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Archive for 2011

Dec 22 2011

Racing Through The Lights

Posted by Mugs @ 7:20 pm in Family Print This Post Print This Post

The Holly Jolly is trying its best to overwhelm me. The number of festive events filling the Christmas Season bring about a feeling of being in a race. My mom arrived at the start of this blessedly busy season, and she returned home exhausted. My sister lectured me that I should have provided Mom with a restful vacation, not an event packed one. Oh well, what can I say…it’s Holly Jolly time.

Mom arrived from the airport, sang Happy Birthday, and ate a cupcake.

We then drove down to Richmond to walk through the Ginter GardenFest of Lights. The entire garden is awash with lights and light sculptures. It is beautiful and fun and makes me smile.

After the GardenFest of Lights, we went to eat at an Italian joint that brought back fond memories of places from the past. The decor, the servers, the menu, the really good pizza, and the pay per view fight shown on the t.v. all brought back visions of Russ and the fix.

The next day, Zeke was baptized and proclaimed his faith in Jesus Christ much to the joy of his Grandma (who was present) and his Grandpa (who was praying for him).

Monday was a shopping trip to the Military Exchange and Commissary. Mom hopes one day to be declared a military dependent of Dale so that she can get her own I.D. card and go shopping with Abby whenever she wants.

Tuesday, Mom went to Zeke’s Colonial Day event at school. She and Zeke wore costumes, made crafts and played games. On Tuesday night, she listened to Gabe play the glockenspiel with the sixth grade band. After the concert, we stopped at the plant nursery to buy a Christmas tree in the pouring rain.

On Wednesday morning, Mom and I attended the school chapel service to hear Gabe play guitar on the worship team and see Gabe receive an award for creativity. I declared that 3 nights in a row of making a legitimate dinner was all I could manage. (When I make breakfast for dinner, Zeke calls it brinner.) I asked Mom to cook swedish meatballs. She spent Wednesday cooking and praying. (Wednesday is also the church prayer meeting and I have followed in my parents footsteps of weekly prayer meeting attendance. When the kids and I lived with my parents in Minnesota – Dale was in Korea – and the schedule got crazy, I would ask in disbelief, “Can’t you miss prayer meeting?” The answer to that was always no.) For her, attending prayer meeting was just like old times.


On Thursday, Mom made Grandma buns and caramel rolls which is an all day event in itself.

On Friday, Mom drove Gabe and Zeke to school while Josiah and I attended his driver’s licensing ceremony. Afterwards, Mom and I went shopping for Christmas gifts and walked around Wegmans where Mom wandered about in amazement, exclaiming at all she saw. On Friday evening, Mom attended the high school Christmas concert. She listened to Abby’s flute in the band and Josiah’s piano accompaniment of the choir. Afterwards, we all went out for ice cream. We went to bed around 11pm.

The next morning, Mom and I had to wake up at 0345 to leave at 0400 to drive to the airport and arrive by 0500 for Mom to make her 0615 flight. A month prior, when planning Mom’s trip, I asked Dad how much leave Mom had stored up to use. He declared her in the hole on leave. I asked him if she could take her leave now and pay it off in the future. He reluctantly agreed. I was trying to convince my Dad that Mom should stay for an entire week and in order to lesson the number of days charged against her allotment, I determined that if she arrived home by 0800 Saturday morning, the day should not be charged against me. It seemed a brilliant plan at the time. Not so much at O dark thirty Saturday morning. When I came downstairs, Mom was already dressed, huddled in her coat, eating a bowl of cereal. She had gotten up at 0245.

When she got off the plane in Minnesota, she was greeted by my brother Rob (visiting from California) and off he took her on some more adventures. Later that week, my Dad had surgery (Successful:Praise the Lord!), and this week, for good measure, my parents moved to a different apartment in their building. She would tell you of this harried life she has been living if she could figure out how to use the newfangled device my siblings bought her and Dad for Christmas.

When racing through the lights, sometimes you end up like Gabe, stuck behind the slow guy. But don’t become discouraged. Someday,  you might run like Zeke and win.



Dec 16 2011

Bending until Breaking

Posted by Mugs @ 12:39 pm in Family,school Print This Post Print This Post

Yesterday morning, I drove Abby down to the high school to take a semester exam. Josiah had no exams on Thursday, so we traded driving routes. He had to drive Gabe and Zeke to school instead. I needed to do some Holly Jolly shopping and had just pulled up in front of the toy store (open at 6am) when my phone rang. Josiah was calling me. “It has to be bad,” I thought. My teenage son never calls me. I only hear from him via text. He calls only in an emergency. I thought back to two other times he had called me. The first: “Mom, we had an earthquake,” and the second: “I do not know where I am.”

It’s terrible when a phone call from your child causes fear, but the likelihood that a teenage son will call to say, “Mom, I love you and I hope your having a good day. I’m done with all my chores and all my schoolwork and I even took the dog for a run,” is very remote.

Instead, he said, “Zeke left a message on the answering machine. He is really upset. He broke his glasses.”

“O.K.” I’ll call the school,” I replied.

I called the school and the secretary relayed to me that Zeke was quite upset and the glasses could not be fixed. Ten minutes later, Zeke’s teacher called me on the phone, “Zeke is still upset and wants to talk to you about his glasses.” She put Zeke on the phone.

“I broke my glasses,” he said.

“How?” I asked. (I had specifically purchased flexon frames because they were bendable and very difficult to break. The technician claimed they were nearly unbreakable.)


“I bent them and they broke,” he replied.

“Can they be fixed?” I asked.

“Maybe with a hot glue gun and some duct tape,” he said.

I told him, “Just put them away for now. We’ll go to the optometrist after school.”

My shopping no longer felt very Holly Jolly as I considered the cost of replacement frames for glasses less than one month old. An hour passed and Zeke was calling again. “You remember the music for Greenfield?” he asked. “I forgot it at home,” he said. His class was singing and playing the piano at the local retirement home.

“It’s in your school folder,” I said. “I told you I put it in there this morning.”

“O.K.” he said and hung up. It was not yet 10am.

After school I discovered how the glasses were broken. While he was standing in line waiting to go into his classroom, he decided to show his friend that his glasses were bendable. To demonstrate this, he bent them until they broke.

We brought the glasses to the optometrist. “Didn’t you just get these glasses?” the technician asked, “You must have been bending them back and forth and back and forth for this to happen. Theses glasses are…” She stopped herself before she could repeat once again how they were nearly unbreakable.

Later I found Zeke in my room dumping the change from his piggy bank onto my night stand.

“To pay for the glasses,” he said.


Dec 13 2011

A Visit of Halves

Posted by Mugs @ 10:06 pm in Family Print This Post Print This Post

My husband bought me a box of chocolates for my birthday and my mom came to visit. I heard my daughter debating with my mother over the box of chocolates. Mom wanted to smush the bottom of each chocolate until she found one she liked. Abby informed Mom I would be upset by that action, but I would be o.k. with her cutting the chocolate in half with a knife to see what was inside.

By the end of my birthday, all but a few of my chocolates had been sliced in half.

I ordered a variety of cupcakes for my birthday so everyone would get something they liked. I ordered Mom two cupcakes I thought she would like best: a coconut cupcake and a pear/cranberry cupcake. The cupcakes were very small. They were each the size of a half of a cupcake already. I had hoped two small varieties would satisfy Mom thereby forgoing the necessity of anything being cut in half. Unfortunately, for myself, I did not order the exact same thing as Mom. I ordered a coconut cupcake and a snicker cupcake. I watched Mom cut her pear/cranberry cupcake in half.

“Mom, that’s your cupcake,” I pleaded, “I bought a different one for myself.”

“No. No. You’ll like this one. I’ll give you half and then I can taste half of your other one.”

I soon found myself eating half a pear/cranberry cupcake for my birthday.

We went out to a Thai restaurant for lunch. Realizing the only way to avoid things being cut in half was to order the exact same thing, I planned to order Pad Thai.

“Oh well, I guess I’ll have to order something different,” said Mom.

“Mom, it’s o.k. We can both order Pad Thai,” I replied.

“No, I’ll find something else,” she said.

She became really sad at the thought of there not being anything to cut in half.

“I’ll order yellow curry,” I said to cheer her up, “It has potatoes. I like potatoes.” I assured her I would be just as happy with yellow curry.

The yellow curry was too spicy for her, but she was happy to try it.

After Mom left, I was cleaning out the fridge and discovered a half a piece of buttered Italian bread covered in cling wrap.

A week earlier, on the morning of Mom’s arrival, we were gone to breakfast and the bookstore. Dale picked Mom up at the airport. When we were all sitting around the table with our cupcakes, Abby pressed the message button on the answering machine. My sister’s voice piped up for all to hear,

“I just dropped Mom off at the airport. I’m done. She’s yours now.”

I suspect Marie was looking forward to a week of wholes.





Nov 29 2011

Around the Campfire

Posted by Mugs @ 8:31 pm in Family Print This Post Print This Post

We had a campfire on the Saturday night of the Women’s retreat, and Robyn and I sat next to it for hours and hours. We needed a break from all the hubbub and decided to sit and stare at the fire. I am occasionally overcome with the desire to stop doing and thinking and allow myself to simply look. Staring at the ocean, a garden, a fire and letting my mind grow quiet is often needed.

While we sat there, a youth pastor walked over and asked if some kids from his youth group could come and borrow our fire. They were all asking him for a fire, but he knew their inability to stay in one place for more than a few minutes would mean he would soon be tending a fire from which they had grown quickly bored. Robyn and I gladly welcomed them and offered them some marshmallows to toast for smores. The initial group (consisting mostly of girls) declined. I offered marshmallows to all who came and they continued to refuse until up trotted this tall kid who reminded me of my brother Mike when he was in high school. Mike would often stand in front of the fridge drinking a 1/2 gallon of milk straight from the glass milk bottle that the milkman had recently delivered. As soon as I saw the kid, I knew he wouldn’t refuse free food. He quickly tucked into the marshmallows and convinced some others to join in as well. They were a quiet bunch talking, texting, and joking, and the guys only did an occasional obnoxious derring-do in an attempt to gain the girls attention.

A few weeks later, the campfire in our backyard was nowhere near as quiet. Josiah determined to celebrate his 17th birthday with yet another rousing campfire and sleepover. When Josiah left for school on the morning of the party, he had five friends who told him they would attend. Everyone else was noncommittal. When he returned from school that same day, the count had doubled. For Abby’s parties, I always know who is going to be there and who is going to be absent well in advance. At most, she has two friends she is not sure of. For Josiah’s parties, I plan for them all to come, expect hardly any, and then they all show up en masse.

Dale started the campfire before they all arrived and had it burning to his level of perfection. Unfortunately, he came inside to escape the noise and Josiah’s friends shifted the logs the wrong way and piled things on that should have been left off. Within minutes of Dale’s departure, the campfire became a smoking sputtering mess for Dale to stand at the window, watch and grumble about under his breath. My brother Rob,who was visiting with his son Marcus, rescued the fire at some point from its certain demise.

As each girl arrived, the noise from the boys and the stunts they were attempting to perform to catch the girls attention grew and grew. When Abby finally walked out to the fire, the cacophony grew to a fever pitch. I had no idea what the guys were doing to make such a scene and I am quite certain they did not know either. Josiah’s friends ability to create a cacophony of noise is unparalleled.

Nov 28 2011

Colonial Williamsburg

Posted by Mugs @ 7:42 pm in Sightseeing Print This Post Print This Post

During the women’s retreat last month, we were allotted 6 hours of free time. (Yippee!) I love free time. Amanda and I played the tourist in Colonial Williamsburg. Amanda, unlike me, could have played the tour guide instead of the tourist. I feared during our time wandering about that the tour guides might snatch Amanda, put a white bonnet on her head, and have her lead people through one historic house or the next.  Amanda has long hair and wears long skirts and we tease her that she belongs in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. She readily admits she was born during the wrong century.

I found Williamsburg quite interesting. Anyone can wander the streets and look through the windows of the shops for free. However, if you want to go in and see how to bind a book, weave on a loom, make shoes, and cook a pudding, you have to pay for a ticket. Amanda and I purchased tickets and learned all kinds of historical facts. I remember only a few.

1. Most colonists preferred to pay a fine rather than be whipped.

2. A powder room was named a powder room because men would enter the room for the purpose of powdering their wigs.

3. The walls were not painted, but covered with colorful paper.

4. The kitchen was outside the house so if it burned down, it wouldn’t take the house with it.

5. You displayed all the weapons you owned on your walls to both intimidate your enemies and for the ease of grabbing one quickly in the event of an attack.