Seasons In Life

As we grow older and hopefully wiser, we realize that over the course of our lives a diverse group of people have come and gone.  Some staying briefly, others for a season and on that rare occasion we’ve met someone who has stuck with us for a large part of our lives.

Ahh, the Memories

Recently while thinking about simple times, memories of my childhood came to mind.  My friends who made junior high fun, crazy and sometimes naughty, like kissing boys under the bleachers (yes, I did that a time or two…who didn’t?)

My youth was spent in the 1970’s and for the most part I cannot recall a dull moment (okay, well maybe when I had to babysit my younger sisters.) mendy-circa-late-70s If I wasn’t cheering for our recreation club’s football team (my mom sewed my cheerleading outfit as most did back then) my friends Sheri, Karla, Kim, and Amber and I were deciding whose house we’d be sleeping at on Friday night. We would spend those nights talking about boys (as they were never far from our minds), listen to the radio and have pillow fights.  We all attended Sligh Junior High in Tampa, Florida which at the time was a 7th grade center designed for cultural integration in the community; it is now called Sligh Middle School (named after the street it faces) and is home to middle school kids in grades 5th – 7th.

In the late 70s, we would play 4-square in the school’s courtyard after lunch and talk about boys (again..we were 7th grade girls) and on rare occasion other topics which ran the gamut. We wore the hairstyles of the day, one side straight down and the other clipped back tight against the head (a bit of a bizarre style if you ask me) or a long and feathered look, such as in my picture. School offered home economics class, shop and typing, I took all three not remembering what I made in either home eco or shop, but I do recall standing at an ironing board (who knew back then we’d have was and wear clothing in the 21st century?) We wore dresses that were at or below our knees, pantyhose and black baby doll (flat) shoes. We had “patrols” (with the orange patrol belt) who patrolled the halls making sure we didn’t run and kept order on buses during the rides to/from school. Oh yeah, an on the rare occasion we would go to the mall…there would always be a line at the photo booth, you know…where you would go in, sit down, draw the curtain and start making goofy faces, then step out and wait a minute or two for your four shots to magically appear!  The picture above is a photo booth sitting.

I remember quite well my time in junior high and physical education class, pfft! (rolling eyes!)  Oh how I hated P.E.!  I still believe the only form of exercise our Phy. Ed. teachers knew were laps; everyday without fail and as soon as we hit the basketball courts (after dressing out) we ran laps.  I ran around that basketball court so many times one year I could tell you the location of every divot, crack and dip. I was determined not to have P.E. the following year so I got a part-time job at McDonald’s on Busch Blvd across the street from Busch Gardens and signed up for the school’s early work release program which allowed student to work in the afternoons on school days, usually reporting to work around noon. When a student was on early release P.E., home economics or shop were the classes of choice to drop from our class schedule; all the kids in this program thought it was the best thing in life, especially if we had the day off from work we still left school early.

GrandbabiesAlthough Karla, Sheri, Kim, and Amber are not part of my life on a daily basis, a few of us still keep in touch via social media and texting. We are spread across the U.S. with Sheri in New Mexico, I am in Northern Kentucky and Karla, Kim and Amber are all in Florida. It’s hard to believe some of us are grannies and these are my four precious ones.

Ahh, the memories are a nice escape from the hectic life most of us lead in adulthood. Just writing this article has conjured up some really great visions of years gone too soon. Wow its so hard to grasp that I turned 50 in February of this year, W-O-W…where has the time gone?

As I grow older by the day I’ve found that its the simple things in life that make L-I-F-E an adventure. As a Nona (grandmother/grandma in Italian), I love that I can love on my grandchildren and when they get cranky… I hand them back to mom and dad. I love that I don’t have to put up with other people’s drama and there’s no law telling me I have to keep them in my life. I love that because of where I’ve been…I know where I’m going and planning my future has never been so much fun. I love that my “lifetime” friends love me for who I am and accept me completely, without question, ridicule or judgement.  They just love me! And lastly, I love walking down MEMORY LANE and bringing all those great memories into the present. Thank you for letting me share a smidge of my past with you.

There IS a light at the end of the tunnel.

No Regrets

Close up of a graduation cap and a certificate with a ribbonFor these past 1,185 days, give or take a few for vacations (even though homework somehow found its way in those days too), I have been enrolled in college, attending classes, doing massive amounts of homework, writing term papers, preparing for and taking exams.  Life as I knew it (as my family knew it) virtually came to a screeching halt in January 2010 when I made the decision to enroll in higher education.

Now I am in my final course within my last quarter, and as I sit and reflect upon the many family functions I skipped…to do homework, the hastily prepared dinners…so I could do homework, and little time for much else…yep…homework; was so totally worth the effort, dedication, headaches, and stress.

Education is not an Option

I have always expressed to my children while they were in school that education was not an option…it was nonnegotiable…it was a MUST!  As for college, that is where they can play their option card.  Long long ago when I was in high school and found myself pregnant  I made the decision to forego graduating.  So I left school, began working full-time and started raising my family.

A few years after leaving high school, I finally earned my GED and even had aspirations to go on to college to study business.  Well…that was a short-lived wish.  In total, I ended up raising three fabulous boys and the only thing I would have done differently, if I could, would have been to wait a while before marrying and starting my family.  However, thought is…if I change one thing way back then…I wouldn’t have the children and the life I have today, so if asked now...”If I had the chance to go back and change the way I lived my life and stayed in school, would I?  Resoundingly the answer would be NO!” I would not change one iota of anything in my life.  I have been blessed and am honored to be my kid’s mom.

The Present

So, here we are in 2013 and I have spent the last 2 1/2 years in college (took a couple of summer quarters off), finally doing something I’ve longed to do and fulfill my desire for a college degree.  I hope my example will resonate within my children, my friends and family who have the same drive and want to JUST DO IT!

In exactly seven weeks…my dream will be fulfilled and I will have my Associate’s degree in Business Administration, with which I am happy and have decided to end my college career.  I have worked hard and beat myself up thinking I wasn’t applying myself enough; even though I was on Deans list my entire college career, I still had these never ending…possessing thoughts.

summacumlaude

My effort will be rewarded for my bizarre overdrive to do well in college.  I hate to brag (nah…not really), I deserve to brag a little cause Lord knows no one else will….so, here goes— today I learned I will be graduating Summa Cum Laude, and I couldn’t be more excited.

Go me!!!  My college experience was well worth the sacrifices.

All of a sudden, it hit him.

Ten down, two to go!

Considering the time of the year, can you guess what I am referring to?  Yep that’s right…school.  We will be clothes shopping this weekend in preparation for The Boy’s high school junior year which starts Wednesday.  He and I were talking a little while ago and he said “Mom, it hit me like a slap in the face; I’m gonna be a junior this year, I’m almost an adult”, haha…he just turned 16.

I must confess, he is not the only one who is a little excited about the “2-to go countdown.”  I have had kids in school since 1988 and find myself a bit giddy when thinking about not having to rise early (and continually check on The Boy) to make sure he has moved from his bed and not just readjusted on it every school morning.

Focused on the Future

He’s a bit nervous about his future, but is happy about seeing his old friends again, the new year, and the good times that await the Class of 2014 this year.  He understands the need to buckle down and diligently apply himself these next two years in preparation for college.  Not that he doesn’t have okay grades to start with, but if he applied himself, his report cards would reflect A’s & B’s instead of B’s & C’s (with a barely passing D in English).  Seriously, ENGLISH???  How can you barely pass English… when you speak it?   

Ahh…college, now that is another story AND a quandary for The Boy.  He has stressed about his future career since freshman year.  At one point he was pretty set on being an Architect; however, after some serious consideration he has pretty much decided he does not want to live his career indoors and behind a desk/computer.  He has aspirations to do something with his hands, yet seeks a career that will afford him a comfortable lifestyle.

This year we will be requesting college brochures from around the country, hoping that something will strike him in the way of the career options and direction.  While The Boy is finishing high school and preparing to enter college, I will be completing my bachelor’s degree.  I think its pretty cool that the same year he graduates high school, I will be graduating from college.  Pretty awesome, huh?  We think so!  Well, here’s to another great school year, and if you still have kids in school…I wish you continual strength to get up and do it again and again, every blessed morning.  Let’s face it, our leisurely summer is OVER!

Mission accomplished, knowledge gained!

After two and a half very long years, all course requirements for my AABA are just about complete. Although I’ve been in the corporate world for the better part of 25-years and initially suspected I would learn a thing or two in college, I am surprised by exactly “what” it was that I have learned while in college.

I have learned…

Mathematical formulas (Are "Armed" :P)

Mathematical formulas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

♦ I really disliked both of the prerequisite math classes.  I am not sure what has happened since high school; when I enjoyed math and would have considered myself a wiz with the numbers.  I do not know if it was the mathematical formulas or this old brain of mine, but in the end the two refused to make nice and work together; which made the courses challenging.

♦ No matter how knowledgeable a student may be prior to entering college, chances are there will be at least one professor who is a jerk and for some reason feels compelled to continually find (or create) opportunities to interject their degree in order to convenience themselves they know (or should know) more about the subject they are teaching than their students do.  Luckily, I have only encountered this scenario on two occasions in as many years.

♦ As a full-time working adult student, there will never be enough hours in the day!  No, NEVER…EVER!!!  Therefore, we are forced to find ways to cope with “real” life while college demands a huge amount of our waking hours.

♦ Writing 4 term papers in a quarter is a bit excessive; however, my writing has improved considerably over the last two years.

English: Monument to Dante Alighieri at the Pu...

English: Monument to Dante Alighieri at the Puerta de Dante (“Dante’s Entrance”) of the Retiro Park (Jardines del Buen Retiro) in Madrid (Spain). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

♦ More than I cared to know about modern reliefs from my first humanities class.

♦ Some people are lifelong college students and I will NOT be one of them.

♦ Through classmates that statistics is either a “love it” or “hate it” course!  My classmates and I were briefly introduced to statistics in our finance class and I found it interesting how numbers work together to provide accurate information.  Statistics will be one of those classes that I will either tremendously enjoy or loathe every minute of it.

♦ Professors do not like it when a student is proven correct and they were “mistaken” or “misinformed”.

Since entering college in January 2010 I can attest “mission accomplished, knowledge gained”; in addition I have been pleasantly surprised by how quickly said knowledge has been useful in my current position.

It is a little weird to think that upon earning my BBA in International Studies, the year of my fiftieth birthday will be right around the corner.  Although I’ve not a clue of how the “International..yadda yadda” degree will benefit my future, I selected the course of study because it seemed to offer a more intriguing aspect of the business world.  Knowing this for sure however, will definitively be a case of “time shall tell.”

Its been almost five weeks!

Yep, almost five weeks ago I sat for a college challenge exam and yesterday I got the news.  But before I fill ya in on the yea or nay, let me take you on a little journey.  Picture it….Sicily 2012, oh wait….that would be Sophia from the Golden Girls.

Ahh….Exams!

I felt confident it was going to be an easy test as it was based on the Microsoft Suite of products that I have used for the last two decades.  Two hours to complete 100 multiple-choice questions (1.2 minutes per question), simple huh?  Yeah! Not quite.  (Side note: I do not mind taking exams, it is when there is a time limit attached to it that makes my palms sweat.  Oh well, on with the story.)

So…knowing I had a very short 120-minutes to complete the test, I made sure everyone in the house was well aware that “I WAS TAKING A TEST” and was not to be interrupted.  Dogs fed…check.  People fed…check.  TV off and no distractions…check and check!  Time to get serious.  I settled into my chair with the three study guides that I reviewed for months.  They were cracked open and poised to yield information in case I needed to quickly verify anything that I thought I knew.  I started the exam and everything was progressing nicely, and with a quick glance at the clock I had enough time to continue on the relaxed pace I was strangely enjoying.  I read a question and clicked the answer…read a question and clicked the answer (you get the picture.)

60 Down, 60 To Go

Hitting the half-way mark, I read a question, read it again, and again. I thought about the question, looked in the book to see what I could find on the subject, nothing. Thinking I was stressed knowing time was ticking, perhaps I read the question wrong.  Nope, I was reading it correctly; the problem was, the question was incomplete and I NEEDED more information in order to answer the dang question!  I probably would not have been so wigged out if it was a yes or no question and I had at least a 50% chance of picking the correct answer.  Nooo…this particular question had four choices.  WONDERFUL!!!  NOT!  As frustration crept over my body, I frantically flipped though the guides again for some morsel of information and hoping something would jump out at me.  It was not to be; I accepted defeat and checked a box.  Some guess is better than no guess, or so I figured.

I am steadily moving along reading questions and checking boxes, I made up some time from the snafu question and was certain all was good. I’m in the home stretch with roughly 40 minutes on the clock and then WHAM…I read a question and read it again, and once more. NOT AGAIN!!!! An ambiguous questions on the exam. This question was yes or no, but that was of not help. Why? Well in short, the question went something like this.  Can a Windows’ window (software manufacturer/component of the software, respectively) be repositioned on  the screen?  Well, yes and no! “Yes” if the window is in “restore down” mode and “No” if it is in maximized mode!  HOWEVER, the dang question did not give the state of the window.  I checked yes and proceeded on.

Looked at the clock, 8-minutes and 7 questions back to work. HOLY CRAP!!!  NOT AGAIN!!!  REALLY???, another incomplete question.  I did not have time to consider this question or even try to look for an answer that I would never find so I marked a box and put it behind me.

When the test was completed, I sent an email to the online exam portal department as well as my dean, informing them of the questionable “questions”.  No response from them for four days so another email was sent, addressing the same problems, and inquiring about my grade.  The next day I logged on to the student portal and saw I failed the exam, missed passing by one freaking question.

WELL…that just got my blood boiling.  I started shooting off emails, trying to get someone to review my exam to see if any of the “incomplete” questions were answered incorrectly.  Emails continued back and forth, nothing informative or new was coming from the college.  Last Friday (4/27/12), at 4:30 I received an email that basically said that all of the exams are carefully reviewed for accuracy and that it is not their policy to review student exams for correctness of answers after it was graded and I could not retake the exam without paying another $100 fee. To say the least, this last correspondence from the ACP (Academic Credit Portal) department, which was the 16th email between us really P*SS*D ME OFF!!!

I promptly composed email #17 to the ACP department and my opening sentence was “Unfortunately your response to my correspondence is unsatisfactory and unacceptable.”  I went on to say NOW this correspondence, along with the prior 16 emails would be forwarded to the Academic President’s office and someone with authority had fifteen calendar days to contact me personally to discuss this matter.  Blah, blah, blah…“…in addition, if no contact was made within 15-days, I would have no other option than to inform the organizations that the college receives their accreditation; informing them of the matter, that it takes 30-days to receive a response and when received, it pretty much stated we could really care less about your issue and we’re not putting forth any additional effort in this matter.

Wadda ya know…less than one full business day later I received an email from the ACP department stating an Advisor reviewed my exam and confirmed that at least one of the “confusing” (nice choice of words on their part) questions was answered incorrectly.  So in the end, they gave me additional credits, and I passed the exam!  YAY!

Boy what a crazy ride; one that I am happy to be off.