Thursday, April 30, 2009

Almost May 1st

May 1st is a big day for many colleges, and for many potential college students. It is the date many colleges use as the deadline to pay your deposit as a new student to hold your place in the class and in housing. It is the indication that you the student really do intend to attend that college.

This has been a stressful spring recruiting season for a lot of colleges. The economy is wreaking havoc on our numbers. More than ever families are evaluating the value of the education the student will be receiving at any given college. We are seeing a lot of cross applications with state colleges, because for the price you get a pretty good product. In the state of Massachusetts, if you score over a certain amount on the state MCAS tests, you can qualify for free tuition at a state college. If that same student is eligible for a federal Pell grant, the cost to attend a state college is minimal. You SHOULD go there. We want you here, but it will still cost that student thousands of dollars out of pocket or through a loan to come to my college vs. going to a state college.

I am happy about a few of the consequences of the current economic situation. I am UNHAPPY that the Bob remains unemployed. But that aside, I think it is good that people are thinking longer and harder about how they spend their money. I think it is good that rampant consumerism might be curtailed a bit. It is good that both on a personal level people but also companies have to evaluate how they do business and scale back on expenses, to a certain extent.

For too long this country has focused on more, bigger, more, bigger. It is not a bad thing that we are being forced to really evaluate how we spend our money and what we really NEED. There will always be those who don't care about that. One of the people on my Facebook friends list put out a status update saying she was thinking that an income of $250,000 really wasn't that much for a two person household. I bust out laughing. I would be THRILLED with that kind of income. She clarified that she thought that it wasn't a lot if you wanted to own a home in New England and have some kids. I laughed again. I own a home, I live in New England, and have a kid. And when Bob was working our combined income was considerably less than that. I think people EXPECT a lot in this life. They WANT a lot. But what do we really NEED?

Most students don't need a private college education. It is a luxury in this country that we have such wide access to higher education. We are a very fortunate and rich country in so many ways. I hope that as we work our way out of this stupid economic situation, created much in part by greed and lack of respect for people, the environment and for doing what is right, I hope that we find some integrity and common sense.

In the meantime, because of my role at this college, I also hope that at least 500 new students decide they really do want to be and can afford to be students here. So my boss doesn't lose her ever loving mind. Because that kind of crazy doesn't stay contained to one person. She likes to share the insanity.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


This has been BUSY, animal filled weekend. Saturday found Cooper and I at the farm, again, visiting all of our now very familiar friends, and making one new one - Truffle, a black cow who let us scratch her ears and nose. She is a very short, stocky cow. She is the kind of cow I imagine I would be if I was a cow. I am not a tall person, only 5'4" and I kind of liked Truffle's look. Short, compact, and appreciative of a good ear scratch.

Today we checked out the Franklin Park Zoo. We have quite a few zoos in this area to choose from. This has officially been deemed the Summer of the Zoo. We will try to check them all out. Franklin Park has many of the traditional animals you hope to find at a zoo if you are a small person obsessed with the movie Madagascar: lions, tigers, zebras, giraffs, and LEMURS. It also has a nice selection of primates, which Cooper was quite interestingly unimpressed by. There are 6 gorillas there, and at one point you can be as up close and personal with them as being separated by a giant reinforced pane of glass will allow, and yet, Cooper was all "Yeah, nice, LION?"

I am not a big fan of zoos, what with all the imprisoned animals and all, but this is a pretty nice facility with very "realistic" and open air enclosures. If by realistic we mean in almost downtown Boston. How close to being in Africa is it in January in Boston? Whatever. The animals seemed comfortable. There are two Bactarian Camels. I am not sure how these differ from any other camel, but I was surprised to see that their humps were floppy. Since I have very little experience with camels, I don't know if this is normal or a sign of something like being old. Flumpy humps aside, they were impressive.

In other news, we went to a birthday party yesterday held at our local YMCA. There was a bouncy house. This was Cooper's first experience with a bouncy house. It took a solid 15 minutes before he was convinced going inside was okay, and then once in there, he never actually BOUNCED. He walked, ran, laid down, but never jumped up and down. He loved it, as long as he wasn't on the receiving end of any of the punches and elbows being thrown by a kid who is soon to be on the Rangers roster to replace Sean Avery after he gets his butt suspended permanently one day. That kid needs some Cesar Milan style pre-schooler whispering. He was downright hostile. His mother was on his case the entire time, but short of removing him from the gathering, there didn't seem to be any stopping him.

For me, the bouncy house looked like one giant germ fest. I can't help it. I looked at this thing and thought "How much spit, sweat, snot and gunk is on the floor of this thing that my kids' face has just been rolling on." Heebie Jeebies. It didn't cause me to stop him from going in there, but ugh. Tubby time could not come fast enough. And now I keep hearing about how the swine flu has surfaced in Mexico, killing 60+ people, and how people are coming back from their vacations sick - helloooo anyone else notice this is SPRING BREAK and SCHOOL VACATION time - and you just know this is not over yet.

I know it seems contradictory that I don't mind if Cooper pets a cow but I am grossed out by a bouncy house. I know how that cow has been raised on that organic farm. I don't have the same level of confidence in the cleaniness standards for everyone who has been in that bouncy house. Let's just hope none of them have been to Mexico recently.

Friday, April 24, 2009

What clock are you on?

Two days ago I had a chance to speak to my mother who shared a story in which a certain neice of mine was late for school because she fell asleep again after taking a shower and no one in her house checked on her or woke her up again.

The rest of the story is inconsequential. The funny part of this is Bob's reaction to that part of the story. Since hearing it, randomly out of nowhere Bob will say "I am sorry, but I don't understand how that happens" or "How do you do that? How do you get up, take a shower and then go back to bed? The day has started. Places to go, things to do. GET UP."

Bob is a morning person. So am I for that matter. And Cooper. It works out well for us. If even one of us was more of a night person we would have problems. But I am well aware that my brother and his daughter are wired a little differently. Their prime functioning time is probably from 3pm to 2am. It is very hard for them to function on what our society has deemed the normal business day, from 9 - 5. Or in the case of high school, it can be as early as 7am. Throughout our childhood I devised many ways, some cruel, for getting my dear sibling out of bed and mostly on schedule. Sheets were yanked, singing loudly and obnoxiously, even a sprinkling of cold water now and then. When we attended the same college there were a few times I would call him in the morning, have an entire conversation with him about meeting for breakfast and he would not only go back to sleep, but not remember the conversation at all.

At this point in our lives, we can do 6 things in one morning because we have the energizer bunny living in our house. This weekend we will undoubtedly visit the farm and see the cows etc. and play in the sandbox and walk the neighborhood several times. Before noon. But that is just how we roll. We will try not to make too much noise in case you are one of those still sleeping...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Just like Oprah, without the burden of wealth and fame...

In my blog roll you will find Baby Squared a fun blog written by Jane Roper about the joys and trials of being a mom to twin toddler girls. Jane lives in the Boston area and is trying to get a book published and has made the top 100 in the Breakthrough Novel competition. Now she is in the running to try and be one of the final three.

So, to help the cause and get her more exposure - i.e. get the five or so people who read this blog who are also not Oz Spies because she already knows about the competition to read the excerpt, I am giving you the link to download it, for free, at here.

I have downloaded and read it and LOVED it. I can't wait to be able to read more. It takes place in a fictitious town in Maine, but it might as well be Friendship, ME where I spend time each summer. The smells and the sounds were right there in my mind as I was reading the excerpt.

Sometimes I don't connect with an author's voice. When I attempted to read "A Confederacy of Dunces" or "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" I completely did NOT connect with the writing. Nothing about either book grabbed my interest and I stopped reading. In fact I stopped reading anything that Oprah suggests to her "book club" because whenever I read something she recommended, I hated it. Oprah and I apparently have very different sensibilities. Go figure. Oprah - fabulous wealth and her own empire; me - picking up dog poop in the backyard while wearing my pajamas because Cooper insists on being in the sandbox at 7am.

Anywho, it may help that by reading Jane's blog I have become familiar with her style, but a blog about your real life is a very different animal from writing a work of fiction. There is character development and creating a world with details and depth and it is HARD. I truly feel Jane has talent and while she feels she is a long shot for getting into the top three, I am hopeful that she eventually gets it published so we can all read the rest of the tale.

Otherwise I will have to stalk her and make her tell me the rest. Like I have time for that. Good luck Jane! And since the excerpt is free to download, tell three friends, and tell them to tell three friends...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Introducing a great new book by a great person

One of the things I love about my neighborhood and by extension living in our town is the diversity of people I have gotten to know. Not just ethnic diversity, although that is certainly true, but the diversity of ages, experiences and interests.

One of the moms I have gotten to know in our neighborhood is Meena Kothandaraman who is the mother of two children, a vegetarian and daily yoga practitioner and is a seriously creative person. She just self published a children's book that she has been very devoted to writing for awhile now, which is available for purchase through Amazon.

Can You Say My Name is a story for everyone who has ever had a name that is difficult to pronounce. It is a children's book, but as someone who grew up with an unusual last name and who has moved quite a few times as both a child and an adult, I have spent a lot of time pronouncing and spelling my name in my lifetime. This book spoke to me.

The book focuses on the anxiety of a little girl who is getting ready to go to her first day of school and is worried that people won't be able to say her name. She finds out that she is not the only one in the class to have an unusual name, and by sharing each of their names the students and teacher learn more about each other.

Meena has felt for a long time that there is a big gap in children's literature in terms of stories that focus on Indian culture and more specifically, growing up bicultural. Her children are not biracial, both of their parents are Indian, but they are being raised with a deep awareness both of their American culture as well as their Indian culture. Meena decided to try her hand at filling that gap with this first effort. If things go well, she may write others.

I encourage you to check it out, and even purchase a copy. It is well written and beautifully illustrated. I will be getting several copies myself, and sharing a few copies with Cooper's day care center.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The week is almost over...

Another ridiculously busy week is almost at an end. I am taking tomorrow off, and because I work at a college on the Boston Marathon route, we don't have school on Monday. Whoohoo!

This week we watched Dancing with the Stars and Steve O and his dancing partner were eliminated. Steve O is "famous" for being one of the Jack Ass guys. If you can be famous for lighting yourself on fire while jumping off a cliff into a pile of poop. Or something equally stupid. Anyway, Bob was sad they were eliminated. I asked if it was because he liked Lacey, the professional dance partner. "Um, she is wearing her UNDERWEAR." Which of course explains why Bob tolerates watching this show at all. Professional ballroom dancing mavens in skimpy outfits doing the rumba.

In other news, Cooper spent the ride to school today pretend sneezing. "Aaaah, aaaaah, aaaaah CHOO!" and then hysterically laughing. That's entertainment.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Alfred Hitchock has nothing on us

We are being stalked. By a robin. I first noticed a robin attacking our neighbor's front window. Robins do this in the spring. I think they think the reflection is another bird and that they need to defend their territory. Later that same day there was this robin sitting on the window sill of our living room window. Then it was pecking at the window. Attaching itself to the screen and pecking. Sitting in the bush outside the window and staring in with one of it's beady little eyes. Pecking some more.

Then on Saturday Bob said "Hey, that robin is over here trying to get in the side door" which is on the opposite side of the house from the living room window. Now Bob swears he will look outside and see the robin sitting on the line or the grass across the street, staring at our house. Planning its next assault.

Last spring we had a robins' nest in the bush outside this window. And the day after the babies flew the coop, I had to wrestle one dead baby robin out of one of my dogs' mouth. Bob thinks the robin is the mother and she is back for Gus.

I honestly think if we left the window open it would fly in the house. It has pecked at the front windows a bit too, but mostly it focuses its efforts on the side window. It gets a bit freaky, especially when it just sits there on the sill, with one or the other little birdy eye staring in at you. "One day, I will get in. You will forget about me, and leave the window open on a warm afternoon, and then I will get in. And then it is ON."

In other news, on Friday the cable line got torn off the house by the recycling truck. So when I got home, Cooper got to see a real life Bob the Builder in action. What more could a boy ask for but a guy with a hard hat, tool belt and a ladder working at his house? And we had Easter dinner with Alex, Bob's oldest son and his girlfriend. I have seen Alex a total of 7 times in the 7 years I have known Bob. So it was unusual, but pleasant. Cooper totally dug having him here and shared every tool he has AND put on a brief musical concert with the ukulele and harmonica. That kid knows how to wow the crowd.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Why I don't Twitter, again.

Apparently if you Twitter, you are supposed to be interesting and amusing and engaging at all times. So says a blog I read the other day. The blog is one that is in my blogroll, that is about as far as I will go identifying him because the post kind of pissed me off. He is a good writer, and is as far as I can tell a very intelligent person, but he can be a bit of an ass too. The post about Twitter was a good example.

He began by saying that if all you have to say to the world is "Hi Twitter" and "Time for my shower" you should buy a cat and name it Twitter and tell the cat. Don't bug the rest of the internet/Twitterdom with your boring life. And I will agree with him. I can't imagine anyone caring if I am drinking coffee right now or picking my nose. And I don't want to know if anyone whose Tweets I am following is doing those things either.

But then he went on to say the point of Twitter is like being at a party. Your goal is to be the most fascinating and entertaining and popular person at the party. Not the dude sitting in the corner who can tell you everything about his Dungeon and Dragons character.

Hm. First of all, it is never my goal at a party to be the most fascinating and entertaining and popular person. In fact, not only do I not want to be that person, I go to great lengths to avoid that person. That person is TRYING TOO HARD. And I have not usually been the person who is seeking my validation externally. I am fairly confident and well adjusted and don't need other people to cast their approval upon me, via Twitter or any other medium. I don't make a living as a public persona either. When I go to parties it is usually to catch up with friends, enjoy some good food, good company and relax.

Twitter is not providing any of those things. No food, no quality conversation, no relaxation and if there are all these expectations that I will be fascinating and riveting, it is just too much work.

And finally, that dude who plays Dungeon and Dragons? Some of my best friends in high school and college. I HEART geeks. They keep the world running.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Wacky Weary Wednesday

Cooper has strep. Again. For the record, if you have a boy child, they may complain of their "peepee" hurting when they have strep. We now know that if he is even less interested in eating than usual AND he is complaining about his peepee, he probably has strep.

I went to the store at lunch today, to acquire things like applesauce and jello and antibiotics, and on my way back to work I saw a Hummer. Not a little one, one of the big ones. Burnt orange in color, with tinted windows. I caught sight of the driver as I passed, and a woman who looked like Sophia from Golden Girls was driving.

Then I get to work, and someone had delivered some bushes to plant behind our building along with some compost. The compost bags said "Lobster compost". HUH? Apparently lobster and crab shells are a good source of calcium and other tasty bits of goodness and it is a great compost for tomatoes. Guess what I will be using in my tomato patch this summer. It is a product of Maine. Go figure.

I was reviewing files today, and came across a student whose last name is Bytheway. BY THE WAY??? I think it is a fake name. I can't be sure, but seriously.

Work has been...ghastly. Take one part sucky economy and add a dash of NOBODY IS SPENDING MONEY ON ANYTHING and you get panic in the streets at small private tuition driven colleges. And without getting super technical or specific regarding my job, a combination of errors made by a variety of people have conspired to create even more angst for my boss and that means for ME. I personally am not taking ownership of the blunders, but they certainly impact me, and well, I have to end this blog entry so I can get back to awarding 500 or so more students. Tonight.

Have I mentioned that I might need a vacation? I do. But that is so unlikely to occur anytime soon. For so many reasons. Money, time, money. Money. And MONEY.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Welcome to Short Attention Span Theater

Hello and welcome to Short Attention Span Theater. I am your host, Cooper. Shall we begin?

BOB THE BUILDER, Can we build it? BOB THE BUILDER, Yes we CAN! BOBOBOBOBOBOBOBOBOB. Where is my Bob the Builder belt???? AAAAHHHHH MUST HAVE IT ON. Press the button and make it sing ALL.THE.TIME. HAT? Where is hat??

No Bob. Not this. Queen. Queen?MACKMACKMACKMACK. Oooooooooh Ramone. MACK.

Not this. Outside. OutSIDE. OUTSIDE. Sandboxsandboxsandbox. Trucktrucktruck. Must take truck to sandbox. Pour sand in and out of things. Pour pour pour.

Insideinsideinside. MILK MILK MILK. momomomomomommmmmmmmmmmmmy. Must stand on mommy's feet. Climb on mommmy. Fling self off mommy onto couch.

Books. Read. More books. Another book. Wiggle all over like ants are in our pants.

Thomas. Want train. AGH Buster stop, no touch, Buster no. Nice Buster. Nice Gus. PONCHO! DOGS!

Jack. Jack, BIG MUSIC SHOW. Guitar. Please. Jack's big music shooooooooooooooow.

Intermission. Naptime. Upon waking, repeat from the top. For variety change order of demands.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Joke Is On Me

This weekend one of my staff turns 24. I spend a few seconds pondering that in my head when she said that. "I am 44, will be 45 in July...that makes me almost 21 years older than her...HOLY FREAKITY FREAKING FREAK. I am old enough to be the mother of a 24 year old."

I am used to being reminded I am old enough to be the mother of the college students I talk to and see every day. I see the ages of their parents on the aid applications. I even note at times that there are parents who are almost 10 years younger than I. They OBVIOUSLY got a very early start on parenthood. Unlike myself, who got a bit of a late start.

And I think that is where the shock and horror comes in. I am the mother of a 2 year old. NOT a mother of a 24 year old. I can't even fathom having been a mother at such a young age. My mother was 23 when she had me (sorry mom you are outed) which seems really young too. I feel like every day I am figuring out how to do this whole mothering thing and I have a lot of life experience working for me that I would not have had at 21 or 23. Quite honestly, I am amazed I am still alive if you consider the crazy things we could do. When we would take family trips to my grandparents house in the car, my brother and I were in the back seat, with no seat belts, laying down on the seat and on a wooden bench that my dad fashioned to fill the leg space so we had more room. Eventually we had to wear seat belts, but not early on. I rode bicycles with no helmet. We went out alone for walks in the woods. I remember swimming for the first time with no flotation device at around 5 years of age. And here I am to tell the tale. I am not saying my parents made bad choices, by the way. It was just a different world 40 years ago.

Being a parent at an more advanced age has its benefits, but wow does it have some disadvantages. Like what happens to my brain once Cooper is down for the night. I am pretty sure if you were able to see into my skull, you would see a bowl of oatmeal, not a brain. My knees remind me every time I get up off the floor from playing with Cooper that you are, from a biological standpoint, supposed to breed 20 years earlier.

But I generally don't consider my age in relation to my coworkers and friends. I don't think often in terms of "I could be that persons mother" until I am reminded. And then the joke is on me. Yes, I am that old. Sigh.