Tad's big fun for the year was an ensemble role in a local theater company's production of The Producers. The show is quirky and fun and irreverent and involved him dressed in leather. He had a blast and he totally rocked that part!
I've been doing some more teaching - signed up at the local college to teach homeschool acting and improv classes. I've also been trying to get back into performing myself, taking classes and getting onstage whenever I can. I did one brief performance at Magooby's comedy club and another at The Creative Alliance for the Stoop Storytellers. My goal is for 2014 to be full of chances for me to get back on stage and make people laugh!
Here's a line-up of what the kids have been up to:
Betsy turned a beautiful 12 years old in September and her insides are as sweet as her outsides. She is also an avid reader who devours books more quickly than I can feed them to her. She has a unique sense of style. She played her second season in the Spring with North Bay touch rugby and loved the friendships she made and being part of such a family oriented sports organization. This past year she taught herself (and a few siblings) how to knit which has manifested itself in lots of pouches and purses distributed amongst her sibs and friends. Betsy took an improv class with the Baltimore Improv Group with one of her best friends and remains interested in theatrics. She also loves to write and has created many an adventure for her younger siblings. Her highlight of the year may have been having her turn in Williamsburg for a week with her Muffy and Grandad all to herself.
She has also been teaching herself piano - definitely one of our most musical kids!
Ben was the last to turn 16 for the year in November. He has been through driver's ed and has his driving permit but he prefers to take that slowly (I can't imagine why he wouldn't want to be a licensed driver in our household!). He has had an extremely busy and creative year. Probably at the top of his list of favorite activities is getting involved in a small film production company run by a home schooled friend of his. Together they made a couple of fun little videos, produced three videos for a contest and Ben is now the props and costumes guy for their Star Wars fan film currently in production. He has crafted masks, weapons, costumes and props - both for fun and for production and is thoroughly enjoying the exploration of new materials and construction processes. He and his cousin drafted a friend to participate in an intense game development contest for which his management skills helped earn them top honors. He has been studying hard mostly under the tutelage of my sister in Randallstown where he goes to "boarding school" for a few days every other week. He has begun his college search and is trying to define his varied interests into a recognizable and desirable major which is proving a bit difficult. He finished his second season with the tackle rugby team with whom he will be traveling to Ireland in 2014 and played his last season with the touch rugby program. Ben was somehow able to maintain his bachelor sanctuary in the Great Room Shift.
Philip was the third to turn 16 in July. He is now officially the world's largest Korean and towers over me in height. I think he wins the award for most personal growth in one year, growing remarkably in impulse control and ability to have much more independence. He is in his third year at C Milton Wright high school in a diploma track program which is proving to be quite a challenge for him. He keeps himself busy at school with lots of friends he's met through Chorus (where he also earned himself a solo in the Winter Concert!!), Best Buddies and Sports for Life. He participated in the Staccatos production but thinks 2013 may have been his last year for a while. This year his Parks and Rec soccer team took first place in the league (again!) and he got to participate in high school sports as the ball boy for the Varsity soccer team at C Milton. In his free time he's usually with his best buddy Nathaniel and he actually got a chance to get on a plane with Nate and fly to Maine to vacation there with Nate's family. He loves to read comic books, is working on his sports card collection and prefers to listen to music on his iPod over any other activity.
Andrea, avid elephant collector, was the 2nd to turn 16 in June. She has had an exciting year as well - especially as the recipient of a new Ponto bone assisted hearing aid. When her original BAHA broke and could no longer be fixed, she became one of the first people at the John Hopkins audiology center to try the new Ponto technology. So far we are very happy with it and Andrea likes that it came in a box full of fun stickers with which she can accessorize it. Andrea is in her 3rd year at C Milton Wright on a certificate track program. She now has not one, but TWO jobs where she is gaining vocational skills she will need when she gets launched into the great wide world. She works in her school cafeteria helping as needed - usually packaging cookies and wiping tables. She also got a new job this school year at Miah's elementary school as the school paper shredder. She keeps very busy with her many friends at Best Buddies, Sports for Life, Special Olympics Cheerleading and her community based instruction trips. She had a role as a maid in the Staccatos production and spent quite a bit of time on the sidelines of the C Milton Wright field cheering on her brothers and friends. She is our family ambassador to our elderly neighbor, making several trips a week to visit with her and loves to send cards, notes and pictures to all of her friends.
JT was the first to turn 16 in January and as of next week will be 17 - which is officially the number of years we've been doing this parenting thing now. His life is all about school, soccer and work - we don't see much of him awake these days. In 2013 he finally got to reach his goal of playing for a club soccer team. He joined the Baltimore Bays and went to tournaments around MD, PA and even one in Manhattan. This year his team will do all those, plus they are NC bound as well. He hopes to play soccer in college and we are dipping our toes into the NCAA recruitment process. In order to help pay those hefty soccer fees, he has now completed a full year as an employee at a Burger King owned by his coach where he's learned some really valuable lessons about life. In addition to all that, he is a junior at C Milton Wright where he also plays trumpet in the band, played for Varsity soccer (which won the regional championship this past season) and finished out a stellar Spring track season as a hurdler and member of the relay teams. He is interested in pursuing some aspect of sports medicine. He is our first licensed driver and so far has only used his newly earned license to drive himself to and from work. I'm not sure how long it will take me to get used to seeing him grab my car keys and just head out the door. At almost 6'3" he towers over the rest of the family and makes it easy to identify which fingerprints are his (generally the ones on the ceiling). In the Great Room Shuffle we moved the crib permanently out of his room and he acquired his own bachelor pad.
The oldest but shortest, Miriam had a milestone birthday this year, turning 18 in October! We took her to social security where she filed for disability benefits and is now "earning" a monthly income and paying us rent and for her own medical bills and personal items! (Woot! woot!) She is also in her third year at C Milton Wright where she is continuing her filing job in the office as well as her job at a local assisted living facility polishing the ladies' nails. She landed a pretty big supporting role in the Staccatos production as Whitson the detective's assistant. She also is active with Best Buddies, Sports for Life and Special Olympics cheerleading where they will all compete in June. She is still all about Disney princesses, definitely has a mind of her own and in her spare time loves to color, listen to Disney music and croon along on her karaoke machine. She and Andrea now have their room all to themselves where they live together like an old, married couple. Never before have I seen God so perfectly match two sisters as the best of friends.
I wish all my friends, family and blogosphere readers a happy 2014!