Summer Daze

It’s been two weeks since school let out, which means summer is in full swing around here!  So far, I have been making a conscious effort to be lazy relax and enjoy the slower pace.  My family still seems to wind up with clean clothes, a spotless clean-enough house, and a somewhat homemade meal on the table sometime after 6pm.  I guess what I’m trying to say is that chaos hasn’t broken out.  Yet.

I am trying to be more mindful this summer, to enjoy things as they come and not always be thinking of the next thing that needs to be done.  Or what hasn’t been done from yesterday.  Or whether or not I should consider Botox.  Or that we are one year away from paying for college.  Or global warming.

Really, I think it’s working.

So in honor of being mindful and relaxed, I want to share a few things I have learned so far this summer:

  • Puppies do NOT automatically calm down when they turn 1 year old.  That must have been in the fine print.
  • The “gradual tanning” lotion and my skin have decided that they will NOT cooperate with each other.  I keep trying, but the lotion still smells bad and my skin stays pasty white.
  • If I flex my arms muscles in just the right way, I can still wave and/or clap in a sleeveless top without arm jiggle.
  • If you offer a teenager a cup of coffee, he will take it.  And add tons of sugar.  Then he wants a cup the following morning.  A few mornings after that, he will not only pour HIS cup, but he will attempt to put YOUR cup into a travel mug and take it with him.  It’s like that Mouse and that Cookie….except for the fact that Mommy needs her coffee, and that boy was willing to share his cookies.
  • If you go shopping in the first week or two of summer, you will run into many, many teachers and other school employees.  It’s like we are on parole for good behavior, let out of the cage, set free.
  • If you are enjoying lunch with friends and the waiter keeps bringing you endless iced tea refills, do NOT pass up an opportunity to use the restroom before leaving the restaurant.  It’s a long ride home.  A long, uncomfortable ride.
  • Contrary to what I previously believed, the earth does not stop spinning if I leave the house with wet, uncurled hair.  Actually, nobody seems to notice or care.
  • I still don’t like leaving the house with wet, uncurled hair.
  • Guacamole and chips make a wonderful lunch.  Just don’t tell my kids.
  • I really enjoy spending time with my kids.  Really.

What little bits of wisdom have you learned so far this summer?

In the Zone

Remember those old Twilight Zone episodes? The main character would enter some strange new dimension, an offshoot of his everyday life that was totally unexpected. Of course they had that quirky theme song playing in the background, which should have alerted him that something was going on.

I have just entered a Twilight Zone of my own.

I call it The College Zone.

My son is within weeks of finishing his junior year of high school. He makes me aware of this fact every day, complete with countdown and fist pumps. I am still not sure how he got to be almost a senior, since it was just last month I was volunteering in his kindergarten class.

If he isn’t lying to me and actually WILL be a senior in August, then he is only six months away from submitting college applications. Wow.

When my generation went through this process, we had to either visit each school in person or wait for the brochure to arrive in the mail. Snail mail. With the Internet, we can visit even out of state colleges from the couch. This is both awesome and overwhelming. I had no idea HOW MANY colleges there really are, even if you exclude the Clown Colleges, online universities, and Beauty Schools.

Having graduated from a four-year college myself, I am fully aware that academics are only part of the whole package. But I keep seeing this one word when I read about each school on their website. “We provide an environment for each student to fully realize their potential (PARTY) and become involved (PARTY) in their college community (PARTY).”; “Our incoming freshman class has a breakdown of 63% female, 37% male (PARTY).”; “The educational experience fosters intellectual, cognitive, social and personal growth (PARTY)”.  At least that’s what I see. When you are the parent, it all sounds different. I sometimes feel like we are on the brink of paying for a four-year party, with a degree thrown in at the end. A very expensive party, at that. And I’m not even invited.

Then there’s the testing. I am blogging right now in the parking lot of a high school 30 miles from home, while my son is taking an SAT Subject Test. Being somewhat of a procrastinator (and the one with the credit card), by the time I registered him for this test, this was the closest seat to home.

This is NOT your father’s SAT. Now many colleges want to see how much you know about several specific topics, in addition to the regular, lengthy SAT. Of course, you cannot do both SATs on the same day, so he will be doing this again several times while we are in The Zone. Throw in several AP (Advanced Placement) exams for college credit and the ACT and I think we will probably run out of #2 pencils by June 15th.

Maybe it would be a better indicator of future college success to test them in non-academic subjects. I think “Laundry”, “Money Management without Mommy”, “Dietary Guidelines for Dummies”, and “Where Did I Leave My Bike?” would be good for starters.

College visits are a big part of being in The Zone. We had our spring break recently, and mostly hung out around town. Some uber-organized parents of juniors dubbed spring break COLLEGE VISIT WEEK. Facebook status comments started appearing towards the end of the week, alerting me to how much I had screwed up. “Johnny loved Cal Poly, but he really wants to go to San Diego State!”, or “Hit 9 different schools in 4 days….new record!!” To be fair, my son has already visited a few schools, including 2 visits to his first choice. But there will be several more road trips while we are in The Zone.

According to the many friends I have with older kids, you don’t really leave The College Zone until the child has graduated, you have seen the diploma with your own two eyes, and they have secured a job with a salary higher than Hot Dog on a Stick pays at the mall.

If I will be in The Zone for that long, maybe I need to download that quirky theme song.