Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Service Guild Gala

Last Saturday night, Steve and I had the opportunity to get all dressed up for the Service Guild Gala.  It had been several years since we attended a black tie event, so we welcomed the chance to attend. The service guild is a 50 year old volunteer organization that supplies countless hours and help to the Bell Center of Homewood.

The Bell Center has provided quality early intervention services to infants and toddlers for over 30 years.  Children at risk for developmental delay receive services from teams which include a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, a speech-language pathologist and an early childhood special education teacher as each child works on specific individual developmental goals.

Children come from throughout central Alabama with a wide variety of special needs and diagnoses ranging from cerebral palsy and Down syndrome to autism and rare genetic disorders.  However, children are not required to have a diagnosis or qualifying delay to attend The Bell Center.  As a result, The Bell Center also serves many children who were born prematurely or who do not have a specific diagnosis.  The volunteers of the service guild work alongside of the therapists to work with the young children.

Photo Booth with Julie, Tabby and Alisha
The Gala had a silent and live auction, as well as distributed donation cards around.  I don't know how much they raised that night, but it had to be a lot.  Between the two auctions, we ate dinner, and following all of that, we danced.  It was a fun night, and great to be with so many of our friends supporting a local organization.  We are already looking forward to next year's gala!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

2nd Grade Musical

Thursday night we had the pleasure of attending another entertaining musical at Shades Cahaba.  "Character Street" was a darling little performance about using courage, good judgment, respect, self discipline, integrity, responsibility and kindness when going through your daily activities.  It had a great message, and the children were genuinely having fun on stage. 

For once, we lucked out and had good seats, on the right side of the stage AND Bennett was in the first row!  Bennett did great, could see all of us, and smiled the entire time.  She had a small line, and did awesome!

Following her performance, we took her out with a classmate, Grady McClain, and his parents for a nice dinner.  We had a great night, and the kids had fun together and staying up late.

Pres loved seeing the musical twice!
B and Grady

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Big Sky Bound!

Last week we departed for our inaugural trip to Montana with the big kids.  Steve and I have wanted to take the kids skiing for awhile, but the timing has never worked out until now.  So we left little man behind with Steve's parents, and flew out last Tuesday.  Sadly, the weather didn't cooperate with us, and we missed our connection in Salt Lake City, causing a 7.5 hour layover!  It was brutal, but we all survived and finally arrived in Big Sky just after midnight.

The kids were supposed to be in ski school at 9am, but we were slow moving, didn't have any food nor did we have our skis.  So though our day didn't start off right, this was our view off our deck so we never got upset. 

imagine as a panoramic photo....
Cocky boy after day1
Instead we headed into town for groceries and lunch, and then went home to change into ski gear.  After we got our skis, we checked the kids into ski school for the afternoon.  They were in a group lesson as "turtles," but it was just the two of them with their instructor.  By the end of the day they each had their own instructor and were cruising down one of the green slopes.  It was truly amazing to see how quickly they picked it up. 

Of course, as soon as we finished on the slopes, we headed right home to hop in the hot tub!  By the end of the week, the kids knew how to take the top off and start the jets without us.  They sipped on lemonade, while we relaxed with a bottle of wine every afternoon while we rehashed the day.

Lunch on Day 2, all smiles!
We had prepaid for four days of half-day lessons, but both kids begged for full day lessons on day 2 and 3. With more one on one instruction, the kids quickly advanced through three other animals and ended up as a "Moose." Both children wanted to be a "Porcupine" by the end, so they could earn their poles, but both lacked a little something. However, they didn't let that get them down. 

Pres ended up being our little daredevil....hitting ramps, skiing down anything that he was taken to, and falling and getting right back up.  Bennett, on the other hand, was our conservative skier.  Though she fell some, she tried her hardest to not fall.  She needed more encouragement initially, but she proved to be a good little skier that had much better form and control going down the hills.

After skiing all day, Day 2

On the last day, Steve and I met them after their morning lesson for lunch, then took them out to some new slopes.  We were so impressed with their ability.  There is NO DOUBT that their private group lessons paid off tremendously!  They were comfortably skiing any green, and we took them down some tougher blues without any problems.  Preston wasn't afraid of the trees, and actually did a small portion of a black run, but Bennett wanted no part of that.

The ski school did a great job matching the kids up with compatible instructors.  Pres had a 20 year old who grew up on the mountain and whose father was a ski instructor.  He was a terrific skier, and really pushed Preston.  In fact, Pres tried to do a 360 off some ramp because he saw his instructor do it (he didn't succeed....only making it halfway around before falling, but he tried).  Bennett had a sweet young girl who recently moved to Big Sky, but had been skiing for most of her life too.  She was very positive with Bennett, and didn't push her too much.  In the end, the different strategies worked great for our kids.
family shot after tubing in Big Sky, Day 3

What a view!  B skiing with us on Day 4

selfie in the hot tub!

So, will we return...yes!  Big Sky was a huge mountain, with no lift lines, nice staff, an awesome ski school and beautiful scenery.  My only complaint is that they didn't have enough of what I prefer to ski, which is an intermediate plus run (double blues).  In fact, over half of the mountain is made up of blacks and double blacks....perfect for the wonderful skiers and snowboarders.  I am accustomed to going down blacks that don't have moguls all over them, ones that are maybe just steep and tight, but they didn't have those.  If it was black, it had moguls on it.  Steve ended up taking a half day lesson on Day 3,and I skied by myself....easily tackling over 20 runs that day.  For our next trip, we both discussed taking a lesson on how to properly conquer moguls...especially if we return to Big Sky.  We both are itching to do them, but I feel like my knees can't handle it, and Steve didn't feel he was "good enough" yet.

Our goal is take a family ski trip annually, with Walker joining us when he is four years old.  I imagine we will try some other mountains, but I highly recommend Big Sky for anyone with kids that would be in ski school, and people that like long runs and no lift lines.

until next time...