Seven Quick Takes: College Application Edition

One: This is NOT the SQT where I will reveal where my oldest is going to go to college for the simple reason that he doesn’t know yet. So there. However, this IS the SQT where I will diss bitterly on all the ridiculousness that this process has entailed. You’re welcome.


Two: Remember back in October when we visited my alma mater and a whole bunch of book stores? Well, that school and a whole bunch of the others filled more than 50% of their spots in “Early Decision” (aka in November). Consequently, there are very few spots open for everyone else later.

Three: There are three options for applying, and the process is different from back when I applied. Here’s my primer on applying to college.

One recruiter (I think she was from Duke) described Early Action as dating. You can date more than one person and you can apply early action at multiple schools, except when the schools specifically say they are serial monogamists and they don’t like you to do early action applications at more than one school. (Or, in case you’re my son, who took that analogy to heart and said, “I would never date more than one person at a time, so why would I do Early Action?”)

As a side note, I just read an article in the Wall Street Journal which says the DOJ is looking into whether Early Action violates anti-trust laws.

Four: Then there is Early Decision, which is like getting engaged. You only ask one school to marry you, and if they say Yes, you’re done in December as long as you can afford the school that you chose. If you can’t afford it, then you have to break that engagement and move back into the regular dating pool with everybody else.

Five: The rest of America’s 17 year-olds apply with Regular Decision in January and February. With great relief, they hit send on that last application and think they’re done until May 1, when they’ll have to make a decision. But they’re not actually done, because there are Intentional Learning Communities (I’m not making this up) and scholarships and dorms and research fellowships with their own applications and essays and deadlines that just keep coming. The students aren’t really done… and now they’re mad. They’re like the Bachelor who’s back on the show after an earlier stint as one of the many candidates hoping for a rose and then came back as the Bachelor but broke his last engagement and knows America hates him but is really sure he’s going to find love this time around.

Six: I think the nail in the coffin of this process for my son was a prestigious private school that invited him to apply for one of their Intentional Learning Communities that came with a scholarship. He wrote three extra essays and then, after about 6 weeks, received a letter addressed to someone else, “Dear Lauren B., we’re sorry that we have to inform you we can’t give you the scholarship…” He emailed back to say, “Hey, I’m not Lauren B.. Can you check on my application?” To which he received an email reply, “Okay, we looked and you didn’t get it either.”

So that school is off the list. (The more schools that behave badly, the easier it is to choose!)

Six: We’re currently down to two schools, one of which we will visit for the first time this weekend. He is an alternate for an Intentional Learning Community (see, this actually is a thing at multiple schools – I’m not making it up) but will only get that spot and scholarship if the first choice cis- white male (CWM) with a smidge of Mexican backs out and goes somewhere else.

Seven: So, with 10 days left before the deadline to choose, our current decision algorithm looks like this:


Really, this is just like the Bachelor. With lower ratings. Stay tuned.

For more Quick Takes, go check out Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum!


SQT: Staycation

One: We had a delightful (and full) staycation with my brother- and sister-in-law and their three children.  The logistics of a house with 11 people in it can be challenging, but Matt and Jen are both so flexible and obliging that it felt like we had more adults than children. (Spoiler: we did not.)  I highly recommend, if you decide to have a staycation with 11 people, you invite my in-laws, because they will make it wonderful.


Two: The first day, the children decided to do a play. They chose Romeo and Juliet. Step one: I cut Shakespeare’s masterpiece down from 104 pages to 27 pages. Step two: We vetoed the idea of auditions. Step three: Matt negotiated the minefield of my children’s unkindness to help them through the trauma of casting.


Step four: younger children got very excited about a) costumes and b) killing each other with swords. Step five: All the children hung through 3 hours of read-through, in the original language.


Step six: We began staging. Step seven: Everyone abandoned the effort in favor of popsicles and running through the sprinklers.



Ambition should be made of sterner stuff. — William Shakespeare

Three: We managed to take one hike.  It was raining as we drove to the mountains. It rained all the way home.  But miraculously, we had two hours of sun-dappled beauty in the pines without crowds or rain.  It was a gift.


Four: We celebrated Independence Day by picking the neighbor’s pie cherries (with his permission), listening to NPR’s annual reading of the Declaration of Independence, taking the citizenship test, cheering on the local parade, and watching the fireworks.


Five: What family vacation would be complete without a medical emergency?  Only one person had to be hospitalized, and she bore it with patience and grace.  Happily, she came home (healthy) to much acclaim and a hero’s welcome.

Six: We celebrated four birthdays and a baptism anniversary all at once.

Seven: The children finally managed to produce a full play, Rapunzel. We all agreed that the porch was equally perfect for Rapunzel’s Tower or Juliet’s balcony.  The witch was defeated before bedtime, and fun was had by all.  The end.


I can’t wait till next year’s Staycation.

Seven Quick Takes: Is school over yet?

One: We’re in the last days of school for the year.  Originally I had us going into the first week of June, but when I counted up the days I had two weeks extra.  Hooray for counting.  Everyone is squirrely (myself included).


Two: Jonah and Sam had a great time (four days’ worth) in Beijing.  The rest of us survived without them and waited each day for their photos to trickle into Photostream.  Now Sam is trying to get back on Colorado time, while Jonah had no problem.  Oh, to be fifteen.


Three: The lilacs and iris are blooming.  I managed to snag the landscapers at my neighbors’ house and got them to aerate my lawn for $10.  No appointment, no phone call.  Win-win.


Four: We haven’t been as lucky with the computer repair people, for whom we waited all yesterday.  Anyone else having trouble with Windows 10?

Five: Jonah is looking for a job, diligently making the rounds of all the local businesses.  Moriah has expanded her dog walking business and is enjoying her well-gotten gains. Yesterday after ballet she bought herself a lemon bar and then told the rest of us about it in excruciating detail.  Owen earns extra money by mowing the lawn.  Anyone have a suggestion for a job for an 8-year old who needs to buy her own lemon bars?


Six: I had the world’s worst run last week.  Well, that might be a slight exaggeration.  But everything bothered me: my new socks, the rock in my shoe, the waistband of my pants, the endless ballads that kept coming up Pandora no matter the station, the annoying podcast I switched to… Only the birds kept me going.  Look, goslings!


Seven: I spent so much time trying to explain why Sam and Jonah’s flight flew through the arctic circle to get to China I finally bought a globe.  Now for two weeks, we’re going to cram geography and nature walks.  What’s left in your school year?

For more quick takes, check out Kelly!


SQT: Epiphany


One: I rearranged the living room furniture for Epiphany.  Hooray!  The piano is back in the living room, but now there’s no room for the tall bookcase that holds the  phone charging station and the cookbooks.  This is what comes of the extra windows I demanded when the house was being built.  But I gotta say, I love windows.

Two: And then I had this blank wall that was just crying for art and beauty.  The photo, by Frank Anello, was taken in Myanmar (Burma). It’s a Kachin mom and baby, and I love it.  I bought it at a fund-raiser for the refugee-support organization we volunteer with.

Three: Owen said to me the other day (right before he had to leave for his once a week school), “So, what are the benefits of micro loans?”  And my loving, motherly response was, “What, did you forget to do your economics homework over break?”  No, he genuinely wanted to know about micro loans and if we could start a micro loan program.

Do any of you have experience with international micro finance?  I don’t think we’re up for beginning our own international relief organization, but my kids are really excited about raising $500 for a micro loan organization.  Anyone have an experience with an organization that gives micro loans with success?

Four: Obviously my camera is working again.  The new phone had to be replaced, so after I reloaded all the things I hadn’t backed up onto new phone #1, I had to do it all again with #2.  #firstworldproblem

Five: I spend two days over New Year’s weekend in Des Moines, Iowa.  A friend and I met for a weekend of reflection and prayer.  We woke up on Sunday and saw Ben Carson’s campaign bus in the hotel parking lot, and I realized I had some items I wanted to discuss with him.  Alas, they pulled out just as we were going down for breakfast.

Six: But I found this awesome cheese shop in Des Moines and ate the world’s best grilled cheese sandwich (with a little rosemary ham and fig jam).


(Somehow my photo has as much chocolate as cheese in it. I don’t know how that happened.  Must be the new camera…)

Seven: The Epiphany service was lovely.  And our church started a Wednesday night class for the season of Epiphany, “A Christian Ending to Life.”  I will be presenting a session about getting straight answers from the medical community about how much time we have and implications of treatment choices, and how to communicate our end of life wishes to our treatment team and families.  That shouldn’t take more than an hour, right?

For more Seven Quick Takes, go to This Ain’t the Lyceum.


SQT: the kitchen laboratory

One: This is a photo of my daughters mummifying a chicken.


It’s the third time I’ve done this.  First, we did it when Jonah was 5 and we’d just begun our study of ancients history.  He has no recollection of it.  My recollection was very hazy until I realized that I’ve made the exact same mistake 3 times now.

What I should have done was mummify a Cornish hen, because the chickens they sell in the grocery store these days are enormous and a) require an incredible quantity of salt and spices to suck all the liquid out and b) don’t fit in standard freezer bags.  Which means I lasted 4 days before I couldn’t take the smell and had to throw the rotting carcass away.

Two: this is Jonah doing AP biology lab #1.

After watching me freak out for several weeks, my kind husband tentatively asked, “You seem really stressed out. Would it help you if I took over the laboratory portion of AP biology?”


He didn’t have to offer twice.  And let’s be clear: of the two of us, he’s much better qualified than I am.

Three: Did I mention I hate having stuff all over my counters?  My fantasy kitchen is spare and bare with empty counters and wide expanses of space.  But alas, we have to eat, so my counters are covered with food.  Right now I’m trying to figure out what to do with the many lovely tomatoes we received from our CSA over the past two weeks.  (I’ve been eating them every day, but I’m the only one in the family who will.)

Four: In the past week, Moriah has done two osmosis experiments with eggs.  The first culminated in egg all over the counter and floor before I could take a photo.  The second, um… culminated in egg all over the counter and floor before I could take a photo.

Five: This is her other experiment: sodium bicarbonate crystals.

She begged and begged and I said no and said no… until I realized I was telling my child she couldn’t do science because I wanted a clean counter.

Maybe I’m not actually cut out for this home school gig after all.

Six: Amongst the bag of tomatoes (what, you don’t keep your tomatoes in Athleta bags?) and Sculpey creations (that’s a giraffe eating from a tree) and rice is a bag of moldy cheese.  On Monday I took all the moldy cheeses (last count: 5 types) out of the fridge so we could look at the different molds under the microscope… but we haven’t gotten to it yet.


Seven: the other experiment is to see how long I leave that bottle of fake “Original  syrup” we inherited from a pancake breakfast on the counter before I can’t take it any more and throw it away.

Wait- I have an idea!  We could do an egg-osmosis experiment to see which direction the fluids run through the permeable membrane if we soak an egg in corn syrup…

We’ll see if I can capture a photo before it explodes.

For more Seven Quick Takes, check out This Ain’t the Lyceum.