2 SAT or SAT 2?

Okay – so I screwed up.  I have the ongoing false sense that things in my life are going to become more organized and less demanding at some magical point in the ongoing not too distant future..  And my ongoing living fantasy is not that I have a steamy interlude with Jon Stewart (but, yep, he would probably be my celeb pick) but rather that I actually clear my desk and get my family’s lives in order.  And I think I thought that that magical moment was going to happen sometime this spring when I examined the SAT calendar in January.  And put off registering the junior until I had a little more of a handle on things.  Yep.  Me. Who has worked in a college counseling office.  Written college planning timelines for magazines.  Yes – that very person is who did not register her own child for the SAT this spring.

Now in my defense, junior has seen SAT / ACT tutor a handful of times (aka a lot of $ worth of time).  And she and tutor both feel confident she is going to do really well on the test.  If she were to be registered.  Then  and only then would she do well on the test.

Complication.  There is now only June registration before the next round starts in Oct.  (Really?  I mean.  I mean – why would they not do summer testing when these kids actually have a little something called – TIME!?).  So the dilemma is, do I register her for the regular SAT or for the SAT 2’s (subject tests) since she will have just finished taking 3 AP tests for which she is doing some hardcore preparation.  And on this, I can’t get the very simple answer that I am seeking.  “Yes” or “No”.  I like black and white.  Answer seems grey.  Answer looks like this – “She doesn’t need it.  But if she is going to do well it might be good to have.  However, most schools are no longer requiring it.”  Great – I get that they are not “requiring it” – but  what percentage does it raise my kid’s chances of getting into said college if she takes it?  I mean, do we really have to dance around and make stabs in the dark hoping that we are stabbing something that counts more than “might be good to have”.  And how the hell do I know if she is going to do well on it?  Yes, she tests well. (Thankfully.  Because another thing she does really well is hand in homework late.)  Last fall when I heard her teachers describe the AP testing she will start next week, I got a panic attack.  I could hear my own heart pounding in my ears.  There are tests.  And then there are TESTS!  And the Spanish AP test seems like it might be harder than passing the Bar Exam (no offense to the attorneys out there – especially those of you who got 4s and 5s on the Spanish AP test!)   How do I know where the SAT 2s fall in the scope of testing?

The bottom line is that this college application process is already bugging me.  Costing me.  Freaking me out.  And what a long long way we have to go.  I know those who are trying to figure out soy milk vs. dairy milk think that you are in the thick of the most stressful parenting.  But my round of applause goes to all the parents who have made it through to the other side of the high school senior year.  Whether your kid got into the ivy league school of his or her choice, or is travelling Europe with a backpack and song – more power to you.

And please, if you have time, comment – SAT or SAT 2s in June?????


Thankful that Both Kids are Still Doing Turkey Day at Home


Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays (along with Christmas, Easter, 4th of July, my birthday,…).  It is the holiday on which my parents met (thus I came into being!).  As a child we celebrated every year with my family and whoever didn’t have other plans.  Growing up in the military community, there were always people who would have had no place else to go.

This week I haven’t been able to help but wonder if in two years, my oldest will be coming home from college for this celebration.  My last Thanksgiving at home for nearly 15 years was my senior year of high school.  My school was too far away to travel to my parents for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, and so began my own tradition of celebrating with friends.  When I lived in New York, I took the train to Pennsylvania to stay with a friend’s family.  When I lived in London, I had some crazy mates who prepared as traditional a Thanksgiving meal as the English can make.  And when I lived in San Francisco, we began our potluck Thanksgiving that grew to a table that seated more than twenty.

At this time of year, I always remember all the friends and family whom I have shared various Thanksgivings along the way.  However, this year, for the first time, I have been faced with the realization that since I left for college 25 years ago, I have only spent one Thanksgiving at my parents’ home.  And that this could happen in reverse to me.

Many hugs and cuddles on this Thanksgiving day, as I am very thankful for all the ones I love.

Woot! – I am NOT Alone

Yesterday was an exciting day – a starting point as such.  I had my first appointment with a customer since I was offered the awesome opportunity to return to repping with Sunshine Sales.  A veteran children’s specialty gift and toy rep of seven years comes with some privilege.  Like calling up an old customer and saying I am going to be in your neighborhood on Wed., can I meet with you then and having them say “Yes, that would be great.”

And it was great, because when you work with someone for a long time and watch their store grow, you develop a relationship and know some about each other’s lives, kids, background, etc.  So after 5 years of not seeing her, it was great to be catching up with Corey.  Her store looked awesome (can’t beat that these days!), she looked fantastic.  And family is good.

Her oldest is a senior in high school.  So of course I have to say, “where does he want to go next year?” to which she is quiet for a second and says, he just finished all his apps for early decision yesterday and then she confided “I am just so emotional right now, sorry,…” and then tears.  Tears!  And all I could say was, “No problem, I get it, I am right there with you and my kid is only a junior!”

We talked about all the colleges 3000 miles away that are calling his name.  And how exciting it is.  And how of course, this has been the path for the last 16 years.  But man, it came up so fast.  And how sentimental Christmas is going to be this year.  I have never met her son, but I felt like I knew this kid.  And I am rooting for him to get into his top choice (which is University of Michigan by the way – not one of the hot picks for the Southern California kids – way to look outside of the box!)  I can’t wait to hear.

And I plan help Corey the best I can by selling her lots of great stuff so that she can rack up lots of Amex miles and visit him often, wherever he end up.

The Holiday Season has Started and I Survived the 1st Shake Up

About a month ago my family (meaning my own parents and sister) and I started discussing Christmas plans.  As an Army brat who did not spend numerous holidays with my grandparent, aunts, uncles and cousins, my own extended and continentally spread family has also had very few gatherings at which we are all toasting with eggnog under the same roof, fire in fireplace and Bing on the stereo.  Occasionally.  But not often.

What I didn’t realize until we started our little discussion, is how much emotion I have attached to this particular holiday.  That while I have rejoiced in the fact that Junior has started to wake up and take note that those college days are coming, what has been settling subtly in my own being is: those college days are coming.  And that once they do, all that has been a given for the past 16 years, is no longer a given.  Most likely Junior will come home at Christmas… but not necessarily.  And for how long? Will there be a boy or a friend in tow?  Nope, this is one of the last two holiday seasons I can count on.

And as if she wanted to drive my point home, last night was the first Halloween that Junior was not at home.  Bare with me, cause I am sure there are those of you who are thinking, what are you talking about?  She is 16?  Surely she does not still trick-or-treat?  To which I respond, perhaps you too have had those moments as a parent when all you thought for sure you would never do or let your children do only comes back to give you a giant raspberry in the face.  Yes, she still trick-or-treats (and in her own words, I “prefer that to her going out to a raging Halloween party”, so judge as you will.)

It gets a little complicated here, but when the kids were little we developed neighborhood traditions of spending Oct. 31 with the same friends and kids, ending the evening with a dear older neighbor who always had soup on the stove and wine ready to go.  Kids were happy.  Adults were happy.  Done deal.  But when Junior went to charter school out of the district for junior high, tradition got tested.  She and her neighborhood  friends developed new friends with whom they wanted to spend the evening.  Soooo… for the past three years, she has had friends from school come to us.  I have made them dinner, taken their pictures, given them “the talk” and sent them on their way.  My husband and youngest have gathered with our usual crowd and headed out to meet up with the older kids later in the evening.

Last night, that changed.  Junior went straight from school to a friend’s house to trick-or-treat in a foreign neighborhood.  Dropping her there meant that I was late getting home and getting out the door with our normal crowd.  The evening was off.  Kids were sassy.  The streets seemed darker.  Old older neighbor was not up to having company.  Adult beverages were not consumed as a trip to pick up Junior hung over the evening.  It was palpable.  Change was in the air.  It felt like one of those events you check off the list so you can move onto the next.

So what did I take from it, (other than way too many Reese’s)?   Christmas this year will be with my extended family and Bing.  And Halloween next year?  If I have to make a change, I am making it a good one!  Already planning the pre-trick-or-treat dinner party for both of kids and their school friends.  And then we will head to a less dark neighborhood and make the evening count!

(I apologize for the very sentimental notes this morning.  It must be the chocolate hangover.)

Can’t wait to see what is under the College Tree!


Recently Junior has been invited to several local presentations made by admissions reps from far far away.  I believe the one we went to in May, in which the University of Chicago and Brown University both addressed their typical winters, was the starting point at which she said “only California”.  Knowing her as her mom, I can say, the child is perpetually cold.  So I get it.  Initially disappointed that she wouldn’t be considering one of the great Northeast colleges, I wrapped myself around all the great schools California has to offer and consoled myself with the fact that I have another child coming up the rear.

But last night she was invited to attend a presentation from Tulane University and I successfully talked her into going because the weather in New Orleans is so mild.  (And that is truly how the conversation went.)  It is not that I want my child to be far away from me.  Most of the time.  It is that I want her to experience Different at a time in her life when that is an option.   While she is a proponent of the Same, the appeal of Tulane even got her head buzzing.

Okay – can I please go back to college?  Please?  While last night my heart yearned for beignets, zydeco and jazz, crawfish, and everything New Orleans, I have had similar pangs listening to presentations about traditional seeming colleges in the Northeast not to mention my longings Berkeley and San Francisco.   And these are just the tip of the iceberg.

While the geographic benefits to all of these schools is appealing, it is the opened possibilities that have stirred this yearning.  The chances to work within communities (last night a big part of the presentation was about how students are continuing to help New Orleans rebuild after Katrina), the semesters abroad, the student activities and sports, the sense of belonging to something great.  To study marketing and to have a theater workshop on the same day.

There will be plenty of bitching and complaining on this end in days to come.   You can count on me for that.  But what is driving the process is the excitement for what is to come.  The anticipation is like the longest Christmas Eve ever.  eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!  Can’t wait to see what is under the tree!