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Some happy news [Feb. 25th, 2014|10:45 am]
I have been mostly absent from LJ these last months, but wanted to pop in and share some good news. Since November, Dove has been in the process of selecting and applying to high school. We did a lot of scoping out during her 7th grade year, and she narrowed her choices to three schools, all of which are about a half an hour away, and all of which offer the Engineering track that she is interested in pursuing. I'll call the schools St. Kateri's, Our Lady of Consolation, and Cardinal Shehan High.

St. Kateri's is a very small all girls high school, about 300 kids, where I went to high school in Baltimore. Pros: very warm and friendly, nurturing faculty who seem very invested in the girls, lowest tuition and easiest commute to get her there. Cons: maybe too small, less club and activity offerings, and enrollment has been dwindling for several years...some concerns about the school staying open long enough for both my girls to get through.

Our Lady of Consolation (LC) is a large coed high school of about 1250 kids. Pros: most AP offerings and academically very challenging, a lot of extracurriculars, terrific theatre department and good scores from the engineering kids, has the most extensive elective classes. Free lunches. Pay bus service if you need it. Cons: most expensive tuition, as in out of our range expensive. Commute is medium, some traffic. More kids = less personal attention?

Cardinal Shehan is also a large coed high school of about 1100 kids. Pros: impressed with the engineering class and teacher. Good theatre department. Cons: Worst commute, mid range tuition, and I was wholly put off by the admissions director, who definitely had the snob factor. Also a concern was finding out that if Engineering track kids wanted to take any electives, they had to do so during their lunch period, and eat their lunch during homeroom. What?! Essentially, with the way their schedule worked, STEM WAS their elective.

Dove applied for every possible scholarship she could think of that she had a potential shot at. Wrote innumerable essays, got reference letters, put together application packets, etc. - it was a heck of a lot of work and stress. She auditioned for a theatre scholarship at St. K's. She auditioned for a theatre scholarship at LC, and made it to call back interviews with the theatre director there two weeks later. She got a letter from Cardinal Shehan that she was an academic semifinalist for a scholarship there, and had to attend an essay writing competition with about 40 other kids. She had a call back interview from the LC Engineering director and had to interview with him. Then it was the waiting game.

St K's and Cardinal S are both Baltimore diocese schools. They send out their packets in mid Feb. LC is a Washington diocese school, and they send their packets a week later. The first one to come in was from Cardinal S. She was accepted into the honors program and the Engineering track, but no scholarship money. She was extremely disappointed, but Cardinal S had been moved to her last choice school, and we thought that we might still be able to swing the tuition if we stretched.

The next to arrive was from St. K's, and wow, what a difference. She got a very personalized and extremely welcoming packet, with all kinds of bling, personal note from admin, a welcoming email from a fellow student there, and three scholarship offers: a $2000 academic scholarship, a $500 legacy scholarship award, and a $500 theatre scholarship. She was really happy about those, and it made a nice dent in the tuition. St. K's is a small school, and that is the top amount that they offer, so we were thankful. She was also accepted in the Engineering program and honors track there, so that pretty much kicked Cardinal S out of the running.

The big wait was for her #1 school, LC, whose admissions packets were due a week later. Last Friday, her good friend and classmate Mag got her admissions letter from LC - she was accepted but no money or financial aid. Dove watched the mail the next day: no packet. We thought surely it would come on Monday, and I watched for the mailman, but again, nothing. I got worried that maybe we missed it or that it got lost in the ads/circulars, so yesterday I called LC's admissions office. Apparently the packets were mailed the previous week and hers is either lost or delayed in the mail, but the very kind lady in Admissions asked for her name and when I said "Dove K" she said, "Oh, yes, Dove! You have a very talented young lady there. I know she's been accepted, let me grab her file." I thought that was a good sign, and when she came back to the phone, she said, "We usually do not discuss student admissions over the phone, but since it looks like her packet is so late getting to you, I will tell you that she has been accepted into the Honors track and the Engineering Program. And we are offering Dove our top scholarship for $7000 a year, plus an additional $1500 theatre scholarship."

I was so happy I could have cried. That $8.5K scholarship puts LC's tuition equal to St. Kateri's, and now we CAN afford to send her to either school, so Dove can choose. Thank thank thank the Lord! She has been invited to a Scholars Breakfast at St. K's tomorrow, and we are still waiting for the LC packet to see about their welcome schedule for incoming freshman. Dove will not have to make a final decision on her high school until the first week in March, so she has time to really weigh the two schools. They are both so different. Three of her good friends have been accepted to St K's, and one has also been accepted to LC. I think she is leaning to LC, which would have been out of the question were it not for the scholarship, but we'll see. I am just really proud of her hard work and happy that she's been accepted. :)
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End of the year crazies [Jun. 5th, 2013|09:17 am]
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Spring here [May. 13th, 2013|10:33 am]
Today it is sunny if chilly, and I am enjoying seeing the nicer weather coming in. Yesterday for Mother's Day my girls got me two new bird feeders, and I can't wait to hang them up in the elm tree outside my office window. They even got me squirrel baffles to hang overtop, and I look forward to seeing those thieving little rodents go sliding off and grasping for nothing in midair rather than raiding my birdies food all summer as they are wont to do! :)

Summer is coming up fast. I can't believe the kids have only about a month of school left, then Dove will be an 8th grader - her last year at Immaculata!!! Where did the time go? I can still remember dropping my chubby cheeked kindergartener off her first week there, and looking nervously in the rear view mirror to make sure she got into school okay. Sigh! This week I will be going on a field trip to St. Clement's Island with Robin's class, and I hope we will have good weather and a fun time while there.

Dove got some nice news last night at play practice. She was cast as Ursula in Much Ado About Nothing. It is a small part, but bigger than when she was playing Peter in Romeo and Juliet last year, and she was excited to get to be one of only 4 girls in the show. Shakespeare typically has way more males than females, and Dove figured she'd be in boy parts for many more years before getting to play a girl. Well, this year, she may get to do both! Due to a scheduling conflict with one of the boys for opening weekend of the show, Dove's director Mick approached her last night and asked her if she would also be willing to understudy the part of Verges, the comedic male sidekick to Officer Dogberry, and play both Ursula AND Verges on opening weekend. She was very happy to do so as it almost doubles her part.

This morning we relooked at the script, and that double casting is going to make for some VERY challenging quick changes in acts 3 and 4 for her. At one point she has only two lines between going offstage as Ursula and coming back as Verges! I think her hopes of wearing a lovely Shakespearian gown just went out the window. They will likely put her in a blouse and big skirt, I think, for Ursula, so that she can wear trousers underneath for Verges, and just throw on a cape or hat to complete the girl to boy transformation when needed on opening weekend. It will be a good challenge for her if they can work out all the quick changes, I think.

Robin is hoping to go to auditions soon for Suessical. Same theatre, different group and directors for this show, which goes up in August. Again, it is mostly high schoolers and Robin is nervous about getting in because we've heard they are very tough about singing ability. Robin has a decent voice, but we've heard some terrific singers in that group. I think she would be delighted to be just an anonymous Whoville citizen in the chorus, if she gets in at all. We'll see. She is having trouble finding an audition song - a number of the songs she sings well are not in the right key for her on the downloadable karaoke versions, and we have no sheet music. She may just do Mabel's prayer from Fame since we already have the CD for that if we can't find anything else.

I had a number of fun get togethers with friends this month - my dear pal Tom took me out for dinner, and my cousin Rabbit took me out for lunch for my birthday. I'm planning to go see Hair this month as well as a one man Dickens show. And the girls and I will be going to Great Wolk Lodge with the Girl Scouts (hoping it will be fun - already I see difficulties looming with the room assignments, but we'll work through it!).

Have been really enjoying Sunday night tv this season too. The girls and I watch Call the Midwife every Sunday on PBS at 8 pm, then they go to bed and the COL and I watch Game of Thrones. Overall I like the show, though previously I've found it to waste time on very HBO-like gratuitous sex scenes, and this season I am not enjoying the prolonged Theon torture scenes that could WAY stand to be trimmed down and / or suggested rather than shown. But some of the casting is SO good - Tywin Lannister, Brienne of Tarth, the Queen of Thorns, Varys, Jaime Lannister, Tyrion - all giving terrific performances, that I am willing to excuse some of the poor writing. It is an unenviable task trying to whittle those monster novels into a ten hour series. Really looking forward to seeing what they do with the Red Wedding in just a few more episodes.

Off now to get some housework done and enjoy the sunshine a bit outdoors today!
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Things around here... [Apr. 23rd, 2013|01:24 pm]
Well, it has been a while since I have posted, so I thought I would do a catch up post from this past month.

Birthday stuffCollapse )

Magic to Do in NYCCollapse )

Shakespeare and School DecisionsCollapse )

Catching up with KatieCollapse )
This weekend will be a girls weekend at our house, as the COL will be on a trip with his bike group. The next weekend, I and the girls will be in OC for Dove's friend Mag's birthday party. It has been several years since we've been to the beach, and Dove and Robin are excited, even though it will be too cold to swim. Should be good for some girlfriend time for them, and I get along with Mag's mother, so I'm looking forward to a weekend of no housework and just relaxing. Life is busy - but good. :)
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Grimm [Feb. 7th, 2013|09:42 am]
So I needed something to watch while doing laundry, so started the series Grimm this week. I've seen two episodes. I've enjoyed them so far, though it's a little hokey and more than a little predictable. I find myself though, doing continuity checks through the show more than with others. Some things just jump out (and not just the fabley stuff). Like, when the lead guy's aunt dies, why is there a celtic looking drawing on her tombstone? Wouldn't the Grimm family be more, uh, Germanic?
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Traveler friends - advice needed! [Jan. 30th, 2013|07:27 am]
So we are strongly considering taking the girls to New Orleans this summer for our family vacation.Yes, I know it will be hot as hell, we lived in La. for a year plus. We will probably be going right in the middle of July to avoid Dove's Shakespeare schedule in the early part of summer.

So, the question is, what's good to do with KIDS (ages 10 and 13) in New Orleans? We will likely be there in the city for three days, staying close to the downtown area but not IN the French Quarter, taking the Amtrak Crescent line down and back, so we will also be likely car-less.

Potential things on are agenda are: the Aquarium / Insectarium (zoo probably too far), a swamp tour, a riverboat ride, a ghost tour, Mardi Gras World, Cafe du Monde, a nice dinner out at some point, maybe a play.

It has been 20 years since my last Nawlins trip, during Mardi Gras, and it was before we had kids, so I'm going to need to look at this visit from a different perspective. For those of you who've visited recently, or visited with kids, what do you recommend as fun? What were the duds and disappointments, and what are the gotta do's?

Chime in, folks! :)
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Dashing! [Dec. 21st, 2012|08:47 am]
Quick post as the Christmas to do list is breathing down my neck and I am on a tight "class Christmas party/visit the elderly/run errands/get the kids to closing Annie shows"timeline today.

The cards are (mostly) done - ran short and need to try and grab another box today, also a last minute gift for a classmate of Robin's. Tree is up. Nary a present wrapped (except for the teacher / coach ones). Turkey not yet bought. Lots going on!

Last night was the school band concert. Dove is a flautist in the advanced band. Opportunely, Robin had a pick up rehearsal for Annie at the exact same time (Dove was excused). So I had to get to school early to stake out a seat, drop Dove, then drop Robin, then come back in time for the concert. Got to the theatre early - locked! I had to wait with Robin until the director showed up then high tailed it back to the school.

I have to say I have always found band concerts to be one step below torture. The poor beginner band usually drags along, then the advanced band comes out sounding a bit better, but I usually am not a fan of the music. To her credit, the band director keeps it short and sweet so the whole concert is rarely more than half an hour. But I really enjoyed myself last night.

Part of it is the atmosphere. My kids have been at Immaculata for 8 years now, and it really does feel like family. It warms my heart to see the beginner kids scurrying in in their red and green holiday clothes (black and white for the advanced band), waving to parents who've become friends over the years. I am going to truly miss these folks when my kids move on to high school.

One of the parents there was Oscar. His wife Lynda is one of my dear friends. They have two boys, Ewen and Ned, who are in Dove and Robin's grades, respectively. Oscar is a joker. He is a long time volunteer sports coach, and he always ribs me. A big althletic guy, he was somewhat aghast when his son Ned decided to join the band as a beginner flutist (the only boy in the front row among the flutes). Ewen plays percussion, a more manly undertaking, according to dad. "Flute?!" he said to me. "Why the daggone flute? I told him, boy, get you some BRASS!" So when I stood up to leave to take Robin to rehearsal, before the concert began, I heard this voice holler "Down in front!!!" and look up to see Oscar grinning at me. "You wait til that little boy with the flute comes out" I warned him. :)

I made it back just in time for the show, and I have to say, the beginner band was the worst I have ever heard in in the four years I've been attending these concerts. They dragged through Mary had a little Lamb at half speed, and some poor kid in the back kept SQUEAKING these horrible off pitch high notes every few bars. I am pretty sure it was Eddie, the terror of Robin's class, who was fingering his trumpet with a look like somebody just handed him the thing for the first time ever. Drag drag drag SQUEEEEEAK drag drag SQUEAKKKKKK! I looked at the COL and got a terrible giggle fit over it every time that poor kids squeaked. It was all I could do to keep a straight face and keep my shoulders from shaking. Of course everyone applauded politely, but my gosh, it was like a creaking door every couple of notes, during every song! The advanced band was a lot better, but how many times can you hear "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree?"

Dove did fine. She is finding that while she likes the flute, it is a lot of work and not really worth the enjoyment factor for her, and that the amount of practice required to get really good is a lot. I have a feeling next year will be her last in band.

After the performance, I was showing Lynda some good shots I got of Ned and Ewen during the show when Oscar came up. "Hey, Oscar, was that your kid squeaking in the front row?" I teased him. "Naw, that little flute too weak for that much noise!" he grinned back.

As the kids came out afterwards, I was noticing how grown up many of Dove's classmates are suddenly looking. These little people that I remember as kindergarteners are now getting tall and looking all teenagerish. Time flies. And for as painful as those squeaky notes were, I know I am going to miss hearing them when these days of elementary band concerts are finally done....
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Going home [Nov. 28th, 2012|10:47 am]

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That family circle [Nov. 16th, 2012|09:24 pm]
To add to the unspectacular month we are having, on the way to Walter Reed for my preop conference today, I got a call from my Uncle Had that my Uncle Mickey passed away unexpectedly. :(

It got me thinking tonight about the great circle that makes up family, and how encompassing it is.

Uncle Mickey was not my blood uncle, but he felt like it. He was the youngest brother of my Uncle Had. Uncle Had is not my blood uncle either, he was my aunt Vieve's husband, so an uncle by marriage, and so his brother was sort of an uncle-in-law once removed, I guess. But he felt like a REAL uncle, if you know what I mean.

Uncle Had was always a big hulking fellow with a dour face, who looked more German than Irish (from his mom's side of the family). He was the second oldest in his own big tribe, but his oldest brother passed away when he was still a young man, so Uncle Had became the oldest of his family by proxy.

Uncle Mickey was the youngest, and looked more Irish than German - he had black hair and twinkly blue eyes and that perennial '70s tan like Malibu Ken. He was our "good looking uncle". He and his wife Aunt Shelley (who had that perfect blonde model face) were such a cute couple, and they lived two blocks down the street from me, halfway between our house and Uncle Had's house. They had two kids, Sami and Brent, who were a bit younger than me, but we all carpooled to school together all the way through elementary school.

Uncle Mickey was a mailman in the neighborhood. When he wasn't driving his mail truck, he had a big long cream and wood grain station wagon that he used to haul us home from school in. There was a definitive order to the seating arrangements in the car, which was typically bringing home 8 or 9 kids, back in the pre-required seatbelt era. My cousin Marie, top of the totem pole as an 8th grader, got to sit in the front seat with Uncle Mickey. Next oldest down the line, me and my cousins Tricia, Lynn, and Sami got to sit in the "way back" of the station wagon, with me and Tricia getting the primo seats right next to the gateswing rear door. Nothing cooler than hanging out the back window shouting out to your friends as Uncle Mickey drove us home. The three littlest: Rabbit, Haddie and Brent, got the ignominious "middle seat" with no view. ;) Uncle Mickey also demonstrated his coolness by letting us blare the FM radio on the station that played all the current groovy rock tunes, unlike Uncle Had, who played more "easy listening" type music for Aunt Vieve in the car.

I think the last time I saw Uncle Mickey was at my wedding. After I moved away, he and Aunt Shelley moved off our street to a little house not far away, but once we kids were all out of school, our paths rarely crossed. I did run into Aunt Shelley and Sami from time to time at the store, and we'd catch up, but it has been a long time since I saw them, though we still exchange Christmas cards.

Tonight at the funeral home, I was having trouble finding the appropriate entrance, when a young man walking through the parking lot helped me. It was my cousin Brent. I don't think I've seen him since he was about 8 or 9! But when I went inside, I immediately spotted Sami, and we had time to catch up with each other. Aunt Shelley looks the same, just like an older version of herself, still sweet. Uncle Mickey, unbelievably, looked like an old guy, finally. His hair went the way of Uncle Had's, and he got very skinny and no longer had that rocking Malibu tan from back in my younger years.

But that is the way I'll always remember him, standing on the sidewalk in a t-shirt and running shorts, his blue eyes twinkling, trading quips with my Aunt Vieve and joking with the kids, always laughing. Such a good natured, handsome guy, who drove me home from school for so many years. I think it is that kind of dedication that makes someone family so much more than the DNA. My family was full of almost-relatives who were just as good as the real thing. And I'm very thankful for the Uncle Mickeys, the Aunt Marys, the Mr. Sammys who were just as much a part of my family as my my other relatives. Blessings!
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Rollercoaster two weeks [Nov. 16th, 2012|08:23 am]
To make a very crazy last two weeks very short, we could use some prayers for the COL's mom. She is in very serious condition in the ICU at Johns Hopkins from a myriad of complications following surgery for a tumor. She had another emergency surgery yesterday for severe internal bleeding, and is being kept completely sedated this weekend in the hopes of improving her healing. All prayers, thoughts and good wishes for her appreciated in this very crucial time. It has been a hard last several weeks for the COL's parents.

In the meantime, I am expecting to have gall bladder surgery on Monday - after a moderate bout of discomfort last month, the dreaded stones were discovered and my doc recommends having the whole thing out. So we are juggling kid responsibilities for next week with John's mom's condition. A stressful time, but we are doing okay...just hoping for the best possible outcome for Helen, my wonderful mother in law.
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