Sunday, May 22, 2016

Junior High Musical (Brag Alert!)

On May 11 our cute seventh grader played the part of Ariel in her junior high production of Little Mermaid, Jr!  The teacher described it best when he said it was a class project...meaning they rehearsed only during class until the day of the performance when they had an after-school dress rehearsal.  I think this is a brilliant idea.  Everyone in the seventh and eighth grade choir class participated and with no after school commitment I felt it was a great opportunity for the students to have that experience. 

 In the parent meeting about the production we were told that it was up to the parents how extensive the musical would be...meaning, if parents were willing to help with costumes and set, they would have those things, but if not, they would perform in t-shirts and on risers.  So, having limited sewing knowledge and no time or talent for set construction, I asked my mother-in-law if she would like to sew Brenna's costume.  She agreed!  And as fate would have it, my sister-in-law Melanie, seamstress-extraordinaire, was coming to visit her mom and so they made it as a joint effort.  It was beautiful, as you can see!  She loved it.  An inexpensive wig off amazon completed the look.

(Lots of aspiring Ariel's in our house...)
Here is Brenna with the mer-sisters.
The cast!  Everyone with an auditioned part had a costume, and the rest wore their Little Mermaid T-shirt.  Parents came through with a nice set, as well.

Ariel and a very tall Prince Eric!

and Ursula
Brenna had lots of little girls wanting to talk to her after the show.  In this picture you can see one of them who wouldn't get too far away. :)  The performance was on a Wednesday night, so her entire Young Women's group from church came to watch.  I love that they supported her!
Brenna sang so beautifully!  She was not nervous at all and was great at both acting and singing.  What a blessing to have such confidence at that age..she floated up to her high notes with no tension in her voice.  It was so fun to watch.  Rob, my mom and I all started crying when she began singing her solo.  It has been a thrill watching Brenna bloom into such a well-rounded young lady this year.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

This girl!

Our lovely Brenna has been recognized for many talents recently.  In April she was invited to a writing workshop where she learned some tips, skills and technics from three Indiana authors.  She earned this opportunity as a result of placing second in the state of Indiana in the Letters about Literature writing competition.  Her English teacher had all of her students enter the competition back in the fall. They were required to write a letter to the author (living or not) of a book they had read.  There were over 1700 entrants!  Brenna places second and received $50!

We traveled to Indianapolis for the writing workshop and award ceremony.  The event took place in the beautiful State Library.  The workshop lasted two hours, followed by lunch and then the awards ceremony.  Each attendee received a book bag with a couple of free books from the featured authors.

 Here is Brenna with one of the authors.
It was a special, memorable day.

With Brenna's permission, I am pasting the letter she wrote below:

Dear Marilyn J. Harran and Elisabeth Leyson,
My name is Brenna Weaver, I am a 7th grader in a big school in Indiana just another random person in the United States of America. I was in 8th period Language Arts, unknowing that my life was going to be changed forever. We had to pick a biography, read it, and make a poster about it. We were at the library to pick out our book. I had no idea where to even start, so my teacher, Mrs. Forbes, handed me a book called “The Boy On The Wooden Box” a memoir of Leon Leyson. It looked like a promising book and it had a rather odd title, so of course, out of curiosity, I checked it out, sat down on of the chairs, and started to read.
As I read the prologue, I was fascinated at this Mr. Shindler person. As I read along, I thought that the book would be like the normal story about a boy and his normal life. Usually, I would be wishing that it was more exciting, and as usual, it would take me a while to finish the book. But for some reason, I could not even bear to put it down for too long. Often I stayed awake at night, reading under my pillows, pretending to be asleep when anyone crossed by my room, then to go back to reading.
I would not define the book as exciting. If someone thought that massive abuse,killing, and torture was exciting, I would be cautious around that person. I don’t really know how to define the book. I just felt a strange desire to read on, to share his sadness, to feel the things he felt. Every single sad thing thing that happened tore my heart in two, and I felt spoiled to be living in a perfectly safe place, not having to worry about surviving to possibly die the very next  day. I knew that I would never feel the same way that Leon did, but I could almost feel a thick smoky haze of desolation, worry and pain. I noticed how the Nazis killed many, and harmed several, but the most common wound made was one that cannot be seen,their pride and their happiness. Those were not only ripped into pieces but they disappeared altogether. They lived in absolute squalor, and they felt like they were nobody.
After I read the book, I realized that I felt different. I realized that I felt as if I were important, as if I were important to the government, and they would listen to me. This book helped teach me that every single person in the world, no matter how big and bad, they are still human beings, and they are worth something. Every single person that died or knew someone who died were mourned for by their peers, by other countries when they found out, and me. I felt sympathetic towards every single human being who was injured, no matter what shape or form that may be. I know I cannot empathize for those people, because I will never go through anything such as that, but I feel sorry for them, and I hope that the people who have survived that nightmare lived the rest of their life knowing they can live in peace. I also hope that the people who died know they did, still being true to the religion they believed in.
I hope that this crazy nightmare will never happen again, but I also hope that we will keep and cherish people's stories in our hearts, because it gives an amazing morale: never give up, there is always hope, and even though horrid things are going on right now, keep your chin up, stand up straight and proud, because everything will be alright in the end, and the believers will always win.
 Marilyn J. Harran and Elisabeth Leyson, thank you for writing this wonderful book that helped me realize that the impossible really can happen if you believe, and know that in the end, everything will be perfect.
Thanks Again,

Brenna Weaver      


Junior High Choir Fun

Brenna has sure had a lot of fun with her choir class lately.  In April they took a trip to Chicago to see the musical Matilda.  The reasoning behind it was that the class would be performing a musical of their own later in the year so the director wanted the kids to see a musical, and another fun reason is that Matilda is performed by mostly kids.

I came along as a chaperone.  We had a good time except the weather was terrible.  It was snowing and took a lot longer for travel time than planned.  We got home at 4 am!  

 Here is the group I was chaperoning.  The theater was beautifully ornate.

 Also in April the choir participated in a contest.  They received the highest ranking possible.  Here are some of the girls with the award plaques.

Just this week the choir performed their musical production of The Little Mermaid, Jr.  That deserves a post of its own so I will cover it later.
Yesterday those who wanted to from the Junior High and the High School choirs traveled north of Chicago to another choir contest affiliated with Six Flags.  I was asked to accompany the choirs (as in, on the piano) so I was able to come along again.  After the performance in the morning we spent the day at Six Flags.  Brenna is certainly fun to be with at an amusement park.  She screams throughout each roller coaster and when finished is completely giddy with delight and ready to do it again.
 I don't know what it is about these choir trips, but we have had the worst weather!!!!  Yesterday, mid-May, it was in the low forties with a wind chill making it seem like 36 degrees.  We were freezing!  Some hot chocolate at lunch helped a lot.  One plus is that the lines were not as long as usual. :)

In between all the intense roller coasters we took some time for the "low-key" rides.
 Here we are worn out and ready for the bus ride home.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Garden fence

Bunnies are a common sight in our backyard, so when we put in our square foot garden last year we knew we would have to take measures to keep the bunnies out.  Our solution was to cage the boxes in chicken wire. This kept the bunnies out, but was a little inconvenient as I had to reach over the chicken wire in order to weed or harvest.  It was even more difficult for the kids to reach over with their shorter arms.  So this year I told Rob I wanted to build a fence around all of the boxes that we could then go into and have space to kneel next to each box. I looked up a how-to on the internet, and we had a fun project!

 Here is what it looks like now. We put some bark around the boxes for a nice clean look.  So far the fence has done its job keeping the bunnies out, and it has the added benefit of providing a place to sit. The other day found several of us sitting around the garden chatting.

 (I am getting very excited for our strawberry crop this they are growing like crazy!!)

When I was mixing compost into the garden boxes before planting this cute little guy startled me.  I guess he thought it was a good place to hibernate.  We kept him for a couple days before letting him go.
 When we moved in to our house there were six tiny fruit trees.  Last spring the peach tree had two blossoms, and neither of them converted to fruit.  This year the tree was covered in blooms!  In fact, this was taken several weeks ago. Since then, all six trees have bloomed and all of them have fruit-hooray!  I love Spring.

I was not pleased to wake up to this sight on the second week of April!  I was pretty sure the snow froze my peach tree blossoms...which it did...but luckily a good fraction of them had not bloomed yet so we still ended up with the possibility of peaches.  

Easter 2016

As I look back at these pictures I wish we could have some of the nice, pleasant March weather now that it is May and not so nice :(

We were very lucky this year that Easter weekend was sunny and warm.  We had our annual backyard Easter Egg hunt the day before Easter.

 Elise eventually caught on to what it was all about.
 As usual, Rob hid Seth's eggs in hard-to-find places.  He was a good sport and eventually found them all.

 Since it was such a lovely day we decided to color eggs outside.  Here the kids are modeling their aprons they received in their Easter baskets.
 The best part was that Grandma and Grandpa shared in the day's fun with us!

 On Easter Sunday we each took a turn sharing our favorite story of Jesus.  I borrowed this idea from a friend.  I like the idea of having some sort of tradition that helps us think of Jesus and helps commemorate this significant day.  We went youngest to oldest and ended with my dad who shared the account of the crucifixion/resurrection. Perfect.