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Archive for March, 2012

Mar 24 2012

Happy 70th Birthday, Grandma!

Posted by Dale @ 8:22 pm in Family

Mar 21 2012

Josiah and Jefferson

Posted by Dale @ 5:15 pm in Family,school,Sightseeing

Last weekend, we conducted college visit #5, the big show. For native Virginians, The University of Virginia is held in high regard. It was established by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 and part of the campus is a UNESCO world heritage site. Everyone speaks of UVA’s prestige. Even my hairdresser, although she terms it a bit differently. “UVA – snob school,” she informed me.

I had been to Charlottesville before, when my Dad was at the UVA medical center, but this was my first walk about the campus (UVA refers to the campus as “the grounds”). The grounds are filled with old Virginia red brick and white column buildings, giant magnolia trees, and a large lawn where (rumor has it) long ago the students used to ride horses and fire off pistols.

The feeling of being in a historic location is evident and the realization that buildings and dorms are really old is all around. The building where our information session took place had fire hose connections on the walls. There were marble and stone floors and large murals on the walls leading to one of the libraries. The libraries give students access to 5 million books. UVA is a storage site for the Library of Congress and has the reserve copy of the Declaration of Independence. I was going to post pictures of the library wall murals until I realized, as with paintings from the Greeks and Italians, most people in the murals lacked clothing.

Although the murals were a tad scandalous, UVA students are only allowed to behave in a scandalous manner if they are members of the secret society of imps. Imps dress up in devil costumes and cause trouble. While watching the Tour de France on television, I have occasionally seen a guy dressed in a devil costume running next to a bike rider. I now wonder if he was a student from UVA. I can’t quite fathom how the parent of an imp would explain their child’s collegiate experience. “I’m so proud of my son. He attends the prestigious University of Virginia dressed in a devil costume.”

UVA has many fraternities, sororities, and secret societies which our tour guide attempted to explain by telling us the following, “Here are the symbols of three secret societies. I don’t know who is in them. You can only find out when the member graduates or dies. They occasionally donate money. I don’t know what else they do. Any questions?”

“Why are there still secret societies in the year 2012?” I thought. For some reason, “I’m in, you’re out” still draws a crowd. UVA students, whether in or out, are all required to operate with morals. The students must sign a pledge to adhere to the honor system. They commit to not lie, cheat or steal.

Getting accepted into UVA is quite difficult: 23,000 students apply; 7,000 students are offered admission; 3,200 students are accepted. Over 70% of students admitted are in the top 10% of their high school class and the mid range of those students’ test scores are SAT 1900 – 2200 and ACT 29 -33. Students are encouraged to submit 2 letters of recommendation and discouraged from submitting 32 letters of recommendation. (An applicant did this.) Students are further encouraged to attend a school with a set numeric grading system and to avoid attending a school with a sun – star – moon grading profile. (I did not make that up.)

The prospective student must also submit an essay of 500 words or less on their future hopes or on a topic meaningful to them. The topics can be as broad as “giving back to your community” and “the best pen to buy.” I figure the first essay was written by someone going into a major containing the word “policy” in it and the second essay was written by a guy applying to the business school. The majority of our tour guides had majors with “policy” in the title. Nothing so simple as biology, math, or English was mentioned.

For those privileged few who gain acceptance, their work has just begun. They now enter their “personal road to discovery.” The competition does not stop when you enter UVA, it accelerates. Students compete for being accepted into a certain major, for the opportunity to study abroad, for summer internships, and for the privilege of spending a semester at sea traveling the world with a group of fellow students and professors.

One of the students who briefed us had spent a summer internship in South America researching greenhouses in which to grow sustainable food for impoverished areas. Then, she spent a semester studying reefs and volcanoes in New Zealand through the study abroad program. She was currently living in the heritage site dorms. She talked fondly of her African drumming class. She listed accomplishment after accomplishment, opportunity after opportunity. She was, of course, majoring in something with “Policy” in the title. Most definitely, she was driven.

UVA is certainly the school for students with a tremendous drive to succeed. The opportunities and experiences are unparalleled. This was the first college visit where I heard prospective students ask if they could double major. Unfortunately for them, double majoring was discouraged by the current students. They emphasized how difficult it was to complete a double major within 4 years. All students are required to graduate UVA in 4 years, no extensions. “Student self governance” was the phrase of the day. I suppose it has more of a positive ring to it than, “Pick yourself up by your bootstraps!”

One negative thing about UVA is the housing. The dorms are old and crummy with shower rooms and toilets at the end of halls. We were told we could not go inside the dorms for safety reasons, but I suspect the more likely reason was because most parents would not want their children living in buildings resembling old barracks. (This did not concern Dale and I. We both thought, “Lived in worse.”) There was only one thing modern about the dorms. Students can choose their roommate via facebook.

New high tech dorms are being built at UVA. When they are complete, the dryer will text the student when his clothes are dry.

Dale, Josiah, and I have more college visits to make before our search is complete. Next on the list is a college even older than UVA: William and Mary. It is so old, Thomas Jefferson attended it as a student.

Yes, it’s true. Wherever we go in Virginia, Thomas Jefferson is somewhere nearby.


Mar 20 2012

Pi Day

Posted by Dale @ 10:03 am in Family,school

Gabe is a math geek and proud of it. His math nerdiness knows no bounds. His favorite t-shirt has the Pi symbol on it, and on 14 March, he woke up at 1:59am to give a cheer. (Pi = 3.14159… for all who have only a vague recollection of mathmatics)

In the family, Gabe may one day steal the title of mathemagician from Dale. However, even if he becomes the mathemagician, he will most likely never lose the title of the awful dynne. Although lately, Zeke has been competing with Gabe in his ability to generate the most noise.

Each year, Gabe’s school participates in an area Christian school math olympics. Although Gabe was happy to make the 6th grade team, he was disappointed to be assigned to the computation (number problems) team rather than the reasoning (word problems) team. During pastoral visitation, Gabe asked Pastor Ted to pray for him during the upcoming the math olympics. God answered Gabe’s prayer unexpectedly. The day prior to the math olympics, the principal informed Gabe’s class that the lists had been mixed up and the computation team was now the reasoning team and vise versa. Gabe cheered.

At the math olympics, he and his best friend Riley took first and second place in 6th grade reasoning. A girl from their class, Brittney, took third. Gabe received a medallion for achieving over an 85% average on all his tests.

Being a true math geek, he can even sing the pi song.

Math Geeks

Math Geeks

Mar 19 2012

Cherry Blossoms Blooming

Posted by Dale @ 9:37 am in Nature

The month long cherry blossom festival in DC starts this week, but the trees decided to bloom ahead of schedule. My cherry tree in front of the house is at peak bloom. In Virginia, we had a very mild winter and many March days have been in the 70s. My spring garden has been blooming in a hurry. The forsythia, bridal veil, pear, quince, and cherry are all in bloom. The redbuds growing at the edge of the woods are all a haze of pretty purple.

Every time I hand the camera to Dale to download pictures, he asks me, “How many pictures of forsythia are on there?” The previous owner of my house planted 20+ forsythia bushes. Each spring my yard looks so lovely. I take picture after picture after picture despite the fact that last year I took picture after picture after picture and two years ago I took picture after picture…

I won’t bore you with more forsythia, but I do have to show off the cherry. Each year, it is the loveliest tree in my garden.

Mar 16 2012

Pastoral Visitation

Posted by Mugs @ 9:59 am in Church,Family

Our new pastor, Ted, has been a part of our church for 6 months now. At the start of one of our prayer meetings shortly after his arrival, he threatened us all with pastoral visitation. Everyone looked at him strangely.

“Is that like going to a Wake?” I asked.

“It makes me think of a scary book by Frank Peretti,” Mike commented.

“Can you explain what you mean?” John wondered.

“Pastoral Visitation – I visit each church attender to ask about their needs and get to know them better,” Ted said indignantly.

“O.K. never heard that old school term before. Around here we just ask people if they would like to meet for coffee. It might be best to give some new terminology a try,” I recommended.

Ted did not believe me when I told him no one in our church would know what pastoral visitation meant. The following Sunday, Dale observed Ted talking to a young Marine who attends our church, asking when he could get together with him for pastoral visitation. The Marine backed up and looked around hesitantly. “What are you getting at?” He asked.

“Pastoral Visitation – visiting with you to find out your needs and get to know you better,” Ted said.

The Marine stood there and looked at him. Reluctantly, Ted said, “How about getting together for coffee?”

…And so started the great pastoral visitation joke. Ted was fighting an uphill battle, but he still insisted people knew what it meant.

A month later I was talking to a fellow Mom from school who attended a large church in our area. I told her my church was very small. “Some days I miss being in a small church,” she said. “All those things like…pastoral visitation.”

I laughed so hard, I almost fell over. “Wait until I tell Ted that I found someone who misses pastoral visitation. He’ll be so happy,” I declared.

A few weeks afterwards, the church held a thank you dinner for two local pastors who had helped us during our pastor search. When the dinner was over, one of the pastors asked Ted, “How are you doing with pastoral visitation?”

Ted called to me across the room, “Wait, wait. Mugs, there is something you need to hear.”

He now had two people on his side. Every few weeks he would announce pastoral visitation in front of the church and schedule people in for visits in their home or his. He had hoped to be done in six months.

A bit ago, I realized six months had passed and the Manrys had not had their pastoral visitation. Gabe wanted to schedule it for March 15th – “Beware the Ides of March,” but Ted couldn’t make it. We moved it up two days.

Abby hung black balloons on the mailbox, decorated the porch with black streamers, and hung a black table cloth over the doorway. Gabe made a poster proclaiming “Beware – Pastoral Visitation” and Abby made a poster declaring, “Enter at Your Own Risk.” Gabe, dressed in black, stood on the porch and waited.

Ted walked slowly toward the door, taking it all in. He stood outside on the porch scared to open the door and trying to pry information out of Gabe as to what was going to happen when he opened the door. I had the right kid outside. If Gabe does not want you to know something. He will not tell it.

Finally, Ted opened the front door and Josiah started playing the Jamaican Rumba. Zeke, who was standing on the steps, showered confetti onto Ted while we all shot off party poppers and blew noise makers. The house was filled with balloons and streamers. Zeke made a poster cheering on Pastor Ted, and Josiah made one declaring our great love for Pastor Ted. We had candy, pretzels, and a Pastoral Visitation chocolate dribble cake. It was a real party. We had bought Ted a special spongebob balloon with Happy Pastoral Visitation Day written on it.

Spongebob is another ongoing joke between us and Ted that stems from a game of charades. Ted needed his family to guess “pants.” He thought the best route to take was getting them to guess spongebob squarepants. The memory of his charade actions periodically sends us Manrys into hilarious laughing fits.

I never expected pastoral visitation to bring on laughter as well.