Welcome to Agrabah!

What an absolute blast this past weekend was! The First Redeemer Conservatory performed Aladdin, Jr. and it was simply spectacular!  I know I may be a bit biased, but seriously - there aren't adequate words to describe this year.  I'll give it my best shot though!

This was my fifth production with the FRC Conservatory of Music and Fine Arts Drama Class.  I can say without a doubt, this year really took the cake!   I looked forward to every class.  Tech week and production went smoothly. And, in the same amount of time as years past, we were able to pull off Annie (the elementary class production), the full Aladdin Jr. production, and a condensed JTF (Junior Theater Festival) competition performance.  We won an international award!  Not to mention, we had about 20+ extra kids than years past.  So, how did we do it?

1.  God Almighty:  He was the focus and center of everything we did.  We give Him glory for it all and continuously ask for His direction in all things.  We opened class with prayer.  We took time to study His word with the kids.  And, when extra prayer was needed, class stopped - and we prayed.  When decisions needed to be made, we sought Him first.  And, let me tell you, He showed up and showed out all year!  Thank you, Jesus, for blessing our program!  Thank you for allowing  us to reach families for Christ through musical theater.  What a fun way to serve!

2. A selfless leader: Katy loves the Lord, has a heart for kids, a creative mind, and a gift for teaching.  Put that together and you have one powerful punch in a tiny package that is Katy Cook.  She is quiet and humble.  She has never asked for recognition or been filled with pride.  She simply seeks to find the best in every single student and does what it takes to pull it out of that child.  As a mom, I'm incredibly grateful for what she has done for my children.  At the beginning of the year Audrey wouldn't speak.  She was the last to audition and we had to pull it out of her.  By the end of the year, she was the first to volunteer to stand up in class and improv with classmates.  She also had her first speaking role and solo in a performance.  Same with my youngest - who has now decided she wants to "be a singer".  She auditioned for a solo for another musical for the first time - and got it!  Life changing?  You bet!  As a choreographer, Katy was a joy to work with.  She's encouraging, supportive, and down right fun to be around!

3. Team Effort: This is certainly not a one man show.  Our leadership team met before the season began. We prayerfully considered the show and began to brainstorm about what we needed to do to make this the best we could for the kids.  We made a plan and we stuck to it!  Everything was thought out and organized before class ever started.  We communicated regularly and stayed on top of everything thanks to some incredibly organized and administratively gifted people.

One of my favorite things about the entire year was the way the kids showed their leadership.  They were taught how to lead and they put those skills in action when needed. When the elementary kids were having their production, the entire back stage process was lead by the older kids.  We went back stage at one point to make sure that the kids weren't running around crazy and what we found was all 19 first through fifth graders sitting quietly in their chairs as the older kids were kneeling with them and praying for their fears and nerves to be tamed.  Wow!  It doesn't get any better than that!  And, I will also say that the throughout the "big" production, the leadership continued.  What an incredible blessing this Mama has been given knowing that these are the kids my daughters look up to.

So, here's one last plug - if you're looking for a program for your child (first through twelfth grade) where they will be loved, taught, supported and encouraged - look no further.  The productions on stage will far exceed your expectations.  And, your child will learn far more than how to sing, dance, and act.  FRC Conservatory has gotten back to its mission focus - bringing kids closer to Christ through the art of musical theater.

Anxiety and Sleeping Fears

I'm reaching out to my friends for some advice on an issue that has recently popped up.  My 7 year old has suddenly developed a fear of going to sleep at night.  For a few months now she has complained daily of her tummy not feeling well.  I've taken her to the doctor twice and there have been no physical indications of an illness.  I've noticed some insecurities that she's dealing with and have been helping her to overcome those.  As of about a month ago, I noticed the daily complaints started changing to bed time.  When I put her to bed she would appear sick - even to the point of gagging.  She has not slept through the night in a month.  When I get her to sleep, she comes in my room usually between 1-2:00am visibly upset and unable to go back to sleep.  She seems to shiver with fear.  Often times I have taken her to another room to calm her and sleep with her until morning.  Her fears are progressing and now she is struggling just to go to bed at night.  She will sometimes work herself into a full blown panic attack.

I admit that with us being off of school so much in the last couple of weeks, bed times have been less consistent and I've been a little more willing to cuddle past bed time, let her fall asleep on the couch, etc.  Last night I was determined to make her stay in bed if she got up.  At 3:15 this morning, she came wandering into my room once again.  I walked her back to her room, tucked her in, and tried to leave.  Let's just say the next 45 minutes were unpleasant.  Every time I tried to leave her room, she chased me screaming.  It was painful to watch - and at 3:15 in the morning, I admit I was a wee bit cranky!  After nearly an hour, she calmed down and we discussed her fears at length.  I still ended up taking her to the guest room to sleep.  Even laying beside her, she wasn't able to go back to sleep until I wrapped both arms snugly around her.

Now, here are some things that I do know.  When we discuss her fears, they are consistent.  She is afraid 1 - that something bad is going to happen to me, her dad, or her sister and 2 - that she is afraid in the dark when she is not with an adult.  What I don't know is why all of a sudden these fears have developed.  We have been in our new house now for almost 7 months.  There have been two things that have happened that she has mentioned which could play a part in her fears.  One, we saw a bad car accident happen in front of us a few weeks ago.  We were the first on the scene and Derek & I both got out of our car to help the victims.  She was visibly upset by it.  Two, our sweet little 12 year old friend, Kylie, passed away from Cancer a couple of weeks ago.  She has asked many questions since then.

So, if these are the triggers of her fears, what do I do to calm them?  I've offered to keep lights on at night.  I check in on her more often.  I pray with her.  I diffuse essential oils before bed.  We discuss in length about her fears and concerns.  I try to reassure her.  I'm at a loss as to what else to do.

Snow Day Updates

I really stink at this "keeping up with my blog" thing.  Thank goodness we've been snowed in for several days and I can sit back and catch up on some things.  Laundry is done, dishes are washed, and by golly - I'm gonna sit down and blog!

First thing that has changed since my last post is our home.  We sold our house and moved further north into a beautiful new home.  It was not an easy road, but definitely worth it!  We are so happy in our new house and are so grateful!  The girls are going to a new school.  Audrey loves it.  It was definitely a positive move for her.  Maddie has struggled with the move a bit, but she's making progress.

Our cheer season went well.  It was a huge learning experience for me as Coordinator this year.  I do believe that the program honored its ministry goals and reached many girls and their families for Christ as we set out to do.  I'm still grateful to be a part of this amazing program.  Maddie loves cheer and has been blessed with some great coaches and teammates.

The girls and I are still participating in the FRC Conservatory's drama department.  The girls just had their very first elementary school performance.  They did ANNIE and it was super!  Be sure to check it out if get a chance.  I was incredibly proud of the kids - and of course, my own.  Audrey had her first speaking role and had a couple of one line solos.  She did fantastic!

This is also my 5th year teaching choreography for the drama class.  We did something new this year and it was a phenomenal experience.  We attended and competed in the JTF Festival.  It was a weekend filled with 4500 drama kids.  The weekend was filled with the Broadway stars, tv stars, and many other wonderfully, talented individuals.  The highlight of the weekend was receiving the Award of Excellence in Dance out of over 100 teams from 28 states and 6 countries.  What an honor!!

So, that's it for now.  More to come...

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