Sporting Event? Yes, Please!

Sporting event? Yes, please!

A friend texted me last night, “Crazy invite–but I’m asking!” After that, she proceeded to invite me to join her when she goes to an upcoming high school basketball game.

I don’t know why she thought it was a crazy invitation. I guess for lots of people it would be, but anyone who knows me knows I love being a spectator at most sporting events. Give me a basketball game, soccer game, lacrosse game, baseball game, football game, hockey game, volleyball game, rodeo, tennis match, polo…any kind of sporting event, and I’m game! Pun intended. I love the spirit of competition. I love seeing people do things I can’t do. I simply love sports.

Of course, I was quick to respond, “I will go!” So tonight, we are going to a high school basketball game. Apparently, she has intended to see a friend’s son play for years, but has never made it to a game, and he will soon be graduating. He will soon be playing his last high school basketball game. We are going, and I’m excited about it!

Our daughter graduated from high school last year, so I haven’t had much reason or opportunity to attend high school sporting events since she left for college in August. As much as I love going, I have only been to one football game, a girls volleyball game, and a few soccer games. I’m excited.

All this is my long way of reminding my friends that I’m always up for sporting events…at any level of almost any sport. If any of my friends need someone to go with them, I’m their girl! Just call or text, and I’m there!

My parents were sports fanatics. I remember being in the car with them as a child or young teenager, and they would see a baseball game or track meet happening at the very moment we were driving past. They didn’t want to skip it. We had to go. And that was OK, because it was almost always fun. We attended or participated in almost every sporting event for my high school teams, and in college, I went to lots of things too: football games, basketball games, and baseball games. After college, I was known to attend various baseball games, football games, and track and field competitions all over the country…just for fun.

Some people love concerts. I like concerts, but I’m picky about which artists I’m willing to drop a dollar on. I need to know almost every song someone sings to be willing to spend money seeing them, so I don’t go to a lot of concerts. Whereas, I have friends who will go to just about any concert in town. It’s just personality differences, I suppose. Some of those same friends don’t know the difference between a quarterback and cornerback. They don’t know where right field is or where left field is. They don’t know the difference between a layup and a jump shot. They certainly don’t know what an alley-oop is. Ask them about the Holy Roller Play and the Immaculate Reception, and you’re likely to get a blank stare. Corner kick? They have no idea. That’s OK. It’s not their thing. Ask me to sing along all the words to a Coldplay song, and you’ll get the same blank stare, even though I once waited for my car at the valet stand outside a restaurant with Chris Martin…but that’s a story for another day.

We are fortunate in Charlotte to have lots of sports teams and lots of different sporting events to support. Call me if you need a sidekick.

Sports teams to support in Charlotte

UNCC Athletics: https://charlotte49ers.com/

Charlotte Football Club (Soccer): https://www.charlottefootballclub.com/

Charlotte Checkers Hockey: https://charlottecheckers.com/

Carolina Panthers Football: https://www.panthers.com/

Charlotte Knights Baseball: https://www.milb.com/charlotte-knights

Queens University Athletics: https://queensathletics.com/index.aspx

Charlotte Bootleggers Box Lacrosse: https://pbla.com/teams/charlotte-bootleggers/

Since Charlotte is the home of NASCAR, there are all kinds of auto racing venues nearby. Click here to see a list of racetracks and events.

There are lots more. It would be impossible for me to remember all of them, but off the top of my head, there are lots of high school sports events to attend. Check athletics calendars for different schools in the area.

A New Cocktail for Me (Diet Cokayne)

A new cocktail for me.

Often, when I go to lunch with friends, I order a glass of Prosecco. It’s light. It’s not too dry. It doesn’t give me a headache. And it’s bubbly. All my friends who lunch with me will tell you that, sometimes, when I order Prosecco, I also order a Diet Coke. I like my caffeine too, so it’s difficult to choose. Therefore, I don’t choose. I simply get both.

However, today, I saw a TikTok about something I had never considered: Diet Coke mixed with Champagne as a single cocktail, and you know what they call it? Diet Cokagne. The video sent me right down the rabbit hole, and I read a few different pieces about it. Tom Hanks, the Academy Award winning actor, appeared on a talk show recently and introduced the host to the combo, a concoction he came up with over the holidays, and the host liked it! Mr. Hanks said he introduced it to his family, and they all liked it too! The mix is 2/3 Diet Coke (or any soda beverage) topped off with 1/3 Champagne…over ice.

Because I read all about it, tonight I had to try it. Now, I like Champagne. Nothing says “celebration” like a bottle of Champagne. However, I really like Prosecco too, because it’s not as dry, and as I mentioned before, it doesn’t give me headaches. I always have bottles of Prosecco in my house, and I always have Diet Coke, so tonight, I made my own Diet Cokagne…er, Diet Cosecco…and it was good. It was really good! Honestly, I’m sure different people will have different interpretations of the beverage, but I felt like it had a little vanilla flavor…or maybe a little like bourbon. I don’t know…it was a little sweet, but it was good! Isn’t that all you need to know? Tomorrow I might try it with Diet Dr. Pepper. What would that be called? A Diet Dr. Pepsecco?

I was on the phone with my friend, Kelli, tonight when I tried it. She’s a regular lunch date, and she has seen me order a glass of Prosecco and a glass of Diet Coke many times. After trying it, I told her next time we go to lunch, I’ll order my usual Diet Coke and a glass of Prosecco, but I’ll also order an extra glass of ice, and I’ll mix my own wacky cocktail at the table. She laughed, but she knows I’ll do it. I told her I will let her try it before I drink out of it, because she’s a bit of a germaphobe.

Here is what I will tell you: try it. If you like to have a cocktail anyway, what is it going to hurt? Or you can just come over to my house for cocktails. I always have charcuterie ingredients, so I can throw together a charcuterie board for us to enjoy with our cocktails. I also always have Diet Coke, but I don’t always have Champagne, so we’ll likely use Prosecco, which I always have. In fact, my husband found bottles of Prosecco at Costco that are just $7. It’s the Kirkland’s Asolo Prosecco, and it’s really good! The bottle has a pretty purple label and purple foil…great packaging. And did I mention it’s just $7??? Get it at your local Costco store. You can read more here.

In March, I will be meeting some of my family for a weekend away, and you can bet your sweet bippy I will be taking the ingredients to introduce my aunt and cousins to this bit of deliciousness!

I can hardly wait to hear what you think of the latest cocktail concoction. It will be served often at my house.

Cheers!

And if you’d like to read more about the Diet Cokagne, you can read another piece here.

She’s Returning to College

She’s returning to college.

Our daughter is returning to college for the second semester of her freshman year. In just 36 hours, our blissful month of having her under our roof will end. She and my husband will load up her car and start the 450 mile drive back to her university. She will drop him off at the airport before she goes to her dorm. He will fly home…without her.

And our house will be eerily quiet…again. It will be as quiet as it has been for the past few months, since we dropped her off in August. That dorm move-in is a distant memory now. Remember all the planning? Remember all the boxes of dorm supplies and decor stacked up in my foyer? I can hardly remember it now.

She survived first semester. With medical emergencies, the flu, late nights, lots of fun, lots of new friends…she survived. Not only did she survive, she thrived. Our girl was made for the big college atmosphere. It’s her happy place, for the most part. Don’t get me wrong; there were occasional tears. If you have a child leaving for college next fall, just know there will be tears. Sometimes they just have to get through the tears to get to the good stuff. I have told our daughter that in many late night phone conversations. If we didn’t have the bad, we wouldn’t appreciate the good. It’s absolutely true. The good seems so much better after you experience the bad. If your child calls you crying from college, remind them and yourself of that.

I will be having to remind myself of that over the next few weeks, as we adjust to a quiet house again.

Our house has felt like our house again for the past month, while our girl has been home. We had her friends in and out of the house at all hours. Many times, I was up at 2am, making grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup for a gaggle of friends. I’m not complaining; I loved every minute of it. Some nights, I was picking her up from a friend’s house or a party in the wee hours of the morning. After the murders at the University of Idaho, I wasn’t real keen on her taking an Uber. That horrible crime was a reminder that a background check is just a check of what someone hasn’t been caught doing or hasn’t done yet. It’s scary to think young girls all over the country hop into the car with strangers all the time, right? So while our daughter was in Charlotte, I was her personal Uber driver if she needed me. *Say a prayer for the families of those University of Idaho students.*

Did my husband love the late nights? No. It drives him crazy to have to stay up past midnight. He leads a very structured life, and if the timing gets messed up, he’s not happy. I’m a total vampire who flies by the seat of my pants, so in my world, I love the chaos. I love spontaneity. I love getting in the car at 1:30am to pick up our daughter and friends to bring them back to our house. I love standing in the kitchen, in my pajamas and robe, preparing food for them after they get here. And I’m going to miss it.

Will we get to bed at a reasonable hour every night? Yes. Will the amount of laundry I have to do decrease exponentially? Yes. But honestly, I will miss the extra laundry. I will miss watching the clock as we wait for her to come home. I will miss the late night talks in her room. I will miss watching football games with her.

I will miss her.

Thank God we have some vacations coming up soon, so we won’t be in this quiet house. Before we know it, she will come home for a visit. If she doesn’t, chances are I will hop on a plane and go see her one weekend soon…just because I miss her. She’ll need a Mama hug, and I’ll need to see her face to make sure she’s OK.

I keep reminding myself that in just four short months, she will be home for summer. We will take mother/daughter trips again. She will likely want to visit friends in different cities, and that’s OK too. We will just be happy to have her here when we can. Just having that to look forward to will keep us going. Well, that and some fun trips.

Meet us in the Bahamas, but bring your own snorkel gear!

McDonald’s is My Kind of Place

McDonald’s is my kind of place.

I was born in the late 1960s, so most of my childhood was in the 1970s. If yours was too, you likely loved McDonald’s. From the time I was a year old until I was seven, I lived in a little town in Alabama that didn’t have McDonald’s. We had a local hamburger drive-in that was really good, but it wasn’t McDonald’s. We even had a Dairy Queen…not McDonald’s. Eventually, we got a Jack’s, a hamburger place based in Birmingham, Alabama, but we still didn’t have McDonald’s when I moved away. We often went to Pensacola or Mobile for doctor appointments or to shop, so we had McDonald’s then, and it was a treat! I’m not kidding…a treat we could hardly wait to get! Those hamburgers! Those fries! Those chocolate shakes!

When I was seven, I moved with my family to the Mobile area, and we got McDonald’s all the time, because McDonald’s was plentiful in Mobile…I mostly remember the two on Government Street, and the one near the University of South Alabama on Old Shell Road. As kids, we even went to birthday parties at McDonald’s, and those were the best birthday parties! When I was eight years old, they even opened a McDonald’s in Bel Air Mall…a big, huge deal, because that whole wing of the mall started smelling like McDonald’s. To kids back then, McDonald’s was a little slice of Heaven.

One night last week, I craved McDonald’s. It happens occasionally. McDonald’s crosses my mind, and I simply have to have it. That night, I hopped in the car and drove to the nearest McDonald’s, got in the drive-thru line, and placed my order: hamburger, large fries, and a large Diet Coke. The service was quick, and I didn’t even make it out of the parking lot before I started gobbling up the feast from the paper bag. That first bite smelled and tasted like childhood happiness. I can’t explain it, but as soon as I unwrapped that burger, I felt like I was a kid again. And the fries? Well, it doesn’t get better than hot McDonald’s fries. I have known that my whole life.

If you’re anywhere near my age, chances are you have some McDonald’s memories. Maybe you went to birthday parties there. Maybe you ate there after every high school home football game (like I did). Maybe you remember the aroma of those hamburgers and French fries. Maybe you remember the McDonaldland characters and can identify all of them! Maybe you went there with high school friends or stopped there for breakfast on the way to school in the morning.

Sadly, the latest generations don’t seem to appreciate McDonald’s like we did. However, our daughter might be one of the exceptions. She loved McDonald’s Happy Meals as a kid. I took her to McDonald’s because I liked it, so she learned to like it too. Sometimes, we met friends there, so the kids could play in the indoor play area. Sometimes, we went to the two-story McDonald’s in South Park in Charlotte. My daughter, when she was a little girl, called it the “upstairs McDonald’s.” But I think a lot of kids didn’t have the joyful McDonald’s experience because society became health conscious and frowned upon it. Too bad, because kids missed out on that little indulgence. McDonald’s is supposed to be fun, and frankly, I think it’s OK in moderation. Do I want my daughter eating there all the time? No, and she doesn’t. But if she wants some fries from there once or twice a month…enjoy!

Fortunately, my daughter has a friend who told me about the McDonald’s App. If you have any appreciation for McDonald’s and don’t have the app, you’re leaving money on the table! Through the app, you can earn points to use toward future purchases, but you have immediate access to special deals like Free Fry Fridays, BOGO offers, and more! Seriously, if all you like about McDonald’s is their perfectly fizzy sodas, get the app now!

Right now, they have a BOGO order on breakfast sandwiches. They also have percentage off offers on different sandwiches, meals, and beverages. Seriously, if you like their coffee (it’s good) you can use the app for deals on that!

So if you’d like to experience a little childhood happiness, go download the app. You’ll be glad you did, because McDonald’s is your kind of place!

We Miss the Elves

We miss the elves.

I know, I know. Every parent who is having to deal with The Elf on the Shelf right now is wondering why they ever bought into that commercialized bit of Christmas.

Seriously, how many times will you forget to move the damn elves during the season? I remember many times our daughter would come downstairs in the morning to find the elf in the same spot as the day before. She would ask if it had lost its magic. “Oh, no honey! It was just really foggy/stormy/cloudy out last night, and he couldn’t make the flight safely.” I had to think fast, and I couldn’t let the panic show on my face.

Other times, I would wake up in the middle of the night and remember I hadn’t moved the elf. I would get up, try to wake up enough to be creative with a “hiding place,” and stumble back to bed…cursing the elf the whole time.

And then, the elves multiplied at our house! She teceived them as gifts. Or she asked them to bring friends. When all was said and done, we had SIX elves visiting our home, and that meant I had to move all six of them every night. (I know…I know…I’m crazy to have allowed it.) Not only that, but I also had to get more creative after she heard about other friends’ elves that did more interesting things than just sit in the Christmas tree. Keeping up with the Joneses was real where the elf was concerned. She didn’t want to think Santa sent her a lame elf (or elves!).

Seriously, it got out of hand. Those damn elves were leading better lives than I was: writing all over the vanity with toothpaste, bungee jumping from the stairs, bathing in Christmas M&Ms, coming in on a wrecking ball, drinking Karo Syrup, trapping each other in cake domes…oh, to be an elf! And the notes and “surprises”! They brought little trinkets. They wrote her notes in their special elf handwriting. My brain had not been that creative in years, but I made it happen. Honestly, I became an overachiever where the elves were concerned, and I’m sure all her friends’ parents hated me for it. I don’t blame them. I hated that I let myself fall into the trap of that level of insanity after seeing others post on social media, but I did it.

I thought about all this last night, because my daughter, who is now 19 and a freshman in college, was hanging out with friends and texted me, “Can you send me pictures of the crazy things my elves did?” I searched through years of pictures and found some to send her. She sent back lots of laughing faces, lots of “Lol” and lots of “wow.”

Then I went down the rabbit hole.

I started texting her elf stories. I told her about the time she came running into the kitchen just before Thanksgiving Day (when the elves are supposed to arrive) with an elf in her hand. I’m not sure how old she was…maybe six of seven? She had gone into my room to look for something in a drawer, and she had found an elf. “Mommy! Look what I found in your drawer!” I was standing at the stovetop preparing dinner but looked down to see her holding the elf up for me to see. Somehow, I thought fast and replied, “Wow! He must have known you would look in there today, and he was just waiting for you to find him!” Her eyes widened! She bought it hook, line, and sinker! She replied, “I guess so!” And the elves got an early start (ugh) that year…lucky me (insert eye roll here).

Another year, on Christmas Day, she seemed a little sad…unusual for Christmas Day. She was eight, and she should have been excited and happy the whole day. Finally, in the afternoon, I asked, “Honey, are you OK?” Immediately, the flood gates opened…her bottom lip rolled down as her chin quivered, and tears rolled down her cheeks. “I miss my elf!,” she exclaimed. My heart broke. My sweet little girl thad been holding in those emotions all day. I could have been stern. I could have followed the elf rules, but I didn’t. I hugged her. I comforted her. And then I said, “There might be a way to get him back.” Call me a sucker if you want, but personally, I love knowing my child is full of so much love. That year, her elf had taken on the task of replacing some of her “babies” (stuffed animals) that had been accidentally thrown out while we were having her room painted. She appreciated what that elf had done for her, and she loved her elf for it. Who was I to say the elf couldn’t come back? Surely, there was a way?!? I said, “Here’s a little secret: since it’s still Christmas Day, you can make a wish on a Christmas candle, and maybe the elf will come back.” I’m still patting myself on the back for this one. My husband brought us a Christmas candle, and I sat down on the sofa with her, telling her to close her eyes and make the wish before blowing out the candle. Then close her eyes again and slowly count to ten, just to help the wish. Whatever…I was winging it, OK?!? While she slowly counted to ten after making the wish, my husband scampered quietly into our room, got the elf out of a drawer and placed him on the dining room table. When she opened her eyes, I said, “Maybe the elf will return. He might show up in an unexpected place.” Of course, she couldn’t resist the urge to start searching. When she found him on the dining room table, it was sheer joy! Her Christmas wish had come true! Since the elf had returned on a Christmas wish, she was allowed to hold him (against the Elf on the Shelf rules), so she settled in on the sofa to watch a Christmas movie with him. I told her she had 30 more days with the elf, but he wouldn’t fly back and forth to the North Pole, and had to leave after those 30 days. She agreed 30 more days would be enough…and it was.

The elves were popular at our house for several years until one day, she simply said, “Mom, I know the elves aren’t real.” In some ways I was happy. I wouldn’t have to remember to move them! I wouldn’t have to find creative places to put them! I wouldn’t have to wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat when I realized I hadn’t done anything with them! I wouldn’t have to lie about the fog/storms/clouds. At the same time, my heart broke a little. Sure, my life would be a little easier because she didn’t believe in the elves anymore, but it would be a lot less fun.

Now that she’s 19, the elves no longer come around. One moved to a new home when a neighbor melted her daughter’s elf on a lamp and was in a desperate search for a new one. We had one that matched hers, so we let her have it. Our daughter didn’t believe anymore, so it was nice to know we were saving another parent from a meltdown. Now, we look back on the elves with fondness. And honestly, they make good stories.

We miss the elves…not enough to bring them back, but we miss them!

Some Things Never Change

Some things never change.

Growing up, I lived in a few different small towns in Alabama. I was born in a different state but moved to Alabama as a baby, and the first small town we lived in made quite an impression.

When I say it was a small town, I mean it was a small town, but at the time, I didn’t realize just how small it was. Downtown always looks big to little kids, and this one was no exception. Every year as a little girl, I looked forward to Christmastime. This tiny town would have a Christmas parade with Santa joyfully waving at the tail end of the parade. Downtown was decorated every year with what I thought were beautiful decorations on each pole in the downtown area. I moved away from there when I was seven years old, but in my mind’s eye, I can still see the Christmas decor.

Yesterday, as I scrolled through Facebook, I came across some pictures of a small town Christmas parade. It was, in fact, the same small town. I flipped through the pictures, looking for Santa, and there he was…atop a fire truck at the end of the parade. It made me feel nostalgic, and it made me smile. Some things never change…a small town is still hosting a Christmas parade, complete with Santa. I did notice one difference, though. I remember the parade being a daytime parade when I was a little girl, but this parade was a night parade with illuminated floats. Still, it was a sweet reminder of my childhood. It also appeared the parade might have been interrupted by a train passing through town, as the tracks go right through the middle of the town.

I guess every small town has its own traditions. We moved from there to another small town that was more of a community without a proper downtown area. I don’t remember any kind of community-wide Christmas celebrations there, but that might have been because we were close to a bigger city where we could drive into town and enjoy holiday festivities.

After that, we moved to yet another small town that had its own holiday decor in the downtown area and an annual Christmas parade. The parade was a big deal every year, and it seemed everyone in the town participated in one way or another. I remember wondering who was going to watch the parade, because it seemed almost everyone was involved in the festivities in some way! But every year, the spectators came out to see every local group that participated: high school marching bands, little league and high school cheerleaders, dance troupes, dance schools, convertibles with beauty queens perched atop them, restaurants and other local businesses sponsoring trucks or cars decorated for Christmas, and yes, Santa…always at the end of the parade, waving joyfully to all the girls and boys.

We have raised our daughter in a bigger city, Charlotte, North Carolina, and I absolutely love living here. However, occasionally, I think she has missed out on some of the joy of living in a small town…like the small town Christmas parade. Don’t get me wrong. She has experienced Christmas in different ways in the Charlotte area. When she was a little girl, we would go to Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens to see the lights (and Santa) there. We went to Winterfest at Carowinds Amusement Park to see the lights (and Santa) there. We visited Santa regularly at our club and at the local mall. We did lots of fun Christmas-themed things. But she never went to a small town Christmas parade, and she never had the opportunity to participate in a small town Christmas parade with her cheer team or dance class.

The good news? She has no idea that she missed that experience. Maybe I will drive her through some small towns this holiday season so she can see how it’s done. We still have a couple more weeks. I’ll get excited about it too, because some things never change.

Wrapping Paper

Wrapping paper.

Every year, as Christmas approaches, I meet a friend at Paper Skycraper in Charlotte to find stocking stuffers and wrapping paper. It’s a tradition. We pick a day, and we know we will enjoy a leisurely lunch at Thai Taste before walking next door to Paper Skyscraper to shop ’til we drop. Seriously, I always walk out with way more than I planned to purchase.

For those who don’t know, Paper Skyscraper is on East Boulevard in the Dilworth neighborhood of Charlotte. According to their website, they have been open for more than 30 years. I have been shopping there for more than 20. I moved to Charlotte in 2000, and I remember going there with a friend soon after moving here. They have lots of fun gifts and lots of quirky gifts. If you decide to go, know in advance that this is not your grandmother’s gift shop. It’s full of sexual innuendos and f-bombs…even on some of the wrapping paper! One thing is for sure, you will laugh a lot while you’re there. If you can’t get into the store, you can shop some of their items online here.

Our designated day to shop together this year was last Friday afternoon. We met at Thai Taste first. I had the Pad Thai with chicken and medium spice, and she had the green curry dish. (I seriously considered ordering the curry dish to take home for dinner. It looked that good.) We had just ordered when another friend called us, and we immediately asked her to join us. She was only about five minutes away, so it worked out perfectly, and our duo became a trio! We enjoyed a lunch and lots of laughs before strolling over to Paper Skyscraper. You can see more about Thai Taste here.

As soon as we walked into Paper Skyscraper, I saw one of the light-up ceramic Christmas trees we all had in the 1970s. I wanted it, but I resisted the urge to purchase it. I didn’t even check the price, because I knew if I gave it too much attention, I would have to have it.

My friends made their way to the area full of fun gifts in the side room, while I made my way first to the wrapping paper. I am obsessed with their wrapping paper, and like a child, I didn’t want someone to walk away with some paper I might want. I found lots of lovely paper. I’m not a wrapping paper snob, but I do like quality paper. I always know I can find it at Paper Skyscraper. They have lovely rolls of Christmas paper and some funny ones too. Plus, they have sheets of beautiful wrapping paper made from recycled materials. When I say it’s beautiful, I mean it’s beautiful. I picked up a few rolls of paper and put them in my hand basket. I picked eight or ten sheets of recycled wrap and put that in my hand basket, and I made my way to the other side of the store to meet my friends. What I hadn’t considered was that, with all those rolls of paper sticking out of my basket, I was likely to knock things off every rack along the way…and I did. Fortunately, I didn’t break anything. After rearranging the basket, so I didn’t knock down anything else, I was able to continue shopping with my friends, who had been smarter than I was and waited till the end to get their wrapping paper. After an hour or so of shopping, we all left with lots of stocking stuffers, gifts for friends and neighbors, and wrapping paper.

I now have a lovely assortment of wrapping paper and have been wrapping gifts for the last couple of days. I love wrapping gifts. It’s very relaxing. Aside from the Paper Skyscraper wrapping paper, I also have some I ordered from Zazzle. Our daughter will be quite surprised when she sees it, and I’m sure she will think I’m totally crazy. It’s personalized wrapping paper with family photos on it. You can order it from Zazzle here. It can add a little fun to your gifts! I have wrapped lots of gifts, and they are piling up in the keeping room off my kitchen.

If we would only get our Christmas tree up, I would have somewhere to put them!

***Also, see great wrapping paper at the following retail stores in Charlotte:

The Buttercup, 1035 Providence Rd

Swoozie’s, 4722 Sharon Rd Ste G

Paper Twist, 2902 Selwyn Ave, Ste A

Final Exam Nightmares

Final exam nightmares.

It’s the first week of December, which means college students everywhere are either preparing for or taking final exams. Our daughter is among those students preparing. Her first college final exam is Monday. Oh, how I remember the days leading up to those first college finals my freshman year.

I was a different person then. I carried more anxiety. I had not yet learned that worrying about something doesn’t change it. My parents used to tell me 98% of the things we worry about never happen. They also used to tell me that worrying won’t change things. Aside from that, they would tell me, if we prepare properly and turn the rest over to God, we are in good hands. Does it always mean we will succeed? No, but don’t we learn a lot more from our failures than from our successes?

It was after that first semester that I relaxed a little. I stopped worrying so much. Over time, I have become a non-worrier, except where our daughter’s safety is concerned. That’s a whole different level of worry that will likely never change.

Every now and then, though, my brain finds a way to remind me of the stress of college finals. I go to bed perfectly happy, but I wake up in a sweat, with an elevated pulse rate. No, it’s not about our daughter. It’s about me. I wake up in an absolute panic, because I am dreaming that I have just slept through a college final, or that I forgot to take one altogether. I think it’s a pretty common recurring nightmare for people who went to college, but 33 years after graduating? Doesn’t that seem like a long time to still be having that nightmare? No matter how much time passes, it’s still a painful nightmare.

Here’s the funny thing: when I was a junior in college, I actually did sleep through a final. It was my Spanish oral final. I had been up late studying the night before and knew I had the Spanish oral exam at 10:00am. Every student in the class had signed up for a 10-minute time slot, and that was mine. I feel sure I had set my clock, but I guess I set it wrong, or maybe I turned it off without really waking up. Whatever happened, I slept through the exam. I woke up at 10:30, when a friend came into my room, and I immediately realized what had happened. I had slept in a sweatshirt. I have no idea what kind of pants I slept in, but probably lightweight sweats. I jumped up, put on shoes as quickly as I could, and ran out the door without even brushing my teeth or my hair. I just ran.

Of course, the exam was about as far from my room as it could possibly be, but I ran. I ran as fast as I could and said a prayer that my teacher would still be in the room when I arrived. Additionally, the testing was taking place on the third floor of the building, so after running all the way to the building, I had to run up the stairs to the third floor…and all the way to the end of the hall. When I arrived, there were a couple of students sitting on the floor outside the classroom, waiting their turns, I suppose. I hardly noticed them as I pushed the door open and saw my professor sitting with another professor in front of the student who was testing at the time. Yes, it was rude for me to burst in, and frankly, I was out of breath…huffing and puffing…probably trying to hold back tears. Fortunately, I’d had both professors as teachers, one the first semester of junior year and one second semester, and I was on good terms with them. My professor paused the exam and said to me, “It’s OK. Go outside and catch your breath. We will call you in shortly.” Thank the Lord I had a forgiving professor. And thank the Lord I had developed good relationships with both the professors. I had been in their classes in back-to-back semesters. After waiting for a little while, they called me in, and I took my oral exam, passing it with an A. Afterward, hen I returned to my room, my friends who had witnessed my wild departure came in, wide-eyed, and asked how it had gone. I told them to let me brush my teeth and hair first, and I would be happy to give them the details!

Yes, I’m that person who actually slept through a final and lived to tell about it.

That’s not my only recurring nightmare about college, though. I also have a recurring nightmare in which it’s the end of the semester, and I have forgotten to attend a class for the whole semester! Again, I wake up in a sweat after this one too, but this one never actually happened in real life. Sure, I missed some classes here and there, but never a whole semester of class.

Sunday night, I will remind my daughter to set multiple alarms to wake up for her 8:30am exam. I don’t want her to live the nightmare of missing the exam.

And even though I don’t consider myself a worrier anymore, I’m sure I will go to bed Sunday night worried that she will sleep through her exam.

Because I’ll go to bed worried, chances are, I will have my exam nightmare again.

Thanksgiving 2022

Thanksgiving 2022

It’s our first Thanksgiving as empty nesters! We made it to Thanksgiving! Actually, we have thoroughly enjoyed our empty nester status, but you know we were thrilled our baby girl could come home for a whole week! We are counting down to her Christmas break (starts December 9), when she will be out of school for a whole month! I don’t dare say we will see her for a whole month, because I’m sure she will want to visit with friends…and we are cool with that!

But here we are, having survived most of the first semester. After Thanksgiving, she just goes back to school for “dead week” and finals week before returning for the next break. Here’s where I should tell you, contrary to what some some moms say on the Facebook college parent pages, “dead week” does not mean they walk around looking like “the walking dead” or “zombies.” Well, at her university that’s not what it means; I can’t speak for others. Some parents have said on the parents page, “They study so hard that they look like zombies.” For 95% of the students, I’m saying that is not true. What it actually means…and share this with your friends…is that professors cannot issue new assignments during the “dead week” before finals, and they cannot have tests during that week either. Some professors might opt to have class, and some might not. Some have review sessions, and some do not. Some give extra credit for attending that week, and others do not. The week is meant to be a study week.

I can assure you that when I was at the same university as my daughter in the 1980s, I did not walk around looking like a zombie during dead week. No way. Did I use my time wisely and study all week? I’d like to say I did. Oh, who am I kidding?!?! No way! I had lots of fun during dead week and started studying for finals at the end of the week. I was even known to go out during finals week. [Gasp!] If I looked like the walking dead during dead week, it had nothing to do with studying too hard. If I looked like a zombie that week, it was because I had too much fun the night before. Not gonna lie. Don’t get me wrong. I studied. I just studied efficiently. I kept up in my classes. I met with professors when I didn’t understand a concept. I was a good student. OK, I was a pretty good student. But I got the job done, and I had a great work/life balance. I didn’t work all the time, and I didn’t play all the time. Fortunately, I had parents who understood the importance of enjoying college life, and as long as I “took care of business,” I could play all I wanted. And I did.

Now our daughter is trying to have a work/life balance her freshman year of college, and at Thanksgiving 2022, we are thankful she seems to be thriving. It’s hard to believe just six months ago, she was feeling a little unsure about her decision. She was thinking of another school she had considered. She was thinking she had made a mistake in choosing her university. She had just graduated and was entering the summer before college. It was a painful time in our household…lots of tears. I took her to orientation in June, and she was a mess. We got through it when I promised her she could transfer at any time if she didn’t like the university. However, I had no doubt in my mind that she would like it. I think she just needed to know she had options. Soon after school started, I received numerous texts saying, “I love it here!” Transferring is never discussed. We survived the summer of ambivalence, and here we are now…almost through the first semester!

And that, my friends, is what I’m celebrating this Thanksgiving! I’m thankful for my daughter’s happiness at her college home. We relax a little knowing she is happy. Is every day perfect? No. Does she have some stress with studies? Some. But is she making memories that will last as lifetime, just like I did? You bet! This year, we will have or own little Thanksgiving celebration at home. We had considered going out but decided to stay in and enjoy the food that is stacked in our refrigerator. I’m hoping friends and neighbors will stop by later in the day, when we are enjoying cocktails on the patio by the fire!

Happy Thanksgiving! And if, like me, you’d like to relive the WKRP in Cincinnati Turkey Drop, click here. It’s an all-time favorite that I must watch at least once every Thanksgiving season. “As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!”

Back Home Ballers

Back Home Ballers

When I was growing up, there were young people in and out of our house all the time. Likewise, when our daughter was growing up, we had young people in and out of our house all the time. And then, this past August, she went to college, and our house became a lot quieter. She came home once in September and once a few weeks ago, and we got to see one or two of her friends, but now that Thanksgiving is upon us, they’re all home from college, and there is so much activity! It has been like a revolving door of friends since she got home, and we couldn’t be happier! If you have seen the SNL video titled Back Home Ballers, you know where I stole my title. If you’re not familiar with it, you can see it here. And if you’re a parent of a college student, you get it. Your husband is probably the “valet,” carrying bags up and down the stairs. At our house, I’m the mom who just went to Costco (or Publix, in my case) in anticipation of the college student’s arrival…and hopefully, there are lots of friends dropping in too! And the students themselves? Well, they are just enjoying every minute of the attention and preferential treatment.

I remember my friend, Angela, visiting me at my mother’s house when I was in my forties. I had gone down to Alabama to visit with Mother for a few days, and lucky for me, Angela lived nearby. One particular trip, Angela came over, and we were playing “Heads Up” with our smartphones, laughing and poking fun at each other. We talked and laughed and talked and laughed some more. I remember Mother saying, “Having y’all together here makes me happy. Y’all bring fun energy into my house.” I heard her, but I didn’t fully understand what she was saying.

Now I get it.

Now I understand what mother was feeling. I feel energized with all these friends of our daughter in and out of the house. I’ve been to the grocery store four times in anticipation of their visits. Normally, I do not enjoy the grocery store, but this week, I have enjoyed every minute of it…practically skipping and dancing down the aisles! I have tried to purchase all their favorite comfort foods, because I want them to feel comfortable and a little nostalgic. We have a few more days before they all head back to college, so I hope to prepare a few more meals, snacks, and desserts before they leave. My refrigerator is still bursting at the seams, so they need to come over as often as possible to eat all that food! The benefit for me? While they hang out in my kitchen, laughing and talking, I absorb their fun, positive energy, and I get to laugh a lot! Good times.

Last night, in fact, a few friends were here, and we stayed up well into the night laughing and talking…even crying some too, but it was good crying. I have watched these young people grow up! Obviously, I have known my daughter her whole life, but I’ve known most of her friends since they were five or even before that! We go way back…lots of history there. Now they have new lives at their universities spread across the country, so there was lots to cover there too.

I have even been able to drive my daughter and some of her friends to the homes of other friends…and even pick them up late at night! Many of these college students are home without their cars, because they have to fly back and forth to their universities. Our daughter doesn’t have her car here, so I almost feel like I used to feel before she was old enough to drive! Yes, it was aggravating sometimes then, but now I’m the mom driving late at night with a big smile on my face! I’m just so happy! That is my life right now! It’s real, y’all.

And you know what? I’m loving every minute and trying to lock things into my long term memory!

*Feature photo from NBC’s SNL* I wish I had thought to get our daughter and a group of her friends to pose like this!

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