Sunday, May 29, 2011

Daybook 5.29.11

An entry prompted by The Simple Woman's Daybook.

outside my window... bullfrogs are belching out their best midnight serenade. I think the amphibious males are singing to the females,"Won't You Hop into the Creek Bed with Me?"

I am thinking...about taking an electronic screen fast. Again. I need to change my focus for a little while. Trouble is, I really like being here. I don't understand how people ignore their blogs for weeks or months at a time.

thankful for
...courageous, compassionate, young adult children who lately have been engaging in heavy-duty spiritual warfare.

remembering...that "my sin--not in part, but the whole--was nailed to the cross and I bear it no more! Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, oh my soul!"

from the learning rooms... We're almost finished for the year! Finished and done. A couple of math "finals" (so I can check his mastery of the year), a revision of a compare/contrast essay of dog vs. cat, and a wrap-up of geography, and we're done. I love saying "done!" Woo-hoo! I am so stinkin' ready to leave homeschooling behind it's not funny. It's been not a very pleasant year. I kept thinking it was going to get better, that my burn-out would be changed, but nah. I really believe that this phase of our lives is history. He needs a fun teacher with vision and spunk, he needs peers and more activity, he needs more structure. "It is not good for (even a little) man to be alone." It's even worse for his mama to be isolated.

from the kitchen... comes the scent of sauteed asparagus that we tossed into salad.

I'm wearing... what I wore to church today: a teal colored top and a breezy white/teal/yellow/brown skirt.

I'm creating...lists of things to create. Actually I am mentally creating a blog post called "Before and After Week." I hope to show the progress on gardens, lamps, pillows, and window treatments. I may have to change the title to "Before and After Month...or Summer...or..." at this rate.

I am hoping...for some powerful changes to occur deep within my heart over the next few weeks, and to be finally free of things that have held me prisoner for too long. I am hoping for the faith to believe that lasting change is possible, even for me.

A picture I'm sharing:
I took this a few weeks ago when I was decluttering. Just snapping random photos so that I would have "before" shots. I was too ashamed to post them, but as I zoomed in on this messy stack of miscellany, something stood out: JESUS. I thanked Him then and there for being in the middle of my mess. If you are in the middle of a mess, whether physical, financial, relational, or spiritual, remember that Jesus is in the middle of it.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Why, Thank You! I Accept! Will You?

What a happy surprise to be reading along on Jessi's blog, Crocuses in March, and find she had nominated ME, along with others, for this distinguished honor that comes with a most beautiful blog button. I feel like I should change into an evening gown and buy some "fabulous-dahling" diamond earrings . The thought is blissful enough. Thanks, Jessi.

The idea is sort of an old-fashioned tag where I actually name the people whom I think deserve the award and actually, maybe quite possibly, update their blog more often than they change the battery in their smoke detector. I'm supposed to say 7 random facts about myself that I haven't disclosed yet. Could that be possible since this is literally my 1,295th blog post?

Ready? In random sequence, maybe these things will be "new" items about yours truly, things I want you to knowing before you make out your last will and testament. Ya never know when you might find such kindred spirit here that you decide to bequeath your collection of kitchen gadget duplicates to me.

1. I don't think I'm allergic to poison ivy. Everyone else in my family is, and there's plenty of it on our back fence near the woods. I know I've touched it, walked in it, and perhaps used it as filler in a vase with floral wonders from hither and yon. After all, nothing says "Welcome, Guests" quite like displaying foliage that all Boy Scouts are trained to recognize and run from.

2. Given the choice, I'd rather hang out with a group of men than women in casual social settings. I enjoy their brand of humor, their job tales, their subject matter that might include cars, home improvement projects, and other typically "guy stuff." Somehow their "small talk" does not bore me; I tire quickly of women's small talk, even my own!

3. When I like something a lot, I can sell it. In fact, I've been offered sales jobs on the spot in small boutiques simply because I offered my opinions and talked customers into $40 worth of goods in about five minutes as I stood behind them in line! I have "sold" jewelry, makeup, shoes, furniture, clothes, books, flowers, and eyeglasses by offering my opinions when asked (or sometimes by simply nudging them over hurdles of indecision). But that's only if I am absolutely sure I believe in the product, or think it's right for that customer from our brief interaction.

4. Once in a while I daydream about doing all the things in one year that I've wanted to do for twenty. Go snorkeling, take up the violin, work in the Vladimir "Baby House" in Russia for a year, lose half my body weight, go to culinary school abroad, paint wildlife, vacation two months on every continent except Antarctica (zero months, zero hours), take voice lessons, remodel the house, stage homes for sale, work for a florist, buy a new Audi A8, and teach one more child to read.

5. I despise women's T-shirts with writing, decals, or which otherwise advertise "been there, done that." I'm not quite as sensitive about guys' T-shirts, but unless you're painting or gardening, ladies, your printed T-shirt just look tacky to me. I so want to raise awareness on this topic. Maybe I'll organize the first 5K/1-mile walk/run ever that does not even OFFER a T-shirt at the event.

6. Three things I could live on: Life cereal, bananas, and gummy worms.

7. I believe that demons are real, and I wonder if the church has lost sight of the fact that there are principalities and powers at work that are wreaking havoc on believers. It's so much easier to remain naive and aloof or even skeptical. Not that I go looking for them or have a fascination with them. I do not. But I believe the church needs to wake up. We can't afford to sleep while others suffer with this often-taboo (or just plain unacknowledged) reality.

Now, may I present this award to five bloggers who deserve it:

Laurie @ Tulip in the Thicket
Joyce @ From this Side of the Pond
Lea @ CiCi's Corner
Sarah @ Homeward Bound (my lovely girl)
Kelly @ Wildlife and Home

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Star-Spangled Hodgepodge

Because of Joyce's fun topics, I am linking up again today for her Wednesday Hodgepodge. You know you want to give it a try, too. Go ahead. Jump right in and add some new zip to your blog material! Do it for me. For yourself. By George, do it for America!

1. What is something about living in this country that you value? "This country" is whatever country you call home.

I value our freedom to worship whenever and wherever we choose. There is no underground church. Not yet anyway. I am sure I don't value that freedom enough, and won't unless it's threatened or completely taken away.

2. What is a favorite something you own that is red, white, and/or blue?

I'm going with three separate favorites, and they're all bling. I don't say that because of what they are, but because of what they represent to me: overtures of my husband's romantic side which he'll be the first to admit, is not exactly a natural thang. The red? A ruby ring he bought for Christmas one year when the kids were little and money was scarce. The white? A strand of pearls he gave me. He had worked 15 years at his former company at that point, and they gave him an award-type catalog to choose from. He said to me, "You pick." I said, "Why me? You're the one who's done all the work." But he said something like he wanted me to have it 'cuz I hadn't gotten paychecks all those years for my work. (Sniff, sniff. I got teary-eyed just writing that.) I picked the pearls. The blue favorite? A pair of blue topaz post earrings he presented me, completely by surprise, at our 20th wedding anniversary dinner date. Funny thing is, though, I can't wear them because of a slit in my left earlobe. I can only wear dangles or hoops or else it looks like the earring is falling out. Poor guy heard me wrong (not to mention he really doesn't pay attention to earrings I wear). He said, "Sorry. I thought you said you could only wear posts.") He tried. Gotta love a guy for trying.

3. Do you fly a flag at your house on patriotic holidays?

Yes, I do. In fact I am a patriotic junkie. Most days when the weather is nice, I fly a flag. In my opinion, the American flag is the most gorgeous flag on earth.

4. What ingredients do you think should be included in a great picnic basket?

Lots of napkins, wipes, hand sanitizer, ant killer, food "tents" to prevent bugs, and a checkered tablecloth. It's gotta be checkered. I'm not a huge fan of packing picnic baskets because it's like Thanksgiving dinner: a whole lot of prep and the food is eaten in four minutes flat. And unlike Thanksgiving dinner, the bugs invite themselves to the table. ( Er, except for those relatives who "bug" you to host, and when they offer to bring something two hours before sit-down time, you say, "well, we've pretty much got it covered, but they say "how about drinks?" and you say "sure" but what they show up with is a two-liter bottle of off-brand ginger ale-- not that that's ever happened to either me or you, of course-- but I was in the mood to write a record-breaking run-on sentence that not even Henry James could trump. Now you may catch your breath and read on. Now that you've forgotten the question was about picnic baskets.

5. What is one piece of interesting piece of trivia you know? Interesting is, of course, a relative term.

The first capital of Maryland was St. Mary's City, not Annapolis. Does that count?

6. Wednesday, May 24th, is National Escargot Day. Ever tried them? "Eew" or "ooh"?

I have never tried escargot and have said no to the invitation. I imagine that eating snails would remind me of all those slippery-slidey textured things I've tried once and gagged on (or swallowed out of sheer couth and willpower in public--like squid, oysters, and mussels). So I guess that would be an "eew" for me. Although, the word "escargot" always reminds of a riddle about how to make "an S car go."

7. What is one thing you know for sure?

I know that the name of Jesus is above every name in heaven, on earth, and under the earth.

8. Insert your random thought here.

If you're a person of prayer, I would appreciate prayer for my friend's mom who fell and broke her femur in more than one place. It's called a spiral fracture because she twisted it as she fell. I can only imagine the pain. Doctors say she won't be bearing weight on it for three months. The foot on that same leg was scheduled for surgery earlier this month, but there was infection in it that needed to be cleared up first.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"Tennis (Ball), Anyone?"

A couple weeks ago I got a kick out of watching my hubby trim trees. Not that such a thing is normally entertaining, but just seeing how our dog, Reilly, took advantage of every sit-down break The Man took, cracked me up. To know the dog means to be acquainted with OCD, Tennis Ball Version. I perched inconspicuously from inside an open window above, shooting and grinning. The dog: perpetual optimist, ever hopeful that someone wants to throw the ball as often as he wants to retrieve it. No matter they got work to do. Could anything be more important than playing?

To the dog's great joy, The Man did throw a ball when he was sitting down. The rest of the time he carried that big stick around and reached up into trees. Are there tennis balls up there? Is that what he's looking for? How about that long stick that he uses to scrape at the leaves. He is trying to find tennis balls, right?

Monday, May 23, 2011

My Men are Pictured in a Book !

How often does this happen? You buy a book and see some of your family members pictured within? I feel like a celebrity. Well, okay, a celebrity's wife.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Ready or Not...

I am not ready for all the changes that have come upon me lately. I'm not saying they're bad things. They're not. They're natural and, for the most part, predictable in the course of one's life as parent. But so far I've only been at arm's length from the stark realities that come at rapid-fire pace as being the mother of three young adult children. I thought that having three kids in four years was hard when they were little. Thank the Lord I could not see into the depth of pain in the future.

I seldom feel needed. I rarely feel considered in anyone's plans. Usually I just feel both invisible and lost, as if I'm wandering around in a thick fog with laryngitis saying, "Hello? Can anybody hear me? Do you see me? Hey, did you catch that I made plans and expected that you'd be part of them? Hello?" And then it's as if a dial tone is all I hear in the fog. But instead of the dial tone saying, "Bzzz," it answers with,"Uh, yeah, I'm going out tonight. I'll be back late, 12:30, 1:00 maybe." Or it says, "I won't be here this weekend." Or, "By the way, I'm moving out in a few weeks. Thought I'd give you and Dad a head's up."

They say "don't blink or you'll miss it." When did I blink? There haven't been enough sunrises and sunsets yet. There haven't been enough hugs and kisses. There haven't been enough kind words and certainly not enough apologies. There haven't been enough car rides, long talks, or walks in the park. I am aching with an unquenchable ache to do it all again, do it better, be the mom I wanted to be, the mom I pictured being when I was carrying them but the mom who goes to bed almost every night with guilt over what she said, what she should have said, how she should have listened better. The mom who looks at herself in the mirror and says, "Who are you and what is your purpose anyway?"

I've got to find a new identity because being "Mom" is too painful right now. I don't have the same amount of control and they aren't exactly coming to me for advice. I feel rejected and abandoned. I am glad they have chosen good paths with God, good friends, higher education, jobs. I remember wanting the same freedom from my parents at that age that our kids want from us. And, come to think of it, I don't recall considering that my parents had feelings when I was 18, 19, 20. I thought they wanted me gone as much as I wanted to be gone. Never did it occur to me how they might have been having trouble adjusting to a lighter nest quickly, since my older sister and I left home , one right after the other. I never had a sit-down, let's talk-this-over conversation about my decision to ask how they felt. It was all about how I wanted my own place, was ready to work hard enough to pay for everything myself. Maybe my mom was just more stoic or mature or something. I don't remember that she cried, don't remember her begging me come home for meals or visits. Maybe she did. Or maybe she didn't allow herself to feel used that way. I don't think they cared to see my first apartment, don't know they were ever in it, as a matter of fact. Maybe it was too painful, especially since it was so small that if you rolled over in bed you could wash your hands, or if you rolled the other way, you could open the front door.

I think, then, that I've been taken off guard. Unprepared for this phase of life. Where are my friends who are going through this? Some of them are around, but I don't see grief and ache. Do we just not talk about these milestones the way we used to talk about potty-training and getting them to sleep through the night?

I think that not seeing my own mother struggle with our leaving home has handicapped me. I am not saying this as a blame; I'm saying that I have taken so many unconscious cues about how to handle children's phases from my mom. She guided me through nursing the children, diapering them, getting them to eat a variety of foods, watching for medical care I might have missed, disciplining them (though, thankfully, she kept a far distance on that one), educating them. But Guiding me in how to let them go? I am floundering. Floundering! There aren't college courses on this, are there? If so, where do I sign up and I don't care if I have to pay a lot for it (just tell me where the tutors are)

I have only had one teaching on the subject, but didn't find it particularly helpful. Mabye because it was given by a dad, and I can't even get my husband to tell me how he's feeling. So I think men process it way differently. I feel like a mother who has given birth to triplets on the edge of a high cliff, and the babies are dangling by the umbilical cord which has a gazillion nerves in it, and everywhere I turn one of the babies is sawing away the cord little by little. The babies are about to cut themselves free over Grand Canyon, and fall, and all I can do is lie here shouting, "Nooooooooooooooo!"

Friday, May 20, 2011

Images from the Co-op Art Gallery, Grades 4-6

I just love children's art. I also love being an art teacher. I have taught for four years now, and each year gets better and better. This past year I taught grades 4-6 in our homeschool co-op.
Our end-of-year Presentation Night features art, science, and music.

I had 22 students, and allowed each to put up six projects plus their name "placard" done as a lesson in positive and negative space.

For the backdrop (since I've been craving color all winter!) I took two large rolls of colored bulletin board paper, one bright green, one cobalt blue.

My adult helper assisted me in putting up the 4th graders' art. Masking tape loops work; Scotch does not. We found it easier to put up the backdrop paper first, using poster tack. It took two hours for two of us to hang nine students' work. Good thing we hung it up two days in advance!

(These are notes to self, mostly, for future reference.)

The 5th and 6th graders taped up their own work. We finished in about 40 minutes, with 20 minutes left over for a party!

A major advantage to the backdrop paper hung in "strips" is that, at the end of the evening, each student can take down the whole strip, and carry home all their art as a unit.

This year we studied Monet, Van Gogh, Seurat, Homer, and Picasso in the first half of the year.

The second half consisted of various random art forms using a variety of media. Our longest project was the Mother's Day tray. (Separate how-to post in the future.) I used the gift bags from the Mothers' Day bags on the floor for added "pops" of color.

On the first day of class, we created portfolios to keep our art stored together at co-op. These are simple to make, although I would advise using only white posterboard, since it's hard to read names written on other colors..

This year also included some "academic" work because for many of the lessons, I began with a 10-minute "lecture" in art history and appreciation with biographical info on the painters we were studying. The students had to take notes. They had multiple choice, essay, and drawing on their test. They all got A's. I was one happy teacher.

We used oil pastels, chalk pastels, watercolor, and acrylics.
We drew with pencils. We made collages. We used clay one week for fun but didn't make a finished product.

These were the fastest 24 weeks ever. That's what happens when you love what you do and the people you get to share your love with.

Beef Burgundy in Crock Pot

This is bribery food for my young adult kids.
In particular, it's my son Steve's all-time favorite. Now that he has moved out of the house, I know how to get him back home. It's in the Crock Pot now. He will be here for dinner, smiling, mmm'ing instead of talking, I think:). Works for me.

Several folks have asked me to post it, so after much inexcusable delay, here you go.

This recipe is a good one to serve a crowd when you don't want the old standby chili or spaghetti. Or, if you just feel like putting your apron on and cooking up a hearty, old-fashioned, stick-to-your ribs meal that makes everyone happy and kind of sleepy.

from Zoanna Zubrowski


3-4 lb. rump roast, cut into 1" cubes
3 slices crisp, crumbled bacon (crisp is important)
2 cans Campbell's Golden Mushroom soup (NOT cream of, unless you can't find it)
8 oz white mushroom, rinsed, and sliced (or halved or quartered, your choice)
1-2 cans (use your soup can) water, depending how thick you like the gravy
1 lb bag baby carrots
1/2 large onion, chopped
1/4 cup burgundy or cooking sherry

Directions: If possible, get your butcher to cut the meat while you shop. Saves a lot of time!
In large skillet, cook bacon till crisp. Set aside bacon, drain most of the grease but keep some flavor in skillet Add beef, onions and burgundy to skillet. Sear the meat on all sides. Pour this entire lot into 5.5 qt crock pot, add rest of ingredients, cover, and cook on HIGH for 4-5 hours, or LOW for 8. Serve over mashed potatoes. I also like to serve it with green beans, fresh hot rolls, and applesauce.

Bon appetit!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Not a Word-less Wednesday

There are some moments in life a mother wants to freeze-frame. This image shows one of them. I wish could hold it in my mind forever. This is the best part of my day--hearing him read scripture to me.

My last-born child.

I study him from crown to sole.
The skin .
The lashes.
The hair.
The arms folded, chin resting on them.
His voice, not yet changed (thank you, God. Please don't rush that.)

I wish he wanted to be kissed as much as I want to kiss him. Sometimes I just sneak up to him and plant one. He wipes it off and says, "Mom, aren't I kind of old for you to be kissing me? What do you think I am, a baby?"

You'll always be my baby. Even when you're full-grown and on your own.

"I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always.
As long as I'm living
my baby you'll be. " ---Love You Forever

Wednesday Hodgepodge: Zoos, Veneers, and Souvenirs

Another fun batch questions from Joyce.

1. What reveals more about a woman-her refrigerator or her purse?

Purse. Unlike a fridge, a purse is solely a woman's domain. It's not usually stuffed with her family's or roommate's junk (although moms do house their share of spare diapers, Legos, crayons, and Batman Band-aids). I think you can tell by a woman's purse if she is generally organized or not, dramatic or quiet, "earthy" or "sparkly," and whether she would be a good one to recommend to your chiropractor. (The dead giveaway is the 45-degree angle of sagging shoulder carrying said purse.) A purse is the veneer of a woman's personality: you can tell a lot about her by looking at it.

2. When was the last time you went to the zoo? Where? What's your favorite zoo animal?

Oh, boy. My last zoo trip was probably in the mid-1990s when my kids and I braved the heat of the Baltimore Zoo on a homeschool field trip. I remember the juice from a popsicle running down Sarah's hand and a bunch of sweat bees about to attack her. I grabbed the popsicle, wiped her off with a baby wipe, and proceeded to get stung three times myself. One never thinks of sweat bees as zoo animals until such an incident. They're not my favorite.

I would have to say zebras are my favorite because we share a fun letter in our names. I've always wanted to start my own line of intimate apparel and call it "Z Bras." Everything would be made of black and white zebra stripes. Can you imagine the literally dizzying array of lingerie? But seriously, about real zebras, I marvel that--although they all look alike--no two zebras have the same stripe pattern. When they run, their stripes become a blur and so their predators can't pick one off in the stampede. What a remarkable element that God thought of to protect them.

3. What social issue fires you up?

Illegal immigration. Actually just about anything that has to do with the lack of border patrol and the subsequent burden Mexicans are putting on America when they cross over illegally. From a safety standpoint, local sheriffs in Arizona are having to do the job that the President should assign to 6,000 armed soldiers. My sister who lives there is afraid to go into the field (she's in land management) because the Mexican drug cartels outman and outgun the local police. From an economic standpoint, illegals are putting a huge tax burden on us by not paying into the system but wiring back money to their families across the border. Law-abiding, tax-paying Americans are practically sponsoring illegals to live here. Why did you get me started on this one????

4. Are you a coupon clipper? If so, are you extreme?

No, I'm not aboard the clipper ship. I was once upon a time, but my hubby observed that it was taking more time than it was saving money . (Being a finance guy, he is always seeing the cost value of time.) He told me just to stick to the sale items, mainly on the perimeter of the store; we also go regularly to a local food distributor of restaurant-quality food that has below-grocery store prices; monthly we hit a scratch-and-dent store in PA for drinks, lunch items and toiletries, once in a while Aldi. (It's kind of out of the way but it's hard to beat for basic stuff and produce.)
The" extremers" also tend to hoard food in an organized way; the media praises them while judging other types of hoarders. It's a double standard. Getting a natural high from a good deal is fine, but some people will neglect their health in the long-term while saving a buck in the short term. And extreme couponing is another type of OCD. I have other neuroses; thank God this isn't one of them!

5. What is one of your favorite souvenirs brought back from your travels?

Oh, wow. I have a whole entertainment center devoted to souvenirs from around the world. Most of them have been brought back for me, since I've only been to Canada, Russia, and Mexico myself. My daughter and I went to Vladimir, Russia with Global Aid Network when she graduated from high school . In one of the orphanages, the children had made ceramic figurines (upper shelf, right side) for the visiting Americans and they let us choose our favorites. So Sarah and I each chose one, but one boy said, "Take anuzzer. Pleece!" So I took another and thanked him profusely. There's something about handling art that children have made; I just love it. I don't know if our trip there had a lasting effect or if it was just harder for the orphans to be loved on for a couple hours and then 'abandoned" again. I still don't know. Maybe we won't know till we get to heaven.

6. Lemon meringue or key lime?

Key lime. Love it.

7. What is the most beautiful word you know in any language?

It's a toss-up between "love" and "bathroom." I mean, love is the most beautiful word to say and hear, but bathroom takes the prize when ya really gotta go, when "love" is all about relief of simultaneous bladder and social pressures. Point me to the bathroom when I'm doing a jig and I will love you like there's no tomorrow.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I have become the mom who will bribe her adult children with food in order to get them to come home for a visit. Our second son just moved out on Sunday (post coming, of course) and already I'm dangling the words, "beef burgundy Thursday" in his Facebook inbox.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

"Duly Initiated": Is That What You're Calling It?

This is my second rant about how colleges "honor" their good students.
Last night was the so-called "induction ceremony" for Sarah into the Tau Sigma Honor Society. It's for transfer students who have achieved a 3.5 or higher. She holds a 4.0.

A little background: at first she didn't want to go because it was a care group night (what our church calls small group meetings) with this meeting being a social among college-age kids. She loves care group. I love ceremony. A couple weeks ago I told her it's not often that parents get to see their kids shine on stage, but she gets to go to care group every week. Please humor me. (Yes, I am a terrific travel agent for guilt trips.) My plea became even more important when Ben's graduation tickets didn't materialize because his college "ran out" (see previous post if you haven't, and if you care, and who could blame you if you don't?).

Sarah was told there was no guarantee that it would be over by 6:30, but that her name would be called first since she explained she needed to leave by 6:30. I was expecting to have to slip out inconspicuously while some big whig was yammering away at a microphone.

So we make plans to arrive at Towson by 5:20, hand Joel off to Ben in the parking lot, expecting that "light refreshments" start at 5:30, will last 15 minutes with mingle-till-you-tingle, and then the formalities get underway .

What actually took place was a far cry from our expectations. Sarah and I fought rush-hour, accident-laden traffic in the rain and arrived at 5:25, did the hand-off, met up with Paul, and headed upstairs for the light refreshments, which consisted of small cold tortillas, cold stuck-together mozzarella sticks (I couldn't even separate the two in order to leave one in the pan). I took a bottle of water and called it a snack. Apparently the "mingle" portion was more about hungry guests getting something to tide them over. All of this took place in a crowded little conference room with a banner up front, some TS souvenir stuff like beer can holders (because the brightest students can hold their liquor as well as their GPA with the greatest of ease).

It was standing room only for Paul and me and a few other parents.
The emcee stood up and introduced himself as a native Baltimorean who was glad to be back in the area after three winters in upstate New York.
Okaay, so ....what does that have to do with this? Well, then he added that
these students should be very proud of themselves to be the "cream of the crop."

Then a girl in a mini-skirt introduced herself as a senior, having transferred from U Mass. She asked the inductees to rise for the Tau Sigma pledge. Some yim-yam about striving to do well in their education and upholding the principles upon which the society was based. WhatEVer. Sarah told me in the car she has no intention of getting involved , nor taking a leadership position, that the school already sucks enough time, energy, and money out of their students. She thought the $45 TS app fee was plenty "giving back"! She just wanted the certificate for her portfolio.

After Miss U Mass was finished, Mr. Native Balmer took the floor again and said, "I've got your certificates here, so just line up and I'll hand them to you. " He didn't call anyone's name. He didn't acknowledge anyone's GPA, didn't thank the parents or significant others for coming to honor their achievements. Nothing. While I was snapping this only "official" (ahem) picture of Sarah at the "induction ceremony," another mom squeezed into the room and asked me what she missed. She had just come from Annapolis. Wow. She had just fought the DC beltway rush-hour traffic AND the Baltimore beltway traffic? I hated, hated, hated to tell her, but I said, "It's over. The guy said a few words and now is handing out their certificates." The look on her face was a mix of shock , disgust, and disappointment. "I chose this one over my younger daughter's awards ceremony tonight, and I missed this?" I said, "Yeah, I know. It took us longer to find a parking space than it took for the "ceremony." She wanted to know what the emcee HAD said in five minutes. I told her, "He said they're the cream of the crop."

We had to get "real" pictures at home. Mind you, it was 6:40 and Sarah was in a rush to get to care group, Paul and Joel to a coin show, and I to the Recitatio at the new school of some of my former students. The shots below? Well, I have Joel in a half-Nelson saying, "I'm not gonna bribe you to smile. Just do it." Loving mother that I am. Paul is saying, "Dumb dog!" to Reilly who hasn't learned the command, "Smile pretty for camera" while I say, "Joel, don't worry about the dog. Just shoot from the waist up."

And a picture of Sarah's certificate which proclaims she is hereby "duly initiated" on this day in May. Yeah, okay. If you say so. Sarah and I got a couple mother-daughter close-ups, which I'm glad for, but all in all the evening left me saying, "Colleges don't care about the students. They just want money." Why am I dwelling on this when what I should be dwelling on is how proud I am of Sarah for this achievement. She studies till wee hours of the morning, making lesson plans, writing papers, studying for tests. She has interned once a week this semester in an elementary school. Sarah works as a church secretary part-time, and doesn't neglect her friends, and takes on extra babysitting jobs for money. (She chooses the better-paying ones at this point in her career. When gas costs 4 bucks a gallon, you don't take $5 an hour when some people offer you $10 for fewer kids.) All that to say, this girl doesn't sit around waiting for life to happen. She is a doer and a sweet, godly doer at that. We love her to death and were glad to be part of her seven-minute hooplah yesterday. I'm still licking the grease off my face from those symbolic-of-the-evening "hors d'oeuvres."