A New Major (again)

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The saga of my daughter’s search for a college degree continues with increasing complexity.

Now, after studying American Sign Language for three years, (changing colleges due to the general poor product quality of the prior ASL department), the Interpreter Program has informed my daughter that she cannot continue in their department.  She did not pass the nationally proctored exam (after six months of study in their program), so the department has booted her out. THIS mom is NOT a happy camper.

The irony here is that Daughter received 5 A’s this semester, has a 3.9 GPA, and is a gifted linguist.  She was fluent in Japanese at the age of 17, and majoring in that language through her freshman year (after spending a summer in Japan). Some extenuating circumstances necessitated her departure from her first college, and the subsequent transfer to the Sign Language major. Now, as she looks back on the field where she excelled, we find that there are VERY few schools in this state that offer a major in Japanese.

So, back to square one, essentially.  An additional challenge is that the state of our residence has a maximum on the number of in-state tuition rate hours that any one student can use toward an undergraduate degree. Just one more piece in the new puzzle.

The next step is to talk to a counselor at the new University.

Life continues with its twisted sense of humor.

Seven Weeks After the Move

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Now it is about seven weeks since I moved my home from Big City to Small Town – from a 2800 sq. ft. house with full attic storage to a 1500 sq. ft. town home  (with a 2-car garage). We lived in the house for over twenty years, and rarely threw anything away. I take full responsibility for that issue, and would do it differently had I to do it again (and am determined to pare down going forward).

But I also moved quickly because a large town home in a group I had been eyeing for several years (for a mountain get-away) miraculously became available. I knew that it would not remain on the market long, so quickly made an offer, which was accepted.

Another positive synchronicity was that the market value of the “old” house was up 30% over the prior year.  I had known for some time that we needed to down-size, but market-values had been soft, so I delayed selling – the investment in the house represented a good portion of our retirement “nest-egg.”  Then, this Spring, the value went up by almost 40% from the prior year. Obviously, the time was right to sell.

BUT…then there was no time for the slow winnowing through a family’s 30 years of life together.  My sister, when she decided to move to Small Town, had the luxury of taking three years for the clearing process I had to complete in three months.

Of course, the result was that a lot of things were moved that should not have been.  Now there are boxes, and boxes, and boxes…Actually, from a high of about 350, I am down to 75 or so…fifteen of them are Christmas paraphernalia of various types – Christmas China, ornaments, lights, clothes, wreathes – you get the idea.  As I write this, it is December 3.  Tonight I have no desire to winnow through Christmas boxes.  It’s just not going to happen.

The closets are hard…the wedding gown that my sister and I both wore (but is just not my daughter’s style), dresses from recitals, family weddings, t-shirts from vacations and graduation gowns… the ones that are still beautiful, but just out of style, or too small. There are still many of those in my closet that really must be purged – sometime soon.

But no easier are items from the kitchen – platters, bowls, glasses (how many sizes of wine glass do you need, and how many of each??) crock pot, punch bowl, salad bowl, soup tureen- all those lovely large pieces that I intellectually know I will not use again (or can borrow from one of my sisters who live here Small Town).  Truly difficult is acknowledging that all those family moments will happen much less frequently, and last a shorter time…intellectually I know those things, but it does not make the paring down process any easier.

The symbol of it all is the “good china”  that we all registered as young brides-to-be, and collected as friends and family built our “trousseau.”  It filled our china cabinets for years, looking beautiful, and (at least in my case), was used, at most, five times over 42 years of marriage. Now, it is (again) taking up space in a china cabinet (silly me) at least for now. I think I will know that I have gotten over this mountainous bump in my road when I give up the “good china”.

One of my new missions (should I be so blessed), is to teach my grandchildren how to keep those things that they love, and let the rest go. I can count the items I have from my mother on one hand, each highly valued. I will be writing about the process I develop for retention (and release) of all the “excesses” over the next year as I teach myself to “winnow”.  I hope you will all join me and share stories and ideas and resources as I explore this path.

Halloween is alive and well

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In the large city where I lived for the last 30 years, Halloween had all but died.  When my children were small there was still a neighborhood pool, and we all knew each other (adults and children) from the summer swim meets.  There was a hay ride at Halloween, and caroling at Christmas.  But when the pool had to close, the mortar of the community was lost, and my children were no longer small.  By the time I left my very polite large city home, I knew only a few families. On Halloween, I would never get more than ten trick-or-treaters.

Tonight was Halloween in my new, small community.  I had been warned by the neighbors on our cul-de-sac of town homes that there would be A LOT of trick or treaters, and had bought a big 230-piece bag of goodies.  The revelers started coming about five o’clock despite chill temperatures and a slow drizzle (snow is forecast later tonight). By 6:30 my 230 piece bag was all but gone, so I called my sister who lives across town and asked if she had any candy remaining. She had no goulish guests, so she said she would bring me her bag (about 70 pieces).

But just getting into the cul-de-sac proved a challenge. By the time she arrived, I had handed out protein bars, individual bags of Trader Joe’s Omega Tek Mix, and (to a group of three high school guys), cheese sticks, telling them that they were lucking into to the healthy snack tonight. My sister left me a (laughing) message saying that she could not get up the hill to my house for all the revelers.  Eventually she arrived with the extra pieces.

The “official” end to the event must have been 7 o’clock, because the number of visitors dropped exponentially after that point.  I continued to give out the remaining treats, then ran out of treats at 7:30, and turned off my light. What a delightful experience it was!! There was every type of costume, from the very professional princesses, to wonderful improvisational “mud man”, and everything in between.  It was a great, polite crowd of all ages.

I love my new home.  I can’t wait to see what happens on Halloween when the weather cooperates! We’re already planning a party for all our Burnsville family members next year, with appropriate adult beverages, to enjoy the fun.

 

Into the Dorm

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Into the Dorm

The process of moving my daughter into the dorm at her new university had started weeks in advance: appointments with doctors, farewell meetings with friends and, of course, shopping. We had made trips to Costco, Kmart, Target and the grocery store.

Three days before Moving Day (Thursday) I asked my daughter to take all the clothes and other items to be moved to the Staging Area (the den). I turned on the TV (reruns of Castle) and started sorting by categories – clothes, food, books, shoes, and everything else, and compared the stacks to the collection of suitcases and boxes at our disposal. So by the night before the move, all we had to do was put each clothing type in its designated suitcase, and label the outside with masking tape and a sharpie (pants, tops, shoes, etc.). That way, if for some reason we didn’t have time to get everything into the drawers, she would at least know where to look.

Moving Day dawned beautiful and clear. My cousin’s wonderful husband had come the evening before and moved the little dorm refrigerator and the foot locker into the van, so we only had to move the suitcases into place. We were in two cars (the refrigerator just wouldn’t fit into my daughter’s Protégé).

We were about an hour and a half from campus. I had missed that we were both out of gas, so off we headed to Costco. Of course, they were doing maintenance on two of the pumps, so it took about 30 minutes in commuting and filling time. Then off we went at around 11:15.

We made good time, and the dorm was very easy to find. The line was short at check-in, so we were in her room by about 1, and my son, who lives about 30 minutes away, was able to get to there soon after a morning soccer practice (he is a high school coach). She was the first of the four residents to move into the suite. The other three have been friends since high school.  That could provide interesting dynamics.

On campus the non-freshmen are in suites where each of four students has a private room, sharing a common seating area, shower, toilet, sinks, and kitchen. The small bedroom had an surprising amount of storage. With a lofted bed, there were a desk and two chests of drawers underneath, plus a wardrobe. Amazingly, all the contents of the luggage went in and I was able to bring the suitcases back home empty (or so I thought. My daughter soon discovered that a favorite piece of clothing was missing – and I found it hiding in one of the pockets of a large suitcase at home).

And then there was a fire alarm (the first of three by the end of the evening) so we all got to stand out in the 90-degree heat for about fifteen minutes waiting for the fire truck. It reminded all of us that at the last campus move-in we had done the University had provided cold bottled water for the families. That would certainly have been welcome.

Daughter had a placement test from one to 3, so had to leave just after everything was unloaded. Unfortunately, I also realized that all the bags from the K-Mart run were still in my other car – at home. The only critical need from that trip was bedding…so BACK to Kmart we went and bought the LAST Twin XL bedding set in the store. You would think there were a lot of people moving into the dorm that day or something! The University designated each dorm on campus with one half day to move in. This was the university’s third move-in day so the basics in K-Mart were running thin. But I decided that if the worst outcome of the move-in was that she had to sleep in sheets not in the favorite quadrant of the color wheel for a week, it would be a successful day.

Daughter went to take the test, and successfully scored at a level that placed her in the upper ASL (American Sign Language) classes for the fall.  As in most majors, there are so many required courses in the ASL Curriculum that the classes are in two-semester cycles.  In fall semester, ASL 1 and ASL 3 are offered. In spring semester, ASL 2 and 4 are available.  Because she was coming from another institution, Daughter had to take a test to see if she was at a level of proficiency to place into ASL 3 this fall. Because the program she had come from was not strong, she was VERY nervous about the test, and had studied hard over the summer (there were CDs available at the bookstore, and we had bought them earlier in the summer on a prior visit). She was thrilled to pass.

By the time she got back to the room, most of the clothes were put away, with the masking tape labels on the outside of the drawers.  After the bedding purchase run, it was time to leave.  She was ready to go sample the food offerings (there are many options). My son and I went to eat great Mexican food.

Then home.  Of course, just as I was hitting the Interstate, my check engine light came on.  I was not surprised. I just drove on in (about 70 miles), a little slower than usual, made good time, and parked the car in the garage.

I did not have ANY trouble sleeping that night.

A week later, my son came home for the weekend and took the K-mart missing items by campus on his way home. Life is good.

Father’s Day with the Kids

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Of course Fathers Day was going to be a challenge.  Both of my children are adults. That makes the issue of the recent loss of my husband more complex but definitely still present.

My son teaches High School and coaches soccer, so the weekend agenda began with the World Cup Games. That was a great help.  He enjoyed himself watching expected and unexpected victories while my daughter and I drifted in and out, participating as the tenor of the games dictated.

Saturday night we all went to dinner at a great restaurant that the four of us had visited many times with bitter-sweet memories. Sunday my daughter’s mission was to fulfill a promise she had made to her Dad – to dress our one-year-old cat in the jersey of her dad’s favorite college team.   Around this activity I tried to make quiches for “brunch.”

The two required trips to the college gear store (of course the first jersey didn’t fit!) kept both my son and me engaged with my daughter for the rest of the afternoon.  Brunch turned into dinner as we settled in for a World Cup game (the quiches surprisingly delicious dispite the disruptions).

All-in-all, the weekend was successful as we all came together and created new memories. It will not be easy for a long time, and maybe never, but we will keep walking those new paths as a family.