Archive for the ‘School’ Category

Back to School: A Fear of Writing

Monday, August 13th, 2012

Throughout 7th and 8th grade, I had a crazy person for English.  Sister Elise Jose was the grammar nazi of all time.  The entire class period consisted of reciting the rules of grammar, vocabulary definitions and diagramming sentences on the board, naming the parts of speech and their purpose.  We weren’t actually taught anything in class, we brought the books home, memorized and then stood up alphabetically, in turn, to regurgitate the information.  It was Catholic school in the 60’s, so Sr. Elise thought nothing of rapping us with a ruler for missing our turn or, if we were exceptionally stupid, slapping our faces.  We learned grammar.

As many of you are heading back to school, I thought it might be a good time to share some educational advice.  Learn to write.  I’m not suggesting you look up Sr. Elise Jose, god forbid, but there are many teachers who have the same attitude toward grammar and style, and while they probably won’t come after you with a ruler, they will mark up your papers with red ink and make you re-write until you get it right. They will also drop your grade.

Jo and I spoke recently about how much we enjoy writing the blogs and how, when we get out of practice, it is really hard to write.  It brought to mind a tiny gem of a book that a college professor assigned to all his horribly incapable students,  The Elements of Style: 50th Anniversary Edition.
I dug a copy out of our bookshelves.  I had given it to both my kids when they handed me badly written papers and asked me to correct them.  Just mastering the last chapter, the 21 elements, will raise your grade and make writing those endless papers easier.  Another useful resource is “Grammar Girl”, for the quick question.

My daughter recently referred to me as a “grammar geek”.  It is not a desire to write well that drives me, darling, but an age old fear of a tiny nun with a big stick.

College Rejections

Saturday, March 24th, 2012

It’s that time of year when HS seniors across the country are checking their mail boxes, hoping for the big envelope.  Most colleges notify you mid-march to mid-april, and anxiety levels reach an all time high.  To all of you who have been accepted at the college of your choice, Congratulations!  To those of you still waiting, hang in there.

What if you’ve been rejected by all your choices?  This can be really hard to cope with, but don’t despair, it could be a blessing in disguise.  You may have gotten bad advice as to where to apply, there are so many schools out there, and one is right for you.  Talk personally to the admissions counselors at the schools that rejected you, find out what it would take to be accepted by their institution.

See your guidance counselor again, but also look into a private counseling firm if you can afford it and if college is really the direction you want to take right now.  If you applied simply because it was expected of you or because you didn’t know what else to do, this is your opportunity to think about the direction you want your life to take.

Finding the right school  takes a lot of thought and research.  This is your chance to regroup, establish reasonable goals and focus on obtaining them.  Maybe a year off in the work force or traveling  will help you to focus and to find what’s right for you.  Take some courses at a local community college, or enroll in a two-year program that will enable you to transfer your credits to a four year college.

Really, this is just a temporary set-back,  look at it as an opportunity. It’s not the end of your educational career, your hopes or your dreams, just a bump in the road. Check out some other people who got rejection letters. And…

Today’s Question; Are there options for education other than college?

Click here if you have a question for the moms.

Be True to your School… Philanthropy…Community Building… Be a Part of a Better Future.

Saturday, December 17th, 2011

"... The Pyschology Behind Giving"You may love to show team spirit and go to your high school or college games and scream for your team and say your team RULES, but there is more to the team spirit than the intercollegiate sports.

When you are in school there are fundraising car washes for a class trip. Perhaps selling magazines or chocolate or  something else to keep your school library stocked with the current books, or update the biology lab equipment.

After you leave you will take with you memories of all sorts, good and sad and bad, but the school will be there to move on and be an influence on the future of those behind you. It is future building when one supports the schools, the sciences, the arts, the literature of the past and the present.

You may have thought your parents were crazy all wound up in putting on pot lucks and silent auctions. You and your friends enjoyed rallying for the car washes and bake sales for your class trips or even the scholarship programs that brought you the great exchange student from Norway that you will never forget. These efforts,  however small they seem to add up in the greater picture and make this a better world for your efforts.

Giving

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Look up giving in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

Giving may refer to:

This is the time of the year when you get requests for support from everywhere. Salvation Army, Food Banks, Schools… It is a great feeling to support something you love or to help someone who is struggling. Even a small amount will help the cause, help a family in need, and you will feel something good about your gift or donation.

I have often wondered in cynicism at the “Walks.” I think in my own mind that they would make more money by saving the cost of the “walk” with doing away with the walking, local police, the paid organizers  and the tee shirts and water bottles given out. But then I must remember that not everyone is like me and that people love to gather as a community for a cause. That part of the “Walk” is consciousness raising, community building, and all the energy shared brings for real commitments for the future and often Change.

A great thing about giving to your school, charity or purpose is that you get to do what you want with your tax dollars that way. You must keep track and submit the proof with a receipt, cancelled check or thank you note from the organization, but it is tax deductible when you gift non profits. It allows you to have some input into where your tax dollars go then. You don’t like violence and war? Give money to The Halo Trust that removes mines and makes life safer for children and our armed forces both.

I have a friend in The Global Heritage Fund that supports and protects ancient historical sites world wide. Through them I found something I love, Pacunam, the support for the efforts to protect the rainforest in Guatemala and the ancient Mayan city, El Mirador, hidden under the thousand years of regrown rainforest. The idea of sustainable tourism as a method of support to both efforts is a hope for the solution.

I was involved in a project with my alma mater last month, as the UCSC Library prepared for the Grateful Dead Archives coming. This spring it will hopefully open it’s gallery in the library. UC Santa Cruz offers Dead Studies courses. Definitely something of a phenomena in my youth, many of you are fans or your parents were Dead Heads. Supporting the social studies courses and the library through the Archives… rather a round about way of supporting my school.  Tie dye table clothes, Roses, Champagne… Bring on the support for the future!

Buy and Eat Local… Alice Waters and Some Presidential Gardeners

Saturday, September 24th, 2011

The restaurant owner and cook book author, Alice Waters, is an advocate for buying and eating seasonally and locally. She has created a wonderful model for  a great life around food and the garden. She has promoted vegetable gardens in schools with the support of her Chez Panisse Foundation’s  Edible Schoolyard Program.

My boys went to the Santa Cruz Waldorf School and I was a garden helper there. After they were gone from the school, our friend who ran the school garden program was lucky to receive help from the Chez Panisse Foundation. They created a tented garden kitchen at the school, and many classes were preparing their own lunches right out of the garden at school.

IT is because of Alice Waters that Michelle Obama created the kitchen garden at the White House. However, it was a huge surprise to me that there was no kitchen garden at the White House already. With so many restaurants with less garden space than the White house has , growing their own fresh herbs and a few vegetables, I guess I always just assumed the White House chefs would have one also, even demanded one… And wouldn’t the safest food for the President and visiting dignitaries be that picked fresh from a well guarded and well tended presidential organic garden?

When I was a child we visited Washington DC and during our sight seeing we went to Mount Vernon, the home of our first president, George Washington. The gardens there were spacious and showed the function of the garden in the daily life. Of course during earlier times there were no planes and trucks to ship vegetables on from foreign lands. Homes were self sufficient. You bought your flour from the miller or you took your grain to the mill to be ground.

Monticello, home of our third president and co-author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jeffersonis another national treasure and a great example of the historic importance of the home garden. Thomas Jefferson was more than a  passionate gardener. He was “a scientist and a gardener”. His journal of gardening shows how interested and involved he was…. “Jefferson grew 250 varieties of more than 70 different species of vegetables, precisely recording the details of their growth.” He collected seeds from around the world and experimented with them to find the best varieties for his spot of earth. He, of course did the same with fruits and had extensive orchards. I just noticed a plum in my reading on fruit that was named for him. I am sure that there are many if I were to begin listing them.

So let it be that the Presidents house  sets an example for the people it is a value, that good healthy organic food can be grown even on the white house lawn. Thank you Alice waters for speaking out  and standing up for such down to earth values as good food and  good health.

Wishing us all Peace and Love, and Happiness in your Garden… Whether it be in the lot down the city street, in your child’s school, in containers on your apartment deck, or if you are lucky enough to have your own piece of land, in your back yard.

Summer… Explore!… Co back to school and learn something New!

Monday, July 4th, 2011

THE ANDERSON RANCH ART CENTER

When I was young, I was lucky to have parents that supported my education. During high school and college, I filled my summers with learning experiences. Summer school sometimes to take a fun class that I didn’t have time for during the regular school year, but then summer also offered the time to travel for a class. I didn’t go so faraway as Michele’s children are doing with travel to India, Argentina, Brazil. I did out door nature courses and art. I did get to see more of the USA and enjoyed learning more about the different flavor of personalities in a few of our united states, driving across the country to go to craft schools. One summer I went back east to two craft schools and saw fire flies for the first time, but right now I will go back to Colorado and the Anderson Ranch Art Center.

In high school I took a ceramics class that led to much more… The summer between 11th and 12th grades I had found a class in ceramics in Colorado that I wanted to take. My parents had a condo in the ski area near  The Anderson Ranch and let me do it. If you are responsible with your studies and helpful around the house you can earn the respect of your parents and they may respect you and trust you( however misplaced it may be) and give you opportunities to explore.

I just returned from a revisit to the Andersen Ranch Art Center. It had been 35 years and it had thrived and grown. I went back for more ceramics and I was impressed by all the rest. They had had photography when I was there and still have a strong program in this, but also had many other graphic classes along with woodworking, furniture making and wood turning classes… Wood Block printing…  In the years since they have added many buildings and now it resembles a little village, an artist community.

So I went back to the place I spent the summer of 1973. I was the youngest in a group of artists and I thought I might be the oldest this time but there were a few older than I. It seems a lot of us middle age people are looking at goals we have wanted to set for ourselves. Now with our children out on their own we have time to pick up where we may have let things we loved slide away.  There were several thirty somethings and two of them very talented artists and university art professors looking to broaden their knowledge of clay and try throwing it on the wheel.

At home I have been trying to get back to the craft of throwing pots. I enjoy the time I spend alone in the studio. It is important to mix with others to share ideas and information though, and the workshop brings you in contact with so many new ideas( especially when you have been out of the field for decades… I have sadly found out that my style is 70’s and things have changed in the last 3o almost 40 years). So in a workshop situation, if something isn’t working well for me, perhaps if I watch how someone else looks at the same thing with a different technique, I might find the right way  for me.  For example I learned to throw with more slip and less water… If you haven’t taken a wheel class you won’t know what I’m saying, but this was a breakthrough for me!

The gas kiln reduction firing with soda and wood as opposed to the simple firing of the electric that I have at home was intoxicating! Talking about firing, you have fire coming out of gaps in the brick of the kiln as you spray the soda solution into the red hot, no white hot kiln!

The results of the soda firing are magic… As much as any heat transforming substance, the play with atmosphere is hard to imitate perfectly and therefore every time you open the door of the kiln after a reduction firing, things are new and may not be just like the last time. Sometimes disappointing, sometimes inspiring, but always magic.

The studio instruction and the interns couldn’t have been any finer. Maybe it’s just the people who are into clay, or are into the passion of creativity,  but I was a bit apprehensive taking my first ceramics class in 3o something years and my anxiety diminished within the first two days( of a 2 week class). The intern was one of the nicest guys and not condescending to the middle age woman nor to the  thirty year old beginning pottery student. The encouragement was huge and the love of the creative process was everywhere around the Ranch… Just saturated with creativity. I did have some of those feelings of inadequacy as the work being done in every studio in so many different media was exceptional. It did give me a chance to look at the inadequacy feelings and turn it into introspection and inspiration…  Ideas to soak up and file away for future projects.

I spent much of my time going back to basics. needing to get my finer skills honed and focusing on repeating some themes in shapes, harkening back to my days at the university when we made hundreds of bowls and cups with handles( I still haven’t gotten the handle down.)

So much to learn and relearn I am overwhelmed, yet  there is a contentment and the desire to explore… explore the simplest form, shape, cup, vase, bowl:

POT.

I’m Not Graduating On Time!

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

It’s Memorial Day weekend, the official start of summer, and for many of you, that means graduation is just around the corner.  Congratulations!  Four years of hard work is finally paying off.  Whether you are heading to college in September, starting a job or taking a year to travel and decide what to do next, this is an exciting time.  But what if you blew it?  We got this question from one of our followers:

I’ve been really stressed lately because my high school graduation is next week and I might not be graduating. All my aunts and uncles will be asking me if i graduated and theyll want to see pictures. What if i don’t graduate? Should I lie?

Poor guy,  All is not lost, in fact this is a stumbling block that you can turn into a stepping stone.  It’s time to step up, take responsibility for your mistakes and learn from them.

Here’s what The Moms had to say.

Now figure out a way to get that degree and make it work for you, Good Luck!

If you have a question for The Moms, click here, and check out more life related questions in our Independant Living section.

I don’t know what to do with my life!

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

With high school and college graduations coming up, this is the age-old statement for everyone. Or at least most people.  Very few of us have the knowledge to know exactly what we want to do with our lives. Ok maybe, Gandhi or Mother Theresa knew what they wanted to do but most kids do not.

For starters, turn that statement into a question.  Ask yourself what you want to do, not what everyone else wants.  Write a list of all the passions and goals you’ve been dreaming about.  You might think it silly to write, “I want to be a pilot” or “I want to be rich” or “I want to be a rock star”, but it will give you insight as to where your interests are. Maybe these dreams could lead you to a helicopter school, a public speaking course or working for a record company.

Nothing is too crazy as long as you’re honest with yourself. Maybe your parents are concerned with the current job market. Are they have spending hours googling the up and coming careers? We all want our children to become self-sufficent and financially independent.

My grandmother gave me the best advice…pick something that you’re passionate about or at least like to do.  Can you image spending your days doing something that you hate even if they pay you well? Go with the dreams. If you do, the money will eventually come to support yourself.

Packing for college-yes… it’s here already

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

one very large blue suitcase and somewhat large duffle

I really can’t believe it’s here.  The baby of the family, the last hurrah will soon be off to college.  Yes, I know she’s really ready, can’t wait to live on her own and finally be away from the roving parental eye.  After four daughters, you would think  my husband and I were ready for a little change ourselves.  Taking long vacations, sleeping in and not worrying about teenage parties.  Then going to bed early because there are no more teenage parites. Well enough about me… more about packing.

crochet blanket from anthropologie

Before my daughter left for her pre-college vacation trip, she began to pack.  Since she has to take a plane out west, we decided to fly Southwest Airlines and be able to take two suitcases. They don’t charge extra for two.  Not all the airlines do this. She went to Bed Bath and Beyond and ordered her other dorm room items which will be picked up at the Boulder store.  This saves on shipping fees.

dressing in style

Now, the only thing left to do is decide which personal items should go along … The mannequin, a must for any teenage girl getting dressed for the night or just keeping you company when you dress, was originally on the list to go to school.  Hummm, what do you think? Although very cute, there really isn’t that much space in the dorm rooms.  It might also scare someone coming home late from a party.  Maybe we’ll leave her home.

Big Dog

But then there’s, Big Dog. Her faithful companion since the second grade.  The stuffed model of the dog she really wanted.  She slept with Big Dog every night until she got her real Bernese Mt. dog, Ziggy.  Since Ziggy has come into our lives, Big Dog has taken a back seat. Well Ziggy won’t be welcome in the dorm rooms either so Big Dog, you’re back up front and going to college!

Getting ready for college

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

View of the Flatirons, CU Boulder

A few happy incoming freshman students

I just got back from Colorado with my daughter after a few days at CU-Boulder for freshman orientation.  Along with the information about scheduling classes and the impossibility of graduating in four years when you come in with an undecided major, the counselors were also lecturing about navigating through the personal life of teens. The actual orientation was  long on speeches about the dos and don’ts of partying, sex and missing classes.  There were seminars about rolling drunk students over on their sides to prevent vomit going into their lungs, how to avoid date rape and how to manage your partying so that you don’t get on academic probation. I think the university wanted to set the tone of a serious institution because they know all too well what the first few weeks of freshman year are like with young adults moving away from home for the first time.  They get way too many calls from emergency rooms, hysterical parents and concerned professors on how students need to have common sense as well as academic knowledge.

I guess this is one of the reasons why we started whatwouldmomsay.com.  We are a web site dedicated to kids going away from home for the first time.  We have categories on partying and sex because as mothers we are concerned about these topics as well.

Even though at the end of orientation my daughter was looking a little glazed over with this sort of information.  She’s been hearing this stuff for years.  I do applaud CU for realizing and presenting the students with the reality of life.  They only hope for the best possible experience throughout their college careers.

On another note…. boy do I wish I could do it all over again.  The idea of starting your life in a beautiful setting with enthusiastic professors could only bring a smile to your face.  Good luck to all those incoming freshman over the country …. have fun, learn a lot and be safe.