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Archive for 2016

Dec 19 2016

Sanibel Creatures

Posted by Mugs @ 10:06 am in Family,Nature,Sightseeing Print This Post Print This Post

Dale and I had great fun observing the creatures of Sanibel Island. We were in pursuit of shells, but unfortunately for us, some of the unique shells were occupied with creatures who were not interested in sharing. Our first morning, we had a tour from a naturalist who pointed out the many different shells we would find. Dale reached down and grabbed the end of a pointy shell he saw sticking out of the sand. He pulled up a massive lightening whelk and the naturalist was thrilled and explained it to the group. (I failed to take a photo of this massive whelk, so Gabe has declared it a beach legend.) The next day when we toured the shell museum, the workers asked if we had been on the tour where someone found a large lightning whelk. Dale smiled and enjoyed his moment of fame.

One morning at low tide, we walked out onto a sandbar and had an amazing few hours pulling up shells and looking inside. The water was ankle to knee deep and we could see down to all the sea life. I was admiring a beautiful shell I had picked up when a crab reached out and smacked me. I jumped and screamed like a child making Dale laugh. He held the mollusks and the crabs in his hand and they slid or walked back and forth much to his delight.

We visited a bird sanctuary and admired the pink roseate spoonbill, but it was the jumping fish that made us gasp. The lake was full of large fish that would periodically leap out of the water as high as three feet and then splash back down on their sides. It was highly entertaining.

At dusk, we discovered an evening formation of gulls. The commander was in front looking over his troops and a large sergeant major was in back getting the stragglers in line. The sight of it brought back the many memories of standing in formation so very long ago. Oh how my life has changed, but it’s funny how the sight of them transported me back.

Two mornings at low tide, we found a dozen sand dollars. I began to learn the names of the shells: jewel box, buttercup, turkey wing, scallop, cockle, jingle, kittenpaw, conch, olive… It was a treasure hunt for me. At the museum, we learned that the greatest treasure to find is a junonia. They are rare because they reside so deep in the ocean. If someone brings one in, they’ll get their picture in the newsletter. One naturalist told us she had been searching for one for 42 years.

I loved the finding and filled my pockets and bags with shells, but it was the quiet moments walking along with Dale looking at God’s amazing creation that filled me with a peaceful joy.

Dec 17 2016


Posted by Mugs @ 11:29 am in Family,Nature,Sightseeing Print This Post Print This Post

I celebrated my 50th birthday on the beach at Sanibel Island, Florida courtesy of my wonderful husband. We had a terrific four days searching for shells and relaxing. When I told Abby, we were playing shuffleboard, she replied, “I’ve got old folks now.” (I found great joy beating Dale at shuffleboard.) I’m grateful to the Lord for 50 years of life and have declared this my year of jubilee – full of celebration and restoration.

Nov 30 2016

Junie B Jones Reprise

Posted by Mugs @ 11:47 am in Family,Music Print This Post Print This Post

For Zeke, this Autumn has been filled, once again, with Christian Youth Theater. He took a stage combat and stunts class which he loved. We all gasped during the showcase when he sent a broken board flying to the ceiling. He auditioned for the Junie B Jones production by singing “Putting on the Ritz.” Much to our surprise and delight, he was cast as Junie B’s friend Herb. He learned lines and harmonies and dances over the course of nine weeks on Friday nights and Saturdays.

The entire cast was between the ages of 8 – 14. The director set high expectations for them and they stepped up to the challenge – even moving the set pieces throughout the show. Zeke loved the rehearsals and anytime the cast met to skate, do a radio promo, or eat pancakes. He just loved being with this group of kids. They were all very encouraging and supportive of one another throughout.

My favorite part of the show was when Zeke sang the duet, “You can be my friend,” with Junie B. aka Belle. It was so sweet and showcased their underlying character trait of kindness. Every time I saw the scene, it always made me smile. I also loved the creepy scene where Junie B realizes she needs glasses. Being in one bizarre scene each play is becoming a strange pattern for Zeke.

Gabe found the costume transformation of Chasqui, complete with mustache, into Mr Scary highly amusing. Gabe even bought a button in support. The tap dancing lunchroom scene, the slow mo chest bump, the bus driver, and the physical comedy of Sheldon aka Craig all brought smiles and laughs. Junie B (Belle) was terrific in all shows.

Zeke got to stand in the line to give autographs. (I found this hilarious, and the line was long for each performance.) The bio board was terrific with pictures of the performers presently and back in first grade. Zeke’s favorite performances were the ones they did for the second graders of Stafford County Public Schools. When Junie B said she was most likely going to marry Herb some day, the second grader’s reacted with a loud “Eeew!” which really made Zeke laugh.

(Photos courtesy of Amber Trementozzi CYT photographer and friend to all. She does a great job at the shows.)

The behind the scenes photos aren’t quite the same quality, but they make me smile.

Nov 28 2016

Mom Brings us Joy and a Song

Posted by Mugs @ 10:12 am in Family,Music Print This Post Print This Post

Mom, Josiah, and Abby came to see Zeke’s show and I was blessed. Being the youngest, Zeke has cheered all of his siblings at multiple races, games, concerts, and competitions. When he took his bow after his first Junie B Jones performance and saw and heard the Manry Clan and Grandma cheering loudly, the joyous smile on his face gladdened my heart. A moment together united in support – common before, now suddenly rare as we are seldom together in one place. I wanted to capture the moment and hold it tightly, record its preciousness.

Junie B Jones ends with the song “Writing down the stories of our lives.” Each time the cast sang it, I was reminded of Dale’s request when he deployed years ago. He asked me to write down the Manry Clan adventures and capture precious events in words and pictures. Sometimes I did, sometimes I did not.  “When this sorrow is past, I’ll get back to it;” “When I finish this project, I’ll get back to it;” “When I feel better, I’ll get back to it;” “When everything is happy, I’ll get back to it.”  An entire year goes by with nary a story.

The stories I love make me laugh, but also make me cry; make me hope, but also make me despair. I have been unwilling to show such vulnerability in the stories of my life. When life gets too hard, I grow silent. I cherish the time to laugh, not the time to weep.

Life has been hard for Mom since Dad’s stroke, yet Mom keeps plugging along, bringing joy to me and those who need encouragement. She attended a coping skills class and was encouraged to keep learning new things. She began taking music lessons with the goal of learning to sing in tune. While visiting, she performed to the great admiration of the Manry Clan. Thankfully, I captured it.

Nov 26 2016

The Faithful Trotter

Posted by Mugs @ 2:45 pm in Family,Running Print This Post Print This Post

I’m very thankful for the faithful trotter in my home. Year in, year out for the 31+ years I have known him, no matter where he resides, he has run. He has run along the hills of the Hudson, in the mountains of Colorado, during the snowstorms of Wisconsin, along the river in Seoul, beneath the wide open sky of Canberra, behind the barbed wire in Iraq, and through the monuments of DC. Running slumps have been few and far between.

In the meantime, I will jump on the wagon, fall off the wagon, get run over by the wagon, or chase after the wagon halfheartedly. Faithfulness to fitness is not my strength – hence the admiration.

Dale ran the 5k turkey trot again this year, and as with all his races, had a goal. He wanted to finish in under 23 minutes. He achieved his goal with a time of 22:38. He was rewarded with a doughnut and cheers from his fans.