Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Midsummer Update

So it seems my blog posts are getting further and further apart...which saddens me but reflects the season of life we're in! It's been two years since we moved into our God-selected house, and those two years have been so full that we still haven't completely unpacked, hung pictures, or stripped the wallpaper I was sure we'd get rid of right away. So much has happened with our kids, our church, and for me and Papa Rooster. So busy, but so good!!

The biggest news is with our kids. In my last post, I hinted that B21 may have met THE girl. I can't believe I had the confidence to post that, but we loved her the first time we met her, and it was clear that B21 was smitten too. It wasn't long before we were talking about them getting married...and skipping to the end of the story, we now have Blondechick's wedding August 7, and B21's will be October 16!

I promise that I will write a post about these two new additions to our family--and post pictures!--but for now, praise God with me that these two adult children, who have both gone through scary prodigal phases, are marrying solid Christ-followers. When I think of the futures I have imagined and feared for these two (and for us), I have to keep pinching myself and praising God for his work in their lives! So completely God's hand. And such incredible human beings to add to our family! I am overwhelmed with God's goodness.

In other news...Tom Sawyer, the show I directed in Milwaukee in the spring, was a great success. We had two extremely talented brothers as Tom and Huck, and a super-strong supporting cast. It was a blast directing two times in Milwaukee last year and getting to know all the wonderful families there. For next year, though, I've requested to stay in Kenosha because it is B17's senior year, and it was so hard having him doing Godspell in Kenosha while Chicklet13, B11 and I were in Milwaukee doing Tom Sawyer, especially since our public performances were at the exact same times. Fortunately our school day shows were at different times, so we got to see him play Judas one time--and it was the most powerful portrayal of Judas I've ever seen. He also sounded amazing starting out the show as John the Baptist, singing "Prepare Ye." I was sad to only see it once, and the siblings really missed being in a show together.

In Tom Sawyer, Chicklet played Amy Lawrence, Tom's previous girlfriend. As Tom tells Becky, "she's so darn perky, it could make you throw up"--and Chicklet had a lot of fun playing up the "perky" part, skipping and bouncing across stage, flashing her smile about and tossing her long curls in the boys' faces. B11 was one of the Tom's Gang Wannabes, who tagged along after the big boys and reprised one of their dances. As is true of B11 no matter where he is, he had great energy onstage!

Chicklet's first year in public middle school was an accomplishment--straight A's, a citizenship award, and two-time Student of the Month. (It's refreshing to have a child who actually cares about grades!) She's chosen to return to the same school for 8th grade next year.

We attended our first-ever fifth-grade graduation ceremony, filled with thankfulness for the great experience B11 has had in elementary school, with the same wonderful teacher both years. He's done so well, also with good grades, a Kiwanic Terrific Kid award and a citizenship award. For 6th grade, rather than going to the local school that Chicklet attends, he'll be going to a charter school with smaller class sizes, more of an elementary school feel (it's K-8) and a charter for learning that is hands-on, cooperative and quite challenging. 

Do I miss homeschooling? I'm often asked. I was too busy directing two shows last year to miss it at all; this year I won't be lead-directing any shows, so maybe I'll feel it more, but I also feel like these two youngest kids are where they are supposed to be for now. They are both thriving, and for Chicklet, being in public school has strengthened her faith and quickened a strong compassion for others. I don't think our older kids would have done well going to public school for middle school (B17 went for part of 7th grade and hated it), but for her, it's been the right thing. But as always, we take it year by year, child by child!

In June, Chicklet attended Project Dance camp with her Kenosha team, the culmination of two semesters of classes. It was an intense week of dancing for hours on end. She learned so much, made lots of new friends and loved her first overnight camp experience, staying in a dorm and eating in the dining hall. After she returned, she told me she can't wait to go to college. "Don't feel bad," she said, glowing, "but I can't wait to be independent. And I ate healthy every meal, Mom!" I'm proud and pleased, but sad to see her growing up so fast!

B17 had the honor of going to the International Thespian Festival in Lincoln, Nebraska, for a week; his high school's production of Dogfight was one of only 11 high schools selected to perform there. It was quite an experience for him! A few weekends later, his improv team competed in the Improvapalooza, an all-day improv competition. They didn't repeat last year's first-place victory, but it was still a fun day of great improv, and B17 enjoyed renewing friendships from previous years and from previous summer camps. 

B17 started visiting colleges last year, took the ACT twice, and will begin applying for college and scholarships this summer. Hard to believe his senior year is already looming! He's working, taking voice lessons, and continues to write songs--he sings and accompanies himself on the piano.

In addition to working as a shift supervisor at Starbucks, B21 continues his singer/songwriter career, with a regular gig playing on Sunday nights at a popular local restaurant. He recently won an online contest, garnering the most "likes" on a video of himself playing guitar and singing one of his own compositions, which will now be professionally recorded by the studio sponsoring the competition.

B25 works 10-15 hours a week stocking shelves; he also helps with chores, runs errands and plays chauffeur for his younger siblings, which is such a blessing! He also updates the church website by uploading new sermons each week.

Blondechick23 has moved into an apartment, where her fiance will join her once they are married, and she's enjoying unpacking her shower gifts, decorating, and wedding planning. She's recently gone back to waitressing, at a local establishment not far from their apartment.

B21 also just moved into an apartment very close to his workplace, where he's batching it until his wedding; he and his wife will start taking college classes in January, while they continue to work.

Since he moved out, B11 moved in to his old bedroom with B17 so that Chicklet13 could finally have her own room. With two kids out of the house, you'd think our schedule would be simpler, but with two engagements, we've added two more people to the family, plus their parents, who we are delighted to be getting to know--so the net effect is surprisingly more people, not less!

Father Rooster continues to work one day a week for his company, but the rest of his week for the church. Light of Christ continues to be a remarkable place of "love, hope and healing," as our mission statement puts it. Most recently, we started an Alpha group, which is for folks who want to learn more about Christianity, and it's been well-attended. We've also added a service on Sunday nights, once a month through the summer, called Oasis, for spiritual renewal and refreshment. Through the summer, I'm meeting four times with the middle schoolers (B11 and C13 included) for Bible study and a summer activity (the beach, the pool). We did the same thing last summer and it was a hit.

Finally, I enjoyed summer Shakespeare so much last year that I talked Chicklet13 into joining me this summer, and Papa Rooster said he'd do it too, if his dad would. (It has been great having my father-in-law living just blocks away from us! He moved to Kenosha last summer.) So all 4 of us are doing community theater together currently. We are performing abridged versions of Romeo and Juliet and As You Like It. Papa Rooster has the biggest part, playing Lord Capulet in R&J; his dad has the next biggest part, playing Adam, the faithful old servant, in AYLI. They are both amazing actors! I'm in both, with two small parts--Lady Montague in R&J, and Corin, the shepherd, in AYLI. Chicklet is playing Petra (Peter), plus another another Servant in R&J. She was also asked to understudy the lead character of Rosalind in AYLI, an honor that she hopes she won't actually have to perform.

That's more than enough for now! But now we're mostly caught up...so I can write about these engagements next time!

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