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The boys woke Tuesday morning and it was not any different than any other week day except they were off to a new start of another school year. Throughout the summer they rose at 7:00am, unlike many other teenagers who slept in well past noon. At least they can say they enjoyed, fully, every single summer day.

The backpacks and items were prepared the night before and getting up and heading out was fairly uncomplicated. I am not one of those parents that must take photographs of their children at the start of each school year so don’t go through this particular submission searching for photos – you ain’t gonna find none. Well, ok… maybe just this one!

Yesterday and today was spent trying to re-organize the school year. I had it completed, but of course, the school sends home new dates to be added. I spent an hour just reading through and signing papers last night. Ugh! It was different this year having two sons to filter through…

Tomorrow is Thursday and I am anxious to get the day going so that we are closer to Friday and the weekend. Every Labor Day, Kettering celebrates Holiday At Home. It is a neat celebration – choosing the queen and her court, the big parade, all sorts of events, and the festival in Lincoln Park which is a block from our home. The choral boosters has a refreshment trailer each year and the students have grocery carts to haul up and down Far Hills Avenue so they can reach more folks. All in all, it is a wonderful weekend event, capped off with a dazzling fireworks display.

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What a fun weekend!

FRIDAY, at 2:00pm, we packed our overnight bags and packed the car. One of my seniors agreed to stay with Flyer for the weekend, and we headed east for Columbus. By 4:30pm we were checked in to the Best Western off of US-71 on the north side of Columbus. Despite the overcast sky, the boys hopped into the indoor pool. Our friend, Brian from Massillon, arrived shortly after 5:00pm and after he found his room (across the hall from ours) he quickly joined us in the pool. After a few hours of splashing around, we drove through downtown Columbus – which is beautiful at night all lit up – and had dinner at Max & Erma’s. We returned to the hotel to watch movies.

SATURDAY morning we all slept in and after showering and having lunch, we headed in to COSI. This adorable family of four stood in front of us and we soon learned they were from Centerville and were looking for a piano teacher. The father had been a music major in college and had once worked for a local music store. We had a great chat which eased the 45 minute wait in line.

COSI (http://www.cosi.org/index.asp), similar to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, is located on the Sciota River in downtown Columbus with a fantastic view of the city sky line. We had intended on seeing the Titanic exhibit, but once we arrived, we discovered it was quite similar to the permanent exhibit we saw in Orlando over Spring Break. We ended up going through COSI – which was fine. I had heard so many wonderful things from fellow parents about COSI, but I was somewhat disappointed. It was not what I was expecting and I still believe the Indianapolis Children’s Museum is better.

There was one section called “Progress” which we all enjoyed. We walked through a community from 1895 and it was so neat to see all the things that made life so innovative for my great-grandparents and their families. The boys (and Brian) were really taken with the wireless operator’s room (telegram office), and the telephone building. We then walked into the same city in the 1950’s – what a remarkable change! The favorite section seemed to be the diner with the working juke box that had an arm to move the 45 records! What a hoot. I still remember those.

We left COSI and returned to the hotel for more swimming. After showering we ate dinner and – at Brian’s suggestion – took off for the Columbus Family Fun Center. I was hesitant about this portion of the weekend, but merrily went along anyway. It was a roller skating rink! I could not imagine my 40(almost 41) year old body on roller skates – but I could imagine me in the emergency room having casts added to limbs. Amazing how it all comes back to you! I was fine the entire evening and thoroughly enjoyed myself. At 8:45pm we went into this room and suited up in laser tag gear. I asked the young employee to take a photo – which he did, admitting he had never had a zannier crew in there before.

SUNDAY we again woke late and went to Cracker Barrel for breakfast. Brian needed to purchase some items for his mother’s business at the Flower Factory so we walked through it with him. I discovered these ancient knight helmets which were intended for displays – and I found the perfect display! My poor sons should always have a load of zany stories about their father – just as I have wonderfully zany stories of my mother and grandparents!

All in all, it was a wonderful weekend and I almost hated returning to Dayton… School starts tomorrow, and although I love the beginning of school but it also signals the end of summer – and this was such a fun summer! We got to spend dinner time Tuesday evenings with our family friends/students, the Salchaks and Bransons – after lessons we had dinner – and what fun we had. We had many visits home to Indiana with family, and we had several fantastic evenings shared with Jeffrey Carter, AJ Hunter, the Richards, and even a day with the Ball State Singers…

What a great summer!

Last night, my very dear friend, Brian, who lives in Massillon, Ohio, called to see if I would be interested in going to a concert with him in Cleveland. I have been to Cleveland a few times and I was so looking forward to something fun. After clearing it with the boys, and contacting one of my senior students (he watches the house for us) I was all set to go. This was the first major trip without the boys and I was not hesitant as I can trust them. They both wanted me to have a great time.

“What concert are you going to see?” asked Jose.

“I don’t think I even asked!”

En route to Massillon, I drove through some beautiful countryside on US-30 East. I mispronounced the town, Wooster – rhyming it with “rooster.” Brian laughed heartily and said, “It’s pronounced ‘Wuh-ster.'” I later asked jokingly if they called his birthtown of Brewster, “Bruh-ster.” No laugh.

The tickets were to see Clay Aiken. I groaned! He’s a kid! Does he have talent? Brian had seen him earlier this summer at the Ohio State Fair and assured me it was a fantastic concert. Clay had been at the Fraze Pavilion in our neighborhood only two weeks before and all I could remember were the all too youthful “Clay Mates” sitting out back hoping to catch a glimpse of this American Idol loser.

After a fun chat with Brian (he makes everything fun), we quickly changed clothes and he surprised me with reservations to the Akron-Canton air port’s restaurant, 356th Fighter Group Restaurant. It was wonderful! The food delicious, the server hysterically funny (and very good at her job), and the ambiance of flight history right down my alley. Brian, like my wonderful new friend, Jeff Carter (Ball State Singers), knows how to accomplish those little endearing touches as a great host and friend.

On the drive to Cleveland, it felt so peculiar to not be with the boys. I did not feel guilty though – but very refreshed. I called them and despite Jose quipping to Matt, “What time is our party starting?” they were doing well.

OK… I was so wrong about Clay Aiken. I must admit, it was one of the finest concerts I have attended in years. His program was Rock & Roll music from 1955 to 2005 – and what a show. His back-up singers and band were not accompaniment to Clay, but his partners. The medleys were very well arranged and flowed nicely. The crowd was surprisingly a grand mixture of all ages. The Scene pavilion over looks the Cuyahoga River and the Cleveland skyline – what a back drop. Clay performed from 8:30-11:30pm with only a 15 minute intermission. Bravo!!!

It was such a wonderful evening and I am so grateful to Brian for inviting me.

For more information on the Scene Pavilion, please visit:
http://www.hob.com/venues/concerts/scenepavilion/

We arrived in Elwood after an exhausting three and one half hours of driving – construction at the Ohio/Indiana line was a mess. We moved 2 miles in 45 minutes. Arrived at Mother’s and she was already in bed. The boys went to bed and I worked on Email for a while.

Saturday morning, after spending some time with Mother, I took off for the Indiana State Fair grounds to watch the Ball State Singers perform while Matthew and Jose spent the morning with Mother, Dena and the boys at the Glass Festival Parade. As I pulled into the State Fair grounds I was reminded of the Band Days of years past when Elwood participated in them. I can remember waking up before the sun rose, loading the buses and equiptment trucks and forming a caravan from Elwood to Indy. At the fair you would see a sea of yellow buses and trucks in the infield of the track. The music often seemed stifled in the stagnate, humid air, and we tried to keep the flying dust from messing up our uniforms. There was an excitement as you warmed up, lined up and then moved around the track… The sound of the thousands in the grandstand cheering and screaming… and then the announcer’s voice… what wonderful memories there are of those days.

I easily found the Marsh pavilion, filled with all the award winning veggies. And in the garden facade, was the very best of Indiana’s own homegrown talent… the Ball State Singers. I was quite pleased with last year’s ensemble, but I believe this year’s will be the best yet! Having only rehearsed two days, they put on four fifteen-minute shows that rocked! I could only pick out the newbies from their new faces – when they performed and then greeted the audience afterwards, they were as professional as though they had already been through a Spec week! Wow! What great things I know I will see and hear from the this group!That evening, Matt, Jose and I went to Jan Richard’s (Singers, 1964) pool club and enjoyed swimming, pizza and a volleyball tournament with the Singers. This era of Singers certainly has something more than what I experienced… they are a solid unit on and off stage. They genuinely seem to like one another and support one another. I am sure they have their moments, but they remain professional. Parents of these students should be so proud, and all us previous Singers should be as well. The evening ended with a beautiful Indiana sunset… as the red sun set behind the trees, the sky deepend to a beautiful blue, and the clouds streaked the sky with reds and whites. As Jan Richard said, “This is a good omen for a great year.” And I hope it will be!

The fall of 2000 I was called by the director of Sinclair College, asking if I would consider auditioning for Into The Woods, a delightfully dark musical by Stephen Sondheim. This musical brings together all the characters from beloved fairy tales and proves, in the end, to be the ending to the fairy tales. What a wonderful show!

I agreed to do the show, thinking I would be cast as the Baker, a wonderful role. When I walked in for the call-back auditions I sat down next to this attractive couple. She quickly introduced her self. “Hello, I am Sue McDonald, and this is my husband, Brody.” Dear Lord – it was the Kettering High School choral director who was known for having such a fantastic voice. I quickly scanned the room and discovered he and I, though about seven years apart in age, were about the only ones in the same age category. I knew there was no way I could compete against Brody – he was 6′-5″, dakr headed, handsome, a tremendous personality… I suddenly felt small. I also did not wish to have others see me flounder in an audition, especially with my solid career as a performer and director as hovering over me.

I was pulled from my thoughts as Sue continued talking. I did not realize, until we were well into the production, that Brody was on the other side commenting on my resonant speaking voice and also worried about me as his competition.

The auditions continued and finally, twelve men were called up for the two princes, Brody and my self included. I figured this was just a courtesy on the director’s part as the other en actors were young, princely looking individuals. He divided us into two groups of six and had us go down the line, singing with someone from the other group. Having completed that, we were dismissed to our seats.

“Just a minute… may I see Darin and Brody sing “Agony” together?” asked the director.

Brody and I looked at one another and smiled. I asked Brody how he was at comedic timing and he said, “Let’s rock.” And rock we did. It was the first time in all my years of directing and performing that I ever witnessed a standing ovation in a call back audition. As Brody and I returned to our seats I said, “We are the princes.” He asked if I was sure, and I reminded him we had a room full of witnesses.

Although I do not enjoy performing any more, I must say that was one of the best experiences of my performing career. I had performed 28 productions as “Joseph” in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and a host of other musical leads, but this one was my most favorite. Brody and I had a blast in rehearsals and out of rehearsals. While burning up the stage, we were also becoming devoted friends. What a wonderful experience.

Then, it was show time.

Opening night, the conductor decided to toy with tempos during our first “Agony.” Back in the dressing room, I ripped off my body mic from my temple and tossed it back over my shoulder and leaned over to Brody. “Was he conducting with a corn cob shoved up his ass?” Brody and I proceeded to moan and complain, furious that the conductor would depart from something too solid. Suddenly, the director burst through the door.

“Brody! Your body mic was still and it went all through the house!”

Brody was mortified that the audience had heard all he had said. I sat back, relieved that for once, I had remembered to take off my own mic after several embarrassing experiences… “Oh, no! I sat up and looked at Brody. It occured to me that I had been leaning over and talking directly into Brody’s mic.

The next evening’s vocal warm-ups were almost hilarious. The conductor warmed us up, conducting with the ear of corn, a prop used in the show.

Each performance, our work became tighter and tighter. The last four or five shows, Brody and I were stealing the show – as most princes do in this production – but we were getting standing ovations after our songs. It was a wonderful experience. Finally, the show came to a close and I was so sad to see it end. My run as a prince was finally over…

Tonight Willie Nelson was across the street at the Fraze Pavillion. The pavillion, set in lovely Lincoln Park, was built with donations from the Fraze family whose patriarch invented the “pop tab” on soda cans. Nice! I have always been fascinated by Willie. He, like many other wonderful performers of previous generations, understands the concept of “reinventing” himself – something that is crucial to those of us involved in any aspect of the performing arts.

After listening to the concert I returned home to discover an Email from Dr. Jeffrey Carter of the Ball State University Singers. Today, the 2005-2006 University Singers met for the first time for “early week.”

(Photos from Early Week: http://web.bsu.edu/jcarter2/earlyweekend05.htm )

I a so excited to know the family of Singers continues. Tonight, as soon as my eldest son is finished with show choir camp next door at the high school, we will head to Indiana so that we can see the Singers perform tomorrow at the Indiana State Fair.

The following is a brief history of the Singers, supplied by Assistant Company Manager, AJ Hunter:

Singers in 1965

In 1964, an enthusiastic group of collegiate performers came together with an innovative idea for a show– singers who dance, instrumentalists who sing, creative staging, flashy costumes, and state-of-the-art sound and lighting. They called themselves the Ball State University Singers, and they truly did sing and dance to a new beat.

From cruise ships, major entertainment competitions, and national presidential inaugurations, to the White house, Pentagon, and nearly 20 foreign countries, University Singers have caputred audiences with songs of faith, hope, laughter, and love. In 1965, one year after the birth of University Singers, the Indiana General Assembly named us Indiana’s Official Goodwill Ambassadors, a title we’ve been proud to carry through four decades of entertaining audiences on and off the Ball State University campus. The Ball State University Singers have achieved international prominence and critical acclaim, and through the years our repertoire has expalnded to include mainstream pop, country, jazz, nostalgia, folk songs, Broadway hits, popular novelties, and every other style that might appeal to a broad audience.

Our mission is simple: to provide highest excellence in entertainment, to identify and train leaders, to sincerely captivate audiences, to represent our University and State with professionalism, and to build a bridge between our heritage and our future. These are things we have been doing for the past four decades. We look forward to riding on the cutting edge in innovative performance to bring our new beat to more and more audiences around the world for another 40 years.
Dr. Carter & the 2004-05 Glee Club

Tonight I saw the most adorable movie! Ladies in Lavender assembles those two great Dames, Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, and sends them off to play sisters sharing a cozy little cottage on the Cornwall coast. That is an inspiration. Their days are spent gardening and having tea, their evenings with knitting and the wireless, until one dark and stormy night, a strange young man is washed up on their shore. This is Andrea Marowski played by Daniel Bruhl. He is handsome, sweet, and speaks hardly a word of English. But Janet (Smith) discovers he has some German, and unearths her ancient textbook. Soon she and her sister Ursula (Dench) discover that Andrea is Polish, a violinist, and a gifted one at that. What they do not discover is how he happened to be in the sea on that stormy night, which is the very thing we want to know. There is no word of a shipwreck.

The sisters have lived in calm and contentment for many years. Janet is a widow; Ursula has never married, and probably never had sex, although from the way she regards Andrea, she may be thinking it’s never too late to start. Ursula becomes possessive of the handsome young man; Janet observes this, doesn’t like it, and mostly but not entirely keeps her thoughts to herself.

Andrea is visited by good Dr. Mead (David Warner), who advises bed rest, although perhaps not as much as Andrea chooses to enjoy; it is pleasant, watching the sun stream in through the window and being served tea by the sisters’ crusty maid, Dorcas (Miriam Margolyes is an absolute riot!). Eventually, however, Andrea ventures outside and catches the eye of Olga Danilof (Natascha McElhone), a landscape painter; she is not a very good painter, but she is a beautiful young woman, speaks German, and is soon spending time with Andrea while Ursula goes into a quiet and tactful form of anguish. Of course, coincidentally, Olga happens to possess the key to Andrea’s fate as a violinist.
There is a moment’s suspense when Dr. Mead, who also fancies Olga, ventures the suggestion that Olga and Andrea, chattering away in German, might be spies observing coastal activities; in which case, apparently, he thinks an appropriate punishment would be for Andrea to go to prison and Olga to fall in love with the doctor. It is 1936, and Europe seems on the brink of war, although for the Widdington sisters, that’s not much of a concern. The local police chief drops by for a chat, is satisfied and leaves. He is so polite that if they had been spies, I wonder if he would have wanted to spoil such a nice day by mentioning it.

Ladies in Lavender is perfectly sweet and civilized, and ends with one of those dependable scenes where — gasp! — look who’s in the audience at the concert! It’s a pleasure to watch Smith and Dench together; their acting is so natural it could be breathing. But Daniel Bruhl is tiresome as Andrea; he has no dark side, no anger, no fierceness, and although we eventually discover why he left Poland, we do not know if it was from passion or convenience. He is an ideal dinner guest; the kind of person you are happy enough to have at the table, but could not endure on a three-day train journey.

I am reminded of The Whales of August (1987), also about two elderly sisters in a house on a coast. That one starred Bette Davis and Lillian Gish, who engaged in subtle verbal gamesmanship, both as characters and as actors. It is probably true that we should not attend a movie about old ladies in a big old house expecting much in the way of great drama (although Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? has its moments), but The Whales of August had a fire that the relaxed Ladies in Lavender is entirely lacking.

If you get a chance to see this movie at a theatre that specializes in art films, please take the time to go see it.

Friday, Jose and I went with our dear friend, Valerie Lockhart, and her two children, Jackson and Sophie, to visit Ohio Caverns, about 60 miles northeast of Dayton. Jackson and Sophie are both piano students of mine, and Jackson and Jose are both in the same grade.

When I was director of music at Faith In Christ Lutheran Church, I was good friends with the Post Family – Bill & Cindy, and their children, Stacey, Elaine and Simon – all grown up now. Cindy’s younger sister came to visit from Evansville, IN one August and brought her new baby boy – a firey red head named Jackson. About four years ago I received a call that the Lockharts had moved to Kettering and were looking for a piano teacher. Now, we live just a few blocks apart.

Yesterday, Valerie and I had a delightful visit while riding to Ohio Caverns, and of course, the three children were easily entertained, mostly Jose. If you have never been to the caverns (especially all your local Buckeyes), it is worth the drive just to see the beautiful rolling hills. I think Valerie and I could have just driven up there for that view. It was so refreshing.

Inside the cave, we began moving slowlly through the narrow pathway and stopped for the group to catch up so the tour guide could begin his dialogue. Now, I have a major phobia with bats. My birth father was terrified of them and this of course, was instilled in me. So, as we are standing there, the crowd began oohing and ahhing at a bat hanging about ten feet from where I was standing. Immediately my stomach was in my throat. As we walked through the cave, I thoroughly enjoyed the beauty, and was in awe that it had been formed over 800,000 years ago. Still, I kept a close eye on the ceiling and anything that happened to hang. At one point, after passing several more bats, a child asked the guide how the bats got into the cave – there was a little gap in the rear exit of the cave. WELL, FIX THE STUPID GAP!!! Everytime we would come to a bat, Valerie would turn and say, “It’s nothing. They are just looking at more crystals.”

Despite the guests who hang out in the cave, I strongly reccomend visiting the Ohio Caverns. Take a picnic lunch and enjoy the surrounding view of rolling hills and beautiful Ohio farmland.

For more information, please visit: http://cavern.com/ohiocaverns/


Jose & Dad, 2005

We returned home from the family reunion and received word that Jose’s adoption was finalized July 29th. He is legally Jose Angel Jolliffe-Haas. His middle name was from his birthmother and he loves his middle name. Matt’s middle name was Cale and his surname, Edwards. I suggested he keep his last name as his middle – Matthew Edwards Jolliffe-Haas. While we were at Dr. Carter’s a few weeks back, he asked Jose about his middle name and Dr. Carter said, “Oh, ‘Ahn-hel.'” Jose loved the Spanish pronounciation and has since been using it. When I read the letter, I took Jose out on to the deck and told him that he was legally and offically my son. The child was thrilled.

Although Jose has been my son since before he arrived, it is a calming feeling to have everything signed and sealed.

Matt’s first day in Ohio, August 8, 2002.

Today is the third anniversary of Matt’s arrival in Ohio. I cannot believe how much he has grown, and just how much he has developed into the fine young man I knew he would.

Every day seems like Father’s Day.

Wow! What a great day Saturday! I am still reeling from this weekend’s events.

The Barmes Family Reunion to celebrate 171 years in America was held Saturday, August 6, 2005, in Hope, Indiana where the family originally settled.

From all I can gather, we had the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th generations of Barmes family gathered. That is impressive for the first reunion.

The children of Jesse Barmes held reunions in the 1950’s and 1960’s, the last held in 1962 – but it did not extend to other lines.

THE SERVICE
Rev. Terry Krauss of the Hope Moravian Church led the family in a brief service of Thanksgiving. Rev. Krauss compared the journey of John Philip & Mary Margaret, and their family, to that of Abraham & Sarah. I am attaching the words he spoke about the Barmes family’s journey from Bavaria to Hope, Indiana. Rev. Krauss stated that he hoped in another 171 years, the following generations would be gathered to celebrate what we did, as well as John Philip & Mary Margaret.

THE GRAVESITES
The family gathered around the grave of John Philip Barmes and Norma Barmes Abbott, by luck of being the eldest Barmes in attendance, laid a bouquet of flowers on John Philip’s headstone. I believe this was the most touching moment for me – approximately 80 people – the descendants of John Philip Barmes gathered around his grave, holding hands. Rev. Krauss asked that we join hands and create a circle around JPBarmes’ grave and he provided a moving prayer of thanksgiving. Virginia Houser (granddaughter of Elsie Barmes) and Emerson Barmes, Jr. laid flowers on the graves of Frederick Barmes and Jesse Barmes.

THE REUNION
OK – the Barmes family can COOK! If anyone left hungry, it was not for lack of food prepared for this reunion. With over 80 individuals eating there was still a ton of food remaining! Emerson Barmes, Jr. offered grace prior to the meal. I hope every one was listening to his words, as they were so appropriate and so moving. He is right – though we came from different lines of Barmes lineage, that day, we were all one family.


Mary & Max Barmes brought items with the signature of Clint Barmes, a relative who plays for the Colorado Rockies, to be auctioned off. Those gathered voted that we should hold the Barmes reunions every other year – so the next one will be in 2007. To close the shelter house event, everyone gathered for a family photograph. I will send photos out once I have mine developed. A long line of cars drove south of town to visit the original Barmes farm where Mary Margaret Barmes planted her Bavarian forest.

I cannot help but think that all our family members – the ones we knew and the ones long before us – were celebrating right along with us, thankful that all the love they expressed for their own family is continuing. The circle is unbroken.

August 1st is here and I cannot believe summer is almost over. Today is supposed to get as high as 91 degrees, and tomorrow they predict 93! Ugh!

This past week Kettering was the center of the golf world as the Senior Open took place at NCR Country Club. The Good Year Blimp was visible from home. The traffic was handled so well that I did not notice any problems in that arena.

Friday, Mother, Dena and the boys came over to celebrate Matthew’s birthday. We had a nice dinner and then returned to our home so the adults could chat and the kids could play. We drove down to Riverscape to see the laser show – of course, there was the Celtic festival and no laser show. Matt has been here three years and has not seen it. Saturday morning I made breakfast and there were no complaints about the pancakes! Yea! The last time, I put a little mint in the pancakes and my nephew, Jonathan, who at 7, is finally putting sentences together, was quite verbal. For weeks we would ask him if he wanted some more of “Uncah Beren’s pancakes” and he would promptly say, “No!” We went shopping, ate a Chinese dinner, and drove around the neighborhoods of Oakwood (very nice homes!). The family left around 6:00pm. At 8pm the boys and I went shopping and found some great deals.

At 9:30pm I heard the Donna Summer Concert cheering away from down the street where she was performing at the Fraze Pavilion. We took Flyer on a walk so we could walk around this unique amphitheatre in Lincoln Park, right in the middle of our neighborhood. When we were half way there I heard the familiar strains of “MacArthur Park.” I took off running with Flyer, and with the boys trailing behind. I explained that this would probably be a once in a life time opportunity – to hear a rock legend performing one of her signature songs. It was so similar to when I was young and got to watch Elvis live in Hawaii (via our black & white television set).

We ran into John & Cathy Moore, parents of one of my students, Dan. We ended up staying the entire time, chatting on the grass outside the Fraze. I have never seen the outside of the Fraze so packed! It was incredible. The folks outside the amphitheatre were having just as good a time as the ones inside. We could see the light show (mostly purple) flashing through the trees. Finally, Ms. Summer, who is still in great voice, closed with “Last Dance.” My sons finally comprehended the fact that “Last Dance” and “MacArthur Park” were originated by Donna Summer and not the Ball State Singers!

Sunday started with haircuts on the deck, church, lunch, pool (while I worked on the Wright Brothers musical), dinner, more ice cream and cake… and me working on the family reunion preparations. Dan Moore came over at 12:45pm to run through his music for an afternoon wedding, and Katie O’Neill followed at 1:15pm to go through music for the MUSE Machine summer production. They are such neat students. I have known Dan since he was about ten years old, and he was also one of my students at Kettering Middle School. The past few years he has become a favorite with my sons, and even Flyer, the dog (see photo). I got to know the Moore family when the oldest brother, Jeremy, was one of my 14yo tap dancers/teens in Bye Bye Birdie. Jeremy was an incredible bass, with a knack for performing. When I began teaching at Kettering MS, this bright eyed lad bounced into the room and I noted his courtesy, interest in the class and his enthusiasm for life in general. A few days later I discovered he was Jeremy’s younger brother. No wonder he was such a great kid!

In 2000, while working with the high school show choir, I got to know John & Cathy better. John, to me, is such an outstanding dad who works hard for his family, but man, I have never seen a father so involved with everything – scouts, sports and music. In this regard, John has been a fantastic inspiration. However, he is there solely to support his children – not to get them featured or to vie for an office. I have observed a good deal of John’s work behind the scenes. I listen and observe all parents, especially my students’ parents since my students are all great kids. Cathy Moore is no exception. She has provided me so many great items for family life. During one conversation with John he commented that the one thing he respects about his wife the most is that all evening dinners are eaten together, no matter what time. Despite my family’s busy schedule, we eat all our dinners together – no exceptions! It might be 9:30pm when show choir rehearsal is over on Mondays and Wednesdays, but I will not budge on this issue – and the boys don’t mind. One night after a concert, we were scarfing down Taco Bell – of course, the boys loved this as I limit fast food. I met Katie the beginning of her freshman year at Fairmont and we immediately clicked. She is a bright, talented young lady with an incredible future in musical theatre awaiting. This past January she starred as “Hildy” in the MUSE Machine’s production of On The Town and her comedic timing stole the show. These two students, Katie and Dan, with a wonderful assortment of other fantastic students will be graduating next June, and I hate to see these particular students fly the nest. I have known most of them since their 6th grade year at Kettering Middle School, and have worked with them all through high school. This has been such a wonderful class of fine students!

It was an eventful weekend, and the weather was beautiful. This morning I have more family reunion preparations staring me in the face, as well as the musical deadline – August 15.

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