We are now on the Other Side of Oireachtas -- it's over, we've survived, and are ready to move forward.
During Oireachtas I had fun, I had a terrible time, I was frazzled, I was exhausted, I laughed hard, I nearly cried, I felt like walloping someone upside the head -- all the usual stuff. I think it was the same for everyone else, too. The volunteers who ran things were wonderful, people attending were generally nice, some people were not making the best decisions, some people needed to be walloped upside the head -- the usual crowd.
We left for the long weekend on Wednesday morning, arriving at Grandma and Grandpa's in the late afternoon. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving -- the food was great, the mood was relaxing. We flipped on the television and stumbled across a Bob Newhart marathon on Thursday night; and introduced Thalia and AnnaBeth to the wonders of Larry, his brother Daryl, and his other brother Daryl. Wow, I haven't seen that show for years and years -- funny stuff.
Also, Thalia finished the bunnies for her team:
Each is holding a shamrock for good luck. She tied a gold cord around each neck to attach a card. I think they turned out pretty cute, and that she is thoroughly sick of sewing bunnies. Pattern from My Little Mochi.
Friday morning we repacked the car and took off for Columbus. It was a sunny day and a relatively quick trip. We passed a couple of other vans from our dance school on the way -- I wish we had painted some "Go Team!" signs on our car windows. We arrived in plenty of time, checked into our hotel, a Holiday Inn about a mile from the Oireachtas (this place was fairly plain, but great -- they provided a free shuttle to the Oireachtas, the room was HUGE, the parking was inexpensive and the whole thing was FREE with our Holiday Inn points -- we will stay there again if we attend anything in downtown Columbus, since it was a super, super experience). Teams met for practice and we dispersed to get something to eat. Thalia's team all went out to a restaurant together, but we bowed out of that since we had 2 kids, one of whom is pretty young, to get ready for the next day (shoes polished, legs tanned with tanner, everything laid out for the next day).
And Saturday started EARLY -- we arrived at the practice room at 6 a.m. to start putting on Thalia's wig. One other team mate was there, and others trickled in gradually, some looking very, very tired (I'm thinking we made the right call in skipping the restaurant). Makeup was applied via assembly line, leg makeup was applied and checked, socks glued into place at the correct height, all shoes tied the same way -- this all took nearly 2 hours. Their competition started at 8 a.m. I missed seeing them, since by that time I needed to help AnnaBeth ready for her competition ... wig put on, makeup, leg makeup, socks glued to legs (all at the same height on all 8 girls). We realized that AnnaBeth's wig looked drastically different than everyone else's, our team captain grabbed an extra one from someone on another team and we accomplished a presto-change-o (funny moment as we're struggling to get the original wig off of her quickly in spite of the hundreds of bobby pins I'd put in it -- the other mom calmly saying, "Gee, you did a really good job of pinning this to her head, Gail," and I started laughing about the positive spin she was putting on the situation). Final run-through of the dance, then walked them over to their competition stage. Let me pause here to comment that the practice room was in the Hyatt, and the Oireachtas stages were up the stairs, across the concourse, down the escalator and in the Convention Center -- I walked miles and miles on that pathway going back and forth on Saturday. I had a chance to watch AnnaBeth's team compete, then ran off to find Thalia to get her ready for her Traditional Set competition (an individual dance). I watched Thalia, then tried to find AnnaBeth, who had disappeared. I eventually found her with one of the moms.
Reunited, our family all went to lunch, then I took AnnaBeth to her solos practice. During the practice Rick went back to the Holiday Inn for a break, and Thalia and I checked results -- she had RECALLED! That means that she scored in the upper 50% of the 75 dancers in that competition. AnnaBeth's team had also Recalled! Exciting stuff!
The awards ceremony started around 3p.m.. Each competition was called, and everyone who Recalled received a medal. AnnaBeth's team ended up being in fifth place! Woohoo!
(Thalia's competition recall.)
Pictures were taken, and we dispersed for the evening.
We decided to get far from the Oireachtas crowd, since we really, really needed a break at this point. We headed to a Ruby Tuesdays south of town. We were seated, and Rick and I decided to take turns going to the salad bar. I went first, and as I was walking towards it saw a familiar face -- my aunt! I hadn't seen her since ... well, since the last time someone died and we all went to the funeral. She and her friend live in Dayton, and were on their way home after visiting Akron. They had just happened to stop in the exact same restaurant and happened to sit in the same section ... if she and her friend had switched seats I probably wouldn't have recognized them, given that I was so tired at this point Obama could've been in the restaurant and I wouldn't have noticed that he looked familiar. Truly one of the coolest things that happened all weekend.
Back in the hotel, shoes polished for the next morning, we tumbled into bed. The directions we had been given for the next day: be in the practice room by 7 a.m. with wig on and makeup on for AnnaBeth's solo competitions starting at 8 a.m. So, up early again the next morning (by the way, Columbus is in a different time zone than we are -- it's Eastern and we're Central -- so all of this felt even earlier to us). Wig on, amid protests that "Mrs. Nolan does a better job -- she doesn't hurt my head so much." Would you like me to call Mrs. Nolan at 6 a.m. and ask if she could come over here? Arrived at practice room, ran through dances, told another mom that I'm so exhausted that I feel like I'm in a cult indoctrination. She replied that resistance is futile, and that I will be assimilated -- soon I will be willing to shell out hundreds of dollars on solo dresses and wigs for my children without question -- the Oireachtas experience is the tipping point. Snicker snicker snort. (Okay, probably not funny to a lot of people, but I thought it was hilarious.)
Up the stairs, across the concourse, down the escalator, find stage D, put on the solo dress we're borrowing (very, very cute, and she'll outgrow it by Christmas so we're borrowing instead of buying), and AnnaBeth is up on stage for Treble Jig, danced 3 at a time to get through the 90 dancers competing. Then trek over to stage B and dance the reel. Finish reel, back to practice room, take off dress, change into quasi-normal clothes (but retain wig in case of recall), go get something to eat since we had skipped breakfast. After lunch wait around for results. AnnaBeth didn't recall (if you recall in solos you dance another dance to decide your final placement in regards to first place, second place, etc.). Others are bursting into tears, AnnaBeth simply said, "good, then I can take off this stupid wig,"
and went to change clothes. We pack up and zoom out -- Rick and Thalia had the car loaded and ready to go, just waiting to see how long we needed to stay based on how AnnaBeth did in her competition.
Heading back to St. Louis, the kids quickly conked out in back seat of the car. We passed a van with "Go Trinity" painted on the windows, and I thought about the downside of painting those things on -- it looks sort of forlorn, then, as you leave, especially if your team doesn't win (although Trinity always wins, so those people are safe). We put Christmas CDs in the player, and I thought about how appropriate this feels to be crammed into a packed car on a long trip listening to Christmas CDs -- for years this is how we've spent Thanksgiving, but we haven't had to travel over the holiday since we moved to St. Louis. Listening to that Amy Grant CD in our family room just isn't the same as being squeezed into a car for 7 hours while knitting. Now it really does feel like Christmas!