Monday, February 27, 2012

I want my scholarship back, so I can be a city planner.

I have lots of thoughts that knock around in my head at 2AM and don't let me sleep. Most of them are stupid things I said and did in my younger years. Worrying about how my mouth may have offended others keeps me up at night often.

I went to elementary school at a Parochial school in Toledo. The tuition was more than my family could afford. My parents were not members of the parish and so the amount of tuition for us was higher than the average family. My mom worked at the school as a lunch aid to help with the costs until she was too sick to be able to do so. After that, I received a scholarship and financial aid to cover what it cost. If you go to Parochial elementary school in Toledo, the traditional next step is to choose one of the Parochial high schools. In 8th grade, all the girls go and visit the 2 all-girls schools and the two co-ed schools. I was smitten with St. Ursula Academy from the beginning. I wanted to go there so badly. I applied and took the entrance exam. I had it in my head that I was going there. My mom was the voice of reason. She knew we couldn't afford it. I can't remember what the tuition was in 1989. I looked online to see what the tuition is now and the official SUA website doesn't have it listed. So you know it has to be a lot. I found an independent website that listed the tuition in 2008 as $8800 a year. So in 1989 it was probably around $4000-5000. It was a scary amount of money for my family. I did well on the entrance exam and got some kind of scholarship but not enough to cover the whole amount. And the scholarship only lasted my freshman year. Every 8th grade applicant that is accepted is given an appointment to meet with the counselor to choose classes and pay the tuition. My appointment arrived in the mail with an * next to the tuition due amount and a note that said we would discuss it when we met with the counselor. My dad and I were hopeful that maybe I was getting more of a scholarship but my mom kept reminding us that we needed more than just "something" in order to be able to make it work. Me and Dad went to the meeting at St. Ursula and instead of meeting with a counselor, the principal met with us. She signed me up for all the classes I should take and then looked at me over her half glasses (no she was not Dumbledore) and said that my tuition had been paid for by someone else. The donor wished to remain anonymous. I could only communicate with him via letter. I cannot tell you how elated I was. Words cannot describe how I felt. Dad took me to the book store and bought me an SUA sweatshirt that I wore every moment of my life for the next year. I was an arrow! My life was complete.

I wrote letters to my anonymous benefactor telling him how I was doing and thanking him for his kindness and generosity. I continued to do this through my junior year. At the end of the that year, right before summer vacation, the principal came to me to tell me that the benefactor had decided not to continue my scholarship through my senior year. My heart fell into my toes. I cried right there in front of her. I knew we couldn't afford the tuition without the scholarship. My mom died during the summer between freshman and sophomore year and my dad was contemplating quitting his job and living off of his social security and disability. I had visions of me at Bowsher HS (no offense, Michelle) and I was just so sad. I was going to have to leave my friends and everything I had built at SUA. I was not a slouch of a student. I was freshman class president and had just been elected senior class president. I was involved in clubs of all kind from academic to service to fun. This was my life. I can just say that I was devastated.

The principal left me that day with the assurance that she was going to find a way to help me with this. A few days later she pulled me aside to tell me that the school would take care of my tuition. It was paid for and I didn't have to worry about it. I was grateful beyond words. I cried again and told her how much I appreciated what she was doing for me. I finished my senior year and graduated with high honors. I have continued to let that principal know over the years how much an SUA education has meant to me and has helped me in my life.

So what part of this story keeps me up at night? It's not who was the benefactor. I don't have to know that. The best kind of service and love is done in secret with no recognition in my opinion. The part that bothers me is what did I do to make the person not want to help me through my senior year? Did I say something offensive to him or his family? I totally could have because my mouth works way faster than my brain and often says the dumbest stuff imaginable. What did I do to upset this person to make him not want to help me? I'm not even sure that I really want to know because it would probably hurt my heart to know how I hurt someone else. But part of me wishes I knew. I have a feeling that this will be one of those experiences that will continue to nag at me at 2AM for the rest of my life.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Oh, also.. my fiance died from licking toxic envelopes that I picked out.

Emily and I were in the car this week and the song "A Little Respect" by Erasure came on the radio. I immediately started singing along with the song. Loudly. Emily was pretty annoyed. It's an awesome song. Hearing it took me back to my senior year of high school. I was obsessed with the album that it's on "The Innocents." I listened to it 24/7.

I proceeded to tell Emily about the time during senior year when my dad had to go into the hospital for some treatments for his MS and Anna and I lived with a family in our ward. I don't know how long we lived there. Seems like several weeks. They were a great family to stay with because they didn't have any kids at the time and they had a nice big house with an extra bedroom for us. Thinking back it was pretty incredible that they let us stay there. I was like the messiest person on the planet and they were the neatest. They let me spread my homework and shoes all over and never yelled at me. They let me cook fried chicken in their kitchen. Who knows what other crap they let me do. They had the missionaries over for dinner at my request. One of the missionaries was hot with a capital H and I had a huge tiny crush on him. The mom took me dress shopping for my school's winter formal. Now that I have been dress shopping with a teenager, I know it must have been torture for her.

The only drawback about their house was that it was in the middle of nowhere. It was out passed the Toledo Express Airport off of Airport Highway. The drive from their house to my house was about 12 miles and took 20-25 minutes. I had to go to early morning seminary which started at 6. So I got up around 4:45 to get ready and head out from Swanton back into Toledo. It was very scary for me. The house was very dark and I tried to be really quiet so that I wouldn't wake Anna or the family. No one got me up. No one made sure I was getting ready. I had to be responsible for myself. It scared me to drive by myself out in the middle of nowhere. I was sure I was going to get rammed from behind by a crazy band of marauders looking for Catholic school girls out on the road at the butt crack of dawn. In addition, the weeks we stayed there were the beginning of winter. I remember the swirling snow on the side road that led off of Airport Highway. It was terrifying. As I was telling Emily this story, I was thinking to myself, "What the heck? Why did I keep going to Seminary? Why didn't I take off a couple of weeks?

Three reasons popped into my head. First, our teacher was awesome. I loved going to seminary just to hear what she was going to teach. She was inspiring and I'm so glad I got to have a year of seminary with her and wish I could have had more. I remember so much about the lessons of the New Testament because of her preparation and dedication. Plus she made the BEST spice cake. She would bring a spice cake for everyone's birthday. Second, my best friend Stacy was in a different school from me and I wanted to see her everyday so the only way I could do that was in Seminary. Last, sometimes the awesome teacher invited the missionaries to come to seminary to scripture chase with us and I wouldn't have wanted to miss an opportunity to see the aforementioned hot missionary. Two of my reasons were pretty good.

So I went to Seminary every day even though it was freaking early and scary. I would drive, white-knuckled, down the road as fast as the snow would safely let me, trying to outrun the marauders, with "The Innocents" tape blasting in my dad's van's tape deck. All the songs on that album remind me of that time in my life going to seminary, going to school and doing schoolwork, trying to take care of Anna, visit my dad in the hospital, keep up with things at my empty home and have some kind of a social life. Sometimes I think about different periods like this from my childhood and I just cry because I wish I could have had a bit of a normal life just for a bit. I wonder what it would be like to have a mom to take care of me all the time and wake me up when I fall back asleep and drive me everywhere and hug and kiss me.

Maybe these stressful, crazy times prepared me for a time when I would have 7.5 kids with busy lives and a husband and a calling and volunteer positions and family to love and friends to be with and service to do. Maybe I can handle so much now because of what I went through then.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

oh is it two-ply? cause it it's two-ply I'll take one ply, one ply, one, one puny little ply, I'll take one measly ply

I have great success with potty training, but it hasn't always been so.

When Emily was about a year old, my mean grandma berated me that she wasn't potty trained yet. All of her babies were potty trained at 7 months old. I felt like a horrible mother and went out and bought a book called, "How to potty train in a day." We tried it and it was a disaster. I forced her to use the potty and she had a lot of accidents. She just wasn't physically and verbally ready to do it. She was about 2 before she didn't have accidents. So basically, I spent a year potty training her.

With Christopher I tried the same thing when he was about 18 months. I really wanted them to go to nursery potty trained. He was even harder. He got the pee part down pretty fast but the pooping was another story. He pooped everywhere but in the toilet. He pooped on the other side of a closed door. When I opened the door, guess what I stepped in? He pooped in Anna's shoe. He pooped everywhere. It took about 9 months to get him to not poop everywhere. Nine months is a long time to be scrubbing poopy underwear. And poopy carpet.

I got smart with Calvin and listened to a wise friend who told me to wait until they are ready. Even if they are three. Skeptically, I took her advice. When I thought Calvin was old enough to grasp the concepts and do it, I started asking him every day if he wanted to wear underwear. He said no everyday for about 3 months straight. The stigma of having a child over the age of 3 not potty trained was KILLING me. Finally on the busiest day of my life (I had a million things going on that day), he says yes he wants to wear underwear. And he did and had maybe one accident in a week and never a poopy accident and was potty trained completely in about two weeks. Including bed time.

I was blown away. My friend was right. You just need to wait. Even though all the mom's at play group are trying to potty train their 18 month olds. Even though the commercials show kids barely 2 going on the potty. Even though you have to spend money on diapers for a little longer. Just wait. This method worked with Spencer, Cameron and Lizzie. Lizzie has been wearing underwear for a week now and has had a total of 1 accident. She wants to wear underwear to bed and has woken up dry each time. It's the best method of potty training ever.
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