Doggies, dancing and dashing through the.. crowds!

My "Dog Walkers Club" met up for our second meeting early Saturday morning. We had no traffic getting to the shelter and we knew exactly where to go this time, so we had a full two hours to help out.  Most of the dogs were a bit hard to walk, since they had little experience on leashes.  One in fact, shimmied her way out of her harness not once, but three times and took off sprinting without hesitating for a second.  That certainly provided the students with plenty of extra exercise, as they chased after the loose dog.  Overall, the students were extremely attentive and dedicated to making sure as many dogs could get walked as possible.  I had ten students helping this time, which made me very pleased, to see our club growing and more students becoming involved in a great cause!

Immediately after working at the shelter, I headed back to school, ate my lunch as fast as possible, then helped my co-coach run the dress rehearsal for the December Dance Gala performance.  This was our second year hosting a dance gala, showcasing the pieces that we had been working on as a dance team since August.  The gala began at 3:30, and lighting and sound went off without a hitch!  I am especially happy that our smoke machine worked properly for our "Through the Veil" piece, and no one lost a hat during our Santa Claus piece--yay!  I was working backstage, so I didn't get pictures of the performance, but I will post the videos and photos once I receive them.

We then had an "after party" for the dancers, complete with treats and lots of dancin' in the studio after. The theme seemed to be vanilla cupcakes.  I made the "North Pole" cupcakes, which came out pretty well, considering I improvised on the frosting.  I ended up using raspberry jam (from Spain that I brought back with me from my summer travels--"La Vieja Fabrica"--yummy!) and coated the tops with coconut "snow".  The poles are candy canes and I made the little signs by writing with a white out pen on red construction paper. I taped the paper to the cane (still wrapped in the plastic).

I love this idea of wrapping a plain box in decorative paper to transport holiday treats!

Some of my dancers modeling the T-shirt I gifted them for Christmas/end of the season.  They were all really excited to receive them, as we didn't make shirts to wear to APAC festival, and I know some were a bit disappointed about that.  The saying on the shirt is especially meaningful, since the girls have practiced being better performers, always ensuring that the "show will go on"!

My co-coach Leslie vDB and me, coach Fitz.  Two years and going strong!

Candid shots are the best! ;) 

This is me arriving to the tree lighting ceremony at Hongqiao Hilton on the waaaaaaay other side of Shanghai.  To the tune of a 112rmb cab ride!! whoops! and after all that time and effort to get there, the gift bazaar was a total bust. A lot of kids stuff, overpriced items that are sold a lot cheaper in the underground market, and random stuff like beaded jewelry made by battered women in India.  I appreciate the idea of their project, but I think it's a little depressing that their personal, detailed stories were listed on the back of the package.  Nothing says Christmas like reading about how some lady gets beat by her husband.  There was also a HUGE CROWD of people doing the typical pushing and shoving; it's like Black Friday everyday here!  

Needless to say, I walked out of there empty-handed and my cab fare back to Jinqiao was 79rmb. 
I was dozing on the way there, so the cabbie must have given me the scenic route to Honqiao.  
At least the guy back was a bit more honest!  

                      The gift section was terrible, but the tree lighting and singing were beautiful!  

                       They even had a sweet gingerbread house I couldn't resist posing in front of!

 Once I got home, I pretty much went straight to bed.  In the morning, I snapped these shots of the beautiful flowers my dancers bought to thank me for a great season.  I've never had so many bouquets at one time!  I hope my black thumb doesn't kill them too fast.  
They brighten my day every time I see and smell them!  Thank you girls!  

I hope you are enjoying the first few days of the Christmas season and have an opportunity to enjoy your neighborhood tree lighting ceremonies and seasonal dance performances staged by local schools.  Don't forget to support your local businesses during your shopping travels.  If you're in the NYC area, Columbus Circle and Bryant Park markets are the perfect places to shop and experience the charm of winter in NY. Until next time....

<3 paz. amor. felicidad siempre

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