An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

If wishes were horses I'd be galloping through the hills of Tuscany

Lately I've been adrift, allowing the ebb and flow of daily tides pull me here, propel me there, and then deposit me in a whirlpool where I tread water, going around and around in circles.

Other than performing the most basic tasks, I don't feel like doing anything else.

Hungry? Okay, I'll make dinner.
Need clean clothes? I'll throw a load in the washer.
School supplies? Let's go shopping.

Anything more, and I shut down and become most decidedly contrary.

I could clean out our closet, but we need new hangers and I don't feel like going to the store.
I could blog, but I don't know what to write about.
I could paint our rec room, but I can't decided on the color.
I could scrapbook, but I don't feel like pulling everything out.

And here's the most contrary thing of all: I know what I don't want to do, but I can't figure out what I do want to do.

It's a conundrum.

It's a tired-of-summer-I'm-ready-for-fall kind of thing.


I just want to be her ...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Getting Down to the Nitty Gritty

Yesterday I wrote about our summer of college campus tours, all of which have been fun, informative, and have shown our son a future bright with opportunities. It was our way to showcase the great big world out there, and to have our son see himself as a vibrant part of it.

I realize this may sound idealistic, perhaps even naive, but knowing what is out there is a great place to start. It’s great to have choices (they are gifts!) but we also know choices eventually whittle down until, ultimately, decisions need to be made.  
This, then, is the nitty gritty part of life in which we ponder, weigh, compare, analyze, formulate, calculate, and question. So, while we want our son to reach for the stars, we also want to teach him the practical aspects on how to navigate in order to get there. And there are so many things to take into consideration.
First and foremost, finances. Our son has a good life. He lives in a nice house, he goes to a private school, he has traveled to Europe, and he has a loving, supportive family. But part of being a good steward of God’s gifts is not taking anything for granted, and my husband and I are not going to just hand him four years wrapped up with a nice, neat bow; rather, he is very involved in the financial aspects of his college education. He knows we will help (a lot), but he also knows that there is the entire family to consider and that he has another brother who is just behind him. He knows that he has to do his part.
Location is another consideration. How far away is too far away, and how close is too close? We laugh about this sometime, and on bad days Joe and I think, Alaska is good. We also have to consider that fact that Georgia offers the Hope Scholarship (tuition is mostly covered if a certain grade point average is maintained), and while this is a huge incentive for choosing to stay in-state, it’s just that, an incentive, and not a done deal.
Then there is gut instinct, that visceral reaction which should never be ignored.  There have been campus visits in which, right away, we just didn’t feel it. It wasn’t something specific, just a feeling. On the flip side, we knew we were on to something when we heard our son say, “I can see myself going here.”
Oh, there is more to decide and consider. We could go on and on about student loans, meal plans, early admission, study abroad possiblities … ay, ay, ay.
On our dining room table is a huge black box with hanging files containing scholarship information, application deadlines, essay prompts, and test scores. The nitty gritty in all its glory. We look at the box, and yes, each of those files is calling for a decision to be made, but here’s the thing: we don’t need to make all the decisions at once.
Know what, then see where.
Decide where, and then work on the how.
And through it all we pray, which helps the nitty gritty not seem so … nitty gritty.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Summer Tours

This has been the summer of campus visits. With a rising senior in the family, my husband and I decided to use this summer for visiting campuses to help get us into the mindset of the entire college application process. And I say us because, as a family, we are all part of the process: our son, obviously, who has to make a decision that can affect the rest of his life; Joe and I, who find ourselves in the unique position of advising our son while, at the same time, preparing to let him go and make his way into the world; and even his siblings who have to get used to the idea that their older brother will be moving away next year.

So, because we are all involved, each and every campus visit has been a family affair, with all five of us sitting in on information sessions, following guides on campus walking tours, and exploring campus bookstores. We have learned about college application essays, scholarships, early admission requirements, transcripts, and test scores. We have been inundated with information, and while with each campus visit the process becomes clearer and less daunting,  more than anything these visits have shown our son that opportunities are plenty and there for the taking.
Which is exactly the point. There is a world outside our city and we want our son, who is coming from a close-knit school and church community, to know this. As parents, Joe and I have used travel to expose all our sons to different countries, states, cities and cultures, but with graduation and college this is the first time our son will go it alone. We want to encourage him to forge his own path, and these college visits have shown him gateways to new and wonderful opportunities.
Of course, being presented choices means making a decision, which is often the most difficult part since it is only then that the actual journey begins.
But that is a topic for another day.
Entrance to the campus at the University of Virginia
P.S. Just so you don't think that we have been dragging our two other sons around willy-nilly, we have combined these college visits with vacations and day trips. We visited Georgia Tech and Six Flags, Penn State and Gettysburg, UGA and Athens, and the University of Virginia and Monticello. A few more visits are planned, but see? Something for everyone.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Matchbox Memories

Today we were looking through our huge collection of Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars.
Amazingly, the boys could remember when and where each car was purchased.

The Ford Explorer? At a flea market in Santa Fe, NM.
The school bus? A treat from Target.
The Raisin Bran Car? Came in the mail from Kellogg's.
The tour bus? From a store in Sorrento, Italy.

Each car had a story ... and a memory.