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Archive for November, 2011

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.

Nov 24 2011

Turkey Trot 2011

Posted by Dale @ 11:29 am in Family,Running Print This Post Print This Post

We continued the Manry tradition of running the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning for the third year. This year, Zeke moved up from the kids 1 mile fun run to the full 5k (3.1 miles). I volunteered to run with Zeke for his first 5k because he claimed that Mugs would be too slow for him. Mugs reminded me more than once that I was supposed to run with Zeke and not abandon him! There were about 3000 runners this year, including people dressed as: Gumby, a duck, several turkeys, and various other oddities. Abby said we should have a theme with matching shirts for next year. I agreed as long as every family member participates in the run. She quickly asked if walking the 5k would count. So next year, we may have all 6 Manrys participate!

Before the start:

Here are the unofficial Manry finish times:

Josiah: 21:00

Zeke: 33:09 and Dale: 33:10

Mugs: 37:42

I’ll update the times once the official results are posted.


Nov 18 2011

And Now I See

Posted by Mugs @ 4:46 pm in Family,school Print This Post Print This Post

A month ago, Zeke’s teacher informed me he was getting up from his desk and walking towards the board to see what was written there. I reluctantly made an appointment with the optometrist. Visiting the optometrist brings me no joy. I have always had terrible vision. When I was in fourth grade, I got dreadfully thick coke bottle glasses, and was mortified to wear them. Abby, whose vision is spot on, now wears the same type of giant plastic frame glasses I despised as a child and claims them as a fashion accessory. Times sure change the definition of fashionable. Glasses and braces were dreadful things to have when I was growing up. Now many kids want glasses and braces even if they do not need them.

During Zeke’s eye appointment, the optometrist gave me a big lecture. “You didn’t notice him squinting?” she asked. “Why didn’t you bring him in before now?” she demanded. “Do you realize how bad his prescription is?” she questioned. “As bad as your eyes are and your oldest sons eyes are, why didn’t you have him checked? she demanded.

“It must have come on suddenly,” I claimed. “I was hoping he had gotten his father’s good vision genetics.”

“How many other children do you have?” she asked.

“Two,” I replied.

“When are you going to bring them in?” she asked.

“Maybe they got their father’s good vision genetics and can see just fine. They passed the eye test at the doctor,” I replied.

“That doesn’t count,” she answered. She then turned to Zeke. “Tell your brother and sister they need to come see me,” she said.

Just what I need: a pushy optometrist. I guess she won’t be putting me in for mother of the year.

Although I view glasses negatively, I must admit that glasses did bring clarity into my life. I remember the first time I put on my glasses and saw the individual leaves on the trees. It was a remarkable sight. Until that moment, I thought all trees were fuzzy round green globes. When Josiah put on his glasses for the first time, he put them on and took them off and put them on and took them off and asked me, “Can you see that bush way over there across the road?”

“Yes,” I answered.

“Wow,” he said. “That’s amazing.”

When Zeke got his glasses, he put them on and took them off and put them on and took them off, looked around and thought for awhile.

“It’s like that song ‘Grace Like Rain,'” he said. “…and now I see – so clearly.”

Zeke with glasses

Zeke with glasses


Nov 17 2011

Egypt Day

Posted by Mugs @ 1:03 pm in Family,school Print This Post Print This Post

The major project of Gabe’s 6th grade year is Egypt Day. The class studies ancient Egypt in history and each child does a report on a specific Egyptian topic. Gabe’s teacher, Miss Rokicki, warns all the parents about Egypt day during orientation each year, but most parents pay it little attention until it suddenly requires all of their attention.

The Egypt Day drama started on the day before the kids could choose their topics. Gabe pestered me in an attempt to get me to agree to bring him and his best friend, Riley, to camp out overnight outside the school in a tent.

“Miss Rokicki will be there at 6:40am for us to sign up for our topics. If we camp overnight in front of the doors, we will be first in line.” He entreated.

“No. You are not camping overnight for an Egypt Day topic.” I replied.

“It’s not fair! If I don’t beat Alexandra, she’ll choose mummies.” He complained.

“There is no way Miss Rokicki will be there at 6:40am and no other parents will be driving their kids there that early to choose an Egypt day topic. If Alexandra gets there and chooses mummies, you can do pyramids. You and Riley have spent the majority of your lives building things with legos and I am quite certain you would be the best fit for the topic of pyramids. The best I can do is get you there by 7:30 am, a half hour early.”

Gabe moaned and groaned and complained to everyone who would listen and to everyone who wouldn’t listen for the rest of the evening. The next morning we drove up to the school at 7:30am and all the girls in Gabe’s class were peering out the window to see who would arrive next. Gabe dashed in to discover that Alexandra had signed up for mummies and Riley was nowhere to be seen. I started texting Riley in an attempt to speed his progress. Almost every girl in the class had made it to school just after 7:00am. At 7:40am, another 6th grade boy arrived at the school. Before he could get in the door, Riley came running at a sprint around the corner of the school and dashed in front of him. Riley and Gabe signed up together for pyramids.

As soon as Gabe entered the van after school pickup on sign up day, he started complaining, “It’s not fair! Alexandra shouldn’t have been able to sign up for mummies without a partner present. Miss Rockiki said your partner had to be there if you wanted to sign up together. Justin didn’t get there until 8, and he signed up for mummies with Alexandra. Riley and I should have been able to take mummies. We were both there at 7:40.

I argued back that since one person in the class would have to do the assignment alone, Alexandra (the first to arrive) could possibly have had no partner and was justified to sign up alone. I told Gabe that if mummies meant so much to him, he had the choice to do mummies with Alexandra as his partner. His true choice was between his best friend and mummies. He disagreed vehemently with my opinion and moaned and groaned and complained to everyone who would listen, and to everyone who wouldn’t listen.

Later, I expressed my surprise to Alexandra’s mom about her early arrival time on Egypt Day topic sign up. She said, “She just wouldn’t stop asking. She would not leave us alone. We finally gave in. I don’t know why she and Gabe are so competitive against one another, but even if her motivation is solely to beat Gabe, it forces her to do well. My husband says if beating Gabe is the cause that gets her good grades. He wants to shake Gabe’s hand.”

The next task was researching and writing out source cards for the information gathered. This proved a process similar to pulling teeth. This took Gabe hours and hours and hours. Unlike me, he did not go to the library and check out books. Believing all information can be more easily attained via the internet, he wasted hours and hours and hours on line trying to find the information on websites ending in .org or .gov  His teacher does not accept any commercial source of information as valid.

I commented to him on the excessive length of his search for information. He replied, “I found this site listed on the 14th google page.”

Next, he and Riley worked together on their board display. I had to take Gabe to the craft store to find the correct pyramid paper color, and Dale got his favorite job of discussing fonts and print sizes with one of his children. Whenever the font discussions start around here, I run and hide in the other room.

Then came the mess of preparing the speech. Gabe and his teacher had a serious miscommunication on what information he was to deliver in his speech. The first speech run through was a disaster for Gabe and the majority of his class. They were all threatened with bad grades if they didn’t improve prior to Egypt Day. A major rewrite was needed and Gabe was initially quite unreasonable. “It’s not fair! That’s not what she told me! Now I have to change everything!” Life became momentarily unpleasant in the Manry home as Gabe moaned and groaned and complained to everyone who would listen and to everyone who wouldn’t listen.

When Egypt Day arrived, Gabe and Riley had a good presentation and did a great job teaching the other students in the school about the pyramids. When it was finished, all the 6th grade parents breathed a huge sigh of relief. “I can’t wait for this to be over,” my friend told me, “It’s stressing me out!” Unfortunately for parents, 6th grade class projects keep rolling in.

During the Egypt Day project, the leaf project was assigned. At the start of the project, Gabe went outside, picked 5 leaves off the ground and brought them in to iron in wax paper. He then told me, “Now I have to look them up online and determine what kind of tree they come from.”

“No. Absolutely not,” I said. “We are not going through this again. Put your shoes on and come with me.” We walked out into the yard. I walked over to the oak and tore off a leaf and handed it to him. “Oak,” I said. Then I walked over to a different tree and tore off a different leaf. “Maple,” I told him. The process continued with “Dogwood,” “Redbud,” and “Cherry.”

Sixth grade class projects: the reason I  moan and groan and complain to everyone who will listen and to everyone who won’t listen.

Egypt Day

Egypt Day