Monday, August 29, 2011

A Meandering My Town Monday: College Orientation, Motherhood, Attitude Adjustments

Thanks Google Images for this photo of St Pierre et Miqueleon. Actually, I think it's a photo of St. Pierre only.

As many of you know, I returned last night from leaving Child #2 at Occidental College in LA for his freshman year. It started out as a tough four days for me. Lots of tears and kleenex and strangled voice. Then, suddenly, I thought of this guy named Richard.

Let me backtrack a sec. A few moons ago (ha!) when I was only slightly older than Child #2 and was an undergrad at the University of Toronto, I spent a summer on the island of St Pierre in French immersion. St Pierre et Miquelon are the oldest overseas territories owned by France. To orient you, on a clear day (and there weren't many the summer I was there!), you can see Newfoundland. While at St. Pierre, I lost a contact lens. Naturally, my only backup was an ugly pair of glasses, a prescription out of date. I was devastated.

Richard was another student in the program. We hadn't met before the summer. He was energetic, chatty, wore glasses (although not as ugly as mine) and was nothing short of brilliant. I don't remember his last name, something Jewish, I think. Anyway, when Richard heard me obsessing about my glasses problem, he started talking about various challenges in his life and how he'd ended up turning them around and learning a bunch from them and how wearing eye glasses for a few weeks didn't have to be devastating. Kind of hokey, but it stuck with me. And there have been several times now in my life when I was obsessing (it's my style!) over something when Richard popped into my mind. This weekend was one of those times.

I watched Child #2 interact with professors. He used respect and intelligence and wit. I watched him organize his belongings. I watched him juggle his schedule between polo practice and orientation activities. He's ready. Or at least as ready as he needs to be.

So, yeah, it was tough getting on the 5 and heading south to San Diego. I've never left a child somewhere for four years. BUT, in Richard logic, it's time for me to move on. Oxy College isn't my story. Oxy College is Child #2's story. And I need to get out of the way and let it unfold.

(Besides there's always skype! Mwahahah)

And, now, a few shots from the four days at Oxy so that this is somewhat of a My-Town-Monday post!

This is Oswald the Tiger, Oxy's mascot. It was 100 degrees!!! I'm not sure how Oswald stayed hydrated enough to not fall over in a dead faint!

Here's is Child #4 who came with me. Thank goodness! She helped keep me grounded. There were signs like this all over campus. Very helpful for the directionally challenged!

I'm thinking this might be truly Californian because we do love our bottled water. The campus was dotted with water coolers and paper cups!

President Obama (nickname of Barry!) attended Oxy 1979-81 . Child #2 is not staying in the dorm Obama was in. They also don't share a hairstyle. Apparently, though, Obama appreciated his time at Oxy. And I hope they have that in common.

Here's a link to the official My Town Monday blog for links to more posts about various corners of the world. Always of interest!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Further adventures in the LA area

One of the THOUSANDS of photos taken yesterday by Child #4. She sent this one by phone to her brother, Child #3, who likes the George Lopez show.

Child #4 (11 year old daughter) and I spent the day....sightseeing on Hollywood Blvd! We took a tour of the stars' homes (our tour bus guide got a ticket outside the house where Michael Jackson died) for overloading the vehicle!), visited Ripley's Believe It Or Not (the stuff nightmares are made of), went to the Chinese Theater, shopped, ate. Child #4 took literally THOUSANDS of pictures!

We got a text from Child #2 (our freshman Occidental student!) between his polo practices. He needed a belt and new swim goggles. Somehow, we morphed this into a $146 Target shopping trip!

Anyway, the three of us met up about 9:30 pm in the parking lot outside his dorm to hand overt the loot. Which, quite frankly, just felt weird. Oh, what am I saying? My whole life feels weird this weekend. Anyway, his roommate was already asleep. Child #2 was exhausted. Probably from two polo practices and the heat and all the overwhelming newness. In brief, he likes the polo team, likes his coach, likes his roommate, ate in the cafeteria with a new friend. Oh, and I did get a nice hug. Child #4 got her hair mussed by her big brother. ;)

Today we are off to Family Orientation at Oxy. We will see Child #2 this afternoon.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Dear Occidental College

our partially-packed car

Dear Occidental College:

In a little over an hour, Child #4 (11 year old daughter) and I are leaving San Diego and heading your way. We're bringing you a very precious gift. Child #2. Be good to him. Or else.

Child #2's mom

Well, the day is finally here. We're almost loaded up. Child #2 is off for a last breakfast burrito with a friend. He's very excited about starting college. As he should be. It's a huge adventure. He worked hard to get here. He's ready to move on.

Mr. Summy and I are very proud of him. But Child #2's huge adventure will leave a hole in our little family. I didn't realize until this morning how very unready for this I am. I can barely swallow past the lump in my throat.

Here's to Child #2 and the next chapter in his life!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Fortune Cookes: It's all in the interpretation

You may recall that I collect the messages from fortune cookies.

So, the other evening, we were eating take-out Chinese. At the end of the meal, Child #4 (11 year-old daughter) cracks open her fortune cookie and reads it to herself.

(The following conversation is paraphrased. My memory just isn't that good!)

Child #4: I got a horrible fortune.

Me: What does it say?

Child #4: "Never quit."

Child #2: That's not a horrible fortune. That's a good fortune. That just means you shouldn't give up. It's to encourage you.

Me: I agree with Child #2. It's really a very positive fortune.

Child #4: Oh, yeah? What if I'm a smoker?


Monday, August 15, 2011

My Town Monday: The Secret Lives of Games, San Diego, CA

Summer is drawing to a close. And, sadly, I didn't fit in all the activities I had planned. To be honest, this happens every summer. I'm one of those people who never gets to the end of her overly ambitious to-do list. And summer fun is no exception.

One of the activities that fell through the cracks was a visit to the Museum of Man for the Secret Lives of Games exhibit. HOWEVER, we are in luck because....the exhibit has been extended until October 2. Yay!

This exhibit has games from around the globe, games from our past and you can even be part of a game!

I took a peek at what's ahead at the Museum of Man, and it's not at all shabby. There's an upcoming exhibit on bones and one on mummies, for example. This is the Museum of Man's calendar.

In fact, I think I'll take out a museum membership. There is a Los Compadres Membership for a mere $5,000 annually! As you can imagine, it comes with a boatload of swag (Stuff We All Get). That said, we're more likely to opt for the $60 family membership fee.

Maybe it's not such a bad thing that we didn't make it to the Museum of Man this summer. Perhaps we'll go a few times during the school year instead! :)

Here's a link to the official My Town Monday blog for links to more posts about various corners of the world. Always of interest!


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Child #2 turns eighteen!

Happy Birthday to Child #2!

He is now the ripe old age of EIGHTEEN!

It's a bit of a shock to Mr. Summy and myself. It doesn't seem that long ago that we were zooming (truly zooming because I'd put off going to the hospital) along the highway to Scripps for the birth of our most mellow child.

As of today, Child #2 can legally vote, join the military, get married, buy cigarettes, gamble, buy adult material, and go to a strip club. I might have missed a couple of privileges, but basically I think that's about the extent of it.

Instead of indulging in any of the above, Child #2 chose to get his teeth cleaned. Well, not so much "chose" as "went to the appointment set up by his mother at the eleventh hour this summer."

At this appointment, Child #2 filled out his own health history and signed various legal papers. However, when it was discovered that Child #2 has a humongous cavity in an upper molar, a cavity that is threatening to devour the entire tooth, a cavity that will only be tamed by an expensive crown, the dentist called for the mother. Apparently, eighteen year-olds are not responsible for their dental bills. ;)

All joking aside, we are very, very proud of Child #2. He's all the things and more that you hope for in a child (oops an adult!): creative, hardworking, humorous, thoughtful, smart. (Notice the alpha order.) He's a joy to have in the family. And we're excited (albeit sad, too) about the next chapter in his life--he leaves for college in two incredibly short weeks.

Our female veiled chameleon laid 42 eggs today. Perhaps in honor of Child #2's birthday! I'm not at all convinced the eggs are fertilized. They just don't look quite right. For example, they're not very white. That said, I've been wrong about many, many things in life. And I'd like to be wrong about this!

Happy Birthday, Child #2! Here's to an awesome year!

Monday, August 8, 2011

My Town Monday: Knott's Soak City, Chula Vista, CA

Thank you, Google images, for this photo. I did not bring my camera today.

I spent MANY MANY hours today down in Chula Vista (located about 7 miles north of the Mexican border and about 20 miles southwest of my little house) at Knott's Soak City. Who was I accompanied by? Child #4 (11 year-old daughter) + her delightful friend and Child #3 (15 year-old son) and a BUNCH of his delightful friends. Luckily, fifteen is one of my favorite years!

A few fun facts about Knott's Soak City in Chula Vista:
-It was built in 2000.
-The water temperature is an UNbalmy 74 or 75 degrees fahrenheit.
-The cost of food is beyond exorbitant! And you aren't allowed to bring in your own. Not that sneaking in a sandwich and a handful of carrots was all that tough...

A few fun facts about water parks, in general:
-There are over 1,000 waterparks in N. America (Canada, US, Mexico for you non geography buffs). Way over 80 million visitors will hang out at waterparks this summer in N. America.
-There are about 600 waterparks in the rest of the world. Many people in Europe, Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia, and S. America will engage in interesting activities other than kicking it at waterparks this summer.
-"Summit Plummet" located at Blizzard Beach, Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Florida is the "tallest, fastest, single person, free-fall waterslide in the world."
-Tropical Islands (how do you say that in Deutsch??) in Brand, Germany boasts the largest indoor waterpark in the world. It's 710,000 square feet.
-The first waterpark built was Wet 'N Wild in Orlando, Florida. It was built by George Millay, the same guy who founded Sea World.

And...Where is the waterpark capital of the world located? This is where you'll find TWENTY waterparks within a 20 mile radius with 200+ waterslides. You'll be surprised....

It's...uısuoɔsıʍ 'sןןǝp uısuoɔsıʍ

(For those of you who don't like to read upside down, it says Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.)

If you've got some extra reading time, here are links to other posts I've done about Chula Vista (which means "Beautiful View"). You'll find it hard to believe, as do I, that Forbes magazine named this town as one of American's most boring cities. (Those Forbes people were obviously never subjected to my mother's "if-you-can't-find-something-nice-to-say-don't-say-anything speech.):
Onstage Playhouse, one of my favorite community theaters.
A WWII bomber plane is raised from murky depths.
The US Olympic Training Center

Last, but certainly not least, here's a link to the official My Town Monday blog for links to more posts about various corners of the world.



Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Book Review Club (August 2011)

Welcome to the last meeting of the summer of The Book Review Club. We've got some great reviews (fiction and nonfiction) this month. So, please scroll down and click on the links below. You won't be disappointed. :)

Without further ado, here's my review.

Over the Edge by Norah McClintock

Norah McClintock is a prolific Canadian Young Adult writer of mostly mysteries. She has won the Crime Writers of Canada's Arthur Ellis Award for Best Juvenile Crime Novel FIVE times! Ms. McClintock was born in Montreal, attended McGill University and now lives in my beloved Toronto. In fact, several of her mysteries are set in Toronto.

Other fun McClintock facts: As a child, she read all the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy mysteries. She bakes a mean brownie. She has written 3 different mystery series: Chloe & Levesque, Mike & Riel, Robyn Hunter plus A SLEW of other books.

I want to be Norah McClintock when I grow up!

I have never met a Norah McClintock mystery I didn't like. Today I'm reviewing Over the Edge, the first book in the Chloe & Levesque series. In Over the Edge, high-schooler Chloe Yan, is forced to move to a small mining town because her mother marries a detective, Louis Levesque. One of the students at Chloe's new school, a loner named Peter Flosnick, is found dead at the bottom of a cliff. Peter's mother believes he was pushed and convinces Chloe to investigate. Peter is the third student to die recently. Chloe comes up with three suspects, then methodically follows the clues. There's a great climactic scene where Chloe amasses all the suspects at the cliff. The gathering together of the suspects kind of reminded me of the Nero Wolfe mysteries. I've always had a soft spot for Nero. :)

I love Chloe who is spunky, full of attitude and quite the risk taker. I love her stepfather, Levesque, because he's even-tempered, smart and goes to a lot of trouble to figure out how to deal with Chloe. I love Norah McClintock's mysteries because there is never ever a loose thread. And they're fast paced. And she always offers up a good, solid mystery.

Here is an excerpt from Over the Edge.

Now, drum roll, here are this month's delectable reviews! Please click through. You will find much to add to your to-be-read pile.


Scott Parker: FUN AND GAMES by Duane Swierczynski (pulp fiction)

Sarah Laurence: STATE OF WONDER by Ann Patchett (literary)

Staci of Life in the Thumb: CLOSE YOUR EYES by Amanda Eyre Ward (literary)

Prairie Rose of Prairie Rose's Garden: FALL OF GIANTS by Ken Follett (historical fiction)

Kathy Holmes: WHAT THE HEART KNOWS by Mara Purl (women's fiction)

Patti Abbott: TIME WILL DARKEN IT by William Maxwell

Beth Yarnall: SHAKESPEARE'S LANDLORD by Charlaine Harris (mystery)

Linda McLaughlin: DARK FIRE by C.J. Sansom (mystery)

Stacy of The Cat's Meow: THE TIGER'S WIFE by Tea Obreht (And here's a link to Sarah Laurence's May review of this book.)



Ellen Booraem of Freelance Ne'er-do-well: THE WORDY SHIPMATES by Sarah Vowell (historical and humorous)

Note to Reviewers: Any errors (broken link, missed review, etc), just shoot me an email or leave a comment. Thank you so much for your reviews!