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Archive for November, 2009

Nov 30 2009

Christmas Dress

Posted by Mugs @ 10:56 am in Family Print This Post Print This Post

Every year Abby’s middle school hosts a Christmas party where the boys must wear ties and the girls must wear pretty dresses. I have learned it is not easy to find appropriate dresses for girls ages 11-13. They outgrow the little girls dresses and the junior dress assortment is either too casual or decidedly lacking in material.

Last year we searched and searched in vain until I drove to Richmond and went to Dilliards. Dilliards is a department store based in Texas. Therefore, they have plenty of teenage girl shoppers who need party dresses for quinceanera and debutante events. They have the most lovely little girl dress department.

Even though Abby can still fit in some of the dresses in the girls department, she refused to buy one. “Look how cute this is,” I would say. She would say nothing and just give me the teenage girl flat eyed glare. She may have done a bit of over exaggerated sighing as well.

Prior to driving to Richmond, Abby had printed out pictures of dress possibilities from their online store. Her father did not care for these possibilities for they were all lacking in material. So, we had discussions regarding appropriate dress length and shoulder coverage. Almost all junior dresses have skimpy straps or no straps at all which forces you to buy a sweater.

Abby loves to shop. My mom loves to shop. I do not love to shop. I suppose this is why on the way to Richmond Abby told me  “You make it no fun.” My most enjoyable shopping experience is when I can give Abby and my mom the money and wait for them to return and tell me about the great deal they found. However, my mom is too occupied for shopping right now, so Abby is stuck with me.

For Abby there are a few absolute No’s with clothing: No elastic, No scratchy netting, and absolutely No puffed sleeves. Even though the sweater was really cute and the puff on the sleeve was really small or the netting was a tiny amount on the bottom of the inside skirt…No! No! No!

Abby tried on dress after dress. Too short…Too skimpy…Too old…Wrong color… Finally a peacock blue dress with a skirt that fell below the knees. The shoulders were bare, so we started in on the sweaters. Too short…Too skimpy… Too old…Wrong color.

Sweaters were abandoned for capes. We disregarded Edna Mode’s advice of “No Capes!” and found a black cape to wear with the dress. Victory! We went to the register to pay and the girl rung up Abby’s dress. Without my being aware of it, Abby had chosen a dress that was 50% off. She did her grandma proud.

Nov 27 2009

Turkey Trot

Posted by Mugs @ 5:27 pm in Running Print This Post Print This Post

Dale loves to run. I do not love to run.

Zeke once listed our family by order of speed. “Josiah is fastest. Daddy is second. Zeke is third. Abby is fourth. Gabe is fifth. Mommy is last, ” he informed us all. When his two older siblings objected to being slower than him, he reluctantly rearranged the order. “Josiah is fastest. Daddy is second. Abby is third. Gabe is fourth. Zeke is fifth. Mommy is still last,” he said.

Admittedly, my last place position is warranted. Josiah has taken after his father and loves to run. Abby and Gabe have taken after me and run when they must. Zeke has been a bit of a tossup since he loves to run, but also loves to stop.

After watching Josiah run throughout the Cross Country season, Zeke declared he wanted to enter a race. So, Dale entered himself  and Josiah into the 5k Turkey Trot and Zeke into the 1 mile kid’s Turkey Trot in Fredericksburg on Thanksgiving morning.

Zeke lined up for the race with boys and girls 6 and under alongside his two handlers Dale and Josiah. The pistol fired and he took off at a sprint. It took Dale and Josiah two blocks to catch up with him. I saw Zeke pass the 1 mile mark with a look of pain and agony on his face, he was running hard.

Zeke Running with Josiah

Zeke Running with Josiah

He finished with a time of 10:45, 61 out of 145. All runners who finished received a medal. He was proud of himself.

Zeke's Finishing Sprint

Zeke's Finishing Sprint

Then “the losing someone in a crowd drama” occurred when Dale, Josiah, and Zeke  walked one way and I walked another. I lost them in the crowd of 2415 5k runners and their families. I was wearing a bright red jacket and hoped that if I stood in the middle of the road intersection ahead of the start, they would see me. They were on the top of the steps of the library in the hopes that I would see them.

I had both my and Dale’s cell phones and with the 5k race fast approaching, I prayed quite a few frantic prayers and asked various people I knew if they had seen them. Losing someone in a crowd is quite unsettling. Thankfully, they saw me and Zeke did not have to run the 5k.

The first runners to finish were two Kenyan runners from Chapel Hill, NC. They finished together at 14:35. It was amazing to watch the sprint to the finish. I saw Josiah just after 20 minutes. The guy next to him said, “Come on little man,” and started to sprint. I think he was a bit surprised when Josiah out sprinted him as well as the guy in front of him to finish at 20:11 (99 out of 2415).

Dale’s training this autumn had been a bit lackluster compared to Josiah’s. He finished at 24:17 (387 out of 2415 runners). This time I stayed where I was and let Dale find me. They all ate their bagels and cookies, drank their water and gatorade and got their turkey t-shirts.

The Happy Finishers

The Happy Finishers

When we got home, Zeke was complaining to Gabe that he hadn’t gotten to do anything fun yet. Gabe replied, “What? You just got to run a race. That’s fun!” Zeke answered, “Running a race isn’t fun.”

So, the child remains an even division between Dale and I. He wants to run the race like Dale, but he sure doesn’t consider it fun. A bit of his mother in him there.

Nov 27 2009

A Plate of Fudge

Posted by Mugs @ 1:32 pm in Family Print This Post Print This Post

My Mom told me she was thinking of calling me at midnight before Thanksgiving since she suspected that I was up “clanking around the kitchen.” She didn’t call in case, for once, I had gotten my preparations done ahead of schedule. I had such good intentions as always, yet there I was at midnight, pouring fudge onto two buttered plates.

When Dale was growing up, the favorite holiday dessert was peanut butter fudge. Cakes, pies, cookies, and fruit salad were ok, but the holiday wasn’t complete without peanut butter fudge. He asked me to make it when we first married and I vividly recall attempting to make a batch in Germany that turned out like cement and was completely inedible.

I tried again and again without success until one day in Colorado when Dale’s Mama came to visit. I made her show me. Now Dale’s Mama did not measure anything. She would pour the approximate amount in and I would take it out and measure it. She then cooked it to “just so” and I had to figure out what “just so” meant.

After the fudge was cooked she would pour it onto two buttered plates. She did this for two reasons: 1. Her 9×13 pans were either being used for something else, or were lost or damaged. 2. One plate was saved for Dale’s Daddy so the kids wouldn’t eat it all before he got home from work.

When making the fudge, I had usually poured it into a buttered 9 x 13 glass pan, but the night before Thanksgiving, I felt the call to tradition and poured it instead onto two buttered plates.

The two buttered plates worked out quite well this time. I brought one plate of fudge to our friends house for Thanksgiving dinner and Dale and the kids were thrilled to have another plate at home waiting for them.

Peanut Butter Fudge:

3 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups evaporated milk

1 t vanilla

1 T butter

1 28oz jar smooth peanut butter

(I recall Dale’s Mama telling me her brand preference for use in fudge was Peter Pan, then Skippy, then Jiff. However, Tami claims Skippy was most preferred. This is an unresolved family dispute.)

Pour sugar and evaporated milk into thick bottomed pan. Stir to combine. Bring to boil on top of stove. Lower to simmer. Stir often. Color of mixture will turn caramel. Cook to soft ball stage. (When mixture is dropped off a spoon into very cold water, it forms a soft ball) Remove from heat. Add vanilla and butter. Stir. Add almost entire jar of  peanut butter. (The amount of peanut butter left in the jar is the cooks preference. Dale’s sister Tami uses approximately 2/3’s of the jar. I use approximately 3/4’s of the jar.) Stir until fudge starts to stiffen or arm grows tired. Pour into buttered 9×13 pan or onto 2 buttered plates. Place in fridge until set and store in fridge. It is a soft, not hard fudge.

Nov 23 2009

Wonder Slam

Posted by Mugs @ 11:11 am in Family Print This Post Print This Post

On Saturday morning I received a call from a friend who had three extra tickets to the Toby Mac Winter Wonder Slam concert. Abby had been trying to win tickets to the concert for months by attempting to be the 7th caller to the radio station, but was unsuccessful. After the call from my friend, I looked at her and remarked, “You’ve been praying.”

Amazingly, that night, Abby, Josiah, and I were in seats that had a straight ahead view of the stage although a bit high up. I will say this…Toby Mac can put on quite a show. I will also say this…It was very loud. I was feeling quite young, however, when I noticed the guy in front of me wearing earplugs. “At least I’m not that old,” I told the kids.

One guy looking for his seat, called down to the people at the end, “Is there a one down there?” I was very tempted to say, “No. The seats start at two.” However, not wanting to do too many things to embarrass my teenagers, I stayed quiet and texted the situation to Dale instead. Dale received various texts throughout the evening to make him wish he was as cool as me.

I had planned to stop for something to eat on the way, but the GPS did not bring me past a fast food place. I really wish that GPS could plan better for me. I’m always arguing with it about it’s route choice and ignore it when it objects to mine.

So, in the arena, I paid $5 for Josiah’s one slice of Little Caesars pizza. I often pay $5 to Little Caesars, and in return they give me a whole pizza. One slice for $5. You got to be kidding me. I can’t bear to admit how much I paid for Abby and my Chik-fil-a.

The opening act was a guy with an incredibly lovely singing voice who wants to be a rapper. I really wanted to tell him, “Dude, just sing. If you sing a cappella, you’ll bring down the house.” But, I suppose he already has a mother telling him that.

The next act I didn’t like at all except for the drummer. He was standing up smashing those cymbals like mad. Playing drums by sheer force…gotta love that. This act made me ask again one of those questions I have no answer to: Why do rock singer chicks wear tutu like skirts? Just wondering.

After that, Reliant K performed. The lead singer has some hair. It’s what Josiah’s hair would look like if I let him grow it out 12 more inches. It was all over the place. They were good and kept their roadies busy. The lead singer would sometimes play piano, sometimes play guitar, sometimes play both piano and guitar. The roadies would run on and off the stage delivering different guitars for different songs.

They played some funky Christmas pieces during their set and during one, the roadies dragged out this inflatable snowman scene and accidentally (I think) placed it upside down. The lead singer had to stop and turn the thing right side up so we could see what it was supposed to be. If it was a planned part of their act, they were very convincing in making me think their roadies were hopelessly inept. (Oh how they danced…the little people of stonehenge…)

The lead singer of Reliant K is a very talented musician, and the guitar players are quite good. However, they love to bend down and play their guitars on their knee caps. I wanted to tell them to stand up straight, but I suppose they already have a mother telling them that.

Next was the intermission, at which point everyone decided to show up. The place was packed and Toby Mac put on quite a show. It is terrific to see someone as gifted as him using his gifts for the Lord. He presented a clear gospel message before singing “I don’t want to gain the whole world and lose my soul.”

His songs are fun catchy tunes filled with truth and challenge for the Christian walk. Abby was clapping, dancing, swaying, jumping, waving her hands, yelling, singing, holding up the cell phone light with a great big smile on her face. Remarkably, Josiah was standing, clapping, and jumping as well. I clapped and sang also, although I kept the jumping up and down to a minimum.

The technology light, sound, and screen spectacular was very impressive. They danced in front of these bars of light that made them look like cardboard cutouts when they held still. It was really cool. The video streaming on the giant screen was impressive. The show was full on.

The back up rappers and the background singer were excellent as well as the two keyboard players, the drummer, the scratcher, and the guitar/trumpet guy. One guy had a mike down his throat to make him sound like a robot. They sure looked like they were having a lot of fun up there dancing, break dancing,  jumping at each other, and jumping off a trampoline into the audience.

I would have never guessed that Toby Mac was my age until he took off his hat at the end of the first set. His hair was a bit lacking and his dancing started to slow. After the break, he came back on with another hat. I highly recommend he keep the hat on to prevent himself from looking like one of us old foggies with ear plugs, but I suppose he already has a mother telling him that.

He performed all his big hits including his new one, “City on our Knees “and got the biggest response, of course, when he ended with “Jesus Freak.” All the other bands then came on stage to perform “Walking in a Winter Wonder Slam.” It was a tad bit different then the version I was used to.

Abby hasn’t stopped smiling since the concert and I must admit, neither have I.

Nov 19 2009

Outnumbered Seven To One

Posted by Mugs @ 10:41 am in Running Print This Post Print This Post

This week Josiah and I attended the school’s fall sports awards ceremony. It was great. Everyone played their roles to a t. My brother, Rob, often meets characters in life and makes the following comment,”You couldn’t script them better.” If Rob would have been with me, he would have made that comment this week listening to the football coach: the head football coach.

Josiah attends a fairly small school; there are 400 kids total in 7-12 grade. This year the school started a football team with 30 boys and (to my amazement) 7 coaches. Now, I love football. Everyone knows I love football, but seriously…7 coaches?

The school hired a retired local legend who almost 20 years ago led his public school team to three state championships. He brought with him a staff of men who he had either coached, coached with, or coached against. It was remarkable. I was fired up within just a few minutes of listening to him and thought again of the scene on the top of the sand dune in Michigan. Thankfully, this time there was no throwing up.

The coach thanked the parents for adjusting to the boys riding the bus home from games. “We go together; we come home together: Win, Lose, or Draw,” he assured us. He then told stories about what it was like to build a team from the ground up. “There were kids who didn’t know what a hash mark was. Can you believe it? Not knowing a hash mark?” he declared. Next he talked of how much the team would improve next year when they started filming games and exchanging film with the other coaches from our conference. “Did he really just say exchanging film?” I asked myself.

Although the football coach was the highlight, I had a chuckle about plenty of other things. Upon looking at her players, the field hockey coach commented, “Don’t they look like a group of nice young women? …No mud on them…Give them a stick and then see what happens!” The team stood up there awkwardly with a look on their faces that said, “Why do we have to wear a dumb skirt to this ceremony?” I was ready to grab a stick and join my sisterly kin. Alas, I cannot. Instead, I will force Abby to go out for field hockey. It’ll toughen the girl up when she joins the Chicks with Sticks.

A bit later, the cheerleader coach gave an impassioned speech justifying cheerleader as an athletic sport. “We sweat…there’s blood…and sometimes we get punched in the eye!” she proclaimed. The audience did not seem convinced, especially the seven football coaches. I must now regretfully confess that I was once a cheerleader. Although I played lacrosse in college, I was a cheerleader in high school. (I am only admitting this because I fear my sister will point this hypocrisy out in a comment to this blog.) Yet, when I looked upon the cheerleaders standing up there, dressed to the nines, I did not feel the same sisterly kinship. However, Josiah can certainly attest to the fact that I still love to yell loudly during sporting events and awards ceremonies.

The Cross Country coach was scribbling frantically up until his turn arrived. Another Cross Country mom and I were hypothesizing whether he was writing his speech or still trying to determine who lettered. The coaches give out awards, named after people in the Bible, to those athletes who exemplify spiritual leadership, excellence, perseverance, or sportsmanship.

The first award the coach gave was to the captain of the team. He had joined Cross Country three years ago to improve his health. He was extremely overweight. The first year, he ran the 5k in 36 minutes. The next year, he came to the team having lost 40 pounds. This year, he had a personal best time and ran the 5k in 24 minutes. It was a remarkable testimony and I am ever so grateful that the school awards those types of accomplishments.

To my surprise, Josiah won the Nehemiah Champion of Excellence award as the best runner on the boys team. He and another runner had battled back and forth throughout the season on who would finish first for the team. Towards the end of the season, Josiah started to win more often. At the conference championships, Josiah beat him by one second.

The cross country team competed well this year despite only having 4 boy runners and 5 girl runners. The girls team tied for best in Conference and 3 of the 4 boys finished within the top 25 at the conference meet. After the coach handed out the awards, the team moved into the hallway to receive their letters. The coach came back into the audience and sat down. The other Cross Country mom tapped him on the shoulder and asked if he was going to give out letters. He replied, “Oh. We’re supposed to do that now?” The team was standing in the hallway trying to figure out what happened to the coach. Josiah came back in with a giant letter “F.” Being academically minded, I find the letter a bit scary.

In a fit of “Cross Country Dad,” Dale had emailed the athletic director requesting some effort be made to recruit additional runners to the team. (I know he should be stopped, but I can’t make him see sense.) In the reply, he was thanked for his concern and reminded that there are 7 fall sports competing for athletes. It remains to be seen if next year this “Cross Country Dad” will continue to pursue recruiting now that he knows he is outnumbered seven to one.