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Archive for February, 2012

Feb 28 2012

Scratch and Win

Posted by Mugs @ 10:03 am in Family Print This Post Print This Post

Advertisements of all types are the bane of my existence. I DVR the shows I want to watch on TV so I can fast forward through commercials, I change the radio station when commercials are played, and I throw away all ads that come in the mail.

Dale, on the other hand, can be convinced of two things: his life would be better with a miracle product, and everything they say on the commercial really is true.  I have attempted to train my children not to believe advertisements, but they, like their father are drawn in by the allure of too good to be true.

Two months ago, a post card addressed to Dale arrived in the mail from a local car dealer. I would have tossed it out without looking at it, but Gabe spotted it before me. It was a scratch and win.

“Can I scratch it off, Mom, and have the prize?” Gabe asked.

“You are not going to win, Gabe. It’s rigged,” I said. “You can scratch it off if you want, but they’re just trying to get Dad to come into the dealership to look at a car.”

Gabe believed luck was with him and scratched it off. “I won! I won! A two hundred dollar gift card! Will you go with me to the dealer so I can get it?” He asked.

“I can’t believe it. No way that’s legit,” I said. “There must have had a printing error. You’ll have to convince your Dad to go with you to pick up the prize.”

Over the weekend, during the “Prize Giveaway Event,” Dale and Gabe went to the dealership, met a salesman, looked at a car and returned empty handed.

“He said they had an unexpected overwhelming response and they ran out of gift cards. He is going to send it to me in the mail,” Gabe said.

“Yeah, I believe that. Don’t hold your breath,” I said.

For weeks, Gabe checked and rechecked the mail to no avail. Each day, he had to listen to his mother tell him, “Never trust an advertisement or a salesman.”

When he had almost given up hope, a letter arrived from the dealership which contained his two hundred dollar gift card. “I won! Here it is! I won!” He hooted and hollered.

The gift card had one small caveat. You could only use it to purchase items off of one particular website. Gabe logged onto the website.

“This is all junk,” he said. “Some of these computer games we got for free inside of kid’s meals.”

The pickings were slim. With a heavy heart, Gabe ordered three free items “worth $200.”

1. A dvd which plays a fireplace scene on your TV screen – cost $50.

2. A replica race car – cost $50.

3. A set of Michael Jordan basketball trading cards – cost $100.

I figure they may be worth a total of $10 all combined. Of course, I have no faith they will arrive at all.

However, Gabe continues to check the mail each day, albeit with a little less spring in his step.


Feb 23 2012

Hints of Spring

Posted by Mugs @ 2:27 pm in Nature Print This Post Print This Post

A daffodil’s happy face

Smiling in the sun

A blue jay’s flight across the yard

Now two where there was one


Stir-crazy cat’s escape attempts

Thwarted by the screen

Ordered ants upon the march

On grass now shaded green


An urge within the gardener’s bones

To dig beneath the dirt

Young singles feel the call

To smile, and then to flirt


The hope, the joy, the quiet desire

For everything to be

New and fresh and full of life

For you and also me



Feb 21 2012

A Visit to Abby’s College Without Abby

Posted by Mugs @ 7:56 pm in Family,school Print This Post Print This Post

On Monday, Dale, Josiah and I went on a college visit to Eastern, a Christian College in the suburbs of Philadelphia. We arrived for the visit the night prior, stayed in an old hotel nearby, and walked through downtown Wayne to an Italian restaurant for dinner. We walked past the largest Wawa we had ever seen. It was a large convenience store, not like the gas stations we have around here. On our walk back to the hotel, we stopped at a Diner for dessert, tea, and coffee. Meanwhile Abby was at home caring for her two younger siblings with the help of The Robyn.

When I relayed our fist night’s actions to Abby, she protested “You stayed at an old hotel without me? You ate at an Italian restaurant without me? You went to a Diner without me?” She was indignant. Over the course of the visit to Eastern, we did everything Abby loved to do at the college she wants to attend.

Even though she is only a sophomore in high school, Abby has been researching colleges. When Josiah and Abby’s high school had a Christian College Fair that she could not attend because of a Field Hockey game, she sent me with a list of colleges I needed to get information about. “Make sure you go to the Eastern booth,” she said. “That’s number one.”

Josiah and I went to the Eastern booth without her and then went to the college without her as well. She considers this completely unfair.

The visit started at 8:30am with praise and worship. I knew I was on a college campus when the worship set had songs by both the Newsboys and David Crowder. Thankfully, the student led worship team threw in Stuart Townend’s In Christ Alone to help us old folks find the rhythm. After worship, the admissions department introduced themselves and the President of the University gave a short talk.

We then went on a tour of the campus. We hiked about over the hill and through the woods, back and forth this way and that at a fairly rapid speed. Eastern students must certainly stay in shape hiking between their classes and the dorms. The campus is quite picturesque with streams, bridges, a waterwheel, and a pond. The college is fairly small in population with 1700 students, and there are not many buildings, but the campus grounds are extensive. My own experience with college dorms is limited to military barracks. Therefore, in all the colleges we have visited, upon sight of the dorm rooms, I am pleasantly surprised. When only four people have to share a bathroom, when everyone gets a closet, and when no one has to make their bed, I consider the accommodations luxurious.

After our tour, we came back together to hear Tony Campolo speak. He is a professor of sociology at Eastern. He is also an Italian from Philly through and through and is quite old school in his vernacular. He has been very influential at Eastern in promoting the college motto of “Faith Reason Justice.” The students are encouraged to “grow in faith, learn to reason, and help bring justice.” The students are active in service projects with Habitat for Humanity, Opportunity International, Food for the Hungry, and International Justice Mission. The college faculty and the students take to heart James 2:17 “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

Afterwards, Dale and Josiah went to a musicianship class to stretch their brains, I went to a tuition assistance class to stretch my wallet, and we all ate philly cheese steak to stretch our stomachs. The cheese steak was offered in the cafeteria under a sign proclaiming “traditional foods.” It is a good thing the majority of the students are from Pennsylvania. A southerner might be a bit surprised to discover cheese steak as a traditional food.

Our drive to Philly on Sunday afternoon was 3 hours with no traffic. Our drive home on Monday afternoon was 4 hours and 15 minutes thanks to the state of Maryland. Someone thought it would be a grand idea to close off one lane of the I95 southbound bridge which crosses over the Susquehanna river. Of course, there was no construction work, just construction barrels.

When we arrived home, I gave Abby an Eastern school binder and a dessert from the Diner in an attempt to placate her.

Unfortunately for me, I don’t think it worked.

Feb 18 2012

A Testing Mother

Posted by Mugs @ 4:17 pm in Family,school Print This Post Print This Post

Last Saturday, Josiah took the ACT (college enrollment test). The ACT is the test frequently taken by college applicants in the US Midwest. Here in the Eastern US, most students take the SAT. Unfortunately for Josiah, his mother has signed him up to take both tests. He will be taking the SAT next month.

The ACT is not offered in as many high school locations as the SAT, so Josiah had to drive 30 minutes north from home to the test location. He was required to sign in by 8am Saturday morning, and bring identification, two number 2 pencils, an eraser, a calculator, and a snack.

Prior to Saturday, the farthest north Josiah had driven alone was to Quantico. In the hand drawn maps and exit number memorization quizzes I had given him when he was learning to drive, the I95 map’s accuracy ended at exit 118 to the south and exit 150 to the north. Beyond exit 118 was simply “driving to Richmond” and beyond exit 150 was simply “driving to DC.”

I could lie and say that I thought long and hard about whether I should allow Josiah to find his way to the testing location in a timely manner, but you wouldn’t believe me. I didn’t consider it for a moment. Instead, we drove two cars. Thankfully, it turned out to be a fairly straightforward trip up Highway 1. We arrived at 0740, and I got out of the van and walked over to the car. Josiah opened up his door and looked at me with a quizzical expression. “I’ve got 20 minutes,” he said.

“Get out of the car,” I replied.

As usual for him, no thought was made to the number of people waiting in line to sign in, the need to find the room he was assigned to in a high school he had never been inside of, or any other such planning and preparation.

Why not just dash into the school at the last minute, slide into a desk, and fill in some ovals?

As I was standing behind him inside the school watching him show his identification while he held a paper lunch sack with his name written on it, I realized how I must look to the other students and the test administrator. They are looking at a kid who has a beard, drives a car, is 17 years old, and is followed everywhere by a very testing mother.

After he signed in, I told Josiah “Good Luck” and walked out. I had already instructed him on how to drive home after the test.

Maybe it’s time to let him grow up and accept responsibility. The cost to me is not great: just $49.50 if he should per chance miss the test because he doesn’t get up on time, departs late, gets lost while driving, sits in his parked car too long, forgets to sign in, goes to the wrong room, leaves his cell phone on in his pocket, loses both pencils, etc.

Surely, that wouldn’t happen.

Feb 17 2012

In Disguise

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

A few weeks ago, Abby and Josiah attended a friend’s masquerade birthday party. When Abby approached the door, her friend’s mother introduced herself as if to a stranger. She did not recognize Abby. Abby replied, “Hello, my name is Abby. I’ve been attending church with you for four years now.” The mother laughed. Abby’s disguise had done the job.