Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Case Study and College Expo!

Last night we had Junior night at our school.  All the juniors and their parents were invited to participate in a mock college admissions meeting.

We started just like we always do at Bishop - with prayer.  It was the sweetest prayer and I'm not going to lie - it had me choked up.  I couldn't even finish saying it out loud, I just had to listen.

A Parent's Prayer

God, I love my children with all that is within me.
I pray that in your mercy you hear my humble plea.
I ask that you let your lives be long and healthy.
May they achieve all their dreams.
May they be who they were born to be, and may they never forget
that they were, are, and always will be deeply loved by me. Amen

After the prayer I looked to the mother to my left and said, "Great, now I'm crying."  She shook her head in agreement and I noticed their were tears in her eyes too.  Nice to know I'm not the only sap! 

Back to the real portion of the evening...

There were 13 admissions counselors from 13 different colleges represented so everyone broke up into 13 groups.  The students formed groups separate from their parents and then we all went into classrooms.

The admissions counselors were the leaders of each group and we all did the same activity.  Each group was acting as the admission board for a fictitious university and we were read some details about the university and we were presented with the goals of the university for the upcoming class they were going to be reviewing.

The criteria included: trying to grow theater department,  they had a couple of division 3 championship winning seasons in lacrosse  and were trying build on that, they were trying to diversify the student population, they weren't family need based, they preferred SATs in the 129-=1400 range, ACT in the 27-31 range and GPAs of 3.8 or higher on a weighted scale..

After we learned about the university and what they were trying to accomplish with the incoming class, we were presented with 4 applications from 4 different (fictitious) students.

The information contained parent's jobs and schooling, GPA, class grades, ACT/SAT scores, extra curricular activities and honors, recommendation letters, and the essay.

After reading through all four candidates we discussed pros and cons to each and then got to work decided who we should accept.  (We could only accept one, decline one and defer two).

After a lot of back and forth and consideration and comparison, we finally settled on what we were going to do.  Then all the groups met back in the cafeteria and we could see  who everyone else chose to admit, defer, and reject.

It was such an interesting activity.  And having a real life college admissions counselor there was huge.  I was asking her if even the big colleges really read every single essay.  The answer was yes.  (At the time, we didn't know which admissions counselor was with which college but found our at the end of the evening.)

The counselor in my room was with Clemson and that's a pretty big school so I guess they really are reading those essays.  What an odd/interesting job that would be.

After the mock admissions activity there was an expo and the kids could go around to the different colleges and pick up information and ask the admissions reps questions about the colleges.

In addition to NC State, Peter picked up info on Alabama, Auburn and Clemson. It was a worthwhile evening and it really hit me - we have a junior who will be going to college in a year and a half.

Gonna need to start buying my Kleenex in bulk!


I spy Peter!



Tuesday, November 19, 2019

High school swim season has begun!

Sarah had her first swim meet of the high school swim season last night! 

I volunteered as one of the timers so I didn't get any pictures of her but I was timing in lane 4 and that was the lane that she happened to be in for all four of her events!

We were swimming against two other schools.  One of the schools has an awesome girls team (lots of year round excellent swimmers) so our girls team lost to them but I think we beat the other team. 

Sarah was very nervous before this meet since it was the first meet she's been in since July.  I think she did great.  I'm interested to see the official times because I think her backstroke time isn't too far off from what she needs to automatically qualify for states.

That's actually her goal this year.  If you recall, she went to states last year as part of a relay team and decided then that she wanted to go during her high school career with her backstroke.  I think with enough practice, she might be able to do it this year!

The team mom made these awesome lanyards for the parents.  What a great idea - especially for someone like me that knows I met you at a swim meet last year but can't quite remember your name!

And on the back it lists the order of events and the times in each for automatic qualification into states!  Such a great idea!

And the awesome dad with the fabulous camera was there last night taking pictures so I hope that there will be some good ones of Sarah.  On the way to practice last week (I drive a carpool from the school to the Y with anywhere to 1 kid to 7 kids and a whole lot of backpacks and swim bags) Sarah and her friends were talking about how horrible they look in swim pictures.  But I disagree! 

I think they look fierce.  Something about using your whole body to power yourself through the water is impressive to me.  Maybe it's because I know how hard it is and these kids make it look so easy.  Anyway, prepare yourself for pictures of Sarah in her swim cap with her mouth wide open cutting through the water.  :)

Tonight is Junior night at school where we will be learning all about the admissions process for college.  I still can't believe we are here already....

Monday, November 18, 2019

Another weekend recap.

On Friday, our high school soccer team was playing in the state championship quarter finals in Mt. Airy.  Peter wanted to go so before Sarah and I got home from swim practice he headed up the highway to make the one hour trip. 

(Have I mentioned before that having a teen-aged driver means you will be praying a lot more than you ever did before?  Even if you thought you prayed a lot previously, having a teen-aged driver means you will double - dare I say triple - the amount of time you spend in prayer. )

Anyway, he made it to and from Mt. Airy safely but sadly our soccer team lost.  He said our student section had as many kids as theirs so I'm glad he went to cheer on the team.  I know it means a lot to the teams when there are a lot of fans there.

On Saturday we headed back to Greensboro to the Apple store to pick up Sarah's repaired phone and turn in the loaner phone. She was sad to see the loaner phone go because even though it was also a 7, the battery was much better on it than on hers. However, she was happy to have her beloved rose gold phone back. "It's so much cuter than the black one." 

After we got her phone, we stopped into Anthropologie where she exclaimed, "I wish I could just live in this store!"  And then she proceeded to smell all the candles (that girl loves a good scented candle) and look longingly at all the gorgeous clothes.  Poor thing, she has Anthropologie tastes and her mother has a Kohls with coupons budget.  Hopefully she can find a nice high paying job some day to support her love of the finer things!

We then went to lunch at Five Guys since Peter wasn't with us.  He doesn't like to eat at Five Guys since they have all those peanuts every where.  But don't worry about Peter.  He was at home eating Bojangles and watching the Penn State game.  He was in his happy place.

On Saturday evening we attended Mass and then met my brother and my mother at Longhorn Steakhouse for Peter's birthday dinner.  After dinner, we went back to mom's house where we had birthday cake and opened presents.








Ignore the two photobombers on the left.  (Look at those mischievous grins!)
Me and my baby! 

Dan headed to the airport on Sunday at noon and dropped Sarah off at a restaurant downtown for Friendsgiving.  Peter and I had lunch with my mom, brother, and uncle.

Later on Sarah texted me that they were almost done with lunch so I was heading out the door to pick her up.  The phone rang and it was Dan.  He was leaving the airport and heading back home because his driver's license had expired.

They will let you on the plane with an expired license but you can't check a bag.  He had taken his large suitcase because he has to wear suits on this trip and typically he checks his bag anyway  because he doesn't like to deal with a bag on the plane or in the airport.  (This is opposite of every one else on the plane but he prefers not having to fight for overhead bin space with everyone else.  He travels a lot and not having to deal with his suitcase is what he prefers.  And don't try to change his mind on this - he will not budge!)

Since he needed his clothes and the bag was too big for an overhead bin, he quickly rebooked  his flight from a 2:30 to a 5:30 departure and headed home to get his passport.  He swung by downtown Winston-Salem and picked up Sarah.  He got home, decided to squeeze everything into a smaller bag because his connecting flight left practically as soon as he landed and he didn't want to have to deal with lost luggage.  And he grabbed his passport and headed back to the airport.

He made all of his flights on time and managed to check in to his hotel in Seattle around 11:30 pm their time. I know he's tired today though but hopefully he will be able to stay awake through all his meetings!

Sarah has her first swim met of the season tonight and she's nervous.  She always is but hopefully she can swim fast.  It's raining and cold here and I'm annoyed that we never got our fall.  It went straight from Indian summer to winter weather.  Alright - no one likes a weather complainer so I'll stop right now.  But if it doesn't warm back up to normal November temps soon, I'm going to be grumpy!  (Ok....grumpier than normal!)


Friday, November 15, 2019

National Art Honor Society

Yesterday at school, Sarah was inducted into the National Art Honor Society!

Membership signifies that you have consistently demonstrate the highest qualities in art scholarship, character, and service.

Way to go Sarah!!

Thursday, November 14, 2019

And now I want a chicken sandwich....

Sarah survived her second (and hopefully last for a while) morning swim practice.  It's hard to get her up at 7:15 for school much less at 6:00.  But she did it and we made it to the Kernersville Y on time and got to school on time both days.  Whew!

That was quite the accomplishment.  Her hair was wet this morning (teen girls are so lucky they can put their hair in a wet bun and still look cute - if I tried it people would be calling the local mental hospital and reporting a deranged old lady on the loose!) and she had to put her make up on in the car but we made it!

Dan should hopefully be home from Germany tonight and will be here until Sunday morning until he leaves again for Seattle.  When he returns home from that trip he should be here until  Thanksgiving and I have no idea when his next trip is after that.  If I don't ask, maybe he won't have to go anywhere until after Christmas.  (That's what I'm hoping for!)

Last Friday after school was over, Peter and three of his friends drove to Greensboro to a Popeye's Fried Chicken to try one of those new chicken sandwiches that  are supposed to be better than Chick-Fil-A's sandwich.  They left school at 3:40 and got there a little after 4:00 and waited FORTY MINUTES (at 4:00 in the afternoon) for their chicken sandwiches.  He sent me this picture:


I think his sandwich looks really good.  It looks super crispy and I love the mayo dripping off.  Peter said it was excellent and he thinks it's BETTER than Chick-Fil-A! 

When we were leaving N.C. State after the tour on Monday we passed right by a Popeye's and I was going to whip in BUT the line at the drive thru was out to the street and I wasn't in the mood to wait forty minutes for a sandwich so we just headed home.  I'm starting to regret that now...



Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Seventeen is...

Seventeen is...

smart
laid-back
tenderhearted
conservative
short-tempered
cautious
witty
grumpy
loyal
handsome





Seventeen loves to...

play football
watch college football  and the Carolina Panthers
play video games
eat steak, wings, and pizza
drive around downtown
argue (especially with his sister)
yell at the television when his favorite teams are losing
watch YouTube sports videos
go out to eat with friends
spend time outside tossing the football around


Seventeen has my heart. 
Happy Birthday, Peter!






Tuesday, November 12, 2019

A phone update, a surprise party, a college visit, and a very early swim practice.

Whew!  Have we been busy!

When last I left you, I was on my way to the Apple store to get Sarah's iPhone repaired.  They had to send it off but they gave us a replacement.  Sarah was very upset when we had to reset the phone to the last time she had backed it up -- which was a year ago.  (And honestly, I think that backup was accidental.)  PSA - remind your teens to back up their phones so they don't loose all their pictures, group text threads, notes, etc.  And for that matter - back your own phone up.  I never back mine up BUT I go have Google photos so my pictures are automatically backed up. 

Peter had his last football game of the season on Thursday night instead of Friday due to a scheduling conflict.  It rained the entire game but thankfully at least it wasn't cold.  We lost and now the season is over. 

Dan made it home from Ireland on Friday night and we went to the mall on Saturday.  He needed some new shoes and some new jeans.  On Saturday evening, he and I attended a surprise 50th birthday part for a friend.  We had dinner and drinks at Jeffrey Adams downtown.  The food and wine were great and so was the company! 


On Sunday we attended Mass and had lunch at mom's and then on Sunday evening we had the football end-of-season banquet at school. We shared a potluck meal and the coach recognized all the seniors and also recognized everyone who attended every single practice.  There were only a handful of players that attended every practice and Peter was one of them!

When Peter started football in the spring I assumed he would tire of it and as the season wore on would regret his decision to play.  But no!  He never complained about practice, only minimally complained out the poor record, and really enjoyed his time on the team.  Overall, it was an excellent experience for him and I'm glad that he had the opportunity to try a new sport in his junior year!

Yesterday morning, Dan left for Germany and Peter and I headed to N.C. State University in Raleigh for a campus tour.  Dan was supposed to go with us when we scheduled the tour two months ago, but of course, this work trip came up a couple of weeks ago and the timing of those is totally out of his control so it was just me and the boy.  (Sarah stayed home to study.)  

Our tour was at 1:00 and it's about an hour and 45 minute drive to campus.  We left around 10:00 and grabbed some burritos at a restaurant near campus and then made our way to the information center along with probably about 30 other kids and their parents. 

The session started with a very informative presentation about the school.  After this presentation we took a walking tour of the main campus.  (There are two other campuses - the Biomedical Campus where the College of Veterinary Medicine is located and Centennial Campus where the College of Engineering is located.  We only toured the main campus because that's the campus you would be on as a freshman.

The tour was great.  Peter liked the look and feel of the campus.  We even got some ice cream at Howling Cow which is made right on campus from cows that are right on campus.  And of course we got a tee shirt from the campus store.

What I did not get was a picture of Peter on campus because he didn't want me to take one.  So, I snapped this as we were on our way to the car....


This morning, Sarah had to be at swim practice at 7:00 AM because she missed practice yesterday.  (I haven't figured out how to be in two places at once yet so....)  I was worried about her getting up in time but we made  it. We left the house at 6:20 in the rain and thankfully there were no traffic issues.

It was 53 degrees when we left the house and by the time I got her to school and got to the grocery store, it had dropped into the low 40s.  And now they are calling for below freezing temps so school has cancelled all afternoon activities!  Which means no afternoon swim practice!  Yay!  One less thing to do today!

And the best news?  It's Tuesday even though it feels like Monday! 
 

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

I should have just gone to the Apple store in the first place...




Sarah updated her iPhone on Sunday but something happened while she was doing the update.  I'm not sure if the WiFi went out (sometimes it goes out randomly - thanks Spectrum!) or what but the phone did nothing for hours except say "Verifying Update".

We googled it and did what it said to do and the phone was unstuck and it appeared as if the phone was updated. Victory!

However, after using the phone for a bit she came back to tell us that it said "No Service" and she could only use the phone on wifi.

I did some more googling and we did a couple of other things: we toggled airplane mode on and off, we checked to make sure it was updated to the latest update, we did a hard reboot, and nothing.

Dan left for his trip and I forgot about the issue.

She got home from school on Monday and said the phone was still messed up she tried a few things to no avail.  I just tried to ignore the whole thing.  I hate techy things and knew that this wasn't going to end well. We are getting the kids new phones for Christmas and I really didn't want to have to deal with any phone issues until then.

She said she was fine using the phone only on wifi until then. And since she is rarely anywhere without WiFi I was fine with that too.  (I've mentioned before I'm lazy - further proof!)

But yesterday she realized that she had a field trip today and she didn't want to be gone all day without access to her phone.  I didn't like the thought of that either and also, we discovered that even on wife she could only text her friends that had iPhones.  People like me, with an android, weren't getting her texts and she wasn't receiving any I sent. 

So last night  did all the things we had done previously and then googled some more and did what was recommended: checking for a cellular update, removing and reinserting the SIM card, and attempting to reset network settings among other things.  But nothing changed.  The phone still showed no service. 

Finally I contacted Apple Care.  I spoke to a very nice older gentleman who while kind, wasn't super helpful. (At one point I think he even used the phrase "gee whiz")  I told told him everything I had already done and he was like, "Wow!  You've done all the things I was going to have you do." 

We determined that even though it was showing it had been updated to iOS 13 that it most likely got disconnected from the wifi and got stuck and wasn't fully updated. So he sent me an email with a link to redo the system update and we said our goodbyes.

Then Sarah and I attempted to do that and it didn't work.  So once that didn't work we ended up trying to just restore to an old version.  But the last time she backed up her phone was a year ago.  She wasn't excited about that be we decided that was better than nothing.

Anyway, after doing the restore we got a message that the phone needed to be activated so we attempted to activate it.  BUT - it locked up and wouldn't let us do anything.

So I called back and got a very helpful woman.  We hooked Sarah's phone up to iTunes to try to do the same thing the first guy wanted us to do. She walked us through step by step so I know we were doing it correctly but with the exact same result.

She put us on hold for a long time while she spoke to senior tech.  Then he got on the phone with us and asked us if there was any writing on the back of her phone under the Apple logo.  There was so I read it off to him - a bunch of numbers and letters.

When I was done he said that her iPhone 7 was one of a very small number of 7s that has a weird glitch and won't work after attempting the iOS 13 update.

So he told us we could take it the Apple store in Greensboro - which is 45 minutes from here or to the Best Buy in Winston-Salem which is less than 20 minutes from here.

But as soon as he said Best Buy I remembered that over the summer I tried to take Sarah's phone there to get a new battery.  Her phone (Peter's too) were losing their charge pretty quickly so that by the middle of the day they were down to zero.  I thought it would be a cheap solution to get a new battery for each phone and see if we could extend the life of these phones for another year or so.

HA! Wishful thinking!

Sarah's phone has the tiniest crack in the glass.  It's on the side of the phone so it doesn't impact the view on the screen at all but apparently when they replace the battery they put a powerful suction cup on the screen to open up the phone and the slightest crack would cause the screen to shatter.

The kind folks at Best Buy informed us that we would need to replace the screen for $149 AND pay for a new battery and service fees and suddenly my cheap fix wasn't so cheap.  Especially when the trade in value for a 7 is oddly enough - exactly $149. So we didn't go that route.

But here we are and the Apple guy said we would need to fix the screen before they could fix the issue.

I told him that it didn't seem right that we had to pay $149 to fix a screen that otherwise isn't an issue to fix an issue that Apple forced on us with their bad update.  (Go ahead an google iOS 13 update and see all the issues.)

He put me on hold for a while and came back and said he had it approved that Apple would pay the $149 but I would have to go to the Apple store for the repair.

I have an appointment but it isn't until tomorrow so Sarah will be without a phone for at least two days.  I warned her it might be longer.  My appointment on Thursday isn't until 12:45 and I have to be back at school by 3:30 to take her to swim practice so if they can't get it done quickly (and I seriously doubt they will be able to) I will probably have to leave it with them and get it back on Friday.

So potentially 3 days without a cell phone has her feeling like a pioneer woman.  This morning as she was leaving for school she said, "I'm living on the grid!" which made me chuckle.

I got the cell phone number of one of her friends that will be on the field trip with her so if I need to get in touch with her I will contact her friend.  And if she needs me she will use her friend's phone.  So, technically, she's not too far off the grid. ;)

And might I add, all of that talking with Apple took THREE HOURS!  I didn't get to be until almost Midnight.  Cup of coffee number three - here I come!

(One funny from the phone call with the woman at Apple:  When I mentioned that the phone had not been backed up since October of last year, she told Sarah that she really needed to back up her phone more regularly.  (we were on speaker) Sarah rolled her eyes.  I laughed and told the lady that Sarah just rolled her eyes at her and she laughed too.  She informed me that she has three kids, one of which is a 15-year-old daughter and she was used to all the eye-rolling. ) Solidarity Apple lady.  Solidarity.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Foxborough here we come!

Last month, our niece Jillian was raising money for Boston Children's Hospital in conjunction with the New York City Marathon and she was giving away a chance to win two tickets to the Patriots/Bills game in December to anyone who donated.

On Saturday morning, I was scrolling though Facebook and drinking coffee while Dan was making his eggs and said, "Oh look! Jillian's drawing for the winner of the Patriots tickets this morning.  Maybe we will win!"  Then we both laughed because we NEVER win anything. 

About five minutes later the phone rang and the caller ID let us know it was Dan's brother Dick.  We both laughed and said, "he must be calling us to let us know we won the tickets." But really we just assumed it was about some trees that need to be taken down at the house on the Cape.

We actually won the tickets!!   

But here's the kicker.  The game is a flex game which means  it could either be played on December 21st  or December 22nd.  And they haven't announced the time and won't until they announce the date. So we had to be available to attend on either Saturday or Sunday which would mean flying up and being there on Friday evening  and flying home on Monday morning.

And of course, this is riiiiiiiiiiiight before Christmas.  The most stressful (but totally wonderful) time of the whole year.

Dick needed to know if we were going to use the tickets, otherwise, he was going to redraw for another winner.

We made the immediate decision to go for it! 

Dan has been a Patriots fan his entire life and has never been to a game in New England.  He did go to a preseason game here in NC against the Panthers when we lived in Charlotte but he has always wanted to go to a game in Foxborough. 

So we spent the free time we had on Sunday before Dan left for Ireland researching flights, hotels and rental cars.  Yes, these free tickets are going to end up being not-so-free but we are so excited!

It will be a nice little getaway for the two of us AND we will get to see TOM BRADY play in FOXBOROUGH! 

This trip is going to require some planning on my part though. 

I am going to have to have all the presents purchased and wrapped by the 19th because we are leaving for Boston on the 20th. Last year gifts were arriving up until the 23rd and were being wrapped hastily in the dark of night.  (Praise the Lord for Amazon Prime though!)

And we host a little Christmas Eve party which I will have to have the menu completely planned and food items purchased and in the fridge by the 20th because we aren't getting home until the 23rd.

I am hoping that I can use this little trip to get myself motivated to be ready ahead of time for Christmas.  Every year I say next Christmas will be different.  I'm going to start earlier.  I'm going to be better prepared.  I'm going to get everything done so I can relax the week before Christmas and soak it all in.  Blah, blah, blah.  And every year I seem to be doing everything up until the last minute.

Well, this year, I have no choice!  Let the Christmas planning begin!!