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.

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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:

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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!

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7QT: Don’t you have something you’re supposed to be doing?

One: After two weeks of illness (one child on antibiotics, another on Tamiflu, me on nothing as I hacked up one or more of my lungs) we are finally clawing out way back into schooling at home. Sam is coming down with something now, too, but since he’s goes to work to be sick, I don’t really count him as one of the stricken.

Two: Man, getting back into this is rough. In the midst of that, Sam and I both traveled. I really should have stayed at home, but… I wanted to see my friend. I saw her, but I spent the whole time afraid I was going to give her the plague.

Three: Speaking of plagues, we adopted a lovely cat. His name (spoiler alert) was Julian.
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Then his larynx swelled up, and despite high-dose steroids and a veterinary ICU and more steroids and another vet, he still died. After his necropsy, at which the vet couldn’t determine the cause of the allergy/infection/laryngeal edema NOS, she called me back to ask if I’d been able to get his shot records from his previous owner. No, I hadn’t. So she put us on Rabies Watch, had the county public health nurse call us to find out our travel plans and if any of us were acting strangely, and billed us $65 for rabies testing. Just like that, our family went from the infectious disease specialists to the possible source of an urban rabies outbreak. (Better spoiler: he didn’t have rabies, and neither do we.) Here is a gratuitous photo of the new cat, whose rabies vaccination I have documented on paper.

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Four: Anyway… now, two weeks later we have adopted a replacement cat, and everyone is trying to get back in the groove. To that end, everyone made it to the co-op for classes this week, all the adults went to their gainful employment, and I’ve been trying to teach things to the children with limited success.

Five: On Monday, I made it till one-thirty before I had to crawl into my bed for a nap. When I got up, I went to see where Phoebe one of the children was with her work.

Mom: Where are you with your school work today? Do you need help with math?

Anonymous Child: Why are you asking? Don’t you have some work you’re supposed to be doing?

Mom: I was under the impression that helping you with math was my work.

So that was really successful. I should have stayed in bed.

Six: Yesterday I finally made it outside for a run. I discovered three things:

  • two weeks without exercise turned me into a meatball, and I couldn’t breathe.
  • spring is coming, whether the bomb cyclone and Storm Emma realize it
  • exercise is my anchor activity.  Once I made the effort to exercise again, all sorts of other things became possible, like making dinner and putting bleach in the toilets and following up on my daughter’s math.

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The guardian of spring.

Seven: However, an anchor is not entirely sufficient to return everything to normal. In order get us back in the routine, I had to pull out the paints and insist everyone make some art while I read aloud to them. An hour later, the children wandered off to play Minecraft and left me with a huge arty mess to clean up. I think this means we’re back in the groove.

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Be sure to visit Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum for more Quick Takes.

7QT: Our How-to-pay-for-college plan

I know y’all are very concerned about how Jonah’s college search (and our search for college funding) is going. We are making definite progress on both fronts. I’ve been getting lots of ads for subscription boxes in my feed lately. For only $24.99 a month, I can have a box of practically anything delivered to my door—boxes of books, or beer, running gear, dog treats or purses, beauty supplies or gourmet snacks. Because I’m never one to miss out on a trend, and because college is really expensive, I want to offer you my own special twist on the subscription box club:

TiredMomBox! For only $19.99/month, club members will receive one “artisan” (a.k.a. shoe) box for the month’s theme, and the warm fuzzy feeling you can only get by helping us pay for our son’s college tuition.

Resolutions Theme (January): you will receive a box of selected fitness gear I bought in years past and no longer use, such as handheld weights of different sizes (no two alike!), fitness bands I can’t get the knots out of, and prenatal and postpartum yoga DVDs I never want to see again.

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Middle-Aged Romance Theme (February): you will receive a box of take-out pizza, a bottle of two-buck Chuck, and a Kipper video to put the kids in front of so you and your hubby can have a conversation. (Try to look deeply into your husband’s eyes as you decide who’s driving the swim team carpool this weekend.)

How Long Is Spring Break? Theme (March): I will send you all the old, dried up craft supplies from my closet, and—as a bonus for new subscribers—the leftover pieces from the puzzles and board games we got rid of last year.

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Earth Day Theme (April): you will receive a box of leftover kitchen scraps to add to your compost. Good feelings for doing the right thing are included.

Mother’s Day Theme (May): I will send you two hours of free time. However, odds are good that you’ll waste it pinning things on Pinterest and feeling bad that you aren’t one of those moms making a forever-memory with your family.

School’s Out! Theme (June): June’s box comes with a summer calendar, marked with 100 days’ worth of super fun daily activities. Your family will enthusiastically do three of them in June (Spend a day at Water World! Hike the Monument Incline! Go out to breakfast in your pajamas!), one in July, and then spend all of August complaining that they’re bored.

Put Your Best Face Forward Theme (July): This month subscribers will receive all the old make up I’m going to clean out of the bathroom: clumpy mascara (your eyelashes have never looked this thick!), concealer that might not have dried out yet, and the Clinique lipstick samples I’ve been saving since 1989. You don’t want to miss July’s box!

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This is just a sampling of the goodies in store for you with your TiredMombox! Subscription. Thank you for your support for the college of my son’s choice.

Fine print: A one year subscription is $19.99/month, plus $7.99/month shipping. There is a $5 shipping surcharge for the January box because the weights are heavy. May’s shipping is still $7.99 because you will have forgotten at that point that you’re paying for this every month, and you can’t figure out how to cancel your subscription.

Finer print: For the record, I was going to name this box something way cooler, but when I Googled the names, MomBox, SuperMomBox and WonderBox were already taken.)

Go check out Kelly for more Quick Takes!

Seven Quick Takes: Smack down edition

One: In accordance with the cosmic law that Low Must Follow High (I know it’s not true, but it feels true), I am here to report on the smack down that followed my last message of hope and encouragement.


“That’s right.  It’s not true.  It just feels true.”

Two: It happened on Monday, when we had one of our worst homeschooling days in a long time. There were tears (not just mine, which the children have come to expect so that they [the tears, not the children] make less impact than they might), and by the end of the day- when the work was still not finished- I locked myself if my room saying, “I don’t care what you do now, but I’m going to do some yoga.” I don’t think I slammed the door.

Three: We spent Sunday pulling out the garden, since it was going to freeze anyway.  You may recall that I had planted mostly butternut squash and a tiny bit of carrots and broccoli, since everything else we get from our local CSA. I felt pretty boss when we brought all that squash inside. Also, we harvested a broccoli that was almost as tall as Phoebe.

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Four: I made pot pie this week and thought I would be smart and put in some of the broccoli stem for extra bulk and nutrition. It seemed a little tough when I peeled it, but I figured it would soften up as it simmered.  Spoiler: it did not. It remained the consistency of wood chips, and we had to pick it piece-by-piece out of the pot pie.  And then it snowed.

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Five: We spent the morning after the snow pulling out snow clothes so we could make a snowman and play outside, which was extremely fun for 17 minutes, and then the snow melted and I was left with snow pants or boots on every available surface. I will keep tripping over them until I put them away next May, when it will promptly snow again.

Six: I went for a run a few hours after the above photo was taken. I wore several shirts, my hat and mittens, and wool socks and dissolved a puddle of sweat after approximately eight minutes. But at least the view was stunning.

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Seven: Now it’s Friday, and I cleaned all the old food out of the fridge. Look what I found! (I rock at this housekeeping thing.) I’m thinking that’s Aspergillus growing on what might have been cream cheese several years ago. I may have to feed my family actual wood chips later, but at least we’ll have a good science class first.

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7QT: Mom, we don’t have anything to eat

One: My kitchen is full of really, really great food.  I have a rainbow of tomatoes.  I have three  gorgeous, shining eggplants, one of which looks just like Cyrano de Bergerac.

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Two: Just naming this eggplant Cyrano made me look for the scene from Roxanne in which C.D. tells all the nose jokes in the bar.  After watching it, I remember exactly how I felt the first time I watched it: sad that he had heard it all before, and that that scene wasn’t nearly as funny as the rest of the movie.

Three: Anyway, as I was saying, my kitchen is full of all this incredible food, but my children can’t find a single thing to eat.  Seriously.  Jonah went to pack a lunch the other day and said he couldn’t make a sandwich because there was no cheese. (We did have turkey, bread, bagels, peanut butter and four kinds of jam (seriously:4!), tomatoes, pesto, pears, grapes, and leftover pasta with homemade sauce. Not that all of that could have gone on one sandwich…)

Four: On my run the other day I listened to a great podcast from Another Mother Runner, in which Sarah and Allison interviewed a registered dietician about healthy snacks for families. It was good inspiration to come home and prep for a bunch of easy-to-eat snacks. I instapotted (verb, past tense) several pounds of beets to freeze for future beet smoothies and Can’t Be Beet Hummus (recipe from Eat Slow, Run Fast), hardboiled a bunch of eggs, and peeled five pounds of carrots (which I store in jars of water to keep them from getting dry and ashy), and froze about twenty pounds of peach halves, also for smoothies.  Then the children proceeded to eat all of my hummus and carrots in about seven minutes. (Seriously?)

Five: On the AMR podcast, the R.D. guest mentioned she had a free downloadable chart to hang in your cupboard to help your kids pack their own lunches, to encourage them to select foods from more than one food groups.  What a great idea! I envisioned a list of proteins one might keep in the cupboard or fridge: hard boiled eggs, cheese sticks, beef jerky, and individual packs of hummus and PB. I thought this amazing printable might have a list of quick-to-grab fruits and veggies, and a selection of grains.  I have to have that list!, I thought.  It will save me hours of pain and hassle every week, if my kids will just look at it and make themselves a balanced snack out of all the amazing food in our kitchen!

Six: So I looked up the name of the RD, found her blog, signed up for her mailing list and opened the email with the Free! Downloadable!  [insert unicorn glitter emoji here] Magic Cupboard Printable to Teach Your Kids How To Pack Their Own Lunches!

Seven:  Guess what? It’s blank. It’s just a piece a paper with the different food groups on it, and you have to write your own list of foods.  Back to square one.  Who wants some fried eggplant noses with purple hummus?

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7QT: Instead of the news

One: It’s been hard to write this year. There is so much terrible news, and all of it is much more important than anything I have to say about school or local food. When I finally get over it to write something and schedule it to post automatically Monday morning, something terrible happens (looking at you, white supremacists who overran Charlottesville, and nutcase in Barcelona) and then my response appears to be some links about the upcoming eclipse.  There are many thoughtful, wise responses to the state of our nation and world.  I’m sorry that you won’t find them here.  Read them first, and then when you can’t take reality any more, you can pick up some sheet cake and come back here to read about something less distressing.

Two: Welcome back. While you were gone, I’ve been organizing our books.  Every year I  pull out the ones I want to have handy to assign for school.  I’ve been putting it off this summer because… well, see #1 above.  (It’s not just writing that’s been hard.)  But school starts on Monday, and I’m running out of time. I began yesterday by going through all the shelves and pulling out the books I need. Now I have to make room for them in a convenient spot, which involves moving those books somewhere else.  Anyway, it quickly became overwhelming.

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Three: So instead of finishing the task, I moved on to the abundance in the kitchen.  It’s August, which means melons and corn and tomatoes and peaches. Hallelujah. A God who made the peach is Someone I can get behind.

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I used to spend a hot, August afternoon sweating over the canner with these beauties. No more. Now I wash them, slice them in half to remove the pit, and freeze them on parchment paper. (The peaches, not the pits.) It takes about 10 minutes and involves no heat. Then, when the peaches are frozen, I throw them in bags.  In the winter they are perfect for the cobblers and smoothies that are the antidote to the February blues.

Four: While I’ve been working hard (or running to escape the news), the children are struggling with boredom. Poor things. I feel so sorry for them.

Five: Phoebe has taken to writing a newspaper.  I was nervous about this at first, until her first two articles were Tips about the Eclipse and Tips for Going Back to School. A girl after my own heart.

Six: Moriah has been coping by baking. Alas, that enables my coping by eating. After days of double chocolate chip cookies, lemon bars and flourless chocolate cake (she has been limited only by the egg production of our hens), I begged her please to make something that could count as lunch.  “Here,” I said, “use all these gorgeous tomatoes to make some sauce.”

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Seven: Teenage boredom for the win. Now if I could only talk her into helping me with the books…

When you can’t take the real news any more, check out Kelly for more Quick Takes.

SQT: Small triumphs

Seven nearly-random observations about life on 8/11/17.

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  1. I just made a record-fast trip to the DMV to renew my driver’s license. I brought approximately 80 pounds of school books to prep for lessons (starting school in 10 days! ack!) and then only made it through one before they called me.  I am happy to report that my photo is marginally better than the one I had taken 13 years ago, immediately after my worst haircut ever. (It was a “short shag” and is the only haircut I’ve ever gone back to have fixed after the fact.)
  2. When I got home I realized I’m flying to my uncle’s funeral tomorrow and have no driver’s license (for up to 30 days.) Thank goodness my passport is current.
  3. Our farmers are donating a full share of vegetables to our refugee friends. It had taken so long for her to call me I’d given up, but instead it’s just been a busy year. (I can relate to that.) So starting next week, they’ll be getting delicious yumminess like this: image.  Hooray!
  4. Owen’s godmother was in town and took him out to brunch. It has been such a blessing over the years to have my children’s godparents to share in the care of and prayer for our children. (As an added bonus, I got to spend time with her too, after brunch.)
  5. I have been following the IAAF track and field world championships, mostly on youtube. (If you know a better way to do it without cable, please let me know.)  The most impressive thing I’ve seen so far is the sprint finish (after 26 miles!) of the women’s marathon.  (That’s a youtube link.)  Those women are amazing.
  6. We spent yesterday in the mountains with my friend Christine and her kids. She and I have been friends since medical school (24 years now).  Even though the kids are getting older, all of mine rearranged work and other schedules so we could spend the day together. (Side note: it still startles me that the kids’ calendars are as busy as mine.)
  7. I know I came across as an Instant Pot skeptic on my recent post.  However, I just hard-boiled a dozen eggs (start to finish, 22 minutes, so only slightly faster than on the stove) which were the easiest-to-peel eggs I’ve ever made.  I thought I had tried all the tricks on how to make a fresh hen’s egg peelable, and none had worked till now.  The Instant Pot made the perfect hard-boiled egg.

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I really, really hope Owen is standing on a rock.

Check out Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum for more quick takes.