Monday, February 11, 2013

Mid Winter Formal

This past weekend was the VMI Mid Winter Formal. We took LLB down to VMI so she could attend with her Cadet. Since we happen to like him, we are willing to take the time and energy to get her to VMI for these really lovely and very fun events.

This time was a little different as #1 was off at Mardi Gras with the VMI Band. There would be no big brother keeping track of little sister.

This particular event was actually "iffy" just a week or so ago. The Commandant had decided that there would be a change to the permit - all dates must be 18 or over to attend said Mid Winter Formal. Well, my LLB is only 17. Her birthday is in April.

She was distressed when the Cadet texted and told her that they would not be going. She texted me, and told me of her distress. (She was out of town -- of course she was! The child is never home. She is off doing great things.)

I could not just let this go. I called the Commandant's Office and asked to speak with the guy in charge of this decision -- I totally understood his decision, but really... We had already bought the dress and the shoes!

The guy in charge is Lt. Colonel.  He returned my call, listened to my rationale -- She is almost 18, her parents will be there, she has been accepted to VMI and just might be a student at VMI in the fall. (FYI: I did not mention the dress or the shoes.)

Lt. Col. said she could attend -- BUT --  I had to send the Cadet to see him and he would speak with the Cadet. He also told me that I'd have to fax him a permission slip, but that the details of what was needed in said permission slip would be communicated through the Cadet.  He also told me that there would be members of his staff at each hotel checking on things. (I passed that tidbit on to the boys and it seems that they passed it on to the others because the craziness was much more subdued this time... but I digress.)

Fast forward a few days.  LLB heard from her Cadet and told me I had to send a fax stating that:
1. We understand that VMI Cadets do let their hair down
2. Adult beverages may be being consumed by of age Cadets
3. We were responsible if anything happened to her.
No problem.
I also assured the Lt. Col. that LLB's Cadet would take very good care of her. (What was implied was that if LLB's Cadet didn't take good care of her, I'd track him down and then I'd send her brother to beat him up.)

Her Cadet arrived to pick her up for dinner looking quite smashing. LLB was lovely, as always. That girl just oozes class. See:

They had a great time at dinner -- they even had a coupon thanks to Gram. Hey -- college students are on budgets and if they can save $5 or $6, they do it.
They had a great time at the dance. The music was great. The dancing was great.
They came back to the hotel, changed into comfy clothes and went off to play a card game called "Cards Against Humanity". LLB said that the later into the evening it got, the funnier the game became. It seems that tipsy cadets find great humor in things. (Some things never change, do they?)
The hotel was a bit noisy until about 1 or 1:30 am when things quieted down - they stopped running from room to room and went inside to conk out or watch TV. At about 2 am, I saw a member of the Commandant's Staff checking on the Cadets, making sure that things were on the up and up, and seeing for himself that the hotel was relatively picked up and indeed still intact. :-)

LLB has seen the VMI Boys with their hair down - twice now. She finds them sweet, respectful, and absolutely hilarious!  That's a really good thing -- especially if she ends up going to school there in the fall.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

The Empty Nest

So I read this page called Mamapedia. There was this one post where the mother wanted to know if An Empty Nest is Cause for Celebration. Well, yeah... Duh!

I posted an answer over there and since I really liked my answer, I'm going to post it over here for posterity.

Every step children take is a step away from mom and dad, but that is how it should be. 

I've been called "overprotective". I've called "over-involved". I've been called "a terrific mom". I've been called a lot of names over the years, but so what? I do what is best for my family, my children, and me. Yes... me. (It's not selfish. It's self preservation. I'm more than "just a mom".) We are a close knit family, but everyone needs space.

Heck, I'm the mom who clicked her heels when the kindergarten bus drove out of sight. Does that make me a bad mom? No. It makes me an honest mom. 

When it is time for my daughter - my youngest - to head to college this summer, I will be more than happy and extremely proud of her and her accomplishments. It is time for her to go and live her life. Her. Life. 

Will I click my heels? Maybe. Will I shed a tear or two? Probably. Will I grab Mr's hand and run for the car? You bet! It will be time for us... time for us to go back to being the couple we were 21 years ago before we had children.

We have worked toward that day starting with small steps of letting go. We got babysitters for date nights. We let them walk next to us without holding hands. We let them go to birthday parties and day camp. We let them make decisions - even if we thought they might make the "wrong" ones. We let them learn consequences. We let them go to overnight camp. We took them to the DMV to get the driving permit. We let them apply to colleges near and far and we let them choose the institution that they believe will serve them best.

Upon graduation from their colleges of choice, they will go on to see the world and do amazing things. I'm sure that they will come home -- to visit. So - am I looking forward to my children leaving? Yes. Yes I am. When it's time, it's time.

They will always be in our hearts, but they don't have to be underfoot forever...

LLB is getting ready to head off to college this summer. Where? We aren't sure just yet, but wherever she ends up it will be the right place for her. It will be bittersweet when we drop her off, but it will be time. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

It's August 13th? Already?

Really? Wow! The summer is almost gone... and I've been busy busy busy...
We've driven to Annapolis 3 times, Farmville (yes, it's a real place) twice, VMI three times, New London twice, Orkney Springs 3 times, Montreal, the Thousand Islands, and West Virginia. If I keep this up, Dad's car might actually hit 20k miles this year!
My LLB has been home a total of 9 days since June 2. She has had a great summer - it wasn't easy sometimes, but it is the stuff of which memories are made.  She did 7 camps - each one very different from the rest. She will look back on this summer as one of the best -- once her muscles stop hurting and she gets some serious sleep.
#1 spent most of the summer at VMI working on Calculus 3 and a Leadership class -- his 4.0 made it worth his time.  From there he went right to St. Elizabeth's camp to be a buddy and got his Shrine Mont fix. LLB was up there with him, so he did get some time with her.  He was home for one week and we weren't. Of course he was kinda happy about that! We were at Band Camp with LLB. She was marching her butt off and we were cooking 4 meals a day for 75 hungry souls. He, on the other hand was ensconced on the couch with his laptop, his TV, and his dog. He was supposed to be packing to go back to VMI... ahem.  That said, he did pick up the house and it was relatively spotless when we got home. I got less than 24 hours to spend with him - but we moms take what we can get, you know.  We spent a good 35 minutes packing his trunk -- why did that chore take all afternoon last year? He is back at VMI. He is Cadre and has a job: Company Clerk.  I miss him, but we have email and phone, so he isn't really all that far away.
Today my baby starts her "Behind The Wheel" driving lessons and in approximately one week, she will have her driver's license. This means that if I get her a parking spot at school, she will be driving my sweet CRV, and I will be left with the Civic or the Camry for wheels. Do I like this? Ummm... not so much.  I'd honestly prefer that she learn how to drive the Camry and take that. But it is a stick and we are out of time until she is home longer than it takes for her to do homework and crawl into bed at an unreasonably late hour. So - I have two choices.  I can either suck it up or make her take the bus... And since I really don't feel like driving to school every day at 6pm to pick her up from band practice, I'll be sucking it up - a lot.
If you need me this week, check the Uniform Room. I'll be stuffing kids into band uniforms and telling them not to grow until the season is over in November.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

I wrote a letter to the editor, but I'm not sure it's going to make the paper, so I'm going to post it here for the world to see.

Dear Editor,

Dr. L and the School Board have instituted fees for participating in the music ensembles. If each ensemble has its own $60 fee this is going to get mighty expensive!

Let me break it down for you:

My daughter is involved in Marching Band, Brass Ensemble, Jazz Band, Percussion Ensemble, and Pep Band.  Do the Math: $60 x 5 = $300 just for music.  Add in Theatre, Spring Track, and Swim Team for another $180 and we’re up to $480 – this doesn’t even include the consumables fees I have to pay at the beginning of the year, nor does it include the incidental costs associated with each group like band camp ($350), instrument costs ($50 -$100), gloves ($3/pair), shoes ($35), uniform cleaning ($60), transportation costs ($??), track shoes ($95 - $145), warm ups ($150), swim suits ($60), and the fundraising imposed by each group. Basically, Dr. Lewis and the School Board have priced my daughter out of her activities.  I can only imagine how financially unattainable this is going to be for families with two or three students involved in these activities.

My daughter is a senior and that privilege comes with even more fees, if you can believe it!  The year starts with activity fees ($60), the consumables fees ($25) and the parking fees ($100), which must be paid in order to get her schedule.  Then there is the $100 for the yearbook (It’s her senior year and she should be allowed to have this one.), the graduation announcements ($75 - $100), the fee for the cap and gown ($25), the SAT and ACT costs ($50 each), and the application fees for college ($50 each).  The year finally ends with the fee for the National Honor Society stole ($20) and bill from guidance for the transcripts that were required by the colleges and scholarships to which she applied ($2 each).  Basically, I’ll spend the year writing checks to FHS. I thought that this was a “free” education paid for with my tax dollars. Yeah, I know - there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

I have one more tidbit – It said in the paper that Dr. L is “implementing” a $60 fee for swimming. Excuse me, but we have ALWAYS paid the activity fee for Swimming. This is nothing new! I keep paying fees, but when I ask where money goes, I can’t get an answer. They cash the checks, and the money just disappears into a dark hole!  It certainly never ended up in the Marching Band or the Swim Team coffers.

Friday, June 22, 2012

They just don't get it...

Those of you who know me personally know that I have been fighting city hall for some time. First it was to fight the $25 million to build a new school building that did not give the teachers and faculty what they needed -- more classrooms. Yes, for $25 million, you too, can gain ONE classroom. Yeah - like that's fiscally responsible spending... whatever.

It never ceases to amaze me how many people have no idea how their tax dollars are being spent.  Just today someone said to me, "Tell me what classrooms are in the new building. What's where? And, How many classrooms does the new building give us?" Are you kidding me? That's your tax dollar!!! Do you not pay attention to what is going on around you? Do you not read the paper?? It's no wonder the School Board doesn't like me and my cronies... they'd rather just do what they want without any questions or checks and balances and not be bothered with the nosy conservative parents that we are.

My kid has one year left in this school system and once she graduates, I'm going to have plenty of time to sit in meetings and irritate the crap out of our elected officials. And you know what? I'm kinda looking forward to it.

But really, you know what really has my knickers in a twist?

The middle school sports program went from a competitive program that served a few excellent athletes to an intramural program that serves far more students for far less cost. These parents think they've lost something. In effect, they still have a program at a cost of $86K and they saved $140k by doing this. The high school music program lost all of the Ensemble programs. The cost for that: $15k - that's $5k per school.  The sports people don't seem to care that we've lost it all. We have nothing. Nada. Zip. All they care about is that they don't have their competitive program. OMG! You people are ridiculous! You still have sports at the middle school level. We have NO ensembles at the high school level. No ensembles for the kids who play instruments. No ensembles that give leadership opportunities. No ensembles that allow some of the kids who can't take music classes because of scheduling conflicts to still play their instruments.

When you speak to people and you tell them that the sports programs still have some sort of a program - and it might not be a competitive program, they tell you that the athletics are important. They don't even listen! They just tell you that athletics is good for kids. Well -- you know what? So is music! Music makes a better math student. Music is a life long endeavor. How many 75 year olds do you see out there playing football?? Hmmm??

Think about it this way: What is a world without music? Think about a movie... no music? Boring movie. Even the silent movies had piano music! What is Disney World without music? Pretty dull, right? How about your radio stations? No music = all talk.  You sigh and think I'm crazy. Now, you go home and turn on the TV. Without music, your show would be mighty dull, right?  There is even music in the grocery store and your favorite restaurant's bathrooms! You go to see rock concerts - those stars started somewhere! You go to see the Fireworks on the 4th, The Nutcracker at Christmas, or you go to the Opera or the Symphony -- you can bet your bottom dollar that many of those musicians were in their high school jazz ensembles, pep bands, brass ensembles and more.

The latest bit of buzz from the school department is that we can have the high school ensembles back if we "Self Pay".  Excuse me, but why is it that the athletic programs are always funded by the school system - albeit some only partially - and the music students have the privilege of a self-pay program? That is absolutely ludicrous!    If the school department wants me to pay for the privilege of having my daughter in an ensemble, then they will be paying for the privilege of listening to her and her classmates play for Baccalaureate, Awards Night, GED Graduations, and more.  Fair's fair. Right?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Craziness (or where has the time gone?)

I cannot believe that I've not posted since February!
I'm such a slacker!

So let me catch you up on life here at The Crossing.

The pool is open. It's a really chilly 60 degrees in there right now.

I've stacked a few tons of wood.

I've weeded and mulched the front yard and planted some plants. Did you know that you can fit 30 bags of mulch in a Toyota Highlander? Well, you can.

Grandpa planted a bunch of plants out by the pool. We hope we get rain so that they grow into a lush little garden out there.

I've gotten the chair cushions down from the attic.  The weather turned, and I brought the cushions in. Petite Minou took them as her own little throne from which to survey all that is hers.
I've cleaned off the outdoor furniture -- only to have it immediately be re-covered with pollen.

I've vacuumed up more stink bug carcasses than I care to mention. I'm ready for them to go out and stay out.

We visited some colleges. LLB said more than once, "The campus is beautiful, but it's just not for me." She'll find her school. She's got a couple she loves and if ROTC comes through, she'll be a happy camper.

The VMI Boys came home for Easter.

LLB went to prom and Mr. and I chaperoned the overnight After Prom party. It was a fun night and I must admit that I'm getting better at All-Nighters.

I fought city hall a few dozen times.

We had visitors from our old home town. It was so nice to see them and spend some time chatting over dinner.  It was just like old times.

We are prepping for the overnight cast party. I've got a few pulled porks, a batch of cole slaw, some potato salad, and some s'more fixin's to prep. 

Grandpa made some outdoor umbrella stands out of my ingenious design. (FYI: You bang a piece of pipe into the ground, put some gravel in the bottom, and insert umbrella.  It's brilliant, I tell you! And I thought it up all by myself!)
LLB's got some SATs to take.
I've got some water to sell at graduation.
Then it's on to summer. We are definitely ready for summer.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

There's always one...

We went to see the movie, "Act of Valor" yesterday.
I bought our tickets online because I didn't want to have to sweat standing in line at the theater. It costs an extra $1.25 per ticket, but when you are driving as far as we are to see a movie, you want to be sure you've got a seat.
Anyway - at 11am, I pushed submit to purchase the tickets.
At 11:01, they printed out on my printer.
The show was due to start at 2:20.
We arrived at the theater at about 2pm.
We went to walk into the designated theater - Number 9 for those of you who care - when a lady yelled to us, "The show's not over! Line forms in the back down that hallway!"
We were a bit shocked that the previous showing wasn't over and that there was a line.
We decided that we'd just wait off to the side, and when the others had gone in, we'd mosey in and sit. We also decided that if we couldn't sit together, we'd just split up. LLB's friends were there and we had Gram and Grandpa with us, too. Finding 7 seats together might be more difficult than finding a group of 3 and a group of 4.

Another family came up and went to walk into the theater.  The lady yelled at them, "Hey!! Show's not over! Line's in the back! I got my tickets an hour ago and I've been waiting!"
I rolled my eyes at Gram and thought, "OMG, Lady!  Chillax.  It's a movie. I am sure there are seats available - besides... no offense, but really, I've had my tickets since 11:01am... but what.ever."
The family looked at her funny and moved aside.
As the Theater Staff went in to clean the theater, the Lady got her family and moved towards the door. She was GOING to be FIRST.
They finally opened the doors and the Lady sprinted in.
We hung back for a moment - we didn't want to be accused of cutting the line.  As we went in with other people, I asked (no one in particular), "Did that Lady get her seat? Heaven forbid she not be first in the theater and have her choice of seat - you know, she's been waiting for an hour..."
A few people around me giggled...
We never saw her after we went into the theater, but I will tell you that the theater was not full.
There were plenty of seats for everyone and everyone had a decent seat. No one was stuck in the front neck ache section.  There were empty seats all over the place.
As we sat down, I said to Gram, "That Lady is going on my blog." Gram snickered...
And here she is... The Crazy Lady from the movie theater.
FYI: The movie was phenomenal.  Act of Valor -- put it on your "must see" list.
Go see it.
And after you see it, say, "Thank you!" to your servicemen and women.