August 20, 2012

Les Miserables, Part Five: The Pièce de Résistance

My favorite part about going to see Les Miserables was not the costumes or the sets or the songs or the actors or the story or anything else (although all that came in a very close second!).

The absolute best part, for me, about seeing Les Miz was...

Meeting the actors!!!!!

No joke! I actually got to meet most of the main actors and get their autographs!!!

Let me tell you how I got to do this insanely wonderful thing. (Before I do, please know that I count myself extremely blessed!!! And that I'm not trying to rub it in, I'm just very excited that I got to do this and want to share with you guys!) My friend who also goes to The Fox to see musicals always comes back with autographed stuff be it a bag or a mug or a t-shirt. Always. She even came back from a Celtic Woman concert with all of their autographs on a t-shirt! Anyway, about a month before the day we were supposed to go, I emailed her, basically asking how on earth she always got autographs and if I could. She emailed me back a few days later, telling me that it wasn't a VIP thing but that anyone who wanted to could. (I'm like, "This is joyous news!! Tell me more!!") She gave me detailed instructions on where to go to get the actors' autographs and I thanked her. A lot. : )

So I ended up getting most everybody's autographs. : )

But guess what else?! (If you haven't already fainted, you will now.)

My grandma was standing by with a camera!! (Someone get smelling salts!)

So. If anyone is still conscious, I bring you...


: )

Arwen and I, insanely excited while waiting behind the "Barricade," as a staff member called it. (I giggled when I heard it. HA!) We were some of the first to get there, so we were some of the first to get autographs!! (On our side at least. There was another line on the other side of the back door and sometimes the actors went down there and I got nervous, thinking they would forget about the people on our side!! They didn't, though... for which I am eternally grateful.) : )

Me and Chasten Harmon, who played Eponine.

Jason Forbach, who played Enjolras, and you can barely see Joseph Spieldenner in front of me, who played Grantaire.

Laura Wiley (Cosette) signing my program. She went down the line on the other side of the door and after she was done talking to everyone down there, all of the actors had gone by and she was one of the last to walk down the street. We ended up walking beside her and got to talk to her for a while! She's really nice and very soft spoken, which you wouldn't think after seeing her as Cosette.

The cute and insanely talented Joshua Colley, who played Gavroche. He still had makeup on his face, but I could tell that he didn't care!

Arwen and me with Max Quinlan, who played Marius. AHH! He was so nice and talked to us for a few minutes, too! (And I liked his curls.) : )

Then, we waited for Andrew Varela to come out. As you may recall from the multiple times I've told you, he played our Phantom back in '09 and I couldn't wait to tell him what a great job he'd done with both roles! I spotted him and did a little bounce, then watched as he went down the line on the other side of the door. We got to talk to other people, so it passed the time a little, but I couldn't wait to meet him.

Then, he finally came to our side of the line. : )

Telling him that he'd played our Phantom!! (I look weird in this picture, but I love the look on his face!)

Arwen and me with Andrew Varela, who played Javert!!!

And this is the only picture I have of us with Peter Lockyer. (This is the way he looked in the first few songs, by the way. Afterwards was a wig... and I still can't believe it! He looks so different in this picture, doesn't he?) We actually talked to him for a while, asking him how he liked Atlanta. He said it was great, but he was still looking for the place with the perfect biscuit. We laughed and my grandma said, "My house. Or my mom's house." And he said, "Yeah, that's what people have told me!" (I forgot to ask him if he'd been to The Varsity, which doesn't have biscuits, but is still really good and a must-visit.)

So here's my program, now made complete because of the awesome autographs on it. (If you double-click, it'll open up bigger.) : )

And that's it! The great secret that I've kept for these (many, many) months while I've done this (insanely long) series of posts on Les Miz. I still can't believe I've kept it a secret for so long because it was literally the best part about going to see Les Miz.


Look Who's Back from North Carolina!

At church on Sunday, someone asked me, "So how was North Carolina?"
"Amazing!" was my immediate reply. (I think that's a little bit of an understatement.)

There's just something amazingly fun about being away from someone or a group of people (or even a state!) for over a year and then coming back to visit. That's the way it was like for me to go back to North Carolina after being gone for what seemed like forever and a day and I left almost in tears - both of joy that I was able to actually see all of my old friends again and that we were leaving yet again - and looking forward to the next time we'd be able to go!

Before that, however, let me share with you something extremely fun about the Saturday before - the thing I alluded to as "a very exciting event."

Guess where we went?! Well, you never will, so I'll tell you!

We got to go to another ball! Yes, another one! (Two in two weeks is insane but a whole lot of fun, by the way!) This one was put together by some friends of ours and it was so sudden that I didn't know about it until about a week before it actually took place! It was Regency-themed, so I got to don my Regency dress for the second time and the first for a ball! (And I actually made this dress all by me onesies, with no help from a certain older sister!!)

I've posted a few pictures below. I/my younger brother took less than at The Historical Ball because there were a lot less people there and we were too busy learning different Regency dances! (Patting myself on the back, though, because this is the soonest I've posted pictures from a ball! It'll probably be an unbroken record, heehee....)

This is literally the number of people that were there first. One guy and about ten or twelve girls. Just a small assembly, but I didn't care!

So much fun! We actually learned the Netherfield Ball dance from P&P95, too! I was so excited! (Sad thing is, it'll take some serious brain-wracking to remember all of the steps....)

My adorable little brother and a friend. : )

About forty-five minutes after it started, this was our number of people. I think the size actually doubled - and, as you can see, there were a few more guys. : )

We literally laughed our way through most of the dances, which is the best part about learning Regency dances - you have no idea what you're doing but it's still a ton of fun!

Cutie-pie little brother, running in between us during a dance! Look at that smile! I think he's having fun - don't you? : )

Me and two friends at the end - tired but happy!

(And that's all I'll post. I shall restrain myself. : D)

The next day was Sunday, so Arwen and I had to leave right after church to go to my grandparents' house. It was about an hour and a half of a ride - and on the highway for most of it!!! - and we spent it listening to a Jimmy Needham album that I recently discovered called 'Speak.' (Really good, by the way! Check it out on YouTube - it might be on there somewhere....)

We had a really fun time with our grandma - watching the closing ceremonies of the Olympics (which was weird but entertaining...), sleeping in until ten (on a school day, too!), getting manicures and pedicures (I smile every time I see my lime green toes... love them to death!), eating at Panara Bread (I got a salad - the only gluten-free thing on the menu, sadly...), and browsing Barnes and Noble for nearly two hours (one of my favorite pastimes...). Thank you, Grandma!!!

We spent Tuesday doing random things at the house. The usual violin and piano lessons, last-minute packing, and I spent the entire morning doing a half a module of Chemistry. How much fun is that?! : P

Is it just us, or does every family have trouble getting out the door for a vacation?! It seems like every single time, we leave an hour later than when we'd wanted to! Well, for this one, I had a doctor's appointment (those vampires needed more blood... again...), so we actually got out of the door at a reasonable time!!

After the short detour, we headed on down the road. About an hour after we left the doctor's office, Mom asked if I'd brought my camera. Argh. Hate it when I forget my camera!!! (Thus the reason why the following pictures are blurry - I took them on my phone.) The ride was pretty uneventful and we got to our friends' house in record time. We all jumped into their pool and had a blast with some other friends that just happened to be there!

That night, before we went to the friends' house where we were staying, I talked with a friend about Anne of Green Gables, showing her the pictures I'd put on my phone and laughing about our favorite scenes. "Wouldn't it be great," she said, "if we could get together and watch it tomorrow?!" "Yeah!" I replied. And we were already going to be staying at another one of my girlfriend's house, so why not watch it there? We sort of joked about it, but the next day, after a rousing game of Pit with Arwen, my friend and some of her brothers, we ended up driving to the first friend's house in a 15-passenger van with all of my siblings except my little brother and most of my girlfriend's siblings!! We stopped for some provisions (aka candy, heehee...) and started the sequel to AoGG about fifteen minutes after we got there. (We had quite a few options, actually - the first AoGG, the sequel, Emma '09, P&P05, and a few others that we tossed around.) We ended up deciding on the sequel to AoGG and had a blast! Our brothers played Wii together away from the girly-movie room, which was a change from what normally happens at my house (although my brothers don't mind watching period dramas).

I haven't watched a period drama with friends in a long time and it was so much fun! Especially with such an emotional movie as the sequel to AoGG!! None of us cried (although I teared up when Gilbert said, "Please say yes..." like I always do...), but we laughed a lot and made comments about Anne's hair and Gilbert's hair and the sad scenes and Anne's imaginary ideal. (It was a very deep conversation.)

Our feast. YUM!!! (I didn't eat that entire bowl of Skittles, M&Ms, and Minty M&Ms by myself, by the way. My friend sitting beside me helped.) : )

We ended up staying at that friends' house for dinner - which was an absolute blast! - and then playing a game of Terrorists and Normal People (I guess we should have said Civilians...) at the house where we were staying. (Terrorists and Normal people isn't a shooting or kamikaze pilot game, by the way - it's more like Follow the Judge to Court, Tag, and Hide-and-Seek, all rolled into one.)

The next day, Friday, we went to our old art teacher's house. This was the actual reason for the visit - to get a loom from her so that my younger sister could pick up weaving again. We did a weird sort of trade-off where my sisters were at her house re-learning a few things and I rode with Mom to drop off my brothers at my younger brother's friend's house and to get a birthday gift for a friend. Sound complicated? It was. Not only was I so rushed that I accidentally got a very short skirt for the birthday girl, but I also saw an old friend that I literally haven't seen in about five or six years. Good with the bad. : )

Getting the loom into the car, by the way, was a nightmare! We didn't really think about asking how big the loom was and measuring our trunk, so we ended up - after about an hour of re-organizing our suitcases and random stuff we'd brought and accumulated over the past few days, then re-re-organizing it - taking the back row out of our car and putting the seats and our luggage on top of the loom. The ride back was another nightmare, but I'll get to that later.

Then, to top it all off, it started raining right as were were heading to the birthday girl's house, also the home where we were going to spend the night. We were about an hour late to the party, so my mom just dropped me and my sisters and drove away without talking to anyone to get my brothers. It was a pool party - 'was' is a key word there! - and the party-goers ended up spending most of it in the garage playing Apples to Apples and eating hamburgers. I spent it inside helping put out food and talking with Arwen and my friends while we ate, then looking at my brother's wound he'd gotten at his friend's house. (It's rare that he comes back without some sort of injury....)

Anyway, when the party started wrapping up, a bunch of my friends started showing up! We had a blast just talking and watching a Panthers game. (I also had a good conversation with two friends about The Hunger Games. Very enlightening!)

A few of the friends I got to see, plus my family! It was a blast seeing everybody again!

That night, Arwen and two friends and me stayed up until midnight reading comic strips on laptops and enjoying it immensely.

How I feel about my blog sometimes... : )

We hung around and talked for a while and left after one of my friends got back from work. (This was when my mom cried and I felt like it - these friends are like family to us! It was really sad to leave them....)

We dropped by a few other friends houses and I got to visit my friend Elinor, which was a lot packed into a very short visit.

Elinor, Arwen, and my toenails - all painted. : ) I saw that all of our toes were painted and was like, "Kodak Moment!" (I rarely get my toenails painted, so this was a rare occasion.)

On the ride home, three of us were squished in the middle row beside my little brother's carseat. It was really cramped, so we switched off a few times when we stopped to get gas, then at Starbucks, then to get drinks.

An invite to an Elvis-themed concert that was tacked on a board at the gas station. Sigh. Thuh speling theis days. What r peeple thinknig?!

We watched Emma 'o9 in the car ride while my sisters and I had our turn being squished in the middle row - most of it, at least - and had such a good time squealing over all of the good parts. (My love for Mr. Knightley has only grown fonder. Favorite Jane Austen hero and not ashamed to say it!!!)

We got back home at about 9:30, but stayed up until midnight unpacking. We went to church the next morning bright and early to practice music for worship and that's when a friend asked how North Carolina was. I hope you can tell why it was so amazing!

Love you, dear, dear North Carolina friends!!!


PS: Oh, yeah! I nearly forgot. The Historical Ball post was my hundreth post. : )

August 11, 2012

Goodbye, Y'all!

This isn't a goodbye forever - not even close. Just a little one to explain why I won't be posting for a while. I'm off to a very exciting event tonight, then to my grandparents' house on Sunday, then to North Carolina to visit some friends! I won't be back on the blog until Sunday night. (I might be able to post some things, but I don't know....)

While I'm gone, be sure to check out some pretty exciting things going on over at the blog I co-author, The Day-Dream!

And to make it up to you guys for not posting my next Les Miz post... another excerpt from my novel. : ) This is one of my favorite scenes and it starts out with Alec driving Nikki home after ice dancing practice at the rink. (Again, please know that this is a first draft and it's not perfect, blah, blah, blah.) Enjoy and comment! : D

"Hey, I just thought of a great idea!"
I turned towards Alec. "What is it?" I asked a little hesitantly, hoping his 'great idea' didn't have anything to do with inviting Allie over for Thanksgiving.
"I told Allie I'd be over at her house at seven tonight because I didn't know how long this would take us." I watched him glance at the clock, then grin. He looked at me and I raised my eyebrows, wondering what he was getting at. "That gives us three hours to do whatever you want."
"What are you talking about?" I asked, fully confused.
Alec chuckled. "Must I always explain everything to you?" He glanced at me, then looked back at the road and shook his head. "Since I can't watch a movie with you tonight, do you want to do something now? Before I go to Allie's?"
I cocked my head. "You mean, you'd really spend three hours with me instead of just go over to Allie's three hours earlier?"
"Hey... that's not a bad idea."
"Alec!" I slapped his arm, still a little confused.
"Ouch!" He rubbed his arm, focusing on the road. "Of course spend three hours with you and not go to Allie's early. Even though I'd love to go to her house early, I know I made a promise to you and I want to make up for breaking it."
I stared at him. "Are you for real?"
"As real as that Bruster's over there," he replied with a smile, putting on his blinker.
Ten minutes later, I was sitting at a picnic table and licking a huge waffle cone full of mint chocolate chip ice cream. I looked up at Alec, who was trying to demolish a triple-scoop of rocky road or some such chocolate overload.
"What's the big news?" I asked. Alec looked confused now and I continued. "In the movies, people usually do stuff like this for their siblings or children right before they announce that they're getting divorced or that they're a secret agent for the CIA. Which is it?"
Alec shrugged and licked his cone. "Exactly what I told you in the car."
"I don't believe you." I lowered my ice cream and looked Alec in the eye, squinting a little. "Are you going to propose to Allie?"
Alec snorted and coughed. "Stop it!" he yelled, laughing. "You're going to make me choke on my ice cream! Propose?" He shook his head. "How old do you think I am?"
"Just asking," I muttered behind my ice cream, ducking my head a little. "If this isn't just some joke or anything...." I stared at my ice cream gleefully. "Thou hast more than made up."
"I'm glad," he said with a mouth full of ice cream. He gulped and asked, "What do you want to do when we get home?"
I watched him pull his phone out of his pocket and look at it, then stuff it back into his pocket. I smiled, but he didn't notice.
"We have about two hours until Dad gets home, so I guess we can't do anything with him."
Alec stared at something in the distance, squinting a little at the sun in his eyes, and I smiled again. People said we looked like we could be twins, but I thought that he was more handsome than I could ever be if I was a guy. "You gave him all the good looks, Mom!" I remembered telling Mom more than a few times. "Sorry, Nikki. Guess I did. I must have wanted you to be the ugly one," she would sarcastically reply with a smile and a hug.
"Well?" Alec asked, making me snap out of my thoughts.
"Hmm? Oh." I licked my ice cream a few times. Alec started humming the Jeopardy song and I rolled my eyes, still thinking. "We could swim in the pool...?"
"The pool?" I watched Alec think for a minute. "Hmm... it is indoor. Heated." He looked back at me and shrugged. "Okay, sure."
I grinned and licked my ice cream. 'Better and better.'


August 6, 2012

To Be Educated

If I learn my ABCs, can read 600 words per minute, and can write with perfect penmanship, but have not been taught how to communicate with the Designer of all language...
I have not been educated.

If I can deliver an eloquent speech and persuade with my stunning logic, but have not been instructed in God's wisdom...

I have not been educated.

If I have read Shakespeare and John Locke and can discuss their writings with keen insight, but have not read the greatest of books—the Bible—and have no knowledge of its personal importance...
I have not been educated.

If I have memorized addition facts, multiplication tables, and chemical formulas, but have never been disciplined to hide God's Word in my heart...
I have not been educated.

If I can explain the law of gravity and Einstein's Theory of Relativity, but have never been instructed in the unchangeable laws of the One who orders our universe...
I have not been educated.

If I can classify animals by their family, genus and species, and can write a lengthy scientific paper that wins an award, but have not been introduced to the Maker's purpose for all creation...
I have not been educated.

If I can recite the Gettysburg Address and the Preamble to the Constitution, but have not learned about the hand of God in the history of our country...
I have not been educated.

If I can play the piano, the violin, six other instruments, and can write music that moves listeners to tears, but have not been taught to listen to the Director of the universe and worship Him...
I have not been educated.

If I can run cross-country races, star in basketball, and do 100 push-ups without stopping, but have never been shown how to bend my spirit to do God's will...
I have not been educated.

If I can identify a Picasso, describe the style of daVinci, and even paint a portrait that gains acclaim, but have not learned that all harmony and beauty comes from a relationship with God...
I have not been educated.

If I graduate with perfect grades and am accepted at the finest university with a full scholarship, but have not been guided into a career of God's choosing for me...
I have not been educated.

If I become a good citizen, voting at each election and fighting for what is moral and right, but have not been told of humanities sinfulness and hopelessness without Christ...

I have not been educated.

However, if one day I see the world as God sees it, and come to know Him, Whom to know is life eternal, and glorify God by fulfilling His purpose for me...
I have been educated!

- Carolyn Caines

Just a little something to keep in mind during your school year.... : ) Hope it helps you keep the right things in the forefront of your mind this year!


August 4, 2012

The Historical Ball!!

"Can it be? A post about the historical ball?" *everybody swoons*

Sorry I haven't posted any pictures yet. I've been insanely busy, but I won't waste your time by explaining all of my reasons and just get straight to...

The Historical Ball. : )

At twenty-five pictures, this post is really long and wins the prize for the post with the most pictures. Ever. I've had to sort through three hundred and thirty-four pictures from the ball - some that I took, but most of them were taken by my younger brother. (Thanks so much, by the way!!) These are the best, the least blurry (I'll just go ahead and say sorry about that...), and the most cropped.


For those of you I didn't send the email to, here's my dress! Ain't it purty?! Special thanks to Arwen, who did the eyelets and the trim and the belt and... well, anything that wasn't a straight seam and I knew I couldn't do. : )

My outfit and hair before the ball. (And it only took curlers through the night and most of the day of the ball, an insane amount of "product" in my hair, fifteen bobby pins, and a scrungie!!)

Adorable-est little brother.... (Hey, the invite said 1400's through the 50's. So he went as The Fonz. Why not?)

Sweetest younger brother (with my sword).

Arwen in her Celtic dress! Isn't it gorgeous?!

The first dance was the Grand March, basically just a dance where you walk around and get all out of breath. And the ice-breaker. : )

Arwen and I being yanked around during the Grand March. (Take notice of my hair, please. Arwen did an ah.mazing job with it!)

The two that organized the ball. (Aren't his boots awesome?! I'm like, "Can I take those home with me?!")

Arwen and someone else from the 50's. (Who is also my new violin student - wheeee!)

This is me basically the entire night. Just a blur. I danced nearly every dance - bowed out on the swing dancing (except the last one)... mainly because no one asked me, but mostly because I didn't think I could go as fast as the music! (I've been learning after church and I have the basic step down and a few of the other moves - plus two little aerial moves!! - but still.... I need more practice!) Anyway. This one is during the Virginia Reel. Everyone knows that one, so we did it quite a few times.

See what I mean? Just a blur! (And check out my hair! HA!)

This is Mairi's Wedding, going to the awesome and amazing High Kings song (to be found on YouTube here). I couldn't believe there was an actual dance to go along with the song, but apparently.... : ) It was really easy, too, so we did it a few times, mixing up the easier steps with some Irish "setting" and spins. Loved it!

My adorable-est little brother with his best friend, who stopped by for a minute with his family.

This was right before the really hard dance. It looked easy at first, but I got all of the steps mixed up and was really confused by the end. I want to try and learn it again, though!

A good friend with some adorable little girls. (The one on the right gives me a hug every single Sunday at church.) : )

During the confusing dance. Arwen's like, "What do I do?!" Heehee....

In between dances, they'd play music for everyone to swing dance to. This little girl and her brother were amazing!

See what I mean? A spread eagle! I got the picture right before she did a real split. They were a lot of fun to watch!

Then the father-daughter dance. : )

And I just realized that no one took pictures of the broom dance! : P Well, I'll just tell you guys about it. A friend asked me to dance and we were talking while they got the music set up. When he found out what dance it was, he gave me an evil grin and I said, "Oh, no." He told me that the dance is kind of like musical chairs, except instead of chairs, you use girls. "When the music stops," he told me, "the guys have to find a new partner. There's one more guy than there are girls, so if the last guy doesn't find a girl, he has to dance with the broom." (Heehee....) The music started - a slow waltz - and we continued our conversation. A minute or two later, the music cut off and my partner literally shot off! I had been told to stand still, but I didn't need to even think about having to find a new partner because a split second later, someone stepped in front of me and said, "Would you like to dance?" I could only laugh and nod my head. We did that for about ten minutes, with there being an odd guy dancing with the broom each time. (My younger brother even got the broom once!) I learned halfway through that if you don't have a partner after a few seconds, you raise your hand. When I did this, three guys literally charged towards me! It was so funny!

After a few dances, they did this really hard Scottish-dance. I didn't even attempt to dance and just sat down and took pictures. It looked like a lot of fun, though, and at the end, I walked up to my friend and said, "You are going to teach us that dance! Please, please, oh, please! It looks like so much fun!" : )

See? Hard, but fun. : D

Interesting story behind Arwen and this dance partner, but I'll make it short by saying that he asked me to dance at first, so I did, but then, halfway through, I asked him to dance with Arwen because she'd "been the guy" for most of the night. He agreed with a smile, but I had to apologize later for putting him in an awkward situation. (Cuz you can't really say no, you know? Heehee... oops.)

And here's all of us! Sorry it's a little dark, but it's the only picture of all four of us. : )

Hope you enjoyed looking at all of the pictures! I had such a blast and I hope a little of that shone through all of the pictures I've shared!


August 3, 2012

On The Three Hobbit Movies...

So. Peter Jackson just dropped a bombshell - The Hobbit, first two movies, is now being split up into three movies. Think of the changes that have to be made! First all of the publicity stuff, then the movie novels, then the wait for all of the fans... the list goes on and on.

However, my only problem with The Hobbit being split up into three movies now is....

I don't know if I can handle the awesomeness!!

SQUEEEEEE!!! SO happy over here!!

Here's a great article that any Hobbit fan should read. Enjoy and think about three awesome movies in three years. (Argh - the suspense!! *evil laugh*)