Tag Archives: school

My nephew beat me to publication

With seasonal poetry, a fish story and a description of a trip to Epcot, “All About Me” is filled with great reading. All of it written and illustrated by my 12-year-old nephew, Drew.

He’s an author, and I’m lucky enough to be a recipient of a copy of his book.

In a stroke of teacher genius that impresses the aspiring author in me rather than makes me yearn for the good ol’ days, the students in my nephew’s class each created a book over the course of the past school year and had it published.

Any books I created back in the day were made with construction paper and yarn. His is full-color and perfect bound.

In the stylized words of my 17-year-old stepson when he sees something he likes: “Vera nahhhhce.”

Here’s a poetic, punctuation-free excerpt:

A climb up a tree

Well classmates I’ll tell you

Life for me hasn’t been an easy climb up a tree

I’ve had weak branches

And broken ones too

And pine needles in my face


But all this time I’ve been climbing on up

And grabbing tighter

And climbing faster

And sometimes my hands were full of sap

And there wasn’t an end

So classmates just hang on

We’re almost there

I’m still going classmates

Don’t stop now

For I’m still climbing

Life hasn’t been an easy tree climb

Senioritis is real

April 1985

Dear Diary,

I have senioritis so bad I should have bumps. School is so boring and I don’t care and everything is so irrevelant [sic].

It’s diary week here at Minnesota Transplant where we plumb the depths of five years of Judy Bloom diaries I kept in high school. (Author of “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret” and other teenage fiction, Judy Bloom was so popular and so beloved, by me anyway, she was writing and selling blank books! That’s an author’s goal to which to aspire!)

A month after writing about senioritis and paying no attention whatsoever to the relevancy of spelling, I wrote: “I am so sick of school. I got a zero on my last Advanced Topics test. I was so bored at school.” Under the subject of a book to remember from May, I wrote: “‘Of Human Bondage’ — the book I never read for Thematic Writing.”

W. Somerset Maugham’s semi-autobiographical novel is thought by some to be among the best novels of the 20th century, but I guess my 18-year-old self preferred reading “Smart Women” (one of Bloom’s adult novels) and going to prom (which was “OK,” according to my diary).

With perspective that comes with age (and step-parenting), I don’t know how my parents could stand me back in 1985 as I wrapping up my senior year. I could hardly stand myself.

Coming Thursday: The best cure for senioritis — graduation.

How a college visit is not like gazpacho

Simple math:

  • My 17-year-old stepson, a junior this year, is interested in attending college.
  • My sister works in the admissions department at St. John’s University in Central Minnesota.
  • A visit of my Beloved and I coincided nicely with a tour day at the university.
  • A suggestion to my stepson to visit the university was met with agreement. “Yeah, sure.”

Adds up to success, right?

Today, the day of the tour, arrived, and my stepson dragged his feet. “Oh, I’m only a junior.” “Oh, it’ll be boring.” “Oh, I don’t want to attend St. John’s.” “Oh, I’m tired, sore, hungry … .”

“OK,” I wheedled. “It’s a benchmark. You’re not committed just by touring. If you hate it, we’ll leave early.”

We got him to the initial presentation with this approach. The schedule called for touring the College of St. Benedict’s first (the girl’s school — ugh). I thought for sure we wouldn’t make it to that tour. But we did. I kept my mouth shut so I wouldn’t ask some question that would embarrass him. And then, to tour St. John’s required a bus ride. Again, I thought the hurdle would spell failure.

I remember a meal our first summer together. He was 13. I was a new stepmom trying to please and nourish at the same time. I prepared homemade gazpacho. Hey, the kid liked catsup, didn’t he? I was using fresh vegetables. Why wouldn’t he like cold tomato soup?

Well, he didn’t (I’m sure that shocks the veteran moms out there). That meal ranks as the top most awful food he’s even encountered, right up there with his aunt’s glorified rice. Totally disgusting.

I began worrying this afternoon that I was serving a gazpacho-like lesson that might turn him off from college altogether.

“No. Hmm. This is interesting. Let’s get on the bus.”

OK. Good. Whew.

Every building at St. John’s was better than the last in his eyes. I was literally witnessing him falling in love as we walked around campus. The football field cinched it.

“I could go here.” And later, “Thanks for making me go to the tour.”

Wow. Even if he doesn’t ultimately attend St. John’s, our little jaunt through the campus succeeded. My stepson now knows the GPA requirements, the costs, the majors offered and what the dining facilities and weight room look like (these are very important services in a college, don’tcha know).

Not a gazpacho day. A good day.

Autumn beginnings

“‘Where shall I begin, please your Majesty?’ he asked. ‘Begin at the beginning,’ the King said, gravely, ‘and go on till you come to the end. Then stop.'” — Lewis Carroll, author of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”

Autumn is filled with potential and new beginnings. I love that about autumn.

When I was in high school, I spent my Augusts planning and shopping for and buying my new school wardrobe. I felt like the school year was a fresh start on fashion, on my adherence to trends, on my popularity. I never worried about my grades, but my self esteem was built on my appearance, driven primarily by my clothes.

Thank goodness my autumns are no longer pressure-packed popularity contests.

Still, August, autumn, the new school year represent beginnings:

  • Today is Tyler’s and my first anniversary — the beginning of our second year as a married couple. What kinds of blessings and adversity will we enjoy together in the next year?
  • Tonight, we are watching a Chicago Bears preseason football game. New quarterback Jay Cutler represents all kinds of potential for Bears fans.
  • Tomorrow is Caswell’s first day of school, his first day at the new high school. Will he live up to his potential?
  • Tomorrow afternoon is Caswell’s first football game (he played a little in the sophomore game Friday, but this will be the first freshman game). What will this season bring?

Tyler remarked recently how quickly time passes. I am trying not to let it slip through my fingers by being mindful. (Writing my blog is one way for me to be mindful.) For this adventure in wonderland, we shall begin at the beginning and go on till we come to the end. And then we shall stop.