Awkward Moments at the Butcher

So I went to my local grocery store the other day after hearing from my mother that I was a tad chubby (of course, she didn't say it that directly but I know that is what she meant).  So what is one to do except head to the store and get some giant steaks.
I approach the counter and ask for two rib-eyes.  The 18 year old behind the counter says, "You know they are expensive."  I say that I know but it's ok.  He says, "I'll help you out-I've been giving away free meat so people come here more often."  I say, "Oh no. I come EVERY day. Loyal customer.  Willing to pay, don't worry about me."  He winks and only puts one steak on the scale.  I insist he put on two.  He persists in only putting on one.

I take the criminal meat package and walk away.  I am tempted to drop the hot goods off in the dairy aisle.  I feel sweaty and like the package is hot lava.  I also am sure that I am on some 20/20 episode about stealing in grocery stores.  I am miserable.  But I want to eat the damn steaks.  I can also see the headlines, "PREP SCHOOL TEACHER ARRESTED IN MEAT THIEVERY".....

I brought the meat home, ate it and was happy.  I will not shop at the butcher area in the near future--so much for his marketing plan!!!


5 Great Tips for a Great Prep School Interview

Well it's just starting.  Interview season at boarding schools.  Last year I did over 100 interviews in the office and almost just as many while traveling.  That my friends, is a lot of talking with teenagers. Most of the time it's great....sometimes I feel like I am pulling teeth.  Here are some ideas to help your child in their interview.

1. Please look presentable.  Most schools have a dress code and you can usually look it up online.  And as for moms....this is not a fashion show.  You most likely will have to walk quite far on tour and sometimes in pretty crappy weather.

2. Be excited and true to yourself.  I know that sometimes kids don't think it's cool to be enthusiastic but tell them if they like the school it's great for the interviewer to see some excitement.  Best interviews I've had are with kids who have genuine enthusiasm for their current educational experience and look forward to the one they are about to embark upon.

3.  This is also the time for honesty.  I will ask you about your grades and if you tell me "A's and B's" I write it down and actually compare my notes to what comes in about your references and grade reports.  Tell me why you aren't doing well in a class...and what you are doing to get better.  If you have had ANY "situations" in your current school we most likely will hear about it so we would like to hear your side.

4. Do not fall asleep in the lobby while I am talking to your parents.  Do not play gameboy, games on your Ipad or text in the lobby.  It's great to make new friends in the lobby but be inclusive...nothing makes me more sad that to see kids excluding someone.

5. Know that we are keeping track of you.  We like to see you at our events.  It's great to see you come to theatre productions, sporting events and open houses.  There is a limit though...if we have 4 receptions in your area please don't come to all of them...And when you have made a decision--let us know...we like to be liked and will put it down in your file. Nothing warms our heart more than the words, "Will come if accepted--First Choice!"


I'm a Mama Bear

It's true. I can't help myself and it is hard because I go to high school with my children.  The funny thing is that I recently found out that my kids absolutely are clued in to this.  One of the kids said to the other, "Well if mom saw that...someone would have been hurt!"

And I don't forget.  My god if some of my brain space were given over to curing cancer or remembering math equations instead of storing memories I might have done something big.  Thank goodness some girl on campus has not broken my boys' hearts.

One of my boys was in the football locker room and bigger, older kids were wrestling with the younger ones. An older boy approached my son and then a bystander spoke up, "Don't you know who his mother is?"  And this lioness/mother bear thing is also about my BigMan too.

At a wedding in the 80's a big situation occurred.  Now picture me, Jackie O dress, ginormous bow in my hair, beautiful black quilted bag with the gold chain and about 117 pounds.  I saw a fight break out and what I thought was someone hitting my husband.  The crowd quieted and I flew over grabbed the puncher by the hair and banged his head on the cement--"Don't. Hurt. My. Husband!"    I only stopped when a waiter stepped in and said, "Let go of his hair honey".  Somewhere within the crowd a voice said, "Wow BigMan she really likes you!"

So the truth of the matter was that BigMan was subduing said puncher and I just stepped in when the poor man was being lowered to the ground.  He was never hitting my husband. It took over  ten years to live that one down.  And when I want someone to know not to piss me off I tell that very story. I am serious.


5 Reasons to Love Being a Boarding School Teacher

Low pay, 24 hour workdays,  Saturday classes and smelly teenagers are definitely some of the downsides of living in a boarding school....but there are some really great parts of it too.

1.  You live in housing provided by the school.  I live in a 3100 square foot apartment.  It's huge.  And the best part?  If something breaks or needs a fixup I just call maintenance.  I also don't mow, rake, shovel or worry about landscaping.

2.  Free food!  The more you eat the more you get paid.  Now it is not always 5-star cuisine but someone else is buying it, cooking it and cleaning up after.  Breakfast is always good.  Plus your kids become quite popular--no one else's kitchen has a drink machine!  Best part--there are always 4 different kinds of ice cream and sundae bars on Sunday!

3.  It's an old-fashioned neighborhood.  Your dog can roam.  Your kids have free rein.  Tennis courts-check. Swimming pool-check. Lots of sports fields-check. Community garden-check.  Fabulous places to play hide and seek and kick the can-check.  AND lots of adults and big kids to keep you safe.  On Saturdays and Wednesdays all the faculty brats watch the big kids.  I know one faculty brat who used to wear his idol's jersey to hockey games.  He now works with said idol, as a colleague.  Too funny.

4.  Culture.  At least once every two weeks I am entertained.  Poetry slams, book talks, dance ensembles, cabaret, theatre productions, art shows, coffee houses, acappella groups. I'm pretty much over cultured.

5. Preppy commune.  I've never worked in a job before where everyone was striving towards the same goal.  Prep school teachers are a wonderfully, idealistic group.  We have fun together.  There are stimulating discussions at the lunch table.  You can talk about the New York Times, new scientific discoveries, books, pretty much anything.  We also talk about each other...can you imagine living with 100 people who are fairly similar to you...it's very interesting.  Something is always going on.



The Faux Ranch

Now that we are all back at school I am terribly homesick for the faux ranch.  The Ranch means many different things to me.  Most importantly it is my reset button.  Every year for 24 years I have been going for at least 3 or 4 weeks in the summertime.

It's actually one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Many, many years ago BigMan's great grandfather bought this land. He, in turn gave it to his three sons.  Each of the three families still own it. BigMan's grandfather was an architect and designed and built all of the buildings. We are up to something like 32 owners for just our ranch alone.

The Faux Ranch has a few different buildings.  The Main house has a kitchen (fairly non-functional but we make it work), with a large fireplace at one end, a huge table with benches and a small "living room".  It also has a piano.  It's rustic with concrete floors, bats often fly through and the mouse battle is grand.

The Moon Viewing (which may or may not fall down in the next earthquake) is a one room cabin perched high with a teepee type roof which is glass and when you lay in bed at night you can see the stars.

There are a few tent platforms, a bunkhouse and the Wooden Tent.  We mainly stay in there and it is just a one room structure.  We also have a Japanese soaking tub, bowling alley, and tennis courts.  It sounds all grand but it's much more like living like a colonial woman.

The best part of the ranch is the gathering of people.  On some occasions we have had 60 people there.  It is a great mix of generations.  Someone is always playing music, cooking and there is always someone to just hang out with.  The Faux ranch teaches my children so many things.  They learn how to work hard.  They need to get along with others and they learn to enjoy beauty and to respect nature.  They honor their relatives and gain respect for people who are not like them.  It's a great thing and I hope that our future generations will love it like we do.


On working....

I don't work over the summer.  It's a choice. It's a choice with no money...none. But it's a lifestyle choice and it is wonderful!!!

Everyday I wake up and it is a mystery as to how the day will turn out.  There are barely any daily schedules, no alarm ringing at 6:30 am and basically no where to be.  Our whole family is together and we actually like it.

When we are at the Faux Ranch we all sleep in a one room cabin.  It's a tad cozy.  There are some nights were we hysterically laugh-usually at me because I am scared of some bit o' nature.  Most mornings we drift out of the tent cabin and talk about what we want to do that day.  The freedom is incredible.

During the year we are on a six day a week work schedule (throw in a few weekend duties for fun), I have children who play sports and one who is still involved in youth sports.  At one point in our lives we were at 4 different schools and had 4 different sports schedules.  And yes, that meant I sometimes had to be in 2 places across the state at the same time.  I travel for work and we have many night time commitments to school. Along with living with 41 extra "kids" it's so very busy.

So when people ask about my "itinerary" in the summer...it's easy.  We don't have one. And the transition from summer to work?  It's brutal.  I miss traveling in my "pack".  I miss BigMan and spending every second with him.

This is the beach at low tide. We spend hours down here looking for interesting things.


An Alternative Lifestyle

You are a dorm mother?    Yes, I have 46 children.   People ask me how many dorm rooms my family gets to live in.  Sillies-we have a whole house just like you...actually probs bigger than you.
I live in a boys dorm.  My apartment is 3200 square feet. It is giant but it comes with 43 adolescent males.  Our study is attached to our apartment and to the hall of the dorm.  It is an alternative lifestyle--it's busy, pretty loud, incredibly public and for the most part really fun.  We are each on duty one night a week, checking students in, making sure there isn't a melee in the hall during study hall and making sure students are in and safe for the night around 10:00pm. It makes for many late nights...I've kind of aged like a President ages (have you seen the before and after pics of Obama--poor thing).  We have been doing this for about 15 years.

Some days there are problems.  Kids get sick.  They do things they aren't supposed to-it saddens you and it makes you have to stay up really late.  That is one surprising thing -when there is trouble you better believe you will be seeing 3 am.  But there is also joy....20 boys in your kitchen dancing to Michael Jackson, stooping with a kid who plays guitar while you are looking over the quad, watching reality TV with teenagers which brings about interesting discussions, a student saying thank you for some little thing you have done for them.

It's the best part of prep school.  They see you and your family as real people not just teachers or administrators.  They pet your dog.  They dance in your kitchen. You learn alot about them just hanging out.  And sometimes just sometimes you make a little bit of difference in their lives and that little bit makes it all worthwhile.



Why oh why am I a Graduate Student???

 I attend a MALS program (Master of Arts in Liberal Science or some such) at a Very Liberal Institution.  I love it. I hate it.

I love it for many reasons.  I feel smart. I love going to class and feeling confident to speak my mind.  I adore my teachers....not like--ADORE.  They are interesting people and have done interesting things in their lives and love to share.  Most of the time the other people in the classes are downright fun and interesting too.  I've met many fascinating people.  My "people" get to see me do homework, try hard, have success and not so much success.  I'm also now more filled than ever with a lot of mostly useless but cool facts.  I've taken Birds and Snow/Ice with a teacher who is also a naturalist...it seemed like he called the animals to him.  I've taken psychology classes with teachers who have spent time with schizophrenic homeless folks and inmates on Death Row.  I've tried (oh I tried) to do the beautiful Sumi-e painting.

I hate it because I am sitting her blogging instead of writing my 15 page paper.  It gives me a bit of a lump in my throat every time I think of 15 pages!  I try (in the beginning) to be like "Wow cool 15 whole pages" but now that it is due in 3 days all I can think of is "Big quotes, big quotes."

Also (to waste more time) did you know that you NEVER have to enter a library anymore while doing research papers?  I'm on my bed researching away...it's crazy!!


Horrible waiter...

Not as in "Hi I am Jeremy and I will be your waiter today"....more like impatient.  It seems like I have spent two days waiting on Irene, thinking about her, stalking her on the internet, asking my friends for gossip about her, talking about her and WAITING for her.

What has she done for me?  Well in my impatience of waiting I actually cleaned the house and did every speck of laundry.  I went to the store to stock up on the important things--cheetos, Tate's chocolate chip cookies, a variety of candy bars,  crappy queso (no microwave or oven if power goes out).

I'm at Round the Lake and they take this stuff serious.  I felt pretty left out at the gas station today as I was only filling up my car not 10 orange plastic gas tanks.  People here aren't freaked though because they get crappy weather and scary animals all the time.  18 inches of snow?  No biggie.  Best thing though?  Hot showers at the Community Center...they rent a giant generator.

No BigMan tonight nor SJP--they skirted the storm to go on college visits.  They will be staying with friends.  "Hi, we are here to eat all of your hurricane supplies and BTW we are a day early!"  Thank god for good friends.   First college visit for BigMan....we'll just see if his Loose Cannon Quotient is higher than mine.  (LCQ--talking too much on the tour, laughing too much during the tour, asking questions on the tour, doing ANYTHING dorky--any of these make your quotient go WAY up).

Keep safe.


Some secrets....

Everybody has secrets here are some of mine....

1. I sometimes just check to see if I have the power to make items move by themselves...I don't...yet.

2. I compost but have never been the one to actually dump the icky stuff into the composter. By the way it's
    been 24 years of composting in CA....don't even know where the spot is.

3. I am a toilet texter. I make myself feel better about it by saying that I am simply multitasking.

4. I love to pretend that I am taller than everybody.  New awesome wedge shoes actually make that true.

5. We treat our dog as if he is our fourth child. It's bad.

6. Over the summer I occasionally will not brush or comb my hair for days.  My hair does not lend itself to not grooming it. My thought?  I don't really know people who live here--like that matters!


Meanie Bellini

Today I was a mean girl at the beach.  I couldn't help it (isn't that what they all say?)  I had just arrived down to the lake and was pretty happy about it.  Beautiful big clouds...no one else but me down there-pretty much perfect.  A woman in her late 50's came down and started fussing with her kayak.  She hoisted it off the rack, carried it down to the beach and plopped it down in the water.  She took forever, trying so hard not to get wet, to get into the seat.

She then got stuck. For a while. But did I swing my big old butt over to help her?  Did she look over a few times? Yep. Did I stop playing "Words with Friends"? Nope.

Instead I thought "You are wearing those damn zip off pants/shorts-commit to the kayaking experience! Get frickin wet!"  She just sat there trying to use her paddle to push off.  Not much success for a while. Mean girls can even be old like me.