We are now a minivan family.

June 8, 2014 by Mark McGlothlen · Comments Off 

Shortly after my wife and I were married back in 2003, the first thing on our agenda as a newly married couple was to go car shopping. It was time to replace my Mercury Tracer.

I went a little crazy with cars in my early years, thinking I needed a new one every year or so. I purchased one, but I wasn’t sure I liked it, so I traded it in for another. After about a year, that car did not seem to suit me, so on to another one. According to my wife, and there is some truth to the story, a friend of ours told me that my Chevy Crosica was an “old mans” car and that prompted me to trade it in.

As you can imagine, my bottom line suffered a little bit due to my actions. Because of my poor choices, I was bound and determined to drive my next car until it died as it was paid off and I quite enjoyed not having a car payment! But it was time to say goodbye for both economical and safety reasons!

As we walked into the dealership I saw the car that I wanted, pointed it out and said “I want it” before I even drove it. Heck, before I really even looked at it!

I obviously broke a cardinal rule in car shopping, which did not make my wife too happy.

Shopping for a new car can be an exciting, time consuming, frustrating and liberating experience all rolled into one nice package. Of course, in vehicle terms, a package may include heated seats, DVD player, 4-wheel drive and a built in espresso maker/cell phone charger/GPS dashboard unit. You take your pick as to which package suits you best!

I assume that the only people who actually enjoy looking for a new vehicle are those that can stroll into a dealership, point to a brand new “off the line” car, lay down a wad of cash on the salespersons desk and drive off the lot in their shiny new toy.

For the rest of us, it may not always be a certified good time, especially when you buy used, like we do. There can be a lot of haggling when it comes to used cars and fighting for the best deal.

In any event, with the impending birth of our third child coming in the next few months, the time had come for us to begin thinking about our next mode of transportation and start the process of shopping for one that would fit us all comfortably and safely. In other words, for the first time in 10 years, we were on the hunt for a new (used) car.

Figuring out the type of vehicle we wanted was the easy part. Since we are becoming a family of five, a minivan seemed like the most logical choice and it was something that my wife and I both agreed upon, so why tempt fate, right?

Once Christmas was out of the way, my wife hit the internet to search for our perfect van. With a wish list that included low miles and a great price as our top two factors, she hit just about every dealership site in southwest Michigan and northern Indiana, to help us narrow our search.

We were under a time crunch, but at the same time, we did not want to just take the first available van that caught our (my) eye. My wife still harbors a little resentment toward me regarding our previous purchase, so I agreed to be more cautious this time!

I know salespeople have a tough job, but we also like our space and to look around. As we pulled into one dealership to just look around, someone was already heading out to our car, and we were still driving around the lot! Not cool in our books.

At another dealership, the salesperson was talking to us about financing options before we even discussed whether we even LIKED the van that he had shown us.

We finally found what we were looking for at about the fifth dealership we went too. The salesperson asked what we were looking for, showed us to where to go and gave us time alone to look them over. I appreciated the very hands off approach that we were given. That might not be a good thing for some, but for us, we loved it. No pressure. When we were ready to talk, he was ready to listen.

For us, it made the whole process a much easier and almost enjoyable thing to go through. A good friend of mine laughed at me when I said that I actually do not mind driving a minivan. In fact, if we had the van during our trip to Florida last year, it would have been a much more comfortable trip!

K-Wings complete weekend sweep

December 8, 2013 by Mark McGlothlen · Comments Off 

Greenville, SC – The Kalamazoo Wings (10-6-0-2) earned six out of six possible points this past weekend as they bounced between South Carolina and Georgia taking on two teams from the South Division.

Defeating the Greenville Road Warriors (8-12-1-1) on Thursday night by a score of 5-1, the K-Wings traveled to Gwinnett, GA to battle the Gladiators (6-14-0-2).

Jumping out to a 2-0 lead after the first period, the K-Wings received a shorthanded goal from Yanni Gourde late in the period and Justin Taylor added his third goal of the year with under a minute remaining in the stanza. The shorthanded goal by Gourde is the K-Wings fifth of the season. Last year in 72 games, the K-Wings scored a total of seven shorthanded tallies.

A pair of Gladiator goals by Mike Embach and Kurtis Bartiff in the second period sandwiched a tally from Mike Matczak for a 3-2 K-Wing lead at the end of two periods of hockey.

Embach stuck again in the third to tie the game 3-3 and send the game into overtime. Neither team scored in the OT forcing the sudden death shootout.

Taylor, Yannick Veilleux and Eric Kattelus scored for the K-Wings in the shootout while Joey Haddad and Josh Currie scored for the Gladiators to give the K-Wings a 4-3 victory.

Closing out the weekend, the K-Wings headed back to Greenville, SC to take on the Road Warriors for the second time in three nights. On Thursday, the K-Wings were called for a season-high 48 penalty minutes with 22 of them coming in the final 36 seconds of the contest. The Road Warriors were whistled for 40 minutes of penalties with 32 of them being assessed in final 36 seconds of the contest.

The bad blood between the two teams spilled over into Saturday night’s contest as well as Veilleux and Bretton Stamier squared off just five minutes into the game. Sam Ftorek and Andrew Carroll also came to blows in the second period.

While the teams battled physically, neither team was able to put the puck past either goaltender for the first two periods.

A miscue by goaltender Scott Stajcer of the Road Warriors led to the K-Wings first goal of the night. Out of the net to play the puck, Stajcer sent the puck to Matt Caria who put the puck into the empty net.

Yanni Gourde tacked on a goal with just 35 seconds left in the game to help ensure a K-Wing victory. Goaltender Jordan Binnington earned his first professional shutout as he turned away all 36 shots he faced in the K-Wings 2-0 win.

The K-Wings return to action on Wednesday as they wrap up their four-game road trip when they battle the Cincinnati Cyclones.

K-Wings storm past Road Warriors

December 8, 2013 by Mark McGlothlen · Comments Off 

GREENVILLE, SC – The Kalamazoo Wings (8-6-0-2) kicked off their four-game road trip with a victory on Thursday night as they defeated the Greenville Road Warriors (7-11-1-1) by a score of 5-1.

The win moves the K-Wings into third place in the North Division, one point ahead of the Fort Wayne Komets and six points behind the first place Cincinnati Cyclones.

Scoring twice in the first period, the K-Wings never looked back as they held the Road Warriors scoreless until the last minute of the game.

Yanni Gourde scored a power-play goal and David Pacan scored later in the period to give the K-Wings a 2-0 lead.

Ludwig Blomstrand scored his sixth of the season midway into the second period increasing the K-Wing lead to 3-0.

Justin Taylor netted his first and second goals of the season in the third period. Taylor’s first goal was a shorthanded tally early in the period. Mike Matczak added three assists on the night.

Brandon Hynes scored the Road Warriors only goal in the third.

Jordan Binnington was in goal for the K-Wings stopping 43 of the 44 shots he faced for the win while Connor Knapp stopped 30 of 35 in the loss.

The K-Wings were 1-for-4 on the power-play while the Road Warriors came up empty on eight chances.

Traveling to Gwinnett, GA, the K-Wings will face-off against the Gladiators tonight before returning to battle the Road Warriors on Saturday night.

K-Wings to have a “blue” Christmas

December 8, 2013 by Mark McGlothlen · Comments Off 

KALAMAZOO- Are you feeling blue this holiday season? If so, you are in good company.

The Kalamazoo Wings and Bell’s Brewery have teamed up for the first-ever Winter White Blue Ice Game at Wings Stadium. Winter White is Belgian-style Ale designed for embracing winter.

On Friday, December 20th and 21st, the K-Wings will add yet another color to their already crowded palette of colored ice games.

Continuing the tradition of the orange, pink and green ice games, blue is being added to the mix as the K-Wings take on division rivals the Toledo Walleye on both nights. Game time is 7:30 pm on both nights.

“We are very pleased to partner with an outstanding local company like Bell’s,” K-Wings General Manager Jim Burlew said in a statement released by the team. “The K-Wings have a rich history with colored ice games and Bell’s is furthering that legacy with our first ever Blue Ice event.”

For the past several years, the McDonalds Gold Ice Game was held in January, but this year the game is missing from the schedule.

The K-Wings will also be wearing special jerseys for the game on December 21st which will be auctioned off following the game with the proceeds going to charity.

“It’s going to be a fun, exciting family weekend –plenty for everyone. Winter White and the K-Wings are a perfect pairing” said Laura Bell, Bell’s Vice President.

In addition, former Detroit Red Wing Darren McCarty will be making an appearance during the December 20th game. McCarty, a four-time Stanley Cup winner with the Red Wings (1997, 1998,2002 and 2008) will be on hand to sign autographs and meet with fans beginning at 6:30 pm.

Yup! I am turning 40

December 8, 2013 by Mark McGlothlen · Comments Off 

A milestone is described as a “significant event or stage in the life, progress, development, or the like of a person, nation, etc.”

Last December, I wrote an article regarding my milestone birthday of 39. The age of 39 has been, for lack of a better word, a special age for me. My mom was 39 years old when she passed away from cancer back in 1978.

Many of us use our parent’s age of death as a watermark for our own lives and with my mom passing away at such an early age, my siblings and I had that age in the back of our minds…until we passed it.

In a few short weeks I will turn the BIG 4-0.

My sister-in-law, with whom I share an identical birthday with, sent me a link to an article titled “40 Signs you’re Almost 40”. (And by identical, I mean we were born on the same day, same year and in the same hospital)

Some of the items I could relate too, others made me laugh and some made me think. Lucky for me, some did not apply, but I know that it does not make me any younger, regardless. I picked a few of them to comment on.

“Your favorite bands from high school now play on Classic Rock stations.” For me, the answer is both yes and no. Some of my favorite bands were already on the Classic Rock station back in the day and they still are! But my music varies so many of my favorite bands were not “rock” bands, so they are played on other music stations.

“Your favorite TV shows play on Nick at Nite”. Obviously this is true. But thanks to cable, they just aren’t on Nick at Nite, they are on a variety of stations. Even better is that some shows are on several channels at the same time!

“You still have a CD collection”. You bet I do! For years my wife has asked me trim my collection, and I have, but I still have many CD’s. I do not use an i-pod or purchase music on-line; I am just not that hip. I still listen to the radio or CD’s in my car and do not subscribe to XM or SIRIUS radio.

“You have not purchased a CD by a new artist in years”. That is true. We have purchased a few CD’s for our daughter’s, however, but none for ourselves. I cannot remember the last time I purchased one for myself.

“You bought your first pair of over the counter reading glasses”. NO! I have worn glasses since I was in the sixth grade. I tried contacts once and just didn’t like it. I guess my next obstacle may be bifocals, but for now, my eyes and glasses suit me just fine!

“Your shoe selection has become more and more sensible”. I do not think I am there yet. I do wear my “comfy shoes” around the house and rarely wear tennis shoes anymore. If I find a pair of shoes that I like, I wear them until they are declared a Federal disaster area. I wear what shoe best fits my feet regardless of style or name brand!

“You increasingly enjoy playing the game “remember when”. Now this one is a total YUP! I am told I have a great memory about things that happened years ago, so I play this card all the time. I feel like I am a walking encyclopedia on events that happened long ago.

“You don’t really understand how to watch MTV anymore”. This one is totally true. MTV stands for music television, yet they never play music.

“You’re now older than every player on your favorite baseball team”. All the current Detroit Tigers are younger than me, but the new manager is older, so that helps.

“You go around the house turning off all the lights”. Guilty. I have two young daughters. They always leave the lights on!

“Waitresses and waiters card you to get a good tip and not because you don’t look over 21”. Yea, this never happens. I guess I just look too cheap as I never seem to get carded!

“Sitting has become preferable to basically any other activity in life”. Oh yes, there are days when this is the case. Give me my recliner, remote control and laptop and I am in heaven!

Turning 40 is defiantly not a “mid-life crisis” moment for me, but I do realize that I am getting older and I look forward to whatever adventures I have yet to take! I just may move a little slower as I do them!

Thanksgiving musings

December 1, 2013 by Mark McGlothlen · Comments Off 

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone. While the actual holiday may be over, I am still feeling pretty thankful for a number of reasons. I have a great family, beautiful wife and daughters, terrific friends and a job I have always dreamed of. The list could go on and on, but you get the point.

I am still feeling a little bit stuffed from one of the best Thanksgiving dinners I have ever had. Turkey, potatoes, side dishes, salad, rolls and pies, it was a meal to remember. I am not so sure what made it better than previous meals, but it just had the “IT” factor going on, and I enjoyed it. I may have helped myself to a few “second helpings” (guilty as charged) and I am quite sure that I was snacking on leftovers later in the evening too! I love Thanksgiving!

Of course, having the Detroit Lions winning their first game on Thanksgiving Day in many years was also nice, especially since my mother-in-law is a Green Bay Packers fan. Luckily neither of us is a poor winner or loser, so the game was just that, a game, but it was still nice to see the Lions destroy the Packers.

I realize of course, that the “great” Aaron Rodgers was not playing. If your team is built around just one player, you reap what you sow. I honestly do not buy the argument that the Packers just cannot function without Rodgers, but either way, GO LIONS!

Another reason that I am thankful is that neither my wife nor I have the urge to get up SUPER early to stand in line outside stores for a chance at a good deal. And there would be no way in “you know where” that we would camp outside for days to save a few bucks. We pride ourselves on watching our money and cutting corners where we need too, but we agree that being one of those Black Friday shoppers is just not in the cards for us. We did it once and that was enough.

I have no problem with others doing it, however. If that is fun for you, by all means do it. I would rather stay home; hang with the family and putting up the tree and decorating the house, which is what I was told we would be doing over the next few days. I usually venture out later in the afternoon on Black Friday and pick up a few things, but even then, it is not a “must do” for me.

As we were heading down to the in-laws on Thursday morning, our oldest daughter said something that made us proud as parents. Out of nowhere (or maybe it was due to the Christmas music playing in the car), Hannah said, “Do you know why I am excited about Christmas?”

Expecting to hear the typical refrain of presents or some other reason that children love the Christmas holiday, Hannah said that she likes the fact that she gets to spend time with everyone in her family at Christmas.

As a parent, if that doesn’t melt your heart, there is something wrong with you! Living in a society that is focused on “me, me, me” it was heartwarming to hear my daughter say that.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving holiday. Now I must head to the basement to dig out the Christmas decorations!

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