The Adventures of Super Dog and Super Turtle

When Chandler was in first grade he liked to write books called The Adventures of Super Dog and Super Turtle. He would draw pictures of a dog and a turtle with capes and write stories about them. It was freaking adorable.

“Hey, Mom,” he said to me. “Let’s have a book making party for spring break.”

“A book making party?”

“Yes, we’ll invite all my friends and we’ll make books.”

“Do you mean your whole class?” I asked.

“No, just the boys,” he told me.

Just the boys. Great.

But I am a writer. And maybe my son would grow up to be a writer too. Who was I to discourage such a party?

“Sure,” I told him, “that sounds like fun.”

And so we invited all the boys in his class (as well as a few more from some other classes) over for a book making party. I think there were 40 of them. Or maybe it was 15. It seemed like 40, because as luck would have it, it was raining. (Thank you El Niño!) You have never seen 40 (or 15) mothers drop their kids off faster, looking forward to having three hours of bliss, after having to entertain their kids for half a week during a rainy spring break. They were practically hydroplaning down the street, perhaps afraid if they didn’t get away fast enough I’d change my mind.

One of the mothers took pity on me and stayed to help. I think I cried tears of joy, got down on my knees and kissed her feet in gratitude, but I’m still not sure I adequately expressed my deep and sincere level of gratitude.

I’ll be honest and tell you that I don’t remember much about this party. I don’t know if that’s because it was 13 years ago or because the experience was so traumatic it’s been blocked from my memory (or a combination of both), but I do remember this:

It takes 40 (or 15) boys about 5 minutes to make a book.

40 (or 15) boys do not want to calmly and quietly watch a video for the remaining 2 hours and 55 minutes of a book making party.

40 (or 15) boys trapped inside a house on a rainy day are easily bored, incredibly loud, and very messy.

I know I say this all the time and it is so (so, so) cliche, but I really can’t believe so much time has passed so quickly (a lot more quickly than that party). How it simultaneously seems like so long ago and just yesterday. (Trust me when I say I can’t remember much about yesterday either.)

Chandler went to Myrtle Beach with his track team last week for his first college spring break. I hope he made some wonderful memories.

Memories that years in the future will become blurry with time, yet at the same time seem like only yesterday.

 

An Actual Conversation with my Ridiculously Frustrating Son

Last Saturday we were still waiting for news.We hadn’t heard from any colleges yet and we knew that admissions decisions had been mailed on Tuesday from one of the schools Chandler is most hopeful about.

“Call me if the letter comes today,” I said as I was walking out the door on my way to a lacrosse tournament with Marley, happy for the distraction. Our mail comes late, sometimes not until five o’clock. I had an image of myself perched on the couch by the front window with my laptop, obsessively refreshing the search for the school’s “accepted” hashtag on Twitter to see how many kids were taking my son’s potential spot, looking up every time I heard a car even though I know the difference of the sound of a passing car and the stop-start of the mail truck.

Chandler called a little after three.

“Mom, a box came in the mail addressed to Dad. Can I open it?”

“Why do you want to open a box for Dad?” I asked my heart sinking that the news hadn’t come.

“I want to see if it has my…”

“You’re acceptance letter wouldn’t come in a box for Dad,” I said cutting him off. It would come in a big envelope addressed to you.”

“Shhh, Mom,” he said clearly frustrated to be cut off. “I got the acceptance letter, but first I want to know if this is the hat Dad got me on eBay.

“Really, Chandler? You got in?” I said tears coming to my eyes.

“We’ll talk about that in a minute. Can you please ask Dad about the box?”

Now I was the one who was frustrated. But also really, really happy.

I put the phone to my chest and looked at Dave. “Your son got in, but he’s more interested in a box that’s addressed to you. Can he open it to see if it’s his hat?”

“Tell him to go ahead,” Dave said rolling his eyes.

“Dad says go ahead, Chandler,”

“Oh good, it’s my hat,” he said. “Yeah, Mom. I got in. Isn’t that great?”

“Yes, Chandler. That’s really great. I’m so proud of you,” I said the tears welling up in my eyes again. If I wasn’t so happy I might have had to kill that kid..

Awesome Graduation Announcements from Minted

My firstborn will be graduating high school in a little less than three months and two months after that he’ll be out the door and off to college. (Which in mom-time is even less than the blink of an eye.) He’s got so much to do in that short amount of time and has so many important decisions to make. He needs to decide which college he’ll choose, where he’s going to get a summer job, who he’s going to ask to prom.

Of course I have a lot of important decisions to make too. How many people should I invite to his graduation party? What is the proper amount of time to wait before turning his bedroom into my office? What is the best brand of waterproof mascara to wear to this graduation ceremony?

And I have to choose his graduation announcements. They’ve come a long way since I graduated high school. My graduation announcement was a generic “Class of 83” fold-over card that you stuck a smaller card with your name on it into a little slot. They were pretty boring.

Thanks to minted.com the generic graduation announcement is a thing of the past. So if you’re looking for a place to find a graduation card that is as unique as your high school senior click here.

Take a look at some of minted’s awesome selection below:

Whether your looking for an announcement or an invitation, if classic designs are your thing, you can’t go wrong with this card.

classic-graduation-announcement
Classic and classy!

If you like something more modern showing off your son or daughter’s cute mug you might prefer a card like this.

Photo-Graduation-announcement
So handsome!

If you’re a braggy type of parent you have a high achiever you might like a card that showcases your graduate’s many accomplishments with a card like this.

year-in-review-graduation-announcement
That’s one fantastic senior year!

And if you really want to show your faraway family that your kid’s got the goods you can even order an announcement that’s a book!

Graduation announcement booklet
Great for kids with extended families that live far away.

One of the many things I love about minted.com is the fact that they give you different colors to choose from for most types of announcements or invitations. (Like in this whimsical one.)

whimsical graduation announcement
Both are so cute! Which one would you choose?

Speaking of whimsical, I love this graduation party invitation. (So cute!)

Graduation-Invitation

And of course you can get matching thank you cards

Graduation-thank-you-cards

and fancy envelopes.

Graduation envelope

So what will I be choosing for my graduate? Hmmm… I don’t know.

As the mother of an athlete, I have to admit I really love this card.

Athletic-Graduation-Card

I especially like the way it looks when I plug Chandler in there.

Graduation.20
No, Chandler’s not going to UCONN (but maybe after seeing this announcement they’ll want him to)!

Did I mention that you can preview your cards before buying them? See the little exclamation point on Chandler’s picture above? That’s an alert from minted telling me the picture will not print well due to its low resolution, so I’ll need to choose another photo. I feel confident that when I place an order with minted it will turn out perfectly.

I really like this announcement.

Graduation anouncement

Of course I’ll have to get a better picture. (Something a bit crisper without a messy kitchen counter in the background.) And it would also probably help if we knew where Chandler was going to school. (Nope, sorry, Awesome U in Not California is not a real school!)

But I also really like this one.

Graduation announcement off to college
He may be traveling when he goes to college but he’s leaving his heart in California. (I hope.)

It’s going to be tough to pick which one I like best. But the good news is, all the cards at minted.com are so great, it’s impossible to go wrong.

If you haven’t ordered your graduation announcements and invitations yet, I highly suggest you give minted.com a look. It takes about two weeks to get your order with standard shipping, so there’s still time. But you’d better hurry – you know that time will be gone in the blink of an eye!

Disclosure: I was given a credit by minted.com to facilitate this review, but the opinions of the awesomeness of Minted expressed are 100% my own. (But you don’t have to trust me – you have eyes don’t you?)

Photo credit of Chandler running: Debby Pattiz

The Waiting

Tom Petty said it best, “The waiting is the hardest part.”

It seems everyone I know with a high school senior has been accepted somewhere. All of my friends’ kids. All of Chandler’s friends. Accepted. Somewhere. Hell, one of my friends just put the deposit down. Her daughter has made her decision.

But Chandler? No acceptance letters yet. He’s still waiting. We’re still waiting.

To be clear, he hasn’t gotten any rejection letters yet either.

Every time I run into someone or talk to someone on the phone (yes, I still talk on the phone) they ask me, “Has Chandler made any decisions yet?” It’s hard to make a decision when you don’t know your choices. Trust me people, when Chandler finally gets his acceptance letters I will be posting it on Facebook just like every other obnoxious STFU proud mom.

Of course it doesn’t help matters that I’m hyper-obsessing on it. I check Chandler’s email ten times a day to see if any notifications have come in from the admissions departments telling him to check his student portal even though I know it’s too early. Yes, I have his email password because he is terrible at checking emails and helicopter mom I need to keep him on track. But I don’t have his student portal passwords (though I’m sure I could figure them out) so I can’t find out before he does. I don’t want to find out before he does. I would never take that away from him. I just want to find out.

I don’t like to wish away time, especially now when Chandler will be leaving so soon, but if there were ever a week to wish away, make it go warp speed squared instead of just plain old oh-my-god-my-son-is-going-away-to-college-in-five-months-wasn’t-he-just-a-baby-five-seconds-ago warp speed, it would be this week. Because next week we’ll know something.

The UC he applied to will be sending notifications to last names beginning with O-S on Sunday, March 15 at 4AM. I suspect my eyes will pop open at 4:01. It’s a good thing he’s an early bird like me. Not 4AM early, but he should be up by 7:00. (Oops, I’m sorry, Chandler. Was I being too loud in the kitchen. *clang clang clang)

On Friday, February 13 the school in Ohio that is a top contender will be snail mailing out its notifications. (Friday, the 13th, really? Is that a good idea?) I’m an optimist so I’m hopeful we’ll receive that letter on Monday the 16th. (Look, I just mailed something to Little Rock, AR on a Friday and it got there the following Monday, it could happen!)

After that the other four should come trailing in somewhere between the 15th and the 31st.

Until then… we’re just waiting.

“The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you get one more yard
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part”

He’s Leaving Me

Saturday morning I had a dream that Chandler was five years-old. Even in the dream I knew Chandler wasn’t really five. “What’s five year-old Chandler doing here,” I thought to myself.

1st grade school picture

We were getting out of the car. I came around to his side and he hugged me tight, like he used to hug me. All in. He still hugs me now, but only when I ask for one. He’s so tall and skinny. His hugs are boney. He’ll hug me as long as I want, but his hugs are dutiful. The perfunctory hug of a good son.

“I love you so much, Mommy,” he said as he wrapped his arms around me and hugged me tight. Like his life depended on it.

“I love you too, Chandler,” I said as I hugged him back with equal ferocity.

We held hands as we walked inside the house and once we crossed the threshold he was eighteen year-old Chandler again.

I told him about my dream as I drove him to school to drop him off at the bus for a track meet. “I love you, Mommy,” he said sweetly. Then  he said, “I had a dream the  other night that Coach  H told me I had a five percent chance of getting in.” He was referring to the coach at his top-choice college. Not his reach school, but the school he thinks he’d most like to attend.

“That’s just a stress dream because the decisions are coming in in the next few weeks. It’s probably why I’m dreaming of you being five. Because you’re leaving me soon.” I hadn’t realized the significance of the dream until the words left my mouth.

He’s leaving me soon.

It’s March. Chandler  has applied to six colleges. The reach (where he likely won’t get in) is an hour’s drive; the rest of them are far away. Four are out of  state. The decisions will all be in by March 30th.

And then he’ll have to decide where he’s going when he leaves me.

looking back

The Day My Son Almost Got on a Plane Alone Without His Cellphone

Early Sunday morning we dropped Chandler off at the airport for an overnight trip to Washington D.C. Yep that’s right, 2700 miles across the country and back in 36 hours so he could check out a college that’s much too far from home in my opinion. (What if he meets a girl there. And marries her. And never comes home!) I watched him walk away then looked to see if he forgot anything and saw his phone on the backseat.

His phone.

cell phone
Oops!

Dave hopped out of the car and called him before he went inside the terminal. As he handed over the phone Chandler said, “That would be bad.”

Yes it would.

Nobody was picking up Chandler at the airport in DC. He was taking the Metro to the university he was visiting and meeting the student whose dorm he was staying in. The student was going to text Chandler where to meet him. Without his phone that meeting would have been close to impossible.

It’s crazy how dependent we’ve become on our phones. Why look something up on a map when your phone is equipped with a high-tech GPS navigation system? Traffic on the freeway? No need to wait ten minutes for an update on news radio, just check out Waze for an alternate route. Your toddler bored in line at the market? Hand her your phone so she can play a game and stop whining about it. Email, Facebook, your camera, hell even a flashlight – all on your phone.

And when we need to get in touch with someone? Instead of calling them we text. Ironically our dependence on cellphones has made actually talking on the phone nearly obsolete.

Dave and I tried to speculate what would have happened if I hadn’t seen the phone. When would Chandler have noticed and what would he have done? He’s really responsible and leaving his phone behind is out of character for him. I’m sure he was just distracted, maybe a bit nervous about his trip. But I worried, was this kid really ready to go away to school?

I don’t think I’m as dependent on my phone as most people seem to be. I rarely use it check my email or Facebook or Twitter status. I’m terrible at texting. In fact, I forget my phone all the time.

But I will admit that I am dependent on my kids having their phones. I like to keep tabs and keep them close. We used to have Chandler text us when he got to his destination when he first started driving. And we still ask him to text us when he’s on his way home.

When we got home from the airport I told Marley what happened and then said, “I think at dinner this week we’ll have to have a discussion about this and what you guys would do if you were traveling alone and didn’t have your phone.”

She rolled her eyes. “Really, Mom? I’d just find a mom or an an airport employee and tell them I was a lost little girl and could I please borrow their phone to call my mommy.”

I met  her eye roll with a sigh. I suppose she would. That girl’s got some street smarts. (As most girls do.) But would Chandler? I wan’t so sure.

After he got home I did ask him what he would have done. He shrugged, “It depends when I noticed.”

“What if you noticed before you got on the plane?” I asked.

“I’d use someone’s phone to call you or call my phone.”

“What if you noticed after you were on the plane and it was too late to get your phone back?”

“I’d find a way to call you when I got to DC then take the metro to the school. He texted me. You could have read me his text.”

“But Chandler,” I said, “what if your phone wasn’t in the car? What if you lost your phone?”

He shrugged again. “But I didn’t, Mom.”

No, he didn’t. I don’t know why I was skeptical that he’d know what to do. He is eighteen. And he’s smart. (Plus, am an awesome mom.) It would have been inconvenient for him not to have his phone. Perhaps even difficult. But like all of us when we forget our phones, he would have survived.

And I probably would have too.

Applying for School

My friend’s son is applying to a private middle school. I’m in the process of high-school-junior-year-searching-for-college-stress, so I really do feel her pain. Of course her search is much easier. In the first place, it’s middle school. And she’s not even searching – her older son goes to the high school. I’m pretty sure her soon-to-be sixth grader is locked in – you know, legacy status and all.

But still, there are some steps they have to go through. Formalities. They have to fill out an application. There might be an interview involved. And her son has to write an essay.

Successul-College-Application-Essays

 

Oh the dreaded application essay. I’ve been hyperventilating over contemplating the college essay prompts from the Common Application that Chandler has to choose from. All I can say is that I’m glad I’m not applying to college. Those prompts are hard.

For example, here’s one I’ll take a stab at:

  • Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure.  How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?

I experience failure all the time. You see, I’ve written a book. I think it’s awesome. My mom and all my friends tell me its awesome too. (Except for the part when my mom told me my protagonist was a bit whiny. Or maybe that was one of my friends. Whatever.) I’ve submitted it to several agents and they do not think it’s awesome. Most have rejected it outright.

A couple asked for a partial and one requested a full manuscript, but they ended up rejecting it too.

One very junior reader at a literary agency seemed to like it and passed it on to some senior staff members. They suggested she might be better suited for a career in retail. (Okay, I might have made that last part up.)

This affected me by making me dive face first into my secret stash of sea salt and turbinado sugar dark chocolate almonds from Trader Joe’s and chase it down with my not-so-secret stash of freezer vodka. Every time.

I’ve learned that dark chocolate goes better with wine than with vodka. And also that I must be a big dum dum who is quite possibly incapable of learning, because I keep querying that damn book and pairing dark chocolate with the wrong alcoholic beverage.

Hmmmm….

I think it’s a good thing I already have my degree.

But back to my friend and her son’s quest to be accepted to a particular private middle school (which for the purpose of this post we’ll call Awesome Middle School). She shared her son’s application essay with me and it is so spectacular that I told her I needed to share it with you. Here it is:

What gifts can you bring to Awesome Middle School?

I bring a few gifts to Awesome Middle School, such as my strength as a leader, my athletic abilities, and my level of knowledge. The reason I said I am a good leader is because everyone is afraid of me, and it’s not my fault, it’s my height. I mean it’s not my fault that I’m five four, but it comes in handy sometimes telling people to be quiet. Also I’m not that scary once you know me. I have a good sense of humor, and am decent all around at sports playing defense. Defense is my best position in most sports except football, where I play offensive line. My grades are good all around and I have a love for reading an am really good at it.

The kid is obviously a shoo-in. Even without the legacy status. Maybe we can have him come over and help Chandler with his application essay. It couldn’t hurt.

 

Photo credit: Chris Drumm via creativecommons.org