Thursday Open Thread

I’m parenting solo for a couple of days while DH is on a business trip to Austin. Yes, DH is in Austin. Wish I didn’t have these pesky kids to take care of, so I could have tagged along on this trip. I could have finally met Mom of Twins! And KristieVal! Then again, if it weren’t for my pesky kids and this thing called parenthood, I would never have crossed paths with our beloved Mom of Twins and KristieVal, or with any of you, dear readers. So I guess I’ll give the kids a pass . . . for now¬† ;-)

What’s on your mind today?

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98 thoughts on “Thursday Open Thread

  1. The trailer for Star Trek: Into Darkness was released today and I’ve watched it roughly eleventy million times… SQUEEE … now i have something to obsess about until May… who is the villian? is it Gary Mitchell? can’t wait!

  2. Thanks, Erika, for the tips in MV! Next time I definitely want to figure out a meet-up with you! We were so close! When we were driving over to the railroad I figured I was passing right by you! I didn’t want to get into it too much on FB because it’s my grandma’s #1 hobby to read everything that everyone is doing/saying. I’m surprised she hasn’t friended all of you MTers! We stayed in Garden Grove with her and my grandpa, and then spent a lot of time out and about with my BFF who lives in South County still.

    It was a really nice visit — grandma wasn’t happy I spent so much time with my BFF, but the main purpose of the visit her and see the new baby. I really needed it, and I’m so glad it worked out. I’ve vented here before about the state of our friendship due to time differences & distance & kids & work, and even gone so far as to think gosh, maybe we aren’t really good friends and I haven’t gotten the clue? So it was good to have a lot of time together without husbands and remember that yes, we are still BFFs after 19 years, we just don’t get to connect all the time, and that’s ok. I’ll take it.

    • Basically if you took Katella/Santiago Canyon to get to Irvine Regional Park, we live right off of Cannon (major cross street before you reach the park).

      We are heading to South County this weekend to peep some Xmas lights. We have decided to scope out a different neighborhood each weekend, and we heard about a great one in Laguna Niguel. Maybe we will also take a field trip to Devilicious Donuts :)

      So glad you got some quality time with your BFF.

  3. Last night I went to a presentation for parents in our district about helping your children deal with stress and anxiety. The presentation was not as helpful as I was hoping it would be, but they did recommend this book (“Teach Your Children Well” by Madeline Levine, who wrote “The Price of Privilege”) very highly. I haven’t read either of her books, but it sounds like her big thing is concern about the high pressure rat race that high school grades and getting into college has become. The woman from our district said they have had more suicide assessments and hospitalizations directly from school from our district this year than they have ever seen before, and she believed a lot of it was related to the pressure cooker environment.

    It does seem like the college application process has gone way around the bend from what it used to be. Kids apply to more colleges, so colleges have a higher number of applications which increases selectivity; and then there’s the SAT prep courses, etc that were really in their infancy when I was finishing high school. A lot of the parents there were asking how to get their child to relax; they felt the kids were putting it on themselves more than it coming from above. One said her daughter got a B on a test and her friend told her it was OK because she could always go to [a nearby less highly ranked school] or work at McDonald’s. The friend was totally serious.

    • The stress Liza puts on herself is RIDONKULOUS… I’m actually contemplating writing a blog post entitled ‘I want my child to get a B”.. because I told her the other night I wish she’d just get a B on her report card already so she can see the world won’t collapse… among the thigns I have told her that seem to help are:

      1) I got C+s and even a D+ one quarter in high school math classes and I still went to college
      2) in College I got some Cs– IN MY MAJOR and I still graduated with a B+ average and got a good job and live happy life
      3) her stepmother has gone back to school twice and changed careers as many times each time to great success.. what you do in high school or college does not have to equal what you do in life
      4) in my entire career I swear to god and hope to die.. no one has EVER asked me what I got in 8th grade science.. there is no big permanent record in the sky that keeps track of these things
      5) (stolen from a friend) even the guy who finishes last in his med school class is still called “Doctor”…

      This grade pressure is SO not me… at ALL.. it is however 100% totally my sister.. it’s freaky… but I’m worried the kid’s gonna give herself an ulcer before high school

      • Have you seen Race to Nowhere? We did a screening here a couple of years back and it was insane. Seriously.

        The thing that makes me nutty is that my kids have mountains of homework to do- which stresses us all out- but most of it is stupid and pointless. So they’re stressed out about getting things done, even though we can all see that the work they’re doing is inane.

        Ugh.

        • I could also head thump the science teacher who gave them “your grades are your key to EVERYTHING” speech… sigh…

          most of her homework is pretty good this year — she has a lot but none of it seems like busy work which is great.. but the grade thing makes me mental

          • This:

            no one has EVER asked me what I got in 8th grade science.. there is no big permanent record in the sky that keeps track of these things

            Cracks me up. I’ve told my kids this and they look at me like I’m full of sh*t.

          • Speaking of rigor and effective educational strategies: I got to DS10′s school 10 min early yesterday, so I waited outside the classroom and observed through the large windows. My son was lying happily on the decrepit couch using an understuffed cow as a shield against 3 boys who appeared to be beating him with paper airplanes. They wrestled him off the couch onto the floor, and pretty soon it was a pillow fight (plus cow, of course). Meanwhile a cluster of girls was drawing faces on balloons while one girl batted a very large balloon over everyone’s head. None of this appeared to disturb either the teacher or the kids who were reading or writing on worksheets, though they were clearly in the minority. So I definitely continue to be impressed by the gifted program. :D

            • It is wonderful. The teacher motivates his class by not filling spare time with busywork; any time left over after your work is finished is yours to control. I always assumed this meant ‘within reason’, but maybe not. Or maybe ‘reasonable’ is defined by the class government, which has a surprising amount of latitude. The first bill to pass both houses (girls are senate, boys are assembly) extended PE to an hour and the governor/teacher’s veto was easily overridden, so the teacher agreed to find a way to fit the curriculum around an hour of PE. And my son will be appealing a disciplinary decision in friday court this week. (On procedural grounds; the student who wrote him up didn’t write the ticket correctly so he is confident he will get off.)

              • That is awesome. Seriously awesome. I love that the class is also the government.
                I recently heard our principal use the expression “the government” in a sentence that was mildly disparaging…as if he’s a corporation or something (of course, he wishes it was). It was in a very large meeting and the moment passed, so I didn’t get the chance to point out that our school is not at odds with the government, FFS.

      • I was totally that kid. I remember being in the HS Guidance Office in tears because I got a “bad” grade and was afraid to tell my mom (who would be disappointed but not angry, of course).

        L is like that, but has mellowed a lot in college. Brown places much less emphasis on grades, especially in soft sciences and humanities, and gives you the option of taking many classes Pass/Fail (to encourage experimentation).

        DS, otoh, is happy to get a “3″ (at grade level), and needs a little “encouragement” to shoot for the “4″.

        • I just don’t know where it COMES from… I mean .. have you MET me? this is sooo not in my gene pool.. I swear it’s my sisters beyond the grave revenge for me having the girl she wanted. (and yes Liza thinks there are two grades.. A and failing…) sigh..

        • Yes, I look at all the kids driving themselves far beyond the 4.0 and wonder how my much less academically focused child is ever going to have a prayer of getting a college slot. We still have time for improvement but he is never going to be one of those kids.

      • I swear to the baby Jebus, AP Biology was the *best* class for me – I got a straight C- the whole year and ye verily, the world did not end. I learned a ton, worked as hard as I could and sat with my C- and felt it was just about right. (It helps that my school awarded GPA on a curve, with more points for AP classes, so my cumulative average didn’t suffer.)

        • But with the insanity that college is now, would kids with the grades and SATs that we had get in where we ended up going?

          I wonder. I just looked at the average SATs for my university. English looks like it is about 650, math is about 660. That is WAY higher than they were when I was applying.

          • haven’t they changed the numbers on the SAT so that they’re higher? So, perforce, kids will get higher SATs?

            I do admit, I wonder if I would get into my alma mater now.

            • Yeah, that’s true. I don’t know how many points you could subtract to normalize it. Plus, the huge number who take prep classes has got to have increased the average as well; they pretty much didn’t exist in NC in 1986 when I was sending my application in. Even GPAs are different because now they go above 4.0 and when I was in high school, at least at the one I attended, the most you could get was a 4.0.

          • Ugh. It hadn’t really occurred to me to worry about this. In all likelihood, my kids won’t have stellar grades, but they’ll do the International Baccalaureate program in high school. I’m hoping that that plus the whole intercultural/bilingual thing will make their applications stand out. Maybe I’m naive. Or maybe they really will go to Canada (DS1) and England (DS2) as they currently imagine.

            • Yeah, see that makes your kids interesting. I’ve apologized to mine that their boring lives make applications dicey – upper middle class white girls, no divorce, homelessness, trauma, gay parent, always lived in NC… Boring. :)

                • Sigh. Your time has passed.

                  My elder son will be able to play the little violin of transrace adoptee suffering from painful incurable disease.
                  Each of those elements has been done, of course, so he’ll have to work the combo to be effective. Younger son will probably work his own special combo of ornery+weird.

      • Since you mentioned that class, it just occurred to me that I literally cannot remember one thing about 8th grade science. The teacher, what we studied, who was in my class or any of it at all.

        Weird how stuff can just vanish.

        • My eighth grade science teacher had a beard and wore leather, ripped denim, and motorcycle boots. He once gave us the specs for a hypothetical planet and had us design the dominant species. Memorable quote (not from that assignment): “The most important human sex organ is the brain. ” He died last year.

    • I had planned to go to that, but I’m approaching single parenthood with DH’s new and improved job status so I couldn’t work it in. I definitely worry about my type-A stress case, who was up at 4:30 am because he woke up remembering he hadn’t completed his math homework. I’ve seen him break down in tears over the prospect of going to school with an incomplete assignment. And he’s still in elementary school, with teachers who aren’t big on homework. Of course he has a lot more going on, and some of this is displaced stress from other aspects of his life. But still, I can’t imagine how we’re going to manage this ramping up.

      • Lyn, you could be describing my girls. Now that they’re older, they have told me part of their stress comes from not wanting to stand out any more than they already do. If they don’t do their homework, someone might “notice”, even if the teachers could care less

      • Lyn, you could be describing my girls. Now that they’re older, they have told me part of their stress comes from not wanting to stand out any more than they already do. If they don’t do their homework, someone might “notice”, even if the teachers could care less

    • Dd 1 applied to 4 schools. I’ve heard of kids here applying to 6 or 8. I don’t get it – how many safety and stretch schools do you actually need?

      We have to get second child signed up for the SAT for early next year.

      • 6 was not unusual at my high school, but I hear of kids out here applying to 10 or 20. Particularly with the common application you can apply across the system very easily or even to unrelated schools.

        Maybe with the increase in costs too they figure they might as well cast a wide net to see what they are offered?

        • My DS applied to 7-8. There was quite a variety in there because when the applications were due he still wasn’t completely certain where he wanted to go, urban or rural, giant or tiny, conservatory or liberal arts or research uni. He figured it out by the time deposits were due but that is several months after apps are due, obviously.

          • Yeah, that judgey post could come back and bite me in the rear when the second daughter starts the application process in nine months or so. First child was pretty honed in on major and campus setting. Second child seems to fluctuate wildly on the first and have no idea on the second.

            • DS decided after visiting a bunch of colleges and going around with friends who attended, so he saw dorms, classes, etc. He was truly open-minded.

              At his school they don’t declare until the end of their second year, and then they have to convince a 3-member committee of their interest and aptitude through papers and projects. Considering how the last couple of weeks have gone (procrastination, anxiety, late papers) I am wondering if he’ll be there in 2 years, let alone 2nd semester!

              • End of semester is hard. DD is having her traditional “everyone around me is annoying and everything they do bothers me” meltdown right now. It’s time for a break; she’ll be home Thursday or Friday. When will your DS be done?

                • He finishes on 12/21. His roommate’s mom and I arranged to have them travel together on Sat. 12/22 so roommate could finish some last-minute stuff after finals. DS then scheduled a show for himself and other people on his label, in L.A., on the 22nd. He would not be back in time, since he’s leaving New York at 7 p.m. and the show is from 1 – 5 p.m. here.

                  I think he’s spent his energy trying to figure out how to pay to change that flight (and miss classes / finals?) instead of his schoolwork. Amazingly, DH is not jumping in to rescue him.

                  His music stuff has not been horribly distracting, I don’t think, but it’s distracting enough. Hmmph. THIS is why I pushed the gap year.

      • The interesting consequence of all this is, obviously, the same kids are getting accepted at so many universities but can only attend one. So they are still shopping in the summer sometimes, and put deposits at several places and then attend more than one orientation to decide where to go. Obviously, this would cause a chaotic ripple effect in the system and many places end up with much lower enrollments than they expected, while kids who would probably really fit in there and do well but were turned away months before lowered their expectations or decided on a gap year or whatever. The formulas that admissions offices use are way out of whack now, I think.

  4. Quick hit here today – I’m staffing a conference in New Orleans. Crazy busy, haven’t had a chance to read any threads, but I’m thinking about y’all EVERY day and really miss you awesome mamas. As I do everywhere, I talk you up, but not by name – because you are MINE and I don’t wanna share. <— Christmas Spirit, right there.

  5. I want some credit for holding my snarky fire against a Mean Girl woman at Jess’s school.

    So there’s this mean girl – she’s a grown-a$$ed woman, but she seriously has the temperment of a moody, b!tchy 14-year-old. She’s totally erratic and self-involved and overly dramatic, but her daughter and Jess are intermittantly friends, so I stay diplomatically, distantly, cordial, even though she slung a hella insult at me during a cookbook project last year.

    Past couple of days, I’ve been late getting Jess to school, and she’s been hanging outside of the classroom door like a goddamn bad smell and saying loudly “Tsk, Tsk, Rachel! Punctuality,” and then laughing like it’s a joke. Well, today, for the third time in a row, she does this. I’ve been up since 5 a.m. publishing my mag. I’m not in the mood for this BS and I’ve got this on the tip of my tongue, no kidding:

    “I may be late, but you’re fugly. My fault can be corrected with five minute’s effort.”

    And I didn’t do it, because really? Who wins. But I want credit for holding my fire. It’s that kind of morning.

          • While we’re on apostrophes, can I just get someone to tell me once and for all:

            If a last names ends in “s” (Like Williams, say- or Thomas) what is the possessive? Willams’? Williams’s? Do you say “We’re going to the Thomases tonight?”)

            This is my deep dark English teacher secret, btw.

                • When we were standing in line to get a picture with Santa the other day, my 8yo daughter saw the price list sign and asked me why “Photo’s” had an apostrophe if it was just a plural word. I told her the apostrophe is commonly abused.

                  However, I’m not sure that “Photo’s” is wrong. Back when I worked for a major retailer, we were designing signage and all of the marketing people insisted on writing “pj’s.” I looked it up, and found that if a word is abbreviated then an apostrophe can be used to avoid confusion, like “pjs” could be confusing.

                  What say you, grammar experts? Is that correct?

                  • I think (pardon me for not looking it up) that only applied to initialisms (PJs, CDs, POs) and is no longer recommended anyway. Also, I think technically “photo” is not an abbreviation but I forget the English word for what it is.

                    • Lol, yes, “photo” is short for photograph, so “photos” may be confusing (read as fo-toss).

                    • No, I mean, photograph>photo is technically not an abbreviation, but rather a shortened form, but I forgot the technical name for “shortened form.” When I looked up the Spanish word for it, I got “apocope.” (Also, an acronym and initialism are not the same thing, either. /linguistics nerd)

            • My last name ends in an s, as does my kids’ last name (see how I slipped that in?). I use Williams’. I think my marginally literate brothers do too. I’ve never checked to see what my husband does. However a family gathering at the Williams’ house would be pronounced by all of us as the Williamses house. So who the heck knows?

            • According to the Chicago Manual of Style (THE style guide among academic editors), plurals and possessives of proper nouns are essentially the same as for other nouns. For plurals, you add and s or es depending on the ending of the name:

              all the Edwards and Charleses
              flouting the Joneses

              For possessives, it’s the same as for regular nouns:

              Kansas’s law
              Burns’s poems
              Marx’s theories
              Berlioz’s opera
              Ross’s land
              the Rosses’ and Williamses’ land

              The examples above are taken from the book (sections 6.11 and 6.24).

              • I will add, however, that I avoid referring to my husband’s family in the plural (in writing), because I just can’t bring myself to write the Flahertys, and I really don’t think he would appreciate my referring to them as the Flaherties. Hee hee.

    • I just awarded you credit in the form of a drink ticket. In addition to points for holding your fire, you got extra points for the following line, “she’s been hanging outside of the classroom door like a goddamn bad smell.”

    • Other choices…

      “I wasn’t aware the punctuality police were on duty this morning…”

      “I can’t see how it’s any of your business…”

      “I’m sure that sounded much better in your head…”

      “Why don’t you just fuck off…”

      Stare of death would also be effective.

  6. At the hair salon, getting my hair fixed after last Monday’s failed color job. She’s also fixing my bangs. Hoping that this was just a one time issue and my wonderful stylist and I will be back on track. Love her, and what she usually does to my hair!

    In other boring news, daycare called and guess who has another fracking fever? I feel like I am doomed to never have another uninterrupted writing or grading day again.

  7. OMFG. I’m in Nutcracker hell. M had a studio run through that was supposed to end at 6. It’s 645 and they’re just starting Act 2. I’m in the waiting room listening to moms laugh about how their daughters have strep and colds and other associated flarn and yet they’re STILL IN THE REHEARSAL. The girl sitting by M has been coughing non stop. All I can think about is DH and how we’re going to have an ER Christmas because of this carp.

    Just as I’m about to grab her and say F it, the advanced ballet teacher comes over to us, points down at Molly, and mouths “Clara” from behind her and procedes to compliment her up one side and down the other.

    So much for my plan to get her to decide she likes gymnastics better.

  8. The kids at our junior high put one over on the adults by suggesting a yearbook theme of “Young, Wild and Free.” Principal OK’d it. Then a few months later he discovered the lyrics to the song…

    • I love them. Way to be subversive, kids!!!

      That song played four times in a row at my daughter’s vaulting competition recently. After it started the fifth time, I went up and asked the announcing booth if they had actually listened to the lyrics. Watching them stumble was pretty funny….

  9. Well, it’s Friday morning…..and I have not heard about the job I interviewed for on
    Tuesday. Logically, I know I”m nuts to think I would have heard, but she said 2-3 days, so yesterday I was sure I’d hear one way or another……..

    In related news, I’m going to a regional conference today, so (hopefully) there will be other employers.

    • Just assume she was being wildly optimistic when she said 2-3 days, and didn’t factor in the people who are in on the decision but were out sick or traveling or in other meetings. OR the paperwork hassles that have to be overcome before an offer is made. Still crossing fingers.

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