Can you believe it? Although technically retired, Saucy still has things to do for cheerleading. She has to pack up the uniforms and store them at the school for next year's coach. She has to replenish and return the first aid and emergency kits. The team photos still aren't printed and she has to give a speech and hand out some awards next week at the Athletic Banquet. This is the artwork for the tee shirts the team won for having the best overall team spirit and sportsmanship this year, they just went to the printer this week. Finally. There might even be a little cash left in the account to buy each of the senior girls a sweater, so that needs to be figured out.
It's as though it never ends. But it will. And Saucy is okay with that. She has to be. Because, it's really and truly over.
Saucy and Loopy will miss cheer... but they won't miss baking cupcakes. They've decided to still bake them for events and occasions, so this weekend you can find "the former Cheerios" cupcakes at the Adelaide Park/Churchill Community Association Family Day in the Park - at Hugh Cairns VC School. The cupcakes will be set up around 10:00 AM, as Saucy isn't too fond of early mornings in her newfound role as retiree... and she doesn't want to ruin anyone's pancake breakfast. See you there!
posted Thursday, May 30, 2013
Summer is finally here and the time has come to do some major photo shoots with Loopy and her friends. Since graduation is soon upon us, Saucy hopes to set up quite a few senior photo shoots to keep her busy with the new camera Veto gave her for Christmas, that she hasn't had neither the time nor inclination to play with yet. That is all about to change.
Saucy spotted a few photos of T Swizzle online sporting this funky bow headband. It's sweet, and headbands and fascinators seem to be all the rage. After a little bit of digging it appeared that poor Taylor purchased her headband from a trendy website and paid a few hundred dollars for it. That's right. Saucy isn't even exaggerating. Jeebus, it's just a headband. Saucy could spot those rhinestone bow thingys a mile away and she knew just where to find them. Enter eBay.
You all know that after cupcakes and photo shoots, Saucy really adores a bargain or a DIY project. The bargain came from eBay, where she found the bows for fifty cents each. The DIY was as simple as stitching five of them together and attaching two black ribbons to each end. It might even be speculated that the ribbon was a castoff from a gift box. Actually come to think of it, it was.
And there it was, in all its glory. A "designer" rhinestone headband for about two dollars and fifty cents. The shipping was free on the eBay order, by the way. Saucy pretty much only buys from vendors who offer free shipping. How about you?
It was nice to get behind the camera again on a softly lit late spring evening. Down by the river where Joni Mitchell wished to put her skates on and teach her feet to fly, the ice is finally melted and the sun dances off the waves and makes a beautiful hair light.
And, as always, Loopy is a willing and beautiful model. Saucy needs to spend some time with the manual for her camera and set Loopy and a few of The Cheerios up to be photographed so she'll be in control for the paying customers again this summer. The flat-rate $100.00 photo shoots begin again soon. Contact Saucy for more information.
Oh, and it looks like we ditched the headband after a while. It could also be used as a necklace so keep your eye out for it in a future shoot. Saucy is off to eBay to find more appliques to create another knockoff masterpiece!
It might actually be happening... Saucy might be getting her mojo back. She feels the need to do projects. Are you feeling it? It was a long, hard winter. It's nice to see the sun again.
posted Monday, May 20, 2013
After a full year of planning, saving money and practicing her Japanese, it's hard to fathom that Loopy has been back from Japan for almost three weeks now. Don't worry if you don't like looking at other people's vacation photos, these are very atypical. It seems as though Facebook and Instagram have changed the way everyone - especially teenagers - document their travels. And while we're at it, let's just have a cheer for social media (and FaceTime) which allowed Saucy and Loopy to be in fairly constant contact.
To be honest, Saucy mostly switched over to Japanese time while Loopy was there. It just kind of made sense. For the sake of texting and such.
Imagine it - the moment her plane landed Saucy received a text from our dear friend Yoko... she and her sister Fumi were at the airport to greet Loopy's group. Even better, they came armed with enough gadgetry to wire Loopy up for the duration of her stay with copious wi-fi. This, Dear Reader, was the entire reason that Saucy could be in contact. Loopy sent text messages as if she was just around the corner at the local mall. And, she sent about a zillion of them. Girlfriend did not hold back.
She posted what she ate and drank on Instagram. While fascinating, it also made Saucy a little crazy, when she realized Loopy was on an all-sweets tour of Asia.
The group made their way for the first half of the trip to Kyoto, where they had home stays and saw the famous cherry blossoms (sakura). Loopy especially adored her host family at Takaoka, and they her. The father was a dentist and the extended family ran a traditional Japanese Inn, where they hosted Loopy. It was there that Loopy developed a taste for Japanese noodles and green tea. Her host father spent time doing crafts with her and declared that "she will make a fine dentist one day."
Some things just thrilled her. She's kind of a geek inside and went a little crazy when she saw Power Rangers cruising the streets.
The group saw their share of shrines and temples. More than their share. Loopy didn't fill her Instagram feed with a ton of photos of them, she was too busy documenting Japan as she saw it:
*sigh* Well, she is her mother's daughter. Wouldn't you partake of Hello Kitty doughnuts if given the opportunity? She snuck home a few in her suitcase and they traveled surprisingly well. This variety had a green apple filling in it and it was delicious:
This is the view from the SkyTree in Tokyo. Think of it as a CN Tower kind of attraction, a Seattle Space Needle of sorts.
After touring Kyoto and area and spending some time at school doing cultural activities, it was time to head towards Tokyo. Here's the thing: there wasn't much time scheduled in Tokyo. About a day-and-a-half, including a day at Tokyo Disney:
Not cool. There's nothing wrong with Disney per se, we all very much enjoy a good Disney experience, but c'mon. You do not even want to know what wasn't on the agenda in Tokyo. The group was moving along to spend the last half of the trip at Hitachi - the small city where electronics (you guessed it) are mass produced. Actually, used to be mass produced, as layoffs and less expensive labour in India has led to factory closures and outsourcing of jobs (yes, even in Japan!). In fact, before departure on the trip, the exchange students were told that accommodations in Hitachi were... iffy. As in, there weren't any. You can imagine this did not sit with with Veto.
Nor The Fan.
Nor The Secret Weapon.
After looking at the itinerary, Saucy and Veto called in some awesome reinforcements. Yoko and Fumi came to the rescue and they offered kindly to pick Loopy up and let her spend the balance of the trip with them. Since they live in Tokyo, they were extremely obliging to take Loopy around and show her the sights. And the goodies!
They took Loopy for a "Hello Kitty" nail experience. Saucy worked away in her kitchen one night baking cupcakes, getting photo updates of the manicure in progress. That was pretty cool. Check it out, the ring fingers have 3D bling!
And as though Saucy was right there with her, Loopy went shopping. And she shopped... and she shopped some more. She brought back lovely treats for her friends and she also found a handbag for prom and a very sweet outfit for graduation day.
In a dreams-do-come-true moment, she went to the Pokemon Centre. She brought back all sorts of useless *cough, cough* uhm, crap!
Near the end of her stay, Yoko took Loopy to Yokohama to Build-a-Bear Workshop. This was especially sweet, as Saucy and Loopy helped Yoko stuff a brown moose on her 2008 visit to Canada. They re-created some of the stuffing pictures from when Loopy was twelve and then posed their two stuffed friends together:
On the left, "Toonie" the Canadian moose, on the right, "Kokuban" the Japanese bear.
And if you want the meat of the story, the juicy details, Saucy will give it to you. She and Veto sort of gave permission to Loopy and a friend to sneak out of the hotel in Tokyo on that one night they had there as a group. There. She said it. She had to get it off her chest. The kids really, really wanted to see the lights and giant TV screens lit up at night and it wasn't on the agenda. Sure, Loopy would see it during her stay with Yoko, but her friend wouldn't. It's like going to New York and not laying your peepers upon Times Square.
Now, here's the thing... they texted and asked if Saucy thought they might be able to get permission from the teacher to go out on their own. Without a doubt, she thought, no. Hell no! There's no way a teacher taking a bunch of kids to Japan would give permission for two of them to head out after dark and explore downtown Tokyo. Not likely. But of course, Saucy said there was no harm in asking, after all. She just didn't expect what came next.
It was a yes. Seriously. The teacher said they could go as long as they snuck out and nobody else from the group caught wind or saw them leave the hotel. Saucy was, in a word, dumbfounded. She doesn't even let the Cheerios leave their hotel room floor after ten o'clock at night when they stay in Edmonton. Suddenly, Loopy and a pal had carte blanche to break away from the group on a Saturday night and head for the famous Shibuya District (see Lost in Translation, and Fast & Furious Tokyo Drift).
Well this certainly left Saucy scratching her highlighted noggin. She'd walked right into it, saying that she thought they'd be fine on their own. And, she did feel that way but she was pretty certain the chaperone would have none of it. But having presented a fairly sound case to the teacher with a little agenda of their own, they were off. They hopped in a taxi at the hotel several districts over and made their way to the famous light district.
There, they walked about the crowded crossing and took in the sights. It must have been exciting - and a little thrilling for them - out on their own like that. It was a real adventure. They stuck out like sore thumbs, two Canadian kids in the middle of a busy area at night... people stopped to ask where they were from and sometimes people photographed them.
They visited a huge Starbucks and drank Mango Passion Tea Frappucinos. It was a pretty innocent venture and a relatively crime-free area. They felt safe. And besides, they're eighteen now. Time to think about backpacking across Europe and such things... an evening in a big city on one's own at this age isn't much of a big deal, is it?
When they left the hotel, they'd taken with them a business card from the concierge. When it was time to go back, they gave the card to the taxi driver and made their way. Leaving the hotel in the first place involved a little cloak-and-daggar subterfuge, but it was worth it. Way worth it. They slipped back into their hotel rooms late in the night, their respective roommates never even questioned them about their disappearance.
A little mischief is good for the soul.
posted Wednesday, May 01, 2013
Saucy doesn't even know how or where to begin blogging again... she's actually afraid that any followers she had may have long since given up on her and this sad old page. Basically, she just knew that if Loopy's last year of high school - and the last year of The Cheerios was going to be in any way a success, something had to give. Unfortunately, that something was the blog.
Since so many of you loyally watched The Cheerios blossom over the past four years from a group of adorable cast-offs and misfits it seems only fair to let you know how their final season went down. In fact, it was almost not a season at all. Long before tryouts, Saucy had attempted the to convince the coaches of the other team at the school to amalgamate groups and make lighter work for all involved. It seemed like the perfect plan: create one large team, pick up only the most dedicated of the athletes from both programs, and share the administrative work among a few more adults. Saucy was even willing to retain full responsibility of fundraising and bookkeeping in order to gain some solid, experienced front-of-mat coaching for the girls.
Let's be frank... Saucy knows her limitations. She's a forty-something housewife with a chronic illness and even though she has no end of inspiration and good ideas, she's not hip to the ways kids are doing things these days in the world of competitive cheerleading. She was able to get them so far during the last three seasons (a provincial championship and a string of small victories and second-place medals) ...but for the last year? Saucy wanted someone else to take the creative reigns.
It didn't work out that way. Tryouts came and there were so many girls who showed up, even Saucy realized it would mean turning away some really, really special kids. And there's something Saucy cannot - will not do - turn away a hopeful cheerleader. And so, it was decided that the school would have two teams again... only this year, the choreographers of the higher level team agreed to work with The Cheerios to prepare them for competition. Realistically, this left Saucy more time to fill out the mounds of paperwork and take care of the administrative stuff (of which there was tenfold as much as other years for some reason).
Oh... and did Saucy mention... in her attempt to scale back she ended up taking about six more athletes than she had in previous years. May as well go out with a bang.
The fundraising began in earnest as soon as the team was chosen. As usual, the girls took to it with enthusiasm and enjoyed raiding the Wall of Sprinkles in Saucy's pantry on a regular basis. It would require pushing a lot of carbohydrates in order to meet their goal of traveling out-of-province to compete at one of the largest shopping malls in the world in February.
Everyone took shifts prepping, baking and selling the cupcakes. Saucy can't even begin to tell you how many they pushed but at each sale, at least fifteen to twenty varieties were offered. Some Saturdays, Saucy juggled more than one sale in different locations, driving between events and replenishing stock from the back of her vehicle.
The girls amused themselves one day and even created a map of one of their routine formations a la cupcake.
After each sale, they tried to take the traditional "money shot" to post on their Facebook page. At two dollars per cupcake, you can see that is a lot of cupcakes.
Saucy even realized that fashioning bows for other competitive teams would be a great way to earn cash. She tied and glued them up herself on behalf of The Cheerios and their bank account.
This really wasn't feeling like cutting back, after all. Hell, the first competition was looming and Saucy had yet to tie up bows for The Cheerios themselves, she'd been so busy. She found herself working frantically the night before.
And it was all terribly, terribly worth it. The Cheerios took part in the prestigious BRIT tournament for the first time... and placed first in their division. The other team from the school placed first in their division, and first overall, making them Grand Champions. It was sort of the best we could have hoped for.
It was especially satisfying because there were so many first-time members to the team, thanks to the Saucy-cannot-turn-anyone-with-a-cute-face away phenomenon. It seemed as though with the help of the new trainers and choreographer, things were really falling into place.
Saucy wondered if the fancy new Spirit Stick was doing the trick. She fashioned it out of a nice big rolling pin without handles. Everyone on the team wrote their goals for the year on the blank pin, then The Secret Weapon helped Saucy paint over it (thus sealing the goals and wishes inside). Saucy bedazzled and blinged the hell out of it and it accompanied the team's teddy bear mascot, Manny, along on all events.
You do realize that the legend of the spirit stick is all-powerful, don't you? Drop the spirit stick on the ground and the Cheer Gods will smite you forever. The Cheerios kept the spirit stick out of harms way all season long.
Both Manny the mascot bear and the spirit stick made their way to Edmonton, Canada with the team for the Total Spirit Championships in February. It was a jam-packed trip and if you know Saucy at all, you know that she left no detail to chance. Hotels and a bus were booked long in advance. The team was tightly scheduled (and closely supervised by a vigilant group of parents) for the entire long weekend.
They competed on a Friday night in front of a gawking crowd of thousands and although it wasn't their finest performance, it didn't put a damper on their spirit. They enjoyed themselves thoroughly and behaved like champions. They spent time at the water park, they shopped (some of them for prom dresses and shoes) and most importantly, they conducted themselves with true sportmanship. Placing just sixth out of twelve in their division, it was their lowest showing ever. In fact, it was the first (and only) time in their history that they failed to place top two. But it was a new city with new rules, and the goal for the weekend was to have a ton of fun... and that they did. And because of their stellar cupcake sales, they barely had to dip into their own pockets - Saucy and the other parents were able to feed them a steady supply of healthy meals.
Saucy even managed to squeak out enough cash to treat each team member to a matching tee shirt... the message she wanted them to take with them... bows over bros. It became their unofficial mantra and their official practice gear for the rest of the season.
Except on Wednesdays. On Wednesdays they wore pink. With pink practice bows, natch. There were still enough practices for the girls to work hard to redeem themselves... and that they did. It began in March, with a divisional first place and being Grand Champions at the Warman Cheer Classic.
It was an important win - being Grand Champion is like being the Ultimate Grand Supreme at a beauty pageant... and if you watch Toddlers and Tiaras on TLC, you will know that means they were the best of the best that day. They really wanted it, especially after the debacle of last year at the same event. It was a retribution of sorts. More importantly, it built up their confidence as they headed into the last few competitions of the season.
Oh, and while Saucy is bragging... The Cheerios also were awarded the "Spirit Award" on this day, proving that once again, they were gracious, encouraging of others, and all-round good sports. Basically, they cleaned up. It felt good.
Round about this time, the Cheerio known as "Velcro" took a tumble and injured her knee. She would be on crutches for six weeks, thus out for the rest of the season. Things look bleak until a substitute came across from the other team to fill her spot in the routine. That little gal took it on... and rocked it. She learned five months of choreography in ninety minutes. She nailed the last performances of the season, ensuring that major re-working of the routine wasn't needed. On the weekend of the Provincial Championships, she participated on three teams (Levels One, Two and Three) in the school and all-star divisions and performed as a base, a flyer, a tumbler and a back spot. Not coincidentally, each team she performed with won their division, straight-up. Including The Cheerios!
Note Velcro in the middle, on her fancy jazzed-up crutches festooned with green and gold streamers and bows ;)
At Provincials, Saucy was also presented with the SCA Coach of the Year Award. It was a real thrill... it being her last year and all. Yes friends, this is the end. Loopy and the seniors are moving on and it's time for Saucy to do the same. There are some extremely dedicated and competent (and much younger) women more than able to guide some new Cheerios to future success.
Here is a picture of Saucy with Fly Girl, posing with an almost-invisible award.
Saucy would also like to point out that this was a banner year for Loopy. She really brought it. She stepped into more of a leadership role on the team by working as a base for the first time. Saucy never thought she would see it - Loopy lifting her friends high above her head. It goes without saying it was probably in her all along... the kid has grit. But you knew that already.
That was at the end of March. It seems like a lifetime ago already. In the time since, Saucy has nursed herself back to a modicum of health and taken a fair number of naps. It took a fair amount of time, since recovering from having her wisdom teeth removed wasn't very easy at her age. She chased that with a month-long case of laryngitis and she's extremely glad to put it all behind her.
This weekend, the team held it's final windup. Of course, there were cupcakes. A few tears were shed as the girls enjoyed their last Cheerio cupcakes, ever:
You may recall that in other years, Saucy has presented each Cheerio with a lovely parting gift at windup, like charm bracelets and handmade stitchies. This year, she went to Build-a-Bear workshop and stuffed 27 curly brown bears... so each of them could take home their very own "Manny the Mascot Bear." It was actually Veto's idea... and the girls were overjoyed. Thankfully, The Fan and The Secret Weapon leapt into action and helped fashion miniature spirit sticks for each bear to hold.
The girls were so jazzed... each stuffie had a white tee shirt and they passed around Sharpie markers and took turns signing each other's bears.
Some it seemed, had even scoped out their own territory under the covers of their new beds. All was well in Bearland.
And now... Saucy isn't quite sure what to do with herself. It's really over. Most of you have followed the entire adventure along with us. Through the highs and lows, the flying and the falling. It's now a memory. It's a wonderful memory. Saucy is happy to report that all of the graduating team members have been accepted to the university and post-secondary programs of their choice (some of them with scholarships, internships and bursaries). Some of them will be cheering at college and university, they've already made their teams. Her work here is done.
She hopes they look back on these days fondly for the rest of their lives and take with them the following lessons:
1. If you dream it, you can do it. If you believe it, you can achieve it.
2. The harder you work, the luckier you will get.
3. Don't do anything you wouldn't want your coach to find out about.
4. It's okay not to know, but it's not okay not to try.
5. Mistakes are proof that you are trying.
6. A "dead last finish" beats "did not finish" and trumps "did not even start."
7. Pain is temporary, pride is forever.
8. At any given moment you have the power to say "this is not how my story will end."
9. Remember, BOWS OVER BROS.
10. Most importantly, Saucy lurrves you more than cupcakes.
If you would like to see The Cheerios in their last performance click here.
"Don't cry because it's over... smile because it happened" - Dr. Seuss
posted Monday, April 29, 2013