All Things Best Band in the Land.

So last night we got a wonderful treat. The Grambling State University band came to Reno and the night before their game against UNR, they played the Peppermill Hotel Casino in their new Tuscany Ballroom. To watch a 300 hundred piece band perform is one thing. To watch them perform like they did last night is to be left in a permanent state of awe. Here's a link to one of the many You Tube videos. They've been showcased in countless places - the Superbowl, TV shows and yes, they even did a Coke commercial (that one was for our Kuma Alisa...who used to work there!).

You can't define the word "incredible" until you've been serenaded by 16 tubas playing the Temptations, "Just My Imagination." Simply put, I got weepy. I'm a mommy, I'm allowed to weep in public from time to time.

We were lucky, with years of experience wading through concerts under my belt, I made our way to the very center front of their performance. We were seated (granted on the floor) but in front of the dignitaries, i.e. UNR's president and coaching staff.

Of course, it wouldn't be us unless there was at least one in our crowd who is unhappy. And last night it was none other than Bella. She didn't like the drums. Funny kid.

The band's formations, sheer size and perfectly executed maneuvers boggled the mind.

The cymbals were my favorite. These guys swung them around like they were dancing the paso doble and they were the toreadors.

We loved the little guy in the drum line...see him in the center front on the right? He was awesome!

Dr. Pannell, the musical director was a sight to behold. Pure dictator and perfectionist - I loved him. He spoke between the performances, letting us know a little bit about their history and his expectations. Let's put it this way, the man expects for every 4 minutes of half time performance a full 12 hours of rehearsal.

And if they don't perform up to his expectations, he's been known to wake them up at 2 a.m. to rehearse. Yikes. While I was in college, 2 a.m. was pretty much my bedtime. And yes, true to his word, he had them rehearsing in the parking lot up until they marched in for their performance.

Alex was exhausted from soccer practice an hour before. But he couldn't fall asleep due to the lovely sounds before him.

They performed pretty much every genre of music you could think of - Sousa marches, rock and roll, gospel and blues.

Kata liked the singing and of course, the dancers.

And then the Best Band in the Land, was told by Dr. Pannell to "cut a rug." And cut, they did. Holy Moly.

Dr. Pannell wanted the kids to get up and perform...so our kids, for once, weren't shy about it.

Then Dr. Pannell let all the kids march behind the band. And yes, he directed the kids as well. We would need hours more, alright years of rehearsal to get it right.

If they ever come to your town, please, go see them. Also, there was a movie called "Drum Line" that was loosely based on the band. We're going to put it on our Netflix list.

Wishing you a moment were you are mesmerized. We're still reeling from this and enjoying the precise drum beats in our heads.


All Things Apron Strings.

There's a great song by Everything But the Girl called, "Apron Strings." And as the days and months and years go by I realize that I, too, wish I could wrap all my children in my apron strings and keep them there forever.

I know you can hear it in my sigh - but - at some point as a mother you have to Let Go. So as I slowly unravel my apron strings and let Alex do Things By Himself, I do get a sense of satisfaction.

With our crazy schedule this year, I've been forced to let some things go - slowly. He's been going back and forth to school, by himself, for a few weeks now. Sure, I still drop him off but at the marsh not at the school gate. And here's the biggie - he comes home all by himself. No, I am not waiting for him at the edge of a nearby street corner. I wait at home with an unlocked door. Confident that he'll find his way in this world.

Given that the world is no longer the place I grew up in but a much darker, scarier place - this is a huge leap of faith for me.

Wishing you a moment where you untie an attached string and - let it go. It is very hard but also extremely satisfying.


All Things Every Day.

We're settling into our new school year schedule, and I must admit we've enjoyed slowly adjusting to it. But this week, we begin weaving in all of our extracurricular activities to what will be a crazy daily timeline .

Today, the girls' year round Swimming Class started. Tonight, I sign them both up for another year of ballet. Actually, it will be Bella's first year with Kata taking on the pro position with three years of ballet under her belt. For Alex a Cub Scout meeting tomorrow night followed by Soccer Practice on Friday. Phew, makes me tired just reading the list.

But, we always have time for tea parties on the stairs. You know the type where you invite a few friends along...like half of your stuffed animals?

Wishing you a minute where you can sit back and enjoy a cup of tea or even your own party, just be sure to remember to hold your pinky out when lifting that cup. My current favorite is Celestial Seasonings Sweet Coconut Thai Chai...mhmmm...here's to soothing moments.


All Things Home Town Hero.

Ken, Alex and Bella went to a special autograph signing recently. Nick Fazekas, the University of Reno's All Time Leading Scorer was in town to help promote a new NBA development league team - the Big Horns. Alex was thrilled that Nick signed his Wolf Pack hat. He's been wearing it ever since.

Bella, on the other hand, wasn't sure what to make of the 6 ft 11in giant. But, she did look up from her fully stretched out, on tippy toes, 3 ft 2 in perspective, and give him a fist pump and a "Go Wolf Pack!" which made him laugh.

In his world, the LA Clippers just released him as an unrestricted free agent. In our world, that was a good thing because we got to meet him. We wish him all the best and thank him for being so nice to our kiddies. Good things will come his way, too - in the universal what-goes-around-comes-around theory.

Wishing you a moment to find a home town hero and thank him or her.


All Things Slurpee.

On Friday, Kata's table in Kindergarten had the most Table Points (i.e. they were the best behaved for the week), so they all got to choose a prize from the Treasure Chest. Kata pulled out a coupon for a free Slurpee.

Yesterday afternoon, in 96-degree temperatures we went out to get her the coveted Slurpee. Her expression says it all - she's proud, excited and well, refreshed.

Bella's glad she's along for the ride and free drink. And our Alex, well, he didn't like it too much. The Slurpee, that is, but he really was proud of his sister.

Wishing you a Slurpee Filled Moment today...cool, refreshing and artificially flavored.


All Things Happiness Is.

Happiness is a sunset; it is there for all, but most of us
look the other way and lose it.
~Mark Twain

We've fallen into a happy, predictable rhythm of school and after-school events. We've gotten over the initial "shifting gears" frenzy. And it's not too hectic now so I am trying hard to stop and enjoy some of the little things that pass by in a blink of an eye, like sunsets.

This picture was taken from Alex's Room last night. The kid's missing out on some beautiful scenery. If I were him, I would just sit in his bed and stare out the large picture window. But then that's why I'm a mom and he's still a little boy who would rather play with his Star Wars Legos.

Wishing you a quiet, introspective moment today.


All Things Olympics Weary.

It was completely majestic when it started but now we're getting a little weary.

Perhaps it's all the tape delayed late evenings...I am so not used to staying up until midnight anymore.

Perhaps it's the kids saying, "Not the Olympics, again?" over and over.

Perhaps it's the fact that the Swimming, Diving and Gymnastics events are over and we've descended into the less exciting (for me) Track & Field, Basketball and Waterpolo (go Serbia!). Of course, Ken's in heaven but then he watches anything on ESPN that falls shy of the cheerleader exhibitions and those would interest me (go figure).

When weariness sets in we always decide to mix it up a little...so without further adieu...I present the Riggsby Olympics, Summer Edition...let the games begin -

The "Will This Pool Outlast Our Previously Set Record" Race - incidentally we're 6 for 6 in the pool count. Yes, 6 cheap, tacky pools in 6 years. This year, we went with the collapsible model with blow up edge instead of the full blow up version. Only a few weeks of summer left folks, so we may have a World Record here.

The "10M Dash Hurdle Into Pool Event" - Participants run around the backyard for approximately 10M and then hurdle themselves over the pool's edge. The object is to stick the landing with minimal splash. And as you can tell, our Gold Medal Winner (aided by the fact she is no longer wearing swim diapers) did just that and did it beautifully.

The "Water Gun Blaster Event" - The purpose of this water sport is to see how high or far your water gun will shoot. Past winners include Alex - hitting neighbor's kitchen window with hard water spray. The neighbors were home at the time making dinner. No injuries occured. Unfortunately, this year no new records were set due to Wind Aided conditions.

The Closing Ceremonies - the Closing Ceremonies this year includes a tepid bubble bath or warm shower for our sports weary athletes. Plenty of Johnson & Johnson products are given away along with many hugs and kisses.

We're almost at the end of the Olympics, folks. Wishing you a moment where you stick-with-it-even-if-you-don't-want-to.


All Things Obama, Obama, Obama.

Barack Obama came to Reno yesterday for a rally of 200 Democratic invitees at one of our local high schools. It was invitation only. And yes, I totally wanted to crash it.

The media reported that he had charisma. And stood right next to people keeping eye contact and really listening. Mhmmm...that worked well for both Reagan and Clinton so let history repeat itself there.

But, when I found out that he was at PJ's my heart skipped a beat. PJ's famous for yummy salads. But the man ordered carrot cake and ice tea. Gotta love that. Skip right onto dessert and wash down the frosting with a low calorie beverage. He had me at frosting.

Go to your favorite local place and enjoy the ambiance today. Reno is still basking in the limelight.


All Things Staycation.

I remember summers in my childhood when we didn't take a formal vacation. It usually involved a large house expense, like the need to paint the house, or purchase a new car. A sheer necessity that made traveling somewhere cost prohibitive. But even when we couldn't go back to Serbia for the summer, we still visited local historical sites. And because we lived in Massachusetts (i.e. smaller state with closer borders), we would go an visit other states (like Maine, Rhode Island) or just go to Cape Cod.

But now, there's a term for what my parents (and I am sure countless others) did when household budgets were a little tight. It's called a Staycation.

staycation (stay-cation, or stacation)

A vacation spent close to home. With the price of gas soaring, a staycation is
what most Americans will experience during the summer of 2008.

This summer, the American Automobile Association (AAA) said the average North American vacation will cost $244 per day for two people for lodging and meals. So multiply that by a brood our size and you get a head-shaking "I don't think so." And of course, we have the Year Round School schedule to consider as well.

As this summer comes to an end, our staycation comes to a close as well. Even though we stayed at home, we did enjoy -

  • 1,170 minutes of swimming lessons.
  • 1,680 minutes of summer camps.
  • 630 minutes spent viewing summer blockbuster movies.
  • 116 minutes in coffee house queues waiting for Mommy's coffee order so she could be fueled up to deliver the kids to the next event.
  • Unaccounted for minutes reading 24 library books as part of our Summer Reading Program.
  • Countless hours in the backyard, parks and trails around our house.

All in all, I declare our staycation a success. Perhaps next break, which for us is in October, we'll get a chance to escape Nevada Territory but for now, we're enjoying the heat (101F yesterday) and the sprinklers/misters in our backyard.

Incidentally, the picture "postcard" above was taken from Alex's Room, last night, which has the best view of the setting sun behind the Sierras. If I squint my eyes a little and insert palm trees, I could pretend I am in Hawaii...Maui...Kaanapali Beach...cold, frothy, fruity beverage in my right hand while I sit in one of those wonderful hammocks they have handy for a quick repose.

Back to reality, Alex and I are off to go see "Star Wars: Clone Wars" today. Wishing you a moment where you can escape some of this mid-August heat.


All Things 0.01.

Last night's Phelps victory was a little bittersweet for me. You know I am Serbian and I graduated from Cal, so I was harboring hope that Milorad "Mike" Cavic would stand proud on the medal stand. And he did. The silver spot. But, the gold was so close. The length of a fingernail, the thickness of a piece of a paper...one more stroke instead of a glide and he would have beat out Phelps for the gold.

What a photo finish. Simply incredible. Cavic had said that it would be good for Phelps to lose -

“I think it’d be good for the sport, and it’d be good for him if he lost once. Just once. Let’s be honest about that. It’s true. It’s good to lose sometimes. I know because I’ve lost a lot. For him, what would it mean? I would hope that he would cut down his events for the next year and start training more for the 100 fly. There’s no doubt in my mind that’s he’s the best. Will he be the best here? I don’t know. He’s got a lot on his plate. Hopefully that will work out for me.”

Phelps coach reminded him of Cavic's comment right before the race. Perhaps that was the fingernail difference. The difference to finish a quest as opposed to be a spoiler. Either way, it was incredible viewing and on a personal level, a little gut wrenching.

Lots of pride for Milorad and for Michael. Milorad, you put Serbia ahead of Canada in the Medal Count. Thank you for that! Michael, you're just one incredible dude!

Now, if you haven't watched the Olympics, go in fact hurry, you're missing out on some incredible human drama...tune in tonight and lose sleep like we all did over here on the West Coast.


All Things Three Generations.

So here they are...ready to walk to school in the morning. Alex. Ken. Djedo. Becks. Quite the sight when you see them all lined up like that. Three generations deep. Three generations proud. Albeit different branches of that generational tree, but we are all tied together in a legal and binding contract so what does it matter?

Oh, and I know you've noticed, and don't want to ask. Ken and my Dad were ::NOT:: wearing matching outfits that day. It just seems they had on similar outfits. After all, great minds think alike. I am still chuckling when I see these pictures and contemplating how Kata and Bella like to dress alike and call themselves "June Sisters." It's due to the character in Disney's "Little Einsteins" who calls herself, you got it - June. I think they just like the way she looks. Maybe, that's what inspired our two dudes as well. Still chuckling over here.

But back to the three generations...and a dog...it was a nice ritual, Dad and Djedo walking Alex to school. I know that Alex will remember this in years to come. Pretty special moments.

Wishing you a pretty special moment so you can remember it down the road. Enjoy.


All Things Slipping Through My Fingers.

ABBA said it best in their song "Slipping Through My Fingers." If you go and see "Mamma Mia" you'll hear it. Or just turn your speakers up a smidge, I'll have it playing for the rest of the week.
It was a magical day. She didn't cry (and neither did I...mostly because Ken ushered me out of there at a rapid pace) although at one point she grabbed my hand on the playground and said, "Mama, I think I'm going to cry a little." It was a leap of faith for me to leave her in the hands of the very capable Mrs. Kirch. Incidentally, she is the same teacher Alex had when we moved to Reno. But, still it was a leap of faith for all of us.

I shouldn't have worried. When we picked her up, she was all a-twitter about her first day in Kindergarten. Another big step for us all was over. Another milestone was behind us. Now, it's Bella's turn to start pre-school, after Labor Day. Phew. All these paradigm shifts in our little world are leaving me dizzy.

Schoolbag in hand, she leaves home in the early morning,

Waving goodbye with an absent-minded smile,

I watch her go with a surge of that well-known sadness,
And I have to sit down for a while.

The feeling that I'm losing her forever,
And without really entering her world,

I'm glad whenever I can share her laughter,
That funny little girl.

Slipping through my fingers all the time,
I try to capture every minute,

The feeling in it,
Slipping through my fingers all the time.

Do I really see whats in her mind,
Each time I think I'm close to knowing,

She keeps on growing,
Slipping through my fingers all the time.

And somehow, we collectively made it through the day. Wishing you a leap of faith today as you go about your day. Go ahead, jump in!


All Things Let the Games Begin.

Our morning started out with a re-enactment of the Parade of Nations. It wasn't quite the spectacle we viewed last night, which was adjective defying...our senses are still a little tipsy from all of the sights and sounds of the Opening Ceremony. But, we had to do our own version because we're that kind of family.

It was so much fun to watch it with my parents. They are the ones who instilled my love of the Olympics and for that, I thank them. Watching the best of the best from around the world competing in their sports is a satisfying experience. And of course so is the thought of peace for at least 17 days, sort of anyway. I loved the fact Bush and Putin were seated together. I was mortified that the Olympics generated its first tragedy this morning.

But we attempted our own version of colorful visualizations when the girls returned from a birthday party with some beautiful paintings on their arms. Quite a sight, aren't they?

And so proud of themselves...

It's all about the pageantry around our house right now. Wishing you a moment to view the Olympics and the back-stories of triumph over tragedy. Incredible stuff.