Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas with the Roommates :)

Photo: I ♥ Christmas, my friends, cookies and presents!!!! Thank you guys, you all made me feel at home!!!!! 

I can never ever get enough of the Christmas season. As soon as a speck of snow hits the ground, my radio is immediately turned to the Christmas station, I whip out my dorky, Christmas socks, and, being the shopaholic that I am, I start looking for gifts for my family and friends. Some would say it's a little bit over the top. I say, to heck with them! There is only one time of year that you can wear ugly sweaters and obnoxious holiday themed earrings and get away with it! We've gotta milk it for all it's worth! It's all about the reindeer nail polish, the red and green eyeshadow, and the excessive santa-hat wearing :) Oh, and singing Christmas carols whenever humanly possible. Hmm I think I may have a little bit of  a Christmas problem here... oh well!! Maybe someday a long time from now, an over-educated shrink will tell me the root of my holiday obsession. Until then, I'm sticking to my very exaggerated holiday spirit :)
This year, my Christmas came a little bit early. First of all, I live with some of the nicest and most generous girls on the planet :) and boy am I thankful for that!! We all decided that Christmas could not wait another week, so we all planned a mini gift exchange for our little group of 5 for the Monday before we all left for home. You should've seen us the Friday before our Trainee House Christmas; all frantically running through the mall, searching through every store and secretly asking our other roommates if they had any idea what each of us wanted for Christmas. It was a hot mess. Not only is it hard to shop for people you've only known for 4 months, but it makes it massive amounts worse when you're on a very short time limit and a super tight money budget. Thank goodness we were all at the mall at the same time! I ran into a few of my girls while figuring out what to buy and they were a great deal of help!! At one point, we were all in Forever 21, coincidentally enough. So I had to hide in the corner until they were all gone and I could check out with all my cute little trinkets for each of them :) And of course, I double bagged everything! You can never trust one bag to conceal the surprises inside. I've learned that lesson first hand... thank for ruining Christmas, Kaitlan. 
After a somewhat stressful, but way fun weekend of shopping and running around the mall like a crazy, Monday night finally came, which meant only one thing: CHRISTMAS!! haha :) My Italian roommate was so cute; she went to the store in the morning to buy all sorts of cookies and hot chocolate mix. And my roommate, Haley, also whipped up a batch of her favorite whtie macadamia nut cookies. um yum. We boiled 5 cups of milk and made our hot chocolate while a few of us created a crepe paper Christmas tree on our wall. That was quite the sight! haha Green crepe paper in the shape of a tree with a yellow paper star on top, white, twinkle lights stranded across the wall and bows stuck on for the ornaments. I must say, it was the most creative tree I've ever seen! I guess when you're too poor and lazy to haul a real tree home from the grocery store, you've got to learn to use your resources :) We all sat around our little coffee table, drinking our hot chocolate and stuffing our faces with cookies. I don't think we even hardly talked! We were too busy filling up with empty calories as fast as we could; we all knew that once we had finished eating, we could open our presents all sitting under the homemade tree. 
Photo: Happy Birthday @lalicemin!!!  You are so fabulous and amazing! I'm so glad we are friends! Love you so much and I hope you have a wonderful day! Can't wait to see you when I get back ☺ xxx
This is Laura, the tree artist, with our homemade tree :) Isn't it awesome??!
When our mugs were empty and we had made a pretty good dent in the plates of cookies, we started the gift exchange :) Laura started by closing her eyes and waving her hand over the big pile of gifts until we told her to stop and grab the one under her hand. haha I don't know who came up with that present-picking method, but it actually proved to be quite efficient :) Before opening each gift, we got a picture with our unopened present, then we ripped off the paper and screamed for a little bit, then ran over to the roommate who gave us the awesome present, giving them a huge hug, then you got a picture with the OPENED present. hahaha!! This seriously happened.. like the entire time. haha it was awesome :) Opening presents takes alot longer when you have to pose for two pictures and give a great big hug to your awesome roommates! And they really are the best roommates ever!! They all spent way too much money on me. I ended up with new pajama pants, a cute scarf, a new cookbook (thank goodness for that!) and cute Christmas cupcake liners. I think they were trying to send me some sort of message to cook and bake more?? And I sure got the point! The next day, I whipped up some red velvet cupcakes for my dear Laura, whose birthday was on the 21st (HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY, LAURA!!). And maybe with this awesome new cookbook, I'll start eating something other than sandwiches and cans of soup for dinner ;).
It really was the best Christmas ever!! Thanks, guys, for everything and for creating such an unforgettable night :) Love you all!!
Photo: Christmas party!!! Love all our presents!!! ❤ @hjenn140 @lalicemin #kaitlan #nathaliacrazybrazilian #christmas #mustache #lovemyfriends #loveit #divas #bejeweledcorset
Us with all of our presents :) Just a little bit crazy ;)

Monday, December 24, 2012

Going Nutty

As December rolls along, all dancers know it means the Nutcracker also comes with it, of which most, if not all of us, have VERY mixed feelings about. It's sort of a love-hate relationship.. it's not really the Christmas season without Nutcracker, although you end up going crazy after hearing the same, over-played, dreadful music for 3 months on end. And, let me tell you, those usually are the longest months of the year. We started rehearsing for the Nutcracker at the beginning of October, and the show runs through the end of December, so you can only imagine how one can memorize the entire ballet, as well as learn to sing every single piece of music, in those 3 months. And, to make things worse, radio stations find it amusing to torture us by playing Nutcracker music all too frequently on our favorite Christmas radio stations. It's simply dreadful. Every dancer who has done the Nutcracker knows exactly what I'm talking about. But, then again, getting to experience such a magical ballet for a quarter of the year is some kind of heaven. Every night is a different story as new dancers enact different roles. And, when you are lucky enough to be apart of the cast, you have this awesome opportunity to paint your face in stage makeup, put on a beautiful costume, and perform. There really is nothing like it. Unfortunately, many of us trainees didn't get that chance.. darn you company unions and contracts!! Oh well, I think I can last one year without the Nutcracker stress :)
Even though I wasn't technically apart of the production this year, I got the awesome opportunity to be an assistant and an understudy for a couple parts. I was casted to assist with the Oriental Servants, who dance in the opening of the second act for a few minutes. As a part of this job, I went to all the rehearsals and performances, learning the choreography and going in when one of the servants was absent. You should've seen what a nervous mess I was at every show, going in their dressing room every 10 minutes until I knew all 6 of them were present and well enough to go on stage. "Are you guys are here?? Are you guys all alive?? So I don't have to go in for anyone tonight??" I'm sure they were all sick of hearing my pressing questions after 3 weeks of it :) Sure, it would've been awesome to be able to perform for at least a few minutes, but when you've never rehearsed a piece and you're expected to do it perfectly, it's a little bit stressful to think you might have to just go out and do it.. in front of hundreds of people.. not to mention your maybe future boss. Ya. Just sayin..
I was also lucky enough to be casted as an understudy for Waltz of the Flowers, which was an amazing experience. Me and 11 other trainees got to go to the company rehearsals for either Snow or Flowers! Talk about being the same room as insane good dancers. I will be the first to admit I basically spent those few hours a week staring at all of them with my jaw dragging on the floor.. let's just hope none of them noticed :) We didn't get to do very much in those rehearsals; in other words, we had to stand in the corner and do our best to blend into the walls, which wasn't very hard considering our white leotards matched the white walls pretty well! I guess that is one plus for being forced to wear the most unflattering color on the face of the planet. It's pretty rough when you're in the same room as all these incredible dancers and you're just standing there.. in this ugly leotard.. feeling all "ya, I suck. Pretty much." haha it's a great self esteem booster :) But other than that, I loved it! Because of this crazy contract the company is on, they are only allowed to bring 6 un-paid dancers into the room, and we aren't allowed to dance. I don't understand it myself, but I'm just hoping that it will all pay off in the long run!
After a long few months of rehearsing, we finally got to the theater, which meant even more work for us trainees. We were expected to be at the theater for every performance, all month long. For the most part, we put makeup on about a million little kids and then stood in the wings during the show, making sure everything was going smoothly and sending kids out on stage at the right times. At times, it got.. repetitive, to say the least. Makeup assembly lines for an hour, then two hours of running around getting kids into position and standing in the wings. But, it was really nice to watch almost every show. And it's a very different show watching from the side than it is from the front. I got to see what happens behind the scenes of a real professional show, which was the greatest experience of all. I just can't wait until I get to be in those dancer shoes! Let's hope that day comes soon!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Thanksgiving at home :)

Ok ok, I admit it! I've totally been putting this off... for awhile.. and by awhile, I mean 3 weeks. Whoopsie! So what if Thanksgiving was almost a month ago! But, everytime I get on to write, I just think, "My name is Kaitlan Smallwood, and I have an over-writing, rambling problem." I don't know if any of you know this, but I have to devote at least a 2 hour period of time when I blog just because I can't seem to shut up and let my 2.5 readers get back to their much more interesting and important lives. I know, it's a problem..
So, Thanksgiving! I was lucky enough to sneak home for a week at the end of November to spend this joyous, sweatpants holiday with the family. And thank goodness for that! Right now, Ballet West is doing their Nutcracker. All month long. Yes. All month. And, being the spectacular understudy that I am, I have to attend every single show and help out back stage with putting makeup on the little ones and making sure they all get to their places on time. So, I guess, in retrospect, I've gotten really good at putting lip liner on children! There's a plus :) It actually is really fun being backstage for it all, though. I get to experience the entire process and product of a real company show. It's thrilling to see the stage managers hauling around props, and professional dancers huddling around the space heater in the wings, and the little kids bouncing off the walls with excitement. I guess I should probably explain: The trainees were mostly all casted in small roles, all of which are only on stage for the beginning of second act. And a few of us were only casted as understudies for these smaller roles. My official title is a Servant's Assistant, meaning if one of the "Oriental Servants", who have a small piece in the opening of second act, goes out, then I am the one to fill the hole. But, otherwise, my job is to make sure the show is running smoothly. I usually just end up watching the performance from the wings and drooling over how beautiful all the company dancers are.
Anyway, back to the point! I was lucky to be able to get the week off from doing Nutcracker up in Ogden, Utah, where the company was guesting. The whole family was at home, which was so so nice since that sort of thing only happens every couple of years or so. The only one we were missing was Wade, whose still on his mission in California, and boy do we miss him! 9 more months :) So, I flew in to Colorado on Monday morning before Thanksgiving. It's funny how you just kinda jump back into where you left off at home. You feel like you've been there all along and there's people who you know and love, and there's mounds of food in the pantry, and there's a queen bed upstairs with your name on it, and you know exactly how to get places. It's just an awesome feeling; being at home :) We basically spent the week either sitting around at home in our pajamas, or at the mall, frantically trying to buy gifts for family members. Every year, we do a secret santa among all the kids in the family, and since we aren't all going to be together for Christmas, we decided to do the gift exchange the day after Thanksgiving, which also happened to be the day we were celebrating my sister's birthday. The whole secret santa thing used to be simple.. until we all grew up and we are more picky about what we want, plus it's twice as difficult to buy a gift for a sibling's spouse since you really don't know what they like. So, it got pretty complicated. I had to go back to the same store at the mall 3 or 4 times to make exchanges of items and to buy new things and to return others before I finally got it right. My person was Jessica, my older sister, and if you know her, you know she knows what she wants, which puts quite a bit of stress on a person whose trying to shop for her. I ended up following her around H and M one day to see what she thought was cute and the next day, I went back and bought it all.
It was so nice to have a few days off from dancing, even if we didn't do anything that exciting. Although, the mall gets pretty entertaining when it's packed with crazy shoppers the week before Thanksgiving. I did go take a ballet class at my old studio, Ballet Nouveau Colorado, and saw a few of my old teachers and friends. It's always nice to see all of them again! But, I do admit, the nice, big studios I dance in now are a much better upgrade than what I used to dance in. I can't imagine how we even danced in there when I was younger!! It was also so great to hang out with my cool niece and nephew. You never really understand the phrase "Kids do the darndest things" until you're an aunt, because, seriously... kids just do the darndest things! haha. My niece, Whitley, is really talking now, but just to the point where everything she says sounds like gibberish. I think I had to ask her 4 or 5 times what she said before I finally understood the point she was trying to put across. Thank goodness for moms who understand the weird, toddler language :) And my nephew is walking now. He just looks like this little man, strutting around the house in his droopy diaper like he owns the place. He's gotten really good at the car engine sound, which can entertain him for limitless hours, as long as he has some kind of toy vehicle in his possession. I love kids :)... just as long as I don't have to change their poopy diapers... or deal with them when they are grumpy.. or hungry.. or crying..
Thanksgiving day was a blast! We had pumpkin pancakes for breakfast (home cooked breakfast for the win!!!) and then we got right into cooking dinner. You wouldn't think it if you'd never actually prepared Thanksgiving dinner, but it literally takes all day long. I even had to take a couple "laying on the floor for a few minutes to rest my body from relentless cooking" breaks. So, the girls were in the kitchen, wearing ridiculous aprons and frantically trying to throw together a meal, and the boys sat around a little table, putting together a puzzle. Of all games to play before Thanksgiving, they picked a puzzle.. what are we,80?! haha And occasionally, we switched off from 80 year old puzzle table to kitchen. My dad obviously had to deal with him turkey every now and then! We made every dish in the book: stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, gravy, jello salad, pumpkin pie, turkey, pumpkin dip and crackers, vegetables, and last but not least, rolls! The best rolls on the planet! I still have no idea why we made so much food.. I mean, I guess that the whole family was there, plus we invited the missionaries over for dinner, too, which was pretty great. Can't complain about something that's easy on the eyes sitting right across from me haha! The meal was a complete success, as usual. I don't know how my mom got to be such a good cook, but she is definitely teaching me her ways one of these days before she loses her mind and all her talent is lost or something.
After a very filling dinner, we took a digestion break and continued on our puzzle, as dorky as that may sound. We also had a bit of a ping pong tournament upstairs. I mostly just watched.. and dodged ping pong balls coming at my head, but it was funny to watch these guys getting all competative over a dumb game of table tennis. Boys and their competitions :) Once we felt like we could stuff some more food down, we had pumpkin pie and my famous pumpkin cupcakes for dessert. It turned out to be a really fun day! And I'm so glad that my parents flew me home for the week so I got to enjoy it with them :)