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Archive for 2012

Dec 16 2012

The Christmas elves

Posted by Dale @ 10:41 pm in Church

I’m not sure how to describe this video taken at our church Christmas banquet:

Dec 14 2012

Standing Before the Judge

Posted by Mugs @ 12:45 pm in Family

One year and five days have passed since I stood before the judge with Josiah for his drivers licensing ceremony. This morning, I stood before the same judge in the same place with Abby. She is a good and cautious driver.

The crowd representing Stafford County’s newest drivers spanned many races: white, black, latino, asian, indian, islanders, etc.

A man in front of us wore a suit with his long black hair pulled up in a knot on the back of his head, and his daughter had her hair piled up in a mini beehive with a strand of pearls. A multi-generation family (mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, aunts, uncles, cousins) of immigrants were there to support their teen driver. A marine dad was there with his long haired son. Fathers, mothers, sons, daughters – families of all types.

The court notice informed everyone that children would not be allowed in the courtroom, but several teen moms showed up with babies in tow. The state troopers allowed the babies into the courtroom. It was cold in the hallway. One baby decided to blow raspberries throughout the judges speech. I suspect, most of the teens probably wished they could join in.

The judge implored the crowd of teen drivers to drive cautiously and defensively. He, once again, informed the parents that they had the right, as well as the court and the DMV to take away their child’s license.

He also told the teens that if they are charged with underage possession of alcohol or drugs, even if they are not in a car, they will have their license suspended for six months, no exceptions.

The judge’s description of the number of accidents created from a moments inattention has played out over the course of this last year in the lives of Josiah and his friends. His group of twelve friends has experienced six accidents (two of which totaled a car). Thankfully, throughout their first year of driving, no one has been seriously injured.

Since his car accident last May, Josiah attended a defensive driver’s course, performed community service, and paid his fine. His ticket has now been cleared by the court.

Towards the end of the ceremony, the judge gave the statistic that strikes fear into the heart.

He told us that one teen driver sitting in the room with us would be dead a year from now because of an automobile accident.

As with the last time I listened to those words, I prayed to God for my children’s safety and pleaded with my children to be attentive when they drive.

I thought of Hebrews 9:27. “Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgement,”

We will all stand before the judge.

I highly recommend you have an advocate.

“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2:1-2

 

Dec 11 2012

Lutherans and a Bag of Nuts

Posted by Mugs @ 12:50 pm in Church,Family,Music

This fall, Mr Matthews (Josiah’s piano teacher) gave Josiah the challenge of learning the overture to the Messiah for his Christmas piece. Josiah played the piece as a prelude for the High School Christmas concert. Because Mr Matthews wanted Josiah to get a better understanding of the piece, he told me to look in the paper for the list of “Messiah sing-a-longs” in the area.

I knew there were performances of the Messiah to go and see, but had no idea there were Messiah sing-a-longs to attend. Sure enough, just after Thanksgiving, the paper listed 20 opportunities in the Washington DC area to listen to or sing the Messiah. There were high end events: the Kennedy Center, the National Philharmonic, and the National Cathedral. There were university events: George Mason and the Naval Academy. There were community events: Fort Washington, Reston, NOVA. There were church events: Catholic, Mormon, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Lutheran.

Josiah and I went to the Reston Chorale sing-a-long last night at the Lutheran church. It cost $10 for admittance. Thankfully, we did not have to buy or rent a score. Mr. Matthews gave us his score to use. It belonged to his father and was printed in 1912.

I had expected to see a choir in a choir loft. I figured they would sing and we would join in from our seats in the audience whenever we desired to help out.

I was quite surprised to enter a room of chairs sectioned with the following signs: bass, tenor, soprano, alto.

We were the choir.

This created a problem. Josiah and I had one score between us. Furthermore, Josiah is most likely a bass although he sings so quietly no one would ever know. I am an alto.

“What to do?”

Not wanting to split up, I came up with the following plan. I would sing lower than usual and be a tenor and Josiah would sing higher than usual and be a tenor. Therefore, we could stay together. Besides, the tenors sat in the back, and we wanted a quick escape in case things went bad.

I sat down next to the guy who unlocks the church and makes the coffee. No matter the denomination, there is always a guy who unlocks the church and makes the coffee. It’s a universal role in Christianity. He soon began to tell me about his busy month of advent. Besides unlocking the church and making the coffee, he lit the unity candle, sang in the choir, and gave out the communion. He also showed me the bag of special Christmas nuts that could be purchased on the way out.

Nearly everyone in the room was white, of Scandinavian or German descent, and older than me. For a moment, I thought I had been transported back to Minnesota and looked around fearfully for lutefisk.

The tenor section started to fill up and we hoped the man sitting next to Josiah would sing the tenor part loud enough for us to follow along. Unfortunately, he had terrible allergies and spent the majority of the performance blowing his nose. Sometimes he sang the correct part, and sometimes not. He so frustrated his neighbor on the other side, the neighbor got up during the performance and stood in the back behind us. We tried to listen to him also.

The only accompaniment was the organ (the choir director played the organ and brought in a guest conductor for the night). I’ve never liked organs, but after listening to Josiah play the overture on the piano for the last month, I could hear how the organ was able to bring out the big chords more effectively. The organist was great and for Josiah, it turned out to be a better learning experience for him to listen without an orchestra. He just followed the musical score and picked up some ideas.

Throughout the sing-a-long, the bass section was good, the sopranos a bit too much, and the tenors were weak (Josiah and I weren’t much help). The altos sounded terrific, and I was sad to not be sitting with my sisters and soaking up the “we’re sounding good” vibe.

Other than “For unto us a child is born,” “Glory to God,” and the “Hallelujah” chorus, my singing was a disaster. I was especially lamentable any time I had to sing a two syllable word such as revealed using 11 different notes.

Handel loved that trick.

For the sing-a-long, there were guest soloists. They were easy to spot since they were wearing tuxedos and formal gowns. Josiah remarked on how he is always tricked by who is the tenor and who is the bass. It just doesn’t seem right that the big tall round guy should be the tenor and the small thin guy should be the bass, but that’s how it is. The tenor was pretty good, the bass was good, and the mezzo soprano had trouble staying with the organ. Of the soloists, the soprano sang last. I must admit that I have no love for sopranos other than my sister Marie. They usually sound shrill to me. I gritted my teeth before she started to sing.

She opened her mouth and my jaw dropped. Wow! She was fabulous. For the first time that night, I looked up from following the score and just watched her sing. Her name is Lindsay Russell. She graduated from JMU and the Manhattan School of Music. Her voice sounded like it had a sustain pedal. She would be holding one note and start singing the next and it sounding like she was singing two notes at once. (The acoustics in the church were great.) She was much younger than most people in the room. I can’t imagine how they got someone so talented to sing for this local chorus and humble event.

Being Lutheran, I suspect they simply said, “If it’s not too much trouble then.”

Dec 04 2012

He Just Can’t Be Fancy

Posted by Mugs @ 1:22 pm in Family,school

Holiday party time started early for the Manrys. Gabe’s middle school Christmas party was on Friday night and the high school Christmas party was on Saturday. All three children decided to sport new looks for the grand galas. Josiah wore a new pair of glasses with his goatee and Abby had her hair swept up and a glamorous dress courtesy of the ever faithful AMJOROB salon.

What’s a mother to do when she has no style?

Find stylish friends.

Following through with his idea that “Maybe he’d be fancy,” Gabe wore a sport coat and tie to his party.

Although he looked fancy on the outside, Gabe can’t help but be Gabe.

At the party, there was a white elephant gift exchange and somehow Gabe managed to win a toilet bank that makes a flushing sound when you add coins.

So much for fancy.

Nov 29 2012

Mad Crazed Night of the Dog

Posted by Mugs @ 12:55 pm in Family,Pets

Rachel and Barry are the kind of friends you can call and ask the following:

“The entire Manry Clan is coming down to your neck of the woods for college touring two weeks from now. Can we stay at your house even though you have company right now and you’ll have company right after we leave and you’ve only lived in your house a few months and have not really settled in? Also, can you watch two of my kids for an entire day until late in the evening while your kids are in school and it’s your daughter’s birthday? We won’t see you much and it will be a major imposition, but can we stay with you?”

Rachel and Barry are opposed to putting boundaries on the impractical requests of their friends.

Once, when Dale requested coffee (Rachel and Barry don’t drink coffee) during a time we were at their house, Barry went to Duncan Donuts and bought a giant ‘Box of Joe’ for Dale.

Saying “We don’t drink coffee, so you can’t have coffee” would never occur to them.

As expected, they said we were welcome to stay with them. We were a major inconvenience in all ways but one: Dale drove to Sheets to get his coffee.

Because we arrived late at night and twice departed early in the morning for college tours and once departed early to attend church, our time together was limited. One evening was the birthday dinner event and the other evening was the Creation light show at Natural Bridge. Our visit was go-go-go and amazingly they went along with us.

Late one night, Rachel and I decided to go for a walk around her neighborhood with her dog Quea. Because I was wearing my boots, our pace was painfully slow. It was a lovely, quiet neighborhood. With only the lights from the front porches and a tiny flashlight to guide us, we walked along at a meandering pace.

Quea was happy to lead the way into a neighbor’s yard where she did her business. Initially, Rachel was not concerned. She was prepared with lots of bags.

Unfortunately, those bags were the improper size to fit in her plastic bag carrier. Having jammed them in, she couldn’t get one to come out though she tried and tried. I held the flashlight to help her to see as she pulled and pulled on the bags. After much force was applied, the bags did come out, all at once and happily unrolled onto the neighbors lawn.

The flashlight was no longer helping much as it was shaking up and down from me laughing uncontrollably.

When the flashlight was back under control, Rachel gathered up the bags and separated one from the masses. We had now completely lost orientation on the mess that needed cleaned up.

I began to walk slowly forward with the flashlight inches from the ground. One can always find a mess this way, although it has its drawbacks.

When the mess was finally cleaned up, we continued on our way. (We should have heeded this first warning that this nighttime walk was not going to go well.)

The only other people out in the dark were two hoodlum teenagers who had escaped their homes and were running around looking for some trouble to get into. We walked by them as they schemed together in a ditch.

We were a downer on their plans as they had recently escaped their mothers and did not want other mothers keeping track of them.

They jumped up and ran off, but over the course of the walk, we would encounter them time and again.

Occasionally, we were not quite certain in which direction we were walking. Rachel was new to the neighborhood and in the pitch dark all the streets looked the same.

Finally, she saw a street sign she recognized.

“If we go down this road,” she said “We’ll eventually come to the street leading to my house.”

This is where the hoodlums decided they would have the most fun. In front of one house was a massive German Shepherd. The hoodlums sprinted past and set the dog off. The mad dog went crazy, first at them and then at us.

Initially, I couldn’t determine what was keeping the dog in the yard because it was so dark. He ran at a sprint in a perfect arch and when he reached the end, he hurled himself upward and outward only to be brought back. Back and forth he sprinted barking and snarling and growling.

Finally it dawned on me, “He’s chained,” I said, “He’s chained to the tree.”

Rachel snatched Quea into her arms and started walking quickly past the house. (Quea is a small fluffy dog who could be carried off by a large bird.) Meanwhile, I turned around and walked slowly backwards watching the mad dog race his arcs and lunge over and over and over to break the chain.

I was thinking, “Remember the dog whisperer: be calm, assertive and if he breaks the chain, you’ll have one good kick to slow him down. Maybe Rachel and Quea can get to the nearest porch before he mauls them.”

I was also praying, “Lord, please help that chain to hold.”

It was scary for what felt like a very long time.

Praise God, the chain held.

When we regrouped farther up the street. Rachel asked me what I had been planning to do.

“Kick him, so you could get to the nearest porch,” I said.

“I was going to start running home with Quia,” she replied.

“You never would have made it,” I answered somberly.

When safely back at Rachel’s house, we relayed our moment of terror to our husbands. Later, Rachel asked her middle school daughter if she had ever walked Quea down the street with the large dog chained to the tree.

“Yes,” She said, “He doesn’t pay attention to us. He’s always gnawing on something.”

Most likely the remains of some poor creature who did not escape.