holiday game. Many of the fans - maybe even more than half - were from the opposing school. It was a tight game and we came out on top.

So now the fun is over (for three weeks). These weeks leading up to Christmas break are exceedingly busy with concerts, games, celebrations, parties, and galas galore. I hope you all have a great December.

One last note, in case you didn't hear, Morgan found the email dated Nov 17 from BYU-Idaho stating that she was accepted. Back-up plan is in place!! We are happy. So is she.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Morgan Smith, State Champion

I will apologize right now for the over abundance of pictures and general gushing by me. But yesterday was a most amazing day. I had just spent the past couple of days crying each time I thought of watching Morgan march for the last time. Marching band has been the best thing for Morgan. She had a place in school where she fit and excelled and felt productive. We have loved being band parents and helping out - making funnel cakes - and all. It all ended yesterday as the band went to the state competition. They had a successful season, scoring higher than they had ever scored. They were confident they had a chance at making finals. We were very excited for the big day. We had a great football game the night before. It is state playoffs and we won - my student made a fantastical catch behind his head. We are now 11-0!! After all that, we had to be on the band bus at 4:30 am. I do not look forward to these days, they are so long and arduous. But we have a good time.

So let's begin the day! We got to Tampa and had our preliminary show at a high school. We had to get the kids fed. Trav and I brought 15 lbs of bananas. there were peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, donuts, and bananas. Morgan got her new band sweatshirt just in time for state. They are pretty schnazzy. here she is with her friend AJ waiting for food.

Next, the kids warmed up and stretched. The band teacher ran them through some drills and got them awake.
Before we knew it, it was time to take the field. Morgan is the middle tuba here:

We got into the stands to watch and cheered for our band and got shushed. We have never been to a band competition where we were told to be quiet. We are always encouraged to be supportive and cheer them on. This lady gave us this look anytime we clapped or said "Woo hoo" so I took a picture of her glaring at us.
And here they are as they finished their preliminary performance. They did a great job. We were really happy with how they did.
After the performance, the band goes for a picture. They look so sharp!! They are Eagle Band One.
After the big picture came the group pictures. Low brass:
Very low brass - sousaphones. This is a great group. Morgan has loved marching this thing around with these people.
Morgan and Tricia have been in band together for 5 years and marched tuba for 3.
This picture makes me really happy. It's thoughtful. I wish there wasn't a dumpster in the background. I get such happy feelings looking at this.
Next, the seniors had to go out on the field for what is called "retreat." All the bands line up and we find out scores and places and all. Morgan is the one without the helmet (sousaphone players don't wear helmets, hats, etc.). They were very excited. They were hoping to make finals - hoping hoping hoping!!
Yay!! Eagle Band One made finals. They came in 5th, only 1.88 points behind first. But Gainesville and Stoneman Douglas are always the winners of 3A. We were so excited to be that close to them. We were going to finals!! We had to eat fast, get on the buses, and get our hineys over to Tropicana Dome because we were on 1st!!
All the 4 year seniors get a medal, and Morgan has been waiting for this since her freshman year. She shows it proudly with her very proud dad! We were going to finals for the first time since freshman year - this was a big deal.
We got to the dome and warmed up. Then, time to perform. Instead of taking pictures, I watched and cried. All of us moms with seniors were in tears. This is the last performance of our children in high school marching band. Again, this is the end of the performance. I have loved this. I'm so proud of Morgan and this whole band. They performed so well in finals. Sometimes you can see how tired they are and they had been going for a long time and already marched once. But they were on fire. They blew it out of the water and their energy only increased. The color guard was spot on. It was beautiful.
Morgan is the short tuba - 3rd from the left on her last moment of the show. The band instructors both felt that this was their best performance of the year.
The kids were excited with how they did. This was it!! Look how I sparkle, too.
Then we spent the rest of the day and night watching 24 other bands. It is fun, but it gets pretty long. The 5A bands are the amazing, big bands. These bands have upwards of 57 girls in the color guard!!! Travis and I really enjoyed the day together. Soon it was time for the bands to line up for the final retreat. They got to 3A and said "5th place" and I expected them to say "Fleming Island" and they didn't! Wow, we got 4th place, how great!! Then they didn't say FI for 4th. 3rd place was more than we could have hoped for, but we weren't 3rd. That was Stoneman Douglas - we beat them? Well, 2nd is a great finish. We pretty much knew we were not going to beat Gainesville. Then they said, "In 2nd place....Gainesville!" I was watching Morgan get more and more excited. When they said "Gainesville," Morgan dropped to the floor. The band went nuts. They had just won State.
The amazing thing is that, as the 3A champs, there are still the bigger bands ahead of us - 10 of them. It turns out, our score was high enough to beat all of 4A and one band in 5A. Out of the 88 bands that competed at state, we came in 5th. What a great day. What a way to end Morgan's marching band experience. We keep saying, "I can't believe it." It was so much more than we were expecting. We were back on the bus at 1:40 am and asleep by 2:30 am. Home at 4:40. What a day.
Changing subjects, here is Rozzie dancing at Friday's football game. This is the fun hair picture.
In other great news, Morgan has a job! She was hired on Friday and starts tomorrow (Monday). The establishment is called "5 Guys Burgers and Fries" and is opening a restaurant on the Island. They have one at the mall and it does very well. Here is a general picture of a really big restaurant. Ours won't be two story, but they are all red and white. People are really happy the place is opening up. A friend from church knows the manager and so that helped a little. Morg was so excited when they called her to set an interview. She went on Friday before the game and was hired right then and there and she starts right away. There is no school all week, so she'll be working. The Fleming Island location opens up on December 1st and she'll be all trained in and ready to go. The timing of this job was perfect. We know she was blessed at this specific moment that when band was done and her schedule cleared up, a job came along. We are truly blessed!
The food looks pretty good, too!!
So that was a pretty long post, but it was good to get it all out for you. I hope you don't mind sharing in the photo journey of the day. Quite a good week... I hope my tears are done for now.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Strong and Courageous

I was released from Young Women's a year ago. I directed the YW program and then I was DONE. Well, with 3 daughters in the program, when the YW president asked if I'd take the reins and direct this one, I had to say yes. I really didn't have the time. No one taught my Sunday School class for me. But I knew it would benefit me and I always like doing it, in the end. So, about 2 months ago, we started to practice here and there and it was in a little bit of a mess. Slowly but surely, it turned around and we had another stellar performance on Sunday. The girls sang powerfully - which they had never done in practice. I was so proud of them. The Laurels decided that everyone would wear black skirts, white tops and red accents because red is a strong color. Lots of red necklaces and flowers in hair.
This program was especially meaningful in that it was Morgan's last YW program and Maddie's first. So all of us were involved. It was a proud moment for Travis and I.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Thirteen for one, a race for another

This past week, Maddie had her 13th birthday. It was greatly anticipated and then spent at school, dance, violin, and church. I believe she enjoyed it anyway. I made cupcakes to take to church for the girls and they were pleased. They are practicing for the Sacrament Meeting program this Sunday. I am not in YW anymore; however, they asked me to direct the program so I have been heavily involved recently.

Our schools had Veteran's Day off (Thursday) so Maddie was able to enjoy herself then. She had two friends over for a taco lunch and laughing.

In other news this week, Morgan ran her first 5k race. She has been training at band practice and then with a lady in the ward, Tara. Tara comes over each Tuesday and gives Morgan "the business." She has been so great for Morgan. Here are the ward members at the race: Amy, Travis, Morgan, and Tara. Amy ran the 10K.

And here is Morgan and Trav crossing the finish line. During the race, Morgan reported that she wanted to push her dad into the middle of the road in response to his kind encouragement. Now she is planning to do two more races in December!!

Now we are off to Sushiya for a family dinner for Maddie's successfully turning 13. They serve stuff other than sushi! Now all our kids are teenagers!!