Back in, what, late September or so? Milly decided to try out for her school’s production of The Lion King. She went for the role of Young Nala. She did such a great job with it that they instead gave her the role of Young Simba! Yes, Milly’s theatrical debut would be as the titular character (for the first half-and-change of the play).

Mufasa and Young Simba

They had practices and rehearsals twice a week and Milly was able to learn her lines pretty quickly, I thought.

So it all came down to two shows this weekend. I talked to Milly Thursday night and asked her how she was feeling about it. “Excited and terrified,” was her answer. After the first show I asked her what it felt like when she walked out for her first scene. “It was AWESOME!”

Amanda’s family was going to the Friday show and my family was going to the Saturday show (not by design- that’s just how it worked out). Amanda and I both went to both.

I got there really early on Friday because I wanted to make sure I saw Milly beforehand to give her my support and words of encouragement. I sat in the very front row, just a little left of center. There were chairs and drums at center stage and I wasn’t sure if they would be there during the play itself. (They weren’t.)

I was ridiculously excited for the play to start. Milly was out with the entire cast during the opening scene where they sand Circle of Life, but I actually didn’t realize she was there, as she was just part of the huge group of animal-dressed kids. Next came a scene in Scar’s den, and then my little girl came out, wandering around the stage following her screen-daddy, Mufasa. Mufasa was played by a fifth grader and made Milly look so tiny!

Of course, I almost cried as soon as she came out. As she was exiting the stage for that scene and the lights began to dim, I did the most dad thing possible and leaned over to the stranger next to me and told him, “That’s my kid.” “Which one?” he asked. “Simba,” I told him with pride. He and his wife told me (several times) what a great job she did, as did a number of other people.

I mean, yes, you’d think people are a little bit obligated to tell you that your kid did a good job in a play, but objectively, she really did. I feel like she put a lot of expression into her lines and emoted really well.

I thought a number of kids did really well. My favorites were Milly (of course), Timon, and Rafiki. The kid who played Rafiki even did an African accent.

The only complaint about the play is that they had microphone problems both nights. They hadn’t had a chance to practice with them. On Friday night poor Pumba’s mic never worked, so most people not sitting up front probably missed a lot of the lines. It was better the second night, but there were times mics were still hot after kids went backstage and times they weren’t turned on before they started delivering their lines.

But other than that, I was very impressed with it. The costumes were great and some of the makeup was really good. I liked Scar’s and Rafiki’s in particular.

It was my Milly weekend, but Amanda and I had discussed it earlier and I let Milly stay with Amanda until after the play Saturday so she could help get her ready for the play and do the makeup. On top of that, Jessica and Graelyn were coming in from out of town, so it gave Milly time to hang out with one of her oldest buddies. They got to town Friday evening and went to the Saturday show.

I was walking through the lobby before the Friday show and saw Amanda, Karen, and Anna. I went to say hi and to tell Amanda she’d done a nice job with Milly’s makeup, to which she replied that she hadn’t, but the powder helped mask it. Karen and Anna congratulated me on the boys and Anna asked how they and Tristen were doing before asking if I’d noticed Peggy and Earl, who were sitting nearby. I hadn’t, so I talked with them a bit too. Phil, Barry, Hannah, Christian, and Kirsten were all there too. I think Amanda’s boyfriend, Jason, and his mom might have been there too. Outside of the two of them, I got a chance to say hi and chat at least a little with all of them. A number of other people I knew were there, too.

On Saturday I made French toast pancakes, which are exactly what they sound like. You make pancakes then dip them in egg then put them on the griddle. Mom and Dad showed up mid-morning. Dad and I went to Lowe’s to get a few things to work on finishing up the door in the back. I don’t know if that’s ever going to actually be finished. (It will. It’s kind of getting there.)

Tristen was going to take the boys to her mom’s house and go for a walk around Hugh MacRae Park. My mom was going to go, but she knew that, it being a first, it was something I’d want to do, so she said she’d stay and help my dad so I could go. Dad was cool with that, and I don’t know how much help he needed from me anyway, so I went.

Johnny and Sebastian were there. We fed Fawkes and Phoenix, loaded all the kids into one stroller, and walked to the park. The pollen was so bad you could see a yellow haze when you looked off into the distance. Laura watched Sebastian play on the playground while Tristen sat with the boys in the stroller, who slept the whole time.

I hadn’t realized how late it was when we went over there, so Johnny and I just hung out a minute then walked back to the house then drive back over to pick Sebastian up and go home. Tristen, Fawkes, Phoenix, and Laura all walked back then Tristen came on home shortly after that.

Erin was at the house when I got back, and Adam showed up a little bit later. Andra’s crew couldn’t come because of a dance competition they had this weekend.

I multitasked a little, trying to help my dad as I could while watching what I could of the Duke game. It was the second round of the NCAA Tournament and they were playing Rhode Island, whose guards were thought to possibly give Duke some trouble. Duke was up 14 or so when I left to go reserve seats and they ended up winning by 25. I watched a little bit of it on my phone after I reserved a row of seats for my people. The people behind me were talking about basketball and there was an older lady who liked Duke (though her son or whoever the guy around my age was sitting next to her was a Tar Heel), so I let them watch a bit.

I got to the auditorium a little later than I did the day before, but it filled up faster and I didn’t get the seats I was hoping to get. My crew got there just a few minutes before the play started and I had to fight people off of the seats I was saving.

In addition to my family, two of Milly’s neighborhood friends were there: Miles (with Rye) and Abigail (with both of her parents). Amanda was sitting a few rows ahead of us with Jessica and Graelyn. My family went to say hi to Amanda at the intermission.  Cyra and Henry, plus Cyra’s sister and nephews, were right behind them. My former neighbor Bonnie was there too. I saw her coming in and said “Hi,” to her. She was about to ask me who I was there to see. She ended up going onstage for a little pre-play entertainment, so I took a video and sent it to her later. I did the same for Kevin Millard the night before.

Torrie’s crew was supposed to come, but she ended up having to work late and didn’t get off in time. Laura was watching the boys, but Torrie took over for her when she got home.

The mic situation was a lot better on Saturday. Milly said later that she thought the whole performance on Saturday went better, which makes sense since they hadn’t had a full dress rehearsal before. Tristen cried twice: once at the beginning (which, I’ll admit, gave me chills) and then again when Mufasa died. Milly, as I mentioned before, did a really good job of emoting.

We all went home after the play. I told Milly she could pick a place for us all to eat, but she couldn’t decide. “Indochine,” she said, “is too expensive,” and I didn’t tell her it wasn’t. She ended up kind of wanting stuffed crust pizza, but the only place that has that is Pizza Hut, and she wanted to go someplace a little nicer. We ended up trying out a place called Agostino’s. It wasn’t exactly fancy, but it was good and the staff was really friendly. Milly was wearing her Lion King play shirt, a Lion King sweatshirt “her brothers” got for her and her eyebrows were kind of red from not being able to get all the makeup out of them. A few of the people there talked to her about being in the play. Adam and Erin paid for the dinner, which was really nice of them.

And that was Milly’s theatrical debut. She and I discussed what it was like to be done with it, ho it was kind of a coming down. You work at something and prepare for it for so long, and you’re in the center of this big thing, then the time comes and it’s all done and there’s nothing more for it. It’s a bittersweet feeling. She really enjoyed being a part of the play and we’re going to see about getting her in some theater camps or something this summer.

As for the rest of the weekend, Mom and Dad left Saturday night, Adam left Sunday, and Erin’s hanging around to help us out for a few days. Abigail came over Sunday and she and Milly played most of the day.

We’re stepping up how much Fawkes and Phoenix eat, although Tristen hasn’t been producing as much. We tried one night of just letting her feed them instead of pumping and making bottles, but that didn’t work out the best, so we’re going to stick with the bottles.

I mentioned basketball earlier. It was a crazy first weekend of basketball. The biggest news is that that which has never happened, happened: a 16-seed, UMBC, beat a one-seed, Virginia. I always figured if that were to happen it would be against a weak one-seed and it would be close, but none of those held. Virginia, which two regular season losses, was the clear overall #1 team, and they lost 74-54 after a 21-21 first half. You could see the fear on the Virginia players’ faces around the ten-minute mark.

I had always hoped it would happen to UNC, but worried it would happen to Duke. I like Virginia just fine and felt bad for the players and the fans. Well, kind of the fans. With their recent ACC success, some of them were getting a bit belligerent towards the traditional ACC powers.

That busted a lot of brackets, obviously. It didn’t hurt me too bad though, as I had them going on the next game anyway. They lost one of their top players to injury right before the tournament, and while their defense is top-notch, their offense is not.

Carolina won their first game, but got blown out in their second one by Texas A&M. I had them going out that game on my bracket, but I had Providence taking them out. Their path to the Final Four was shaping up to be a relatively easy one, so even though I optimistically had them going out, I was pretty certain they were going to make it to the Final Four. In fact, I found a website that simulates games and did the whole tournament on it, matchup by matchup, and UNC was repeating as champions, according to those results.

I may sound smart having Virginia out early and UNC out right on time, but in reality, my bracket is looking pretty rough.

Michigan State also lost their second game, which is good for Duke because they were seen as the biggest stumbling block for Duke. They lost to Syracuse, who Duke beat handily about a month ago before Duke really ratcheted up their play. If Duke can keep playing like they have the first two rounds, it’s going to be tough to beat them. If they both win out, Duke will meet Villanova in the Final Four, and I think whoever wins that game is the champion.

We shall see.