I'm overwhelmed by all that I have to share this week. I've obviously returned from my little adventure away from my family. It was just like everything else in my life these days; bittersweet. I had a very rich experience while I was away. Vancouver was nothing like I expected it to be. It turned out to be much, much bigger than I thought and very hip.
But lets start at the beginning. I left here very early on Wednesday morning and arrived in Seattle. I picked up my rental car and drove immediately downtown where I was greeted by my dear childhood friend, Sarah. (I send you to her blog for recipes and inspiration a lot.) I was lucky enough to intercept her as she was leaving her sister's house, and we spent a very relaxing morning together walking through Pike Place Market and eating smoked salmon scrambled eggs while looking at the harbor. I can't believe I didn't bring my camera!! I have to say that seeing Sarah was exactly the thing I needed. I hated taking her to the airport and parting ways with her, but I was very thankful that we were able to have had this chance meeting. (Spurred because I noticed on her sister's blog that Sarah would be leaving the same day I was arriving.) Serendipity at it's best!!
After I left Sarah I headed north to meet up with my students in Vancouver. I enjoyed the experience of driving along I-5 immensely. Seeing the Skagit Valley just before the Tulip festival brought a big burst of childhood memories. I loved going to the festival as a child, and believe it spurred my current love of flowers and gardens. If only I could be there about a month from now!
Once in Vancouver I was in for a big city surprise!! After spending an hour and a half COMPLETELY lost I finally found my way to the Hyatt and we checked in to our very posh digs. I was surprised at the opportunity to stay in such a nice hotel for a school conference. The hotel was right downtown and our room offered a view of the harbor and the gorgeous B.C. mountains. We were surrounded by stores like Tiffany's, Coach, and the like. I didn't spend any time shopping at these places, but I did find a really cool Asian market where I was able to purchase some really fun Japanese treats. I would have loved to have had time to find some Japanese print fabrics, but it just didn't happen. So I brought home some fun things for me and the girls to enjoy. I really love the mushrooms a lot. They make me think of Mario Brothers video games.
Japanese cartoon stationary, stickers and trash can from the T&T Asian Market and another Asian market I found outside of China Town.
So as you know I was in Vancouver for an American Choral Directors Conference. I took four children (and three sets of parents went as well) who earned the honor of participating in three different regional honor choirs. These choirs consisting of children from all over the northwest met for three days and rehearsed with world renowned conductors. They then performed for their parents (if attending) and all the choir directors on the final day of the conference.
I thought I was going to attend the conference sessions and chaperone primarily at night (students stayed at the Hyatt as required, but their parents stayed elsewhere to save money and still be able to watch their children perform) , but I found out that by signing up as the sole chaperone for the child performing in the children's choir, I was obligated to attend her rehearsals and take her to breakfast, lunch, and dinner. So I was really bummed that I was not going to be able to do what I had planned on doing when I signed up. I made the best of it, though, and attended two sessions (while the parents of one other student took charge of all the girls). The two sessions I attended turned out to be really wonderful.
After the sessions I was able to talk to my Junior High choir director (Constance Branton...retiring at the end of this year), my high school choir director (Ted Totorica...no longer at Borah), and my college choir director (Jim Jirak). All three of these people had a tremendous impact on my life, and it was very fun to see them. I learned from Ms. Branton that I am the 12th student of hers to become a teacher.
The choir performances on the final day were very inspirational. I felt really lucky to be able to sit in the audience and know that I had helped these students earn what might some day be regarded as a life changing opportunity.
Some other highlights from my trip included eating as much sushi as I could get my hands on, visiting Gastown (the historic district), and Granville Island.
Late night sushi run...crab, avocado, and shrimp. Real crab I might add. Oh. Yum.
Flowers from the Public Market on Granville Island. There were so many I wanted to take home with me!!!
I also met a woman named Shirley who helped me see that if I choose not to teach in a school while my children are young, music will still be there when I'm ready to come back. I know that blogs are supposed to be all about happy stuff. But I've been going through a lot of unhappy stuff recently, and some of the conflict I have been dealing with came to a head for me on this trip. It was a time of reflection and realization. To be honest I feel a lot like I am grieving right now. I know that one chapter in my life is coming to a close. I know that without conflict there cannot be growth. I also know that I will look back on this very difficult year and see that it was necessary in some way. I know that now is the time for me to make the most of what I have left of this year as a teacher. I have young people counting on me to give them something to remember, and I'll do the best I can to make that happen. It ain't over till it's over!!
Saturday afternoon brought about an unfortunate event when one of my families had their van robbed. They had just left the performance venue and were on their way to Seattle when they stopped for some dinner and someone broke into their van and stole all of their valuable belongings. Birth certificates, wallet, video camera (with concert footage), camera, GPS, Ipod, laptop computer, etc. It was really upsetting for all of us. I just can't understand why things like this have to happen. It seems so unfair. Hopefully they will be able to get everything sorted out and replaced (except the video and photos of their trip. SAD.)
After I helped them deal with that I headed for Bellingham to stay with my cousin Lauriel and her husband Andrew. They are both students at Western Washington University studying to become teachers. I tried not to talk them out of it, but I'm sure my tales of this year traumatized them at least a little. Sorry guys!! You'll have better luck I'm sure. They were so gracious and hospitable. It was really nice to be with family and get to know them so much better. I am the oldest of 38 grandchildren and sometimes I feel like I don't know much about my cousins. I hope to spend more time with Lauriel and Andrew in the future...let's do some camping, guys!
And finally the best part of my trip. Coming home!!! I missed my two little girls and my AMAZING husband soooo much I could hardly keep from bursting into tears at the thought of getting back to them. They were wonderful and so excited to see me at the airport. I got major hugs from Hadley and wide, open mouth kisses from Amelia. Daddy was a rock star. The girls were happy, the house was clean, laundry done, dishes done, etc. etc. Did I mention he's AMAZING. They don't even need me. But Oh how I need them. So much. I love being home in my safe little house with my sweet family. I'm not leaving them again for a long, long time. (I also need to thank my Dad for coming over on Saturday and watching the girls for us. Phil and Hadley said he did a fantastic job. Hadley is still talking about the school carnival he took them to. Thanks Dad!!)
Wow! I'm so sorry. If you just read all of that you must really love me. Or be you must be really bored. I'll try not to have so much to say next time. On with the projects!!! I've got a million waiting.