Wednesday, June 19, 2013

College Parent 101

I have been having this strange problem for the past couple of days. I can't seem to get the song, "Rocky Top" out of my head! It might be due to the fact that we were treated to a live song-and-dance routine performed by the student orientation leaders OR the fact that the ENTIRE song was played over the P.A. system in the dorm this morning as the wake-up call (thank goodness I was already awake).

I think it's safe to say that after spending 48 hours at New Student/Parent Orientation Session 10 at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, I am officially a college parent and have successfully completed College Parent 101!

I don't have anything to compare my experience to, since I haven't been a college freshman in almost thirty a very long time, but my opinion is that the people at UTK do a TOP NOTCH job with giving new students and parents a tremendous amount of necessary and helpful information in a way that can be digested and hopefully remembered (or we can at least look back at the paper and electronic resources they offer). It was definitely time well spent!

When we arrived on campus on Tuesday morning, it was pouring down rain, but I still saw orientation leaders standing outside to direct us to the places we needed to go (and they have groups coming and going at the same time, like a revolving door). The parents were corralled in one location and the students were led to another place. Then after we all got registered, the parents were escorted to an auditorium and were welcomed with cheers and shouts with orange and white pompoms waving. No, they didn't have the UT cheerleaders there, but it was our students who had been instructed to cheer for their parents as they arrived into the room. Daniel said they had the help of a recorded "cheering track" but it was still a fun way to start the orientation.

Most of the time was spent with the students and parents in separate sessions, which was fine. Students and parents need most of the same information, but probably not delivered in the same way, so they knew what they were doing by splitting us up. Also, you had parents there that were all along the spectrum, from it being their first child to the last and even some parents who jokingly asked if they could just go ahead and leave their kids there for college now.

I opted to stay in the dorm for one night and that was my least favorite part of the orientation visit. Let's just say that I've had too many years of living in more pleasant conditions and with the comforts of "home" to have an enjoyable stay in a dorm room that was built in the 1960s. I can do most anything for one night and I am glad that I was able to stay on campus and get to walk around to explore on my own.

Daniel came away from orientation with his fall class schedule pretty much nailed down and had a good time in his sessions, although he thought they were way too long. On the way home as we both "debriefed" and processed the info we took in, we both felt confirmation that UTK is where Daniel is meant to go to college. I even had realization that I can't even picture Daniel as a student at any other college that we visited. Of course, it's a good thing, since he's registered at UT, but to have him feel very excited about getting to move to campus in August makes this mom very content!

Here are some pictures I took on my self-guided walking tour of campus when things got quiet yesterday evening. I'm pretty sure I'm falling in love with the place!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Neck ties, Flair pens, and Legal pads

I never shopped for a Father's Day present for my dad at a sporting goods store. He didn't really have a favorite sports team, unless Oklahoma college teams were in a bowl game. I think he probably liked to fish, but it wasn't something he did very often. Father's Day gifts for my dad usually were either handmade or framed photos or a new neck tie. He always appreciated whatever we got him.

A new neck tie was something we could get Dad for almost any occasion, usually accompanied by a new button-down shirt to go with it. Or maybe the tie was supposed to go with the shirt. At any rate, whatever article of clothing we gave Dad for a gift, he wanted to immediately model it or at least hold it up next to him so we could see how it would look. And then if appropriate, he wanted to wear his new shirt and tie that day. Daniel has a collection of his grandpa's ties and I'm glad that those won't be forgotten.

Some other "favorites" of Dad's that I want to make sure I don't forget are:

Flair pens - I remember that he used this particular type of pen all of the time when he was working. Once he was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, he switched to ball point pens, but I'm sure those felt tip Flair pens were still among his things in his desk drawer.

Legal pads - I would love to know how many of those he used in his lifetime. Many stories, musings, sermons or just lists of things he wanted to remember were recorded on those lined notepads.

Mints - My dad wasn't big on chewing gum, but he liked to have fresh breath, so he often carried a roll of mints in his pocket. I remember that he liked the blue (peppermint) flavor, but I think spearmint and cinnamon showed up on his dresser as well.

Ice cream - Not that I'd ever really forget this, but Dad loved ice cream in any form and most any flavor. He often checked the grocery store ads to see who had Breyer's on sale and he'd go get some Vanilla Bean or Mint Chocolate Chip (not the kind tinted green). He also liked Pistachio and Strawberry and Peach and . . .

For some of my other thoughts and pictures of my Dad, check out these posts:
Father's Day 2012
Father's Day 2010
Father's Day 2008

Monday, June 3, 2013

Easy summer pies

If you know me, you know that cooking is not my passion, although I do seem to enjoy watching shows about cooking and food.  Mainly, cooking is part of what I have to do in life and there are times I enjoy it more than others. My favorite things to cook are usually sweets and recipes that are quick and easy. Here are two summer pies that fit that description to a T!

1. Lemonade Pie (or just Lemon Pie as is written on the recipe card)
This recipe was given to my mom from a friend in New Jersey, Martha Brown, and it became one of our summer favorites when I was growing up. In fact, since it's so easy, I was probably making it on my own when I was 9 or 10 years old. Lots of fun memories associated with this pie. 

As you can see, there are only three ingredients, not counting the pie crust (we use graham cracker crust, but you can make it in a regular pie shell that has been pre-baked). Just stir the ingredients together (thaw the lemonade and the whipped topping first) and fill the pie shell. Refrigerate until time to serve (and it will still be a soft pie). Also, always be sure to remember the sweetened condensed milk, otherwise your guests might pucker uncontrollably (not that I have any experience with that scenario . . .)

2. Strawberry Yogurt Pie (frozen)
This recipe was either given to me by a friend when we were newlyweds or I found it in a magazine and shared it with my friend. Whichever way it happened, my friend's husband actually started making the pie and we knew it was easy if he was making it (no offense intended, but he was a busy med student who didn't have a large repertoire of recipes that he could make).

This pie also has three ingredients (which I forgot to photograph because this isn't a food blog--in case you were unsure of that):  1 6-8 oz. container of strawberry yogurt (I guess you could use any flavor), 1 tub of whipped topping, frozen sliced strawberries (thawed). Stir those ingredients together and place in a graham cracker crust (I used a chocolate one this time, but plain is great). Freeze pie until ready to serve and let thaw out a little before cutting. I also added some strawberries and chocolate chips on top as a garnish.

So if you're needing some quick and easy and yummy desserts this summer, try these pies! Let me know what you think!