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Oct 15 2016

A Ferry Ride, A Fearless Leader, and a Sugar Plum Fairy

Posted by Mugs @ 9:38 pm in Church,Family,Nature,Sightseeing Print This Post Print This Post

Where can you find a ferry ride, a fearless leader, and a sugar plum fairy? At the women’s retreat, of course. This year we returned to Eastover Manor courtesy of our favorite ferry across the James River. The first question the team asked upon arrival was, “Where is Marie? We need Marie.” Last year, my sister Marie was our unofficial 4th team member who organized the fridge, set meal items out, started the fire, and did everything else that needed to be done well and not in my haphazard way. I cannot imagine why Marie wouldn’t want to come back. Maybe she believes a retreat should be relaxing. (Thankfully, Sondra and Mary Johns picked up the slack.) We missed Mom too, but understood her desire to fulfill the roll of supportive Grandma for Zeke’s performance in November. Happily, Abby joined us this year and brought Kathleen with her to bring us some youthful outlooks.

We were blessed to have Kristen’s dear friend, Jen Oshman as our speaker. She taught us from the book of Colossians on the preeminence, supremacy, sufficiency, and attributes of Christ. She exhorted us to grace driven effort and to holding fast to the future grace that awaits us. We were all privileged to witness the recitation of the book of Colossians by Jen and her sweet friend, Alivia. It inspired us all to grasp hold of Psalm 119:11 “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”

Alivia was a gift from God to us. Helping us to see God at work among us – encouraging, exhorting, praying, finding scripture, making us laugh with her tourist antics. I met Alivia and thought, “We’ve just met, but I know you. We are sisters in the Lord.” If you ever need an energy boost, ask God to send you Alivia on a redeye flight.

Kristen and I were once again determined to beat The Fearless Leader in the pajama parade. Our efforts, however, were to no avail. When Mary dresses like a chicken and does the chicken dance, what can we do but lose again? There were four categories of winners – Mary Johns’ normal pjs were a hoot, Abby (as usual) was cutest, but it was Genean as the sugar plum fairy who stole the show. My and Kristen’s consolation prize was winning reverse charades despite the opposition’s fabulous totem pole.

Amy was a walking comedy routine throughout the weekend whether she was battling wooden bedposts, forgetting the bridge every time in “May the Peoples Praise You,” or making trash bags suddenly appear. If we were laughing, it was most likely because Amy was up to her antics. She was a great distraction from the pouring rain and howling wind. God granted us a clear arrival and a clear departure, but our fireside chat had to move indoors. The MKM Rappers made their one and only appearance complete with a limousine, broken hearts, shooting the moon, buying a break, and a whole lot of promises. Rapping in front of a crowd – The Fearless Leader leads the way.

As always, God was faithful to meet with us and His Holy Spirit uplifted us. With Christ in our hearts uniting us, we were able to encourage one another in the faith. Each year, God moves among us and every year I am reminded how very precious the retreat is in my life.

Sep 10 2016

A Picnic Baptism

Posted by Mugs @ 5:29 pm in Church,Family Print This Post Print This Post

To escape the one hundred degree July heat, the Church Picnic moved to a new date, but thankfully, stayed at the same place. We all love going to Bob and Denise’s home every year to eat, swim, and play games together. This year, a baptism was added in to encourage our hearts in the Lord. We were all blessed to witness Kerri and Amy’s proclamation of faith in Christ.

You’ll have to look in the background of the photos in order to find Denise. She was busy, as usual, working throughout the entire event. Bob, after completing his grill duties, was goofing off.

The kids had fun playing Ted’s latest game creations – noodle soccer and wet sponge attack. Sophie Grace and Elijah were all in, determined to get the ball in the goal (the opponent’s goal or their own goal – either would suffice.) Jeff Singley was the big loser in the wet sponge attack, having received the most hits via wet sponge. I’m fairly certain that it is an essential part of church operations for the youth leader to periodically be pummeled by his unruly flock.

The ribs and chicken were delicious as were all the sides and desserts. (High praise goes to Genean’s peach cobbler.) Because the Manry Clan lost at cornhole (we’ve been slacking off in our bag toss skill training), Dale was forced to give up bragging rights for the year.

Nine years ago, the Manry Clan landed in Virginia, and was welcomed as family by New Life Community Church. Each year, Denise and Bob host this picnic for our family of God, gladly welcoming and feeding all who will come. Their gracious hospitality has been a testimony to me of what it looks like to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

Aug 25 2016

First Day of School

Posted by Mugs @ 2:45 pm in Family,school Print This Post Print This Post

Yesterday was the first day of school for Gabe and Zeke. Can you guess who was happy to go back and who was not?

Aug 13 2016

All My World’s a Stage

Posted by Mugs @ 6:24 pm in Family,Music Print This Post Print This Post

Zeke has been our song and dance man since birth, always wanting to put on a show. For years, he had friends in CYT (Christian Youth Theater) and begged me to let him join. Knowing the commitment CYT expects from the parent, I kept putting him off.

Two summers ago, I let him attend a CYT Willy Wonka summer camp. “Maybe you can be an Oompa Loompa,” I said.

The next day he told me, “I’m Willy Wonka.”

Last summer, he tried out for the Middle School soccer team, but when the school dropped the JV team, there were more kids than spots. Zeke didn’t make it and I wanted to make the disappointment go away so I said,  “Well, now you can do CYT in the fall instead of in the spring.”

Thus began my life of drama. Zeke dove headlong into CYT and dragged me with him. I eventually dragged in Gabe as well. CYT was a major part of our life last year and Zeke loved every minute of it. I loved bits and pieces of it, but ran out of steam by June. It has taken more than a month to clear my head. Classes and auditions start again soon, and Zeke keeps asking me, “when are you going to blog about CYT?

CYT consists of both classes and shows. Each child takes a class one day a week for ten weeks. Zeke had fun in his first class, Aladdin, and loved singing “Friend Like Me” as the Genie in the showcase. CYT put on two main stage productions in the fall: 101 Dalmatians and Mary Poppins. Zeke’s friends from school were in 101 Dalmatians, but the cast was full by the time we signed up so Zeke auditioned for Poppins by singing “Would you like to swing on a star?”

I told him, “This is your first audition and it will be good practice even if you don’t make the show.” (Oh me of little faith.) He made the show and joined his first of three strange ensembles. Practices were on Friday nights and Saturdays for ten weeks, but Zeke did not have to go to all the practices because he was only in three scenes. The week prior to the show was tech week and Zeke had practice every night. Mary Poppins proved to be the biggest and most elaborate production of the year. In it, Zeke played a toy jester from the nursery grown to full size because the children were naughty and Mary Poppins wanted to teach them a lesson. For their scene, Zeke and the other toys sang and danced to the creepy song, “Playing the Game.” The scene frightened the audience’s young children and Blue (Abby’s friend).

(The show photos are courtesy of Amber Trementozzi AMT Photography – CYT official photographer and also my friend.)

Zeke did a terrific job as the jester and when his face broke out because of the red dye in the makeup, he wore a scary mask. (The show must go on.) He was also a naughty child in the full cast number. (There he is…oh, now he’s gone.) I had to pay close attention not to miss him. My favorite moment in Poppins was after opening night when the cast arrived in the lobby to greet family and friends. The cast was thrilled that they had pulled the show off (dress rehearsal had been a disaster). Their joy and excitement burst forth, their energy was palpable. It brought a big smile to my face.

In the midst of Poppins, I was writing a 50,000 word novel for nanowrimo. All my writing was put into the novel instead of the blog. I scrambled from one thing to the next. I was tired after Poppins, but CYT had taken hold and auditions for Fiddler on the Roof (winter show) were coming soon. Fiddler is my favorite musical, so I begged Gabe to audition. His friend, Nathan had been asking Gabe to do CYT since they were in Eighth Grade Drama class together.

I said, “Gabe, there aren’t that many teen boys with beards. They need you. Please do this one show and then I’ll never ask you to do another one again.”

Gabe agreed to take a class and audition for Fiddler. This session, Zeke took an Improv class and got a laugh for his “From your own mother” line during the showcase. Gabe’s class was Honk and he played both Ugly and the Bullfrog for the showcase (The showcase was rescheduled because of snow.) He hammed it up “Warts and All.”

Most of Zeke’s friends auditioned for Aladdin, but I wanted Gabe and Zeke in the same show, For auditions, Zeke sang “A Very Merry Unbirthday” and Gabe sang “Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee (An Actor’s Life for Me).”They both said their monologues and then went to their dance audition. Neither Zeke nor Gabe have had any dance lessons. Zeke learned some dance steps in Poppins, but Gabe’s dance audition was horrendous. When he reenacted it for me in the parking lot, I laughed so hard tears ran down my face.

Gabe received a call back to audition for a speaking role and landed the part of Avram, the bookseller. Zeke made his second bizarre ensemble as a member of the zombie band. During Tevye’s dream scene in the graveyard, Zeke sang mazel tov and played the cymbals. It was hilarious. Zeke was also a village boy in the full cast scenes.

Gabe brought the bad news in Fiddler and had a solo in “The Rumor.” He sang in many ensembles. I loved hearing him sing in the departure scene -Anetevka. Gabe was also Tevye’s understudy and once filled in for Laser Wolf during a practice. He memorized many parts in the script and one night at home did an entire scene acting out five different parts. We were highly entertained.

Gabe’s most miraculous transformation was in dancing. Amazingly, over the course of ten weeks, the choreographer taught him to dance. He danced in “To Life” and in the wedding scene as one of bottle dancers. There were six guys who danced with bottles on their heads. The bottles were not attached, There were no magnets. It was all balance. During the first few performances, one of the bottle dancers would drop his bottle and have to leave the line. My favorite moment from Fiddler was when all six dancers kept their bottles on their heads for the entire dance. They hooped and hollered when they finished, so excited that they had all done it as a team.

(Gabe is on the far right.)

I was exhausted after Fiddler and told Gabe and Zeke we were done for the year.

Then Nathan begged Gabe to do You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown with him. Gabe’s old drama teacher was directing, it was the tenth anniversary celebration, and it would be done by the first week of June. I reluctantly agreed. For the Spring session, Zeke took a news reporter class and was a terrific anchor for the showcase. Gabe was in Hamilton Class and performed a great Rap duet with Teddy during the showcase.

For the Charlie Brown auditions, Zeke sang “Gary, Indiana” and Gabe sang “If I Only Had a Brain.” (My theme song during the Spring shows.) For callbacks, Gabe auditioned for Linus and Schroeder and won the part of Linus. I was thrilled for Gabe, but sad for Zeke because only 18 actors were cast in Charlie Brown. Zeke did not make the cut, but they offered him a part in Honk. (His friends had auditioned for Honk.)

This is where any of my remaining (All the world is NOT a stage) logic went out the window. The rehearsals were in two different locations at the same time, I would be out of town for the entire first weekend of Honk shows, and CYT would not be finished until the end of June. I like to pretend I can make logical decisions as a parent even if it causes my children great disappointment, but I’m all talk.

Zeke was cast in Honk as a featured soloist in the Blizzard Scene, a fish, and a goose in the adventure ensemble. CYT graciously allowed me to chair a committee in Charlie Brown so that I did not have to figure out how to be in two places at once. (Working a committee throughout the rehearsals and shows is a parent requirement.) Dale, Abby, Gabe, and some wonderful friends helped me with transportation complications. Every night during Honk when Zeke lifted up his high for the day, he said, “CYT.” (What’s a mother to do?)

My favorite moment in Charlie Brown besides Gabe’s “My Blanket and Me” scene was during “Book Report.” I worked green room (where the actors stay when not on stage) throughout the show. Towards the end of the scene, Sally, Woodstock, the Stockettes, and Snoopy dash through the green room, down the hall and into the back of the theater. All the characters, save Snoopy are quite small and ran at a sprint. Snoopy loped behind, taking large strides while holding up his net. It was a hilarious moment to watch for those of us backstage.

In Honk, Zeke danced with the fish, marched with the geese, and sang in a blizzard. My favorite moment in Honk was hearing Zeke’s voice ring out loud and true during his solo.

(Zeke is to the left of the girl in the apron.)

Being the drama queen that I am, I collapsed when it was over.



Aug 03 2016

Morning Glory

Posted by Mugs @ 9:08 am in Nature Print This Post Print This Post

Each morning I look out my kitchen window and admire the morning glory. It’s dark purple color is offset by its bright glowing white center. When I see it, I often think of Psalm 30:5b “…weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”

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