And then began the usual gamut of home-related crises. I developed bronchitis, Izabela and Dante caught a cold, Daddy's car broke down, the garbage disposal exploded and flooded the kitchen, we finally ordered a trampoline, and the next phase of electrical work in the basement was nearing completion. So between the antibiotics, the cough medicines, cleaning out our moldy (literally) old Jeep for Daddy to drive while his car received a new engine, unnecessary problems with the trampoline installation, the constant monitoring of contractors in and out of the house, and the fact that after 1500 feet of cable had been run there were STILL lines missing, life resumed its normal chaotic levels.
After the electrician finished the internal wiring (multiple times, as Daddy relentlessly followed every line from termination point to termination point), the basement was ready for insulation, and then drywall. The supposedly simple procedure was made less simple by the fact that an outside wall in the garage by the front door was accidentally left uninsulated, yet was beautifully dry-walled. Unfortunately, it had to be done over.
It was clearly a time for commonplace events to develop into something atypical, so it shouldn't have been surprising that the children's preoccupation with dates on coins would turn out to be useful. Having found numerous coins on the streets of Lake Worth, both Izabela and Dante were attuned to looking for coins on the ground and deciphering the date and mint in which they were made. So one day while waiting for Dante at dance class, Izabela found a penny and I helped her decode that it was from 1979. She palmed the coin and ran off to play with her friends while I chatted with some of the moms nearby. Nearly an hour later, she unexplainably burst into tears. No one seemed to know what had happened, but after she had calmed down, she squeaked out with great mortification that she had swallowed her penny! I was poignantly reminded of our cat, Sabrina, who swallowed a penny while I was in graduate school, and whose resulting surgery cost us more than our entire Christmas present fund for the year. Incredulous that such a thing could happen to ME twice in a lifetime, I didn't know whether to laugh, cry, or just be utterly horrified. I immediately called the pediatrician's office, whose first question was "do you happen to know if it was an old penny, or a new penny?" Stunned by the question, I managed to retrieve the 1979 date from my memory. The nurse was impressed. As it turns out, pennies made after 1982 contain zinc, and thus, when swallowed, have been known to react very badly with stomach acid. But I was assured that with older pennies “this too, shall pass”…
My music therapy sessions with Ciocia Marzena suddenly took on a more serious note, and we found ourselves playing an actual concert in Seattle at the Polish House. Bolling, Beethoven, Wieniawski, and Monti did not rise from their graves to haunt us afterwards, and the people present seemed to enjoy themselves, so the event was deemed to be a great success. Dante's piano recital also went well.
So while I had rehearsals in the morning, all available weekend time was spent on additional rehearsals for this year's Duvall Performing Arts recital, titled "I Hope You Dance". Dedicated to an actual teenage dancer, Sophie, diagnosed with cancer and forced to amputate one of her legs below the knee, the recital was emotionally draining, as well as technically complex. Izabela danced as a Little Thumbelina with her class of adorable cutie pies, while Dante took on several more serious roles. As Aladdin, he danced with his ballet class and in a pas de deux with "Jasmine". As Gus the Mouse, he helped Cinderella prepare for her ball. As Sophie's surgeon he led his hip hop class of nurses. And as a Broadway Tapper, he emulated Fred Astaire to "Puttin' on the Ritz." With 4 separate costumes and 4 different pairs of shoes, the costume changes were the most stressful part of the show, and although he had helpers in the wings, it was dark and there was little time in which to change. So mistakes were bound to happen. Grandma of course thought the most precious part of the first show was when Dante came on the stage as Gus the Mouse… with his tail coming out of his front! Dante, like a true professional, ignored the offending limb(!) and danced a beautiful waltz with a slightly darker blush than intended by the makeup artist.
Though the gymnastics season was already over, normal classes continued, and Dante was promoted to Level 5 without hesitation. At the End of Year Team Party, he also found himself chosen for the Most Improved Gymnast team award.
Dante's Birthday was postponed this year as he desperately wanted to celebrate at home in the sunshine. But of course there had to be a story to it, so to cater to his desired Pirate Theme, the Evite contained the following text:
The party was a huge success. The kids had a glorious time on a wondrously sunny day. Daddy, as usual, was the Master of Ceremonies, giving pirates their true pirate names, teaching them how to play cannonball toss, and making sure that walking the plank would not actually be deadly. Pirates made pirate hats, decorated wooden treasure chests, climbed all over the pirate ship (play structure), bounced on the (finally) installed trampoline, slid down a Pirate (inflatable) slide, and hunted for gold throughout the hedge maze. The adults were amused, though most already accustomed to the Hays Family Birthday Party Craziness. Our friend Annie even showed up fully outfitted as a pirate woman. The event culminated in the pirate ship cake mast catching impressively, yet harmlessly, on fire.