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Friday, April 22, 2022

NEW

 **I was given complimentary tickets in exchange for my honest review and social media shares. Thanks, Broadway in Cincinnati!**

Disney's Frozen - Broadway in Cincinnati



    
    FROZEN. As in...the play based on that one movie that was played on repeat in my house as my 2 little girls acted out every scene. The soundtrack that probably was played to death in my van's CD player because I haven't seen it in a long time and have no living idea where it went. The characters, the costumes, the one-liner's, the laughter, and the memories all live in that one title; FROZEN. 

    Those memories are years ago. That's probably true for many of you, too. Us mamas had to learn to "Let it go" and bring in all the dolls and costumes and plush Olafs and Svens. It makes me laugh with the best memories of some of the most joyous times. 

    Last night those memories warmed my heart again as my now 12 year old daughter and I headed into Cincinnati to see the story as told on the stage. This was her first experience seeing a Broadway play and it was the best introduction for her and I to share together. (And yes, she's hooked and wants to see more plays now.)

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Disney does not disappoint. That probably doesn't need to be said but I need you to know how much I appreciated this production's every detail. 

Disney's Frozen  - Broadway in Cincinnati

Lights, sounds, vibrant hues, snow, ice out of thin air, summer, dancing, a little bit of you, hygge (it's a thing)  and...Samantha?

Disney's FROZEN - Broadway in Cincinnati


    Anyway, it's all there. FROZEN is a feast for your eyes and a callback to all the things you remember and love about Disney. My daughter was spotting hidden Mickeys and saying all the "Mom! Did you see...?" things. 

    We laughed hard and at one point or another I was digging through my handbag to find the Kleenex. We boo'd loudly at Hans (maybe more than once) and so badly wanted to hug Olaf.

    What's best of all is while visiting old memories, we were making new ones. That, all by itself, is the true "Magic of Disney".

    Oh, and of course, Elsa is a true queen and her costume change will absolutely slay you. (Actually, the entire "Let it go" performance and effects will make you nearly "burst from the inside out".) Every song, every dance sequence, every costume and set change...it's all perfect and amazing and so worth seeing in person. 

Disney's Frozen - Broadway in Cincinnati

Disney's Frozen - Broadway in Cincinnati

    Please, oh please, tell me you're going to grab tickets and see this while it's in town. Take your kiddos. (There were so many tiny Elsa's at the show last night.) Or take your best buddy. This musical is for all ages and will bring you to your feet with cheers. You can click on any of the FROZEN images in this post to be taken to the website where you can learn more and get your tickets. 

    GO!

    ~Amy

A Night With Disney's FROZEN in Cincinnati (Review)

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Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Ain't Too Proud



Last night was an extremely fun night for me. I was invited to attend the opening night of "Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of The Temptations" at the Aronoff Center. 

When I tell you all this production is GOOD, I mean "I wish I had tickets to go see the play again tonight." In short, I had a blast and it's a night I wouldn't mind reliving. 

Ain't Too Proud


I grew up just north of Detroit and Motown music is a very big deal. I was so, so proud to hear the story of the Temptations and learn about what Detroit meant to them. Seeing the words "Fox Theater" made me smile the biggest smile. 

When I sat down to watch this play, I honestly didn't know what to expect. I didn't do any research to learn about the broadway production. I didn't even look up the soundtrack (which isn't the norm for me but I had been busy this past week). Y'all. This play...

Ain't Too Proud

I was dancing in my seat, trying not to sing along too loudly. I was cheering and fan-girling. I was grinning ear to ear as I watched The Temptations come to be. 
There were parts of the play when I clutched my chest and cried and times when I celebrated and laughed. This journey is well worth the taking!

The cast perfectly showcases the pure talent, dedication and captivating qualities of The Temptations. They ARE the group and they're artistry will absolutely blow you away.

Ain't Too Proud



Now, I'm going to need them to host a dance camp and teach me some of those moves. ;) LOL



~Amy
 

Review: Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of the Temptations in Cincinnati

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Wednesday, February 9, 2022

**I received complimentary tickets from Broadway in Cincinnati in exchange for my honest review. 

I was a guest last night at the Aronoff Center in Cincinnati, OH to see opening night of the Broadway revival, My Fair Lady. 


This touring production is currently in Cincinnati until February 20th and it is a "DO NOT MISS" if you're a broadway fan. 

This particular storyline is one I watched and learned as a little girl. I so badly wanted to be Eliza Doolittle, and so, my little bedroom became my stage. I would sing "I could have danced all night" over and over again. Last night, I had the pleasure of listening to that song and other beloved tunes sung by the most talented bunch of actors. Quite honestly, I was checking my playbill to see if Shereen Ahmed (Eliza) had also played Christine in Phantom of the Opera before. She has not but I wouldn't be surprised to see that happen some day. Her voice is so pure and dynamic.



There are so many laugh-out-loud moments in this play and others that are heartwarming. Still, the underlying theme of individual, human value cannot be missed. Eliza's story offers a bit of a "chin up" encouragement to those who feel overlooked and undervalued. We are more than our appearance. We are more than our career. Eliza shows us how important it is that we see others as people with feelings first. 

One of my favorite laughs of the play is ACT I, Scene 6: "Outside a club tent, Ascot". Over and over again, I was giggling and laughing out loud. The stoic faces of those attending the race mixed with Eliza's "small talk" and cheering for Dover was perfection. I loved every second of this scene. 

Really, I could go on and on but I'm going to have to leave the rest to you. 


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Get your tickets and fill the seats of the Aronoff for this beautiful production. You'll be glad you did. You may even leave thinking you could have "danced all night", too. 


~Amy

My Fair Lady Revival - Simply Loverly {Review}

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Wednesday, October 20, 2021


I didn't know how much I missed seeing plays until last night.
And if I can be totally honest with you, (we're still on "keep it real" terms, right?) I had absolutely no idea what to expect from this musical. 
Yes, I've long been a fan of the movie Pretty Woman. Julia Roberts & Richard Gere... I mean, what's not to love about that pair? But it does leave some pretty big shoes to fill, right? (If you're Vivian, that would be a size 9.)

Walking into the theatre, I was saying "They better not miss some of the big one-liners of the movie. Like when Kit is cheering Vivian on saying 'Work it. Own it.' If that's missing, I'm just going to be disappointed."


Before the play began, we were greeted by Elizabeth from Broadway Across America. She talked about how long the theater sat empty while they waited to be allowed to open it back up. She excitedly welcomed us back and thanked the subscribers and sponsors for all their support. People cheered in response. Some even stood. If you love the theater like I do, you understand how exciting it is to actually get to sit in that velvet chair again.

On with the play review. I mean, that's what you really want to hear, isn't it? 

If you love the movie Pretty Woman, you're really going to enjoy the musical. Really and truly. They handle the retelling of the story so well. The music and costumes fit the late 80's vibe perfectly. They invite you into that 1989 Lotus and drive you right back in time to where it all began.

Olivia Valli (Vivian) and Adam Pascal (Edward) have amazing chemistry (as they should) and I believe that you will find yourself falling in love with their love story all over again. Adam and Olivia both had moments on stage that were just like watching Julia and Richard in the film. While they make the characters their own, they nod to their origins. Beautifully, beautifully done!

YES! The one-liners are there and executed so perfectly. Each one made me smile so big when I heard it. Come back and tell me how many you counted when you see it and which is your favorite.

Again, I have to talk about the music. I.LOVED.IT. It was the perfect compliment to the storyline and the vocal talent of the entire cast was top notch. It has a familiar feel (for us "oldies" lol) and honestly made me wish I had bought some black over the knee boots to wear to the play. I wanted to be part of what I was watching and hearing. 

Special Callouts:

Y'all, keep your eyes on Kyle Taylor Parker (Happy Man) during the play. Actually, scratch that. You won't be able to miss him. He's a man of many hats, or dance shoes? And he is hysterical. He honestly had me laughing out loud a few different times. He moves the story along while he's best friends with the audience. I loved watching him.

Matthew Vincent Taylor plays Giulio and was another favorite of mine to watch. He puts so much energy into his role and had me looking forward to when I would get to see him again in another scene. He's just delightful. 

Amma Osei is Violetta. She was the star of the opera scene. Y'all, she had me absolutely covered in goosebumps when she sang. I won't soon forget her voice or how she absolutely stole the show. 

OK. That's enough from me. What you need to be doing is heading over to the Broadway in Cincinnati website and grabbing your tickets. DO NOT MISS this play while it's in town. Grab your bestie and get there. You won't regret it. 

**I was gifted tickets to the show in exchange for my review.

Broadway in Cincinnati is BACK with Pretty Woman (review)

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Tuesday, May 4, 2021

 She was single, and overwhelmed, and scared and had been keeping an eye on my family for some time through Facebook. I hadn't personally spent time with her since my firstborn was an infant...so...it had been at least 12 years. I hadn't even been regularly commenting or messaging with her through social media. She was someone I added as a "friend" because I knew her and that was that. 

The initial message from her made my heart jump up and down repeatedly, but not in the way you would watch a child enjoy a trampoline. This was the kind of jump that goes with a very powerful heartbeat...and a sinking feeling in my stomach...and a "Oh, my goodness" heaviness. She was pregnant and wondered if I (and the hubster, of course) would be willing to adopt the boy she wanted to name Noah. Having a baby just didn't fit her life and the father left the picture as soon as he found out. 

The hubster and I had done a lot of work already on our end, legally speaking. We had a foster care license which meant that we had gone through the brutal and very invasive process of a home study. All she needed to do was find someone to support her through the process in her state. 

Did I mention we lived states apart? 

No matter. I know interstate adoptions are totally a thing and would be relatively simple since we had an agency to support us and there were all kinds of free services available to her. 

Our hearts were ready for this baby and we were so excited while we were very aware that this was a delicate topic.  I kept in correspondence with my friend and asked her how appointments were going, etc. and I tried to make sure I was sensitive to focus on her

At 14 weeks gestation she found out the baby would have xyy syndrome and the Doctors made the condition sound awful while urging her to terminate the pregnancy. My poor friend was physically alone with all the thoughts and pressures and unknowns. In the meantime, she was finding contacts who would help her with her decision to adopt. 

On November 2 of 2018, I got the message. 

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"I went through with the termination. The stress got to me. It was the hardest decision to make. I hope Jesus doesn't hate me."

My heart was so heavy and yes, I cried. However, in this particular situation I knew that my focus needed to be on her and showing her compassion. It was such a wrestling match that happened within me. I went back and forth with all the questions.

"Why did she choose that?"

"What will happen with her now? Is she going to be ok?"

"Who is around her to help support her through this?"

"Is it fair for me to feel mad?"

"Where do I turn with this great feeling of loss?"

So many questions piled up. 

I didn't even talk to many people about it because I felt it was best to fully deny my own thoughts, feelings, and grief. Just sweep that all to the side, Amy, this is not about you. 

I spoke with my friend a few times and told her again and again that she is loved. Any Christian who would attack her for her choice is not one I want to identify with. I set my grieving and feelings and questions aside so I could be present with her and hear her out and build her back up as much as I could. I saw that in our picture, 2 moms were experiencing loss at the same time but she was facing so much of it on her own and in ways I can never imagine. 

In the meantime, a local friend had a pregnancy that ran along the same timeline as Noah's. She had her son just a couple weeks before Noah's due date. 

I could not. 

I couldn't ever hold him after he was born, while I watched my friends play rounds of "pass the baby". I tried to celebrate him and support my local friend with gifts and gift cards after he was born - but I cried at home after she opened the baby clothes. 

I never wanted to take away from the joy of new life that my friend and her family were experiencing so I stuffed and stuffed and pressed and stomped down every last one of my feelings, never to say a word lest I be judged and called jealous. I was jealous. But I wasn't jealous in a petty way. My arms were empty and I felt the pain of that every day. 

I still feel that pain.

It's 2021, and I'm just now beginning to allow myself to grieve. Noah is 2 on heaven's side. Every time I see a little "wobbler" - you know how a walking toddler kinda wobbles as they go? - I feel a sinking in my gut. I was hurting so badly this past April 24 but I never said anything to anyone about it. I just let the day go on making sure to whisper prayers to God as I tried to go to sleep that night. "Hey, Jesus. Would you please go give Noah a hug from me? I know he doesn't even know who I am...unless you told him? ...Maybe it's me who needs the hug. Amen."

This loss is the strangest kind for me. I've gone back and forth about whether or not I really have the right to feel anything. Do I? 

Regardless of my rights, I'm hurting and trying to process that hurt while I parent my own kiddos and foster another and give my "yes" to other kiddos who need a home, whether they end up here or not. 

This coming Mother's Day is one that is really stinging for me. 

I just want to see Noah's face and tell him that he had a home with us here but that heaven is so much better than anything we could have given him. 

I pray my arms hold my own kiddos a little bit closer for a little bit longer and that I find the grace to have continuous gratitude for all the good gifts I have in life. 

I don't know if you're someone who's been in this position before? I kind of feel like I'm on an island here and no one really understands the landscape. If you do know how this feels, oh I hope you also know God's love for this kind of pain. He has been consistent for me and has helped me be strong when I need to be while catching the tears that fall when I can't hold them in any longer. 

This Mother's Day, I pray that as I feel the sting of loss, I find the gifts in my life that bring pure joy.

I love you, Noah. 

Love, me. 

Mother's Day And Grief? Here's Where I'm At.

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Thursday, August 27, 2020

 I don't know about you, but I'm a visual learner. I always learn best by seeing. I always "hear" God best through seeing as well. The tiniest, everyday things can be monumental in my life as a I grow in character and faith. 

This past Mother's Day was a tough day for me. Yes, it was full of all the hugs and kisses and love from  my kiddos. It was also my first Mother's Day as a Foster Mom. I knew that my day was filled with hugs from someone else's baby and she was probably missing him something awful. Just the thought of that burns in the back of my throat all over again. What a great and heavy privilege.

Before this day, the hubster had gone out and bought me loads of Sunflower seeds. The packs told me how to plant/water them and said they would grow to about 6 feet tall. Oh, I couldn't wait to see them. I decided to bring the kiddos outside with me on Mother's Day to plant them - just before the rain came and watered them for the first time. We had such fun racing the clouds that hung heavy and threatened us in a "Fee Fie Foe Fum" kind of way. We giggled and squealed as we tried to plant as quickly as we could.

Then came the rain. 

Then came months of really hard things with the Covid-19 restrictions and missing my friends and family. Add to that allllll the things our Foster son was processing as his visits with his family continued to be held virtually.  He had new memories and opinions he was trying to process and we had some difficult days. Add to that all the evidence of brokenness in the world right outside my door. 

It's easy to say, sunflowers growing in my yard was something I was looking forward to as a visual of joy. They're my absolute favorites. 

Cut to yesterday. August something or other - it's all a blur at this point, am I right?

I've been the worst gardener this year because - Covid - 4 kids - Foster care - life. I actually made it out to the side of my house yesterday and was hoping to see some sunflowers. My surrounding neighbors have some beauties growing, let me tell you. 

I looked out toward the fence line and at first thought there was nothing there - not a sprout, not a hope, not even a chance. I looked again and saw this little guy. 



It was all tiny and low to the ground but it was a sunflower, nonetheless. 

One sunflower.

One, 1 foot tall, where's all the petals?, not near 6 feet or heading that way, sunflower. 

Can you feel my disappointment?

I was honestly mad. I was mad that I somehow failed to grow even sunflowers. I was mad that all my time has been eaten up and my introvert self can't even break away from things enough to handle her garden. I was mad that after planting so many seeds in 3 different areas in my yard, this. THIS! One itty bitty sunflower - what evidence of how pitiful this season has been. Right? 

No. Not at all right. Not even a little bit.  

My knee jerk reaction and frustration wasn't real - it was exaggerated. Grossly exaggerated.

I nearly missed the TRUTH that on my fence line was growing a sunflower. It was full of beautiful coloring and it was just the right size to bring inside and put in a vase. I also missed that on either side of it were smaller buds just waiting to bloom.  

I began to smile and I headed straight to the garage to get my pruning sheers. These beauties were going to come with me. I had waited so long to see them and see them I will. 



Ready for the lesson I learned by seeing? 

Planting seeds - doing the actual work of planting, watering, and waiting in anticipation is worth it no matter the size of the harvest. I had fully expected to see many, tall sunflowers. I had one tiny result. But without the work, I would have had nothing at all. I simply can't conclude that this beauty wasn't worth the work. 

Take this sunflower and apply this same thought to people. I can't conclude that all the work of pouring my heart, prayers, love, counsel into people isn't worth the work. I may hope for many, Big God results but even if all I can see is a short little beauty just sitting there being who they were made to be to the glory of God, regardless of my expectations, the effort is worth it. 

Isaiah 55:10-11 (ESV) "For just as rain and snow fall from heaven and do not return without watering the earth, making it bud and sprout, and providing seed to sow and food to eat, so My word that proceeds from My moth will not return to Me empty, but it will accomplish what I please, and it will prosper where I send it. "

Trusting God, who sends me out to lead worship or offer encouragement or smile at a stranger, means that I trust that He's in control. What I offer to Him in obedience will accomplish what He pleases. 

It's good to be hopeful and expecting of big things but it's important to be grateful for the small and good and imperfect.


I will remember this every time I look at these sweet sunflowers. 


~Amy


All of That For Just One? A Story of (Worth It) Work

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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

I am a Foster Mom.

Just typing those words makes me sit up a bit straighter and hold my head up. And is that because I'm so proud of myself? Ha! NO! It's because of the face I see in my mind when I say those words; the boy I have the privilege of caring for.

There was a time in my life when I complained about the loooooooong waiting process of becoming a foster mom. Twelve years ago, the hubster and I set it as a family mission - caring for a child from the foster care system. Twelve years ago, we thought we were ready. Twelve years ago, now almost 13, we had our first biological child and quickly learned we knew precious little about being parents.

The hubster and I spent time volunteering at summer camps for foster children. You all remember my posts about the things I was making for camp and my experiences there? Surely after all that exposure and training, we were ready. Right?

In the 12 years of waiting, we've been busy raising 3 beautiful kiddos of our own and made one giant leap from living in Michigan (where we were *this* close to being a licensed home) to living in Kentucky (where we had to begin the process again). We believed the entire time that WE WERE READY, ALREADY.

We received our foster care license in Kentucky and waited 7 months before we received a call for our first placement. This boy. This one we care for as if he were born to us. He came to us as a respite placement, meaning we were allowed to back out of the commitment after a weekend if we felt he was too much for us.




And I instantly fell in love.
And I instantly saw the amazing potential he had (if only he were encouraged).
And my heart has broken many, many times while learning who this boy is and what his life was before me.
And I dread the day I have to give him back but know I will send him back knowing he is loved.

This boy is proof that waiting is beneficial. Had we met him any sooner, we wouldn't have been ready. I can tell you, this boy deserves 12 years of waiting and growing on our part. He deserves the entire world if you can afford to give it.

I hope you all will welcome me back to this space of sharing my life and experiences with you. I hope you will all celebrate with me the new word I've added to my title of "Mom". Being a Foster parent has taught me so very, very much and I intend to share my heart and soul with you on that very topic.

Let's take this journey together, yes? We are not all meant to be Foster Parents but you are welcome to be a part of the village here. I welcome your questions, your advice, your encouragement, & your prayers.

~Amy



I Am A Foster Mom

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