Monday morning begins with new hope and excitement of competition week here at Princess of America in Branson. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I have super powers and special gifts when I work with children. No, it's true! Total serious face. AND, I'm never above bribery with it comes to working with my tiny humans and minions. (However, I do not negotiate with terrorists. - Haha!) Now, working with younger children is super adventurous. You never know how they will act or react, and you never know what they will say.
Registration. Queen Emery (aka, "Lulu") needed her hair curled. Lulu did not want her hair curled. Apparently she feels that this act is certifiably an act of torture. So a little bribery goes a long way! After getting her all set up in a pillow cocoon and wrapping her in blankets, I have her royal permission to curl her hair in the bed as she continues to rest. Issue #1 - solved.
Now, younger sister, Addalyn (who is competing for Em's title) does NOT want anything to do with curling her hair. This also includes bobby pins (which does NOT fair well in pageant week!). However, since she saw her sister get the royal treatment, Addie figured she could reason with me to also get her own royal treatment. And I obliged. The day before Addie did NOT want curls and the only offer I made to her was: "If I let you use the curling iron on me, you have to let me use the curling iron on you." - Now before you freak out, I supervised her so she wouldn't get burned, and neither would I! Needless to say both of use survived the curling process. Issue #2 - solved.
Now that we are all downstairs at POA registration, we check in, get our opening number dress, meet new people, and catch up with old friends. Typical pageant atmosphere. All is good.
Orientation. The national queens are introduced, we hear about the week, tips and rules, etc. Once again, all typical things.
Fast forward through dinner, and pink party into the late evening. It's time for our rehearsals because Tuesday is when the girls compete in casual wear. Addie will be rocking the stage along with big sister, Emery. (The neat thing about POA is that the reigning queens can perform in everything the contestants do to (1) set the pace and (2) basically get practice as they come out of their contract. They just don't get scored.)
Issue #3. I don't want to practice. - Um that's not an option.
Sometimes getting the tiny humans and minions to practice can be (to them) torture. So after a lot of bribery, I was able to get them downstairs and ready to practice .... for treats. Soooo many treats. (Cue the music. Someone get on deck. And .... GO!) After a few death stares and even more bribery, those Molander's finally gave me some great practice. UNTIL - Emery breaks out with blowing kisses her in routine. I gasped! I had open mouth in shock! I grabbed by chest and felt the palpitation and then ....... HIT THE FLOOR. I told her she killed me. She killed me with her kisses. So after reviving me back to life, we talked about "no kisses" on stage. Ok, no more. My heart could not take any more. Now upstairs to get ready for bed.
As Amy and I go through the next day's lists, we know we have to be super strategic because she has to be with Emery, as I am with Addie. We have everyone's clothes, backups, changing clothes, curling irons and hairspray (SOOOOO many bottles of hairspray), blister band aids, and pretty much everything including the kitchen sink. I pack my bags also. I go through my list. Double check the list. I think I'm good.
Tuesday Morning. At the time of "Way to early."
You know I spend a lot of time in airports or traveling in my car, theaters or convention centers, and OMG soooo many hotels. I know which stores are good to shop in throughout the countries various airports. I know the best route between my hotel room to the stage. I know the quickest elevators. I make friends with the hotel staff who bring me goodies and let me use empty rooms for the girls' practices. I even know the best things about certain hotels such as (1) who gives the best complementaries the room (such as bottled water, shampoos or the conditioners, the type of lotion, if a sewing kit is given, body scrub, etc), (2) who has the best pillows, (3) fluffiest towels, (4) softest beds, and (5) who has the best water pressure, along with hottest water temperature. I spend so much time away from my own home that it's the little things that make me feel comfy during my adventures. Strange, yes, I know. But hey, that's my life. Anyway, I digress.
Emery and Momma Molander have to get up early and leave before Addie and I for the theater. So Addie and I get to have an adventure. Today is optionals and she competes in casual wear. So we are up, dressed, fed, and heading to the theater .... in the rain. AH - not cool! Not cool. We arrive, I setup, and bet you can't guess what I'm going to do next????? Try.
Yep, good ole Edna and I get busy steaming. Luckily though it wasn't 17 outfits!
After morning Western Wear themed rehearsals, it's time to get Addie-Bear ready for casual wear! (Yea I promise I didn't mean for that to rhyme but it did - you're welcome.) Pinned curls done. Rehearsals with me done. Lunch done. Neuro Sonic - gone! Hair fixed. Outfit on. THEN - oh heavens! - time to sew. Both Em and Addie's straps have to be stitched and luckily they trust me enough to let me sew on the outfit while it is on their body! I've gotten super fast at threading the needle in darkness (with invisible thread, no less!). It's nearly time for Addie to hit the stage. She's a little nervous. Ok, she's a lot nervous. She keeps asking for us to practice, and practice more and JUST one more time! She's doing great. Few minor things but hey!, that's what casual wear is for - get the nerves out. I give her the pep talk.
"Addie - you know this! You got this! Remember those judges don't know what you're supposed to do or not. Just have fun - be confident and ROCK THAT STAGE!" She smiles at me and leans in for a BIG Addie-Bear size hug but still looks nervous. She asks for me to stand by the judges in case she needs me. I tell her "sure." (But I know she won't need me - nor will she be able to even see me!) She gets into line. Just kidding - NOPE - she comes back with a tiny look of apprehension on her face. She's not ready for me to leave her backstage. So we run her routine several more times. She's got this - there is NO need to worry! So I pull her in once more for one more boost.
"Addie ... You know you will own that stage because you were born to shine! I believe in you and you've already made me proud so there's nothing you can do in the next couple of moments that would take that away. Plus, remember ..... if you do your best you get ice cream!"
Yea .... that sealed the deal right there! Remember, I'm never above bribery! Wouldn't you know it - Addie was wonderful! She found those judges, she hit her marks, she had energy and spunk, and most importantly, she believed in herself. I ran backstage to catch her and she ran straight into my arms with the biggest grin I have ever seen. She jumped up for a hug and said "I didn't need you! I did it all by myself!" .... Yes you did, Addie. Yes you did!
These moments will always be my favorites. It's the moments when the girls come out feeling like they own the world! Seeing that confidence go higher than the roof. Seeing those smiles because they had fun! I love hearing the excitement in their voices when they describe what they were feeling or thinking when on stage or in interview. I hear every word. I feel every word. They are writing their personal story in their journey for the crown. It's these moments they I will never forget.
So today will finish up with more rehearsals for TCM girls, dinner, and of course ice cream. And if you ask Addie, probably Swedish Fish. Good job Addie. You are my superstar!