Do’s & Don’ts for Parents of a College Freshman

I know for some parents, this commercial rings true. But we just sent our oldest off to start her third year of college last weekend, and as happens every year since she was a freshman, I’m feeling a little blue.

Of course, I’m not nearly as bad as I was her first year away. Freshman year was the WORST! Oh mama, was I ever a basket case! Older wiser parents assured me it would get better, but I didn’t believe them. How could this gaping hole in my heart ever go away? Surely, I would never be happy again.

But, believe it or not, those older, wiser parents were right. It did get better. Eventually. So, I figured maybe I’d share a few of my suggested “DO’s” and “DON’Ts” for those parents who have just, or are about to, deposit their firstborn into the college life and are now trying to adjust to daily life without them. Sooo, here goes…

DO appreciate how clean and lovely her bedroom looks and REMAINS when she’s not currently living in it.

DON’T dwell on how much you miss him. Get out. Have lunch with friends. Try something new. Laugh.

DO come up with little personal touches to let her know you’re thinking about her. Send random videos of the family dog doing something that always makes her smile. Figure out creative long-distance ways to share inside family jokes. Send care packages or good old-fashioned letters.

DON’T text him every five minutes to see how things are going. Try to hold off until at least every ten.

DO be prepared to participate in in-depth conversations at 12:30 a.m. on the one night you’re so exhausted you were planning to go to bed early. Even though she’s having fun on her new college adventure, there will still be those moments when she needs your comfort or advice—and she’ll need it NOW.

And whatever you do, DON’T listen to Owl City’s Vanilla Twilight! I know this is supposed to be a simple love song, but I it fits perfectly for a parent/child relationship as well. I know it’s tempting to click that play button down there, but step away from the blog. (If you simply can’t resist, however, make sure you have some tissues nearby.)

You will survive!

Your Unrecognized Awesomeness

So, my lovely author and blogging e-friend (yes, I just made that word up!) Heidi Willis recently wrote a post about this book titled, You Are Good at Things: A Checklist by Andy Selsberg. The author makes readers aware that we are all most likely suffering from “unrecognized awesomeness”! For example, perhaps…

* You have the uncanny ability to always notice when someone has gotten a new haircut.
* You can make the last half-ounce of toothpaste last for a month.
* You are an expert at remote controlling, or…
* You're a wizard at resisting the urge to eat all the cheese right after grating it.

According to this quirky book’s description, it offers “a celebration of all your secret skills and unheralded abilities. It calls attention to the way you're able to give your kids names that will never appear on key chains at gift shops, and cheers your talent for wrapping presents using very little tape. In your own way, you're a master, and the world should know it. Because let's face it: You are good at things!”

I was cracking up at the things Heidi and her commenters acknowledged they were good at, and thought to myself, “What the heck, my blog friends and I are good at stuff, too.”

So I’m totally ripping off her blog post topic!

For the record, I’d like to give Heidi full credit for the idea and encourage you all to visit her blog: And Also...because there's always something else to say. I truly enjoy her posts! And while I’m at it, I’ll give her terrific book another plug. Some Kind of Normal is a great read. If you haven’t bought it already, get it—it’s wonderful!

And now, let’s all share some things we’re good at. I’ll go first:

*  I’m good at stealing other people’s blog ideas and using them on my blog!

*  I’m good at reading manuals.

*  I’m gifted at not dusting.

*   I’m great at making dinners that cause the smoke alarm to go off.

*   I have a talent for staying up way too late every night. 

*   I’m good at having two-way conversations with my dog.

*   I’m good at interrupting people’s stories to ask questions and get more details.

*   I’m terrific at freaking out in crisis situations.

*   I’m amazingly good at procrastinating.

*   I’m wonderful at embarrassing my kids in public.

*   I’m good at making character voices when reading a story aloud.

My daughter told me I had to write this one:
*  I’m great at getting overly emotional about animals getting injured on film and in real life.

Okay, your turn!

Operation: Hijacking the Camera

Some of you may have read my post lamenting the fact that my hubby Chris bought a new camera and hasn't been sharing.


He went out of town! So I snagged it and started a little experimenting. I’ve only got a few days before soccer season starts in order to figure out how to take amazing pics. The new camera is a Sony SLT-A65V, and it’s actually the new-and-improved version of my old camera. So I’m already familiar with some of the buttons and functions. But there are quite a few new options that I’d never seen before. Like the Sweep Panorama!

To use it, you have to pan the camera in one direction as it snaps continuous shots of your scene, creating one panoramic image. I tried it first just holding the camera in my hands, but the end result was too blurry. So I attached the camera to our tripod and tried again.

Using my favorite free photo editing software, Picasa, I zoomed in and cropped it to see how clear the picture really was, and I was amazed!

Pretty crisp, right?

Now the most important function for me to be familiar with is taking continuous action shots. Unfortunately, I was home alone looking out on a very inactive backyard.

Hmmmm…where could I find a cooperative action model. Someone willing to work with me…

Okay, Oreo wasn’t exactly willing. But he said he’d humor me as long as he was paid well with treats.

I already knew this camera would take better action shots than my old one because the manual says it can record 10 images per second! I took Oreo into the backyard with me and told him to stay


(My daughter Ashleigh says he looks like a bunny here.)

Ooooh, the agony of running...

Now, this camera has a tracking feature I can activate. It automatically tracks the nearest subject to the screen. I decided to try it out, figuring the focus would be even sharper. Okay, Oreo. Come!

Yuck! They're so blurry! I wonder if I'm doing something wrong? I’ll have to investigate this more later.

Meanwhile, I moved on to testing the differences between the AUTO, AUTO+ and MACRO settings. When I think MACRO I think flowers. So I took three pictures, one with each setting, of my purple petunias (which despite our massive heat wave and my brown thumb, have continued to flourish). I honestly could not find any real difference in picture quality between them. 




But I found a HUGE difference in the quality of images I cropped. Here's the original shot I took of my mother-in-law's day lily:

And here it is zoomed in and cropped. Check out the awesome detail! It must be the higher pixels.

This will come in handy when I have to take shots further away from the action and I need to crop them later.

Overall, I’d say Operation: Hijacking the Camera has been a success. Saturday is the big day. The first soccer scrimmage of the season. Wish me luck with MY new camera! Bwa, ha, ha!

All Photographs © Holly Bowne

Motorcycle Mama

I’m not ready for this and I feel an eye twitch coming on.

It’s our first summer with both kids having jobs. When our oldest got her first job, we established a 50-50 rule. Fifty percent of each paycheck would be saved for college, the other 50% was theirs to divide between spending, personal savings goals and charity.

On a recent sunny afternoon, our newly employed, just-turned-18-yr.-old son Joshua casually said, “Guess what I’m going to use my 50% for, mom?”

“What?” I asked, only partially listening.

“A motorcycle!”

“What?!” He had my full attention now. “Noooooo, Josh! You’re---you---you can’t… You’re only eighteen!” I sputtered.

He arched a brow.

“You haven’t been driving long enough.”

He raised his other brow.

“It’s too dangerous.” I shook my head. “You could have an accident and die!”

“Mom,” he said calmly. “You’ve always said, if your number is up, it’s up. So if I’m meant to die in a motorcycle accident, then that’s the way it will be.”

AAAARRRRGHHH! Why…WHY do our children throw our own words back in our faces this way!

“All right. That does it. I’m telling!” I stormed out of the room in search of his father.

“Chris!” I said, finding him working on his laptop in the family room. “Do you know what your son just told me?”  And I informed him of Joshua’s completely scary proposal.

I should have known better.

I finished speaking and noticed an eerie light glowing behind his green eyes. Turning back to his laptop, his fingers flew over the keyboard for a moment. Then without a word, he picked up the computer and went to find Josh, me trailing in his wake.

“Hey buddy?”

“Yeah, dad?”

“Mom just told me what you want to do.” Chris sat the laptop down in front of Josh. “I just found this motorcycle safety class we can take together next month.”

“What?!” I shrieked over Joshua’s “Cool!”

“You’re helping him?”

What is it about boys and motorcycles? Chris didn’t even have the grace to look sheepish! Within days they’d both purchased helmets, gloves and Josh bought some sort of armored motorcycle jacket to wear.

Here is Chris (not Josh!) wearing his helmet in order to get used to it while they watched T.V. together. Ugh!

A couple of weekends ago, they finished the intense safety course. Enduring 90 to 100-degree temps wearing full regalia, they put in twenty-four hours of skills training and testing plus an hour-long written exam requiring a minimum score of 80% to pass.

I must confess, I was proud when I learned that with each phase of training, people dropped or got knocked out, but both my boys made it through. (There was even a guy who’d been riding motorcycles for over 30 years who failed the course!)

But now…NOW they’ve each obtained their official motorcycle licenses, and Josh is using his free time everyday to scour the web for used motorcycles.

Yesterday, I observed him as he sat hunched over the laptop. “So Josh, do you think you could give the same passion and intensity to--”

“Nope!” He answered without looking up from the screen.

“How did you know what I was gonna say?”

“Because I know you, mom!”

“Well, I’m just thinking if you gave that same intensity to your homework—”


 “Gee, it’s only college. Your future.  Your life. Nothing compared to a motorcycle.” I grumbled.

“Yup.” He grinned, still not looking at me.


I definitely feel an eye twitch coming on.

Motorcycle Image by: Time_Anchor