Oh my it felt good to get home yesterday. I felt such a sense of relief when I drove down our drive and stepped through our door yesterday afternoon; Buck and Lilly barking joyously at my return as they followed me up to that dear face I love so much smiling sheepishly at me because I could see the relief in *his* face that I was home. *laugh* It's good to feel needed again.
I left for Osage Beach right after school on Tuesday afternoon, MMEA bound. I was super excited to get going because this was my professional conference. My chance to immerse myself in all things Band *and* Orchestra related for three days; concerts, workshops, schmoozing, partying, you name it. I will admit that I was also excited to escape the regular routine for a few days and sleep in a bed without dogs laying on my feet for a few nights *giggle*.
I arrived at my hotel (thank you Baymont Inn) and got myself settled in for the evening. I'm pretty familiar with the area so I toodled on down to the Hy-Vee to rustle up some dinner from their big salad bar and grabbed a bottle of wine labled "Little Black Dress", which I thought was appropriate to kick off my conference since I'd brought a rockin' LBD to wear with my sparkle shoes at the fancy dinner. :) I hunkered in for the evening, chatted with a friend, watched TV, and fell into a peaceful slumber to assure I was well rested for the day ahead.
Wednesday I sat through the judges training session and it was a good time. I met the man who composed two of the pieces my 8th grade Orchestra is performing, Kirt Mosier. Nice guy and writes great music so buy it! *wink wink nudge nudge* Still not sure whether or not I'll be able to judge, but it was good experience to sit through the training.
Then came my spiritual experience! The COACH outlet! Eek! You have to understand something. I *fully* admit that I have a shopping obsession, especially shoes and bags...*BUT*...I have been waiting for this shopping trip an entire year and I knew the bag was going to be 70% off because they give you a 20% off coupon when you walk in the door and there's a HUGE wall of 50% bags. (That's where I found my pink leather one last year.) I've been saving my pennies towards my goal of having cash to purchase a new COACH bag. It'd been an entire year since I'd purchased one and I was looking forward too it. I got lost with the GPS (again new highways not programmed in) so I relied on my instincts and memory of the area to guide me to the lovely bags awaiting my touch, my caress, the chance to join my collection.
I opened the door and that sweet smell of COACH leather and fabric wafted over me and enveloped me in it's embrace. The sales lady came gliding towards me with a beautiful smile as she placed the 20% off coupon in my hand and waved her hand over the wonders placed before me as joy sang from my soul. This year there was not only the large wall of 50% off clearance, but tables of discounted bags, wallets, scarfs, and keychains. Oh sweet spirits where to begin! I started with the clearance and saw the sparkle bag in person. Aside from the disco ball hanging from the strap, it wasn't as wonderful as I had imagined. So I kept going. Green leather, brown fabric, pink C's, multi stripes, navy sparkle with a black leather edge and then I saw it. Peeking behind a lavender leather bag that reminded me of my grandmother (that's not necessarily a bad thing, it just wasn't my style) was a dark plum beauty. I reached in and pulled it out to the light revealing a dark plum patent leather bag with the classic COACH "C" stitched into it. Opening it up revealed beautiful lavender lining with a large silver coin-purse in the middle. Oh I was in love, but we must not be to hasty. I put it on my shoulder and checked out my reflection in the mirror. Pretty nice, but there is more to be seen.
I kept the plum bag on my shoulder and walked my way around the store. Weaving my way between women who were similarly entranced I stumbled upon a white version of the plum bag with an emerald green lining...hmm...no this will get dirty too fast, keep moving. I check out the wallets but I already have one and it's a pain to transfer wallets often, so I look over the sunglasses. $130 for a pair of sunglasses that surely will break during marching season if my dogs don't get them first?! No thanks. I wander back towards the clearance to give it another once over before I commit to the plum bag when I see a gold and tan beauty that somehow escaped my attention the first time around. I pick it up and realize that I have that same style bag in denim "C" fabric and brown leather; it's one of my favorites. I slide it on my shoulder and it feels like slipping on an old friend. I look in the mirror and check the price tag. I do a quick math calculation and think "Oh yes, I must have this." But what about the plum bag? Oh this is a dilemma.
As I'm standing there pondering what to do the angelic sales lady comes over and asks if she can be of assistance. "Not unless you can help me decide which bag to get *laugh*", I reply. She smiles and says "Well they're both beautiful so I'm not sure, but let me see how much they are for you, maybe that will help." She taps away on her calculator and reveals to me a price for *BOTH* of them that falls into the budget I had allotted for ONE! Oh sweet baby Jesus! I think I might faint! I ask her to repeat herself just to confirm that I actually heard what she said to me. She repeats the same number and it was as if the heavens opened and all the divine spirits that reside above erupted into joyful chorus as a smile grew across my face. My pulse quickened and my palms got sweaty as I turned around and walked over to the check out counter. She rang them up (I even had some left over to buy a keychain and leather cleaner), wrapped them lovingly in tissue, and slid them into a COACH bag. I turned around to see ten women smiling behind me and left with my purchases. If you're a COACH lover like me and also *love* an awesome beyond understanding deal, please visit this outlet in Osage Beach, MO.
What a rush, now back to the conference. ;)
Wednesday evening was the Meyer Music Mixer (thanks folks!) and the debut of my sparkle shoes and plum bag. Both were a smashing success paired with my black skinnies and beautiful stone necklace my hubby gave me. **Travel note here: they have built new highways "Osage Beach Parkway" and "Passover Road" which made it confusing the first couple of times, especially because the GPS I had wasn't downloaded with these roads, but I figured it out after a wrong turn or two.** The mixer was a lot of fun and I saw a lot of people that I at least remembered by face if not by name, I wish I was better at that so I didn't feel kind of on the outside edge in a room full of people but I suppose it will come with time and experience.
Thursday morning was opening day of the conference. Armed with my badge and schedule jam packed I set out to reap knowledge from those more experienced than I. It's always such a hard decision to make on what to go to. So many wonderful workshops overlap and those are on top of concerts by some of the top bands, orchestras, and choirs in the state. Luckily all of the handouts from the workshops get put up on the internet after the conference so I can download anything that I want and learn even more! I started the morning listening to the Blue Springs South HS Symphonic Band, wanted to go to the MSHSAA update but the presenter was sick so I perused the exhibits for a while where I picked up the judges copies of the solos my kids are performing as well as another book of solos to add to the collection. Up next was the first general session for MMEA/MENC where I listened to some great speakers. After lunch I went to the first workshop I was really looking forward too "Tricks that Click" Proven Solutions to Your Every Day Percussion Needs" with Kevin Lepper from VanderCook College of Music. Oh I learned some really valuable tricks that have opened up a door for what we can do in the future. Thank you Professor Lepper! I stopped by the West Junior HS choir concert then it was time for the Clayton Honors Orchestra.
This group is comprised of 5th-8th graders who are started with the Suzuki method then invited to audition for this group after the move through book one (if memory serves). I was breathless the entire time the performed. Chills ran up and down my spine as they emotionally moved through the music with such grace, intonation, and well rounded tone. It was as if someone had pressed play on a CD and a professional symphony came sailing through the air. *Amazing*
I'm going to have to download the SmartMusic presentation on percussion because it overlapped with the Lee's Summit North HS Symphonic Band concert. After that I stopped by the "Efficient Rehearsal Technique for Orchestra" featuring Elliot Del Borgo (another composer whose work my Orchestra plays)...fantastic. I was done for the day and headed back to the hotel in hopes a dinner invitation was going to fall my way so I could break out my sassy LBD and sparkle shoes.
Unfortunately fate had other plans and I spent my evening working out (Jillian Michaels' "6week 6pack" level 2 workout is NO joke!), watching TV, & talking to my hubby while I enjoyed a protein bar, apple and some water for dinner. Oh well...maybe Friday night.
Friday morning brought gorgeous weather and "Ten Easy Ways to Immediately Improve Your Orchestra", again with Elliot Del Borgo. Great stuff, some so commonsense I wanted to smack myself in the forehead while some others made me say "Oh yeah now I'm gonna try that!" After Mr. Del Borgo's workshop I went straight back down to the exhibits on a mission to find a new baton or "geek stick" as my hubby would say, snare drum brushes and finger cymbals. I made a beeline for the Explorers Percussion booth where I picked up the perfect pair of cymbals and brushes for under $40, then stopped at the first table that had Mollard batons and found the perfect one. Felt good to have a stick back in my hand...now if I just had the opportunity to use it more!
I wanted to attend the third installment of Mr. Del Borgo's sessions but it overlapped with the Kearney HS Wind Ensemble concert so I'll have to download the handouts later. I stayed for the Summit Lakes MS String Orchestra concert and again was blown away with these young people's grace, tone, and technique. I wish my kids sounded like that...guess I'm just gonna have to *make* them! ;) I enjoyed lunch on Friday with some fine folk from different areas of the state as well as grade levels and had some good conversation. I then ran upstairs to get a good seat at the MU Bassoon Ensemble...not a chance I was going to miss this concert. It was beyond awesome. Really made me miss playing my bassoon.
After the concert I got caught up in conversation with a lovely woman who is currently going through Breast Cancer. While we shared a lot of the same experiences, her journey has been not only rougher so far than mine, but also longer and she still has quite a ways to go. I wish her nothing but strength beyond measure to make it through and any support she needs. While I was sad to miss the "Teaching your Percussionists with SmartMusic" I wouldn't have missed that conversation for anything. I'll download the workshop later.
After the bassoon concert was Park Hill HS's Symponic Band concert. I didn't want to miss Blue Springs HS's Concert Band concert so I have another workshop to download, but all concerts are worth it. I headed back to the hotel again for some R&R and a hot shower with hopes for dinner at J. Bruner's but wound up eating Taco Bell and watching TV instead. Maybe I'll get to debut my sassy LBD and sparkle shoes on Valentine's Day, who knows.
Saturday morning dawned bright and clear and I was aching to go home so I loaded up my car, bid farwell to the Baymont and MMEA, turned the GPS on, the music up and headed home. I had a scare in Boonville when a black lab that looked *just* like my Lilly-dog darted up and out of the ditch alongside the road and ran straight towards my car, dodging at the last minute as I got hit with a wall of adrenaline and a panicked moment of thinking I was going to hit this dog, to look in my rearview mirror and see it standing in the middle of the road. This was about the sixth dog I'd seen alongside the highway as I traveled there and back but the first who jumped out like it was going through some dog gang "car dodging" initiation thing or something. Sheesh! I hit some traffic irritation on 70 *surprise* and started getting impatient when I turned onto 435N. Worlds of Fun loomed in the distance as I raced along the highway towards home.
Home. What a lovely place to be. Time away always reminds us of that.
I turned onto our street and my heart sang more than when I had been at the COACH store and my pulse quickened more than the dog scare. I came down the drive, passed the door to the joyous ruckus of barks and the relieved and happy smile of my hubby. I jumped out of the car, got jumped *on* by the dogs :) and ran over to that wonderful face I love so much where I got the big ol' kiss and hug I'd been missing. Love ya babe. I'm glad to be home.