She didn't love it though, at least, not at first.
The Latin dress, however, needed a lot of work. When girls compete in ballroom, it involves crystals. Lots and lots of sparkly, shiny, dazzling crystals, and we found out that anyone who's anyone needs to use Swarvoski crystals. I found a website that sold star-shaped crystals in silver night and another that sold individual circle shaped crystals at an even better price, and order a lot. Then a lot more. I underestimated at first. She ended up with 1600+ crystals on the dress in a starburst pattern that took more hours than I want to remember to attach. Fortunately, I discovered hotfix right at the beginning, since life would have been a lot more painful if I had been going the old-fashioned route of E6000 and a toothpick.
I made the mistake of joking with Richard when they were looking at the blue dress that we could always add some more stones to it to, with a wink, and he introduced me to what would become my new motto: More is more. I'm not sure how many hundreds of additional crystals went on the blue dress, but it was a lot. Shara started helping with it, too, when I wasn't using the hotfix gun.
In September, we started splitting her rehearsal time between preparation for her competition and her November Spotlight. I also started making monthly payments into her competition account so we could afford to send her, in addition to starting up a gofundme, which got some action from my ex-husband's family. Honestly, we couldn't have sent her without their help. But first, they had to choreograph her routine, which they planned as a rumba to Please Come Home for Christmas, and she had to find out how well she could pick up ballroom choreography.
Which also meant we needed another costume.
We found this cutie on Amazon (I love you, Amazon!), but it was just too plain after weeks of adding crystals to dresses. I added a row of red crystals around the skirt, white opal crystals on the netting underskirt, and dusted the balls at the end of the hood with spray glitter.
The Boy went with a Grinch theme, which meant I got to revisit my time doing makeup for high school theater.
This was also about the time that we met Matt. Shara goes in for group lessons at least twice most weeks, in addition to her regular private lesson times and weekly Friday night dances. Shara had been her usually oblivious self regarding the chatter about the new coach transferring in. She first encountered him during a rumba group class, and thought nothing more of it than another new student. She seemed quite horrified that this was the same person she danced with at the group class upon learning the next day that he was the new coach. Shara was assigned to start working with him almost immediately to help prevent her from getting too locked into one way of following.
Halloween started approaching, and there was no way the studio was going to let that pass unnoticed. Which meant we needed another costume, and she absolutely had to be Captain America. In a tutu.
Shortly afterwards (November 8th, 2014), the studio started a promotional month at the local mall for the grand opening of their Microsoft store. Originally, they planned out blocks of time for students to have individual performances, so we scheduled both of the kids around the same time. We got there really early, and as the day progressed, it was discovered that we drew more of a crowd when we either had the younger kids dancing, or when there were multiple couples, since it seemed more purposeful. The kids had a great time, and I got to be of use to the studio, passing out information packets while the pros danced. We also spent some time working with new makeups, trying out different sparkles and colors.
We also found out Richard was having some health problems, and we were concerned, because Shara had Spotlight coming up. We weren't worried about her competition, because it was a full month out, still.
Richard's health continued to be an issue into November, so her Spotlight was performed with Matt. In a way, he really kind of stood in as a substitute big brother for her, overprotectiveness and all.
After Spotlight, the decision was made to have Matt and Craig (the studio manager) partner her for the competition. Once they decided that, I felt better, because we were no longer waiting for him to get better and worrying about how much rehearsal time they would have. We could just focus on the competition. Of course, she didn't feel the same way. She was very worried because she started out dancing with Richard, and she wasn't nearly as used to dancing with Matt.
Decorating the studio tree
There's a story here. Shara and one of the female pros were tidying up around the studio to put up decorations. We spend enough time there that I keep tea in their cupboard, and Shara and I help with random tasks. Shara was trying to wrap lights and tinsel around the tree, and fortunately the studio manager, who clocks in at a solid foot and a half taller than she is, came to rescue her.