Daylight Savings Time

Daylight Savings Time officially comes to a close at 2 a.m. tomorrow, meaning we’re supposed to set our clocks back an hour. Most folks do this before they go to bed, rather than waiting up (or worse, setting an alarm!) for that early-morning activity.

I have mixed feelings about this practice, as do most people I imagine.

On the one hand, it’s wonderful having extra daylight time in the Spring and Summer — time for outdoor activities when the weather is nice, time for commuting and running errands under safer conditions, time for kids to play outside and get good and tired so they sleep better. It kind of lengthens the time you have to wait for the July 4 fireworks shows to start, but that’s just a minor inconvenience.

With Winter’s shorter days, regular time means most of us awake in darkness and go to sleep in darkness, with just a few hours of real daylight sandwiched in between. That’s pretty difficult, unless you have one of those daylight-simulating lamps (which I don’t!). Then, too, with shorter hours of sunlight, the days don’t get very warm (and when the snows fall, there’s little chance of true melting).

I guess it’s all what you get used to. My Favorite Domer has only been living in South Bend for two months, but since returning to Central Time (for the ND vs. Washington State game in San Antonio), he’s complaining Central Time feels later than the clock shows. That’s always a problem with these twice-a-year time changes, too. You no sooner get used to living under one zone than you have to change to another.

Kind of makes you wonder, doesn’t it — What time is it really???

ND @ San Antonio

How exciting! Notre Dame plays Washington State at a neutral location tomorrow, so the Fighting Irish are in San Antonio, Texas, for the action. Of course, the Band is there, too, lending musical (and moral) support for the team, as well as performing locally for alumni and the public.

Somebody did a fantastic job planning the Band’s itinerary;  it must have been a logistical nightmare getting 400-some Band members and their equipment from South Bend to San Antonio. They’ll perform at a Pep Rally this evening, do a concert tomorrow afternoon, then take the field for Pregame, Halftime, and Post-game performances on Saturday evening.

Since My Favorite Domer is also in the Band, he got to go along on the trip (his first flight!). As much as I’ve flown in my life (East Coast to West, North to South), and as much as I love flying, it’s still a little nerve-wracking to have your kid 40,000 feet or so above the Earth. But my parents couldn’t protect me when I was on a plane any more than I can protect MFD. It’s really a “leap of faith” that we parents must take, letting our kids grow up a little step at a time. But better that than tossing them to the wind in one fell swoop!

One thing these kids are sure to notice — the weather! San Antonio is expected to be sunny with temps in the upper 70s on Saturday, while South Bend will be in the low 50s, windy, and partly cloudy. Bet that sunshine will feel good after the cool Fall we Midwesterners have seen this year!


It’s been one of those days I’d just as soon forget! Nothing seems to have gone according to plan, and everything seems to have taken 10 times longer than it should have. Don’t you just hate that?

When I woke up this morning, I mentally laid out my day and proceeded to my first appointment. It was a good meeting, and I took away some valuable information. The only problem was it lasted a bit longer than I’d budgeted, pushing everything else back. After lunch, I started in on some Web Design work and that, too, took way longer than I’d anticipated (and I’m still not done!) Suddenly, I look up and find it’s dark outside, there’s a line of thunderstorms taking aim on my area, and my neck and shoulders are tight with strain.

Aagh, I think I’ll just call it a day, take a nice hot shower, put on my moccasins and spend the night with my nose in a good book! Now, that’s just about as close to Heaven as you can get, don’t you think?!

Mid-Term Apprehensions

According to ND’s academic calendar, this coming Friday is the last day for “course discontinuance.”

Basically, I understand that to mean students can withdraw from a course they’re having problems with, without taking a grade or receiving any credit.

In some cases, withdrawal is probably the best option. If a student has done everything possible to succeed in a class — regular attendance, homework assignments, out-of-class studying, even tutoring — yet can’t seem to grasp the material, that student probably shouldn’t be in that class anyway. Perhaps the interest level isn’t there; perhaps the necessary background from high school isn’t there; perhaps it’s as simple as a bad time of day for the class. Regardless, students shouldn’t be penalized by having to stick it out in an unpalatable situation.

My Favorite Domer is one of those First-Years already withdrawing from a class. He tells me he’s certainly not alone. While that doesn’t really come as a surprise, it does tend to sadden me a bit. After all, these kids have invested eight weeks of their early college careers struggling to comprehend a particular subject — often at the expense of their other classes, social time, physical exercise, even sleep. And don’t get me started about how much stress that’s added to their lives — and to their parents!

I’m generalizing here, but I imagine most of the First-Years admitted to Notre Dame are like MFD — high achievers, with the A’s through elementary and secondary school to prove it. Yet now that they’re in college, they’re struggling to pull C’s. Don’t tell me they suddenly became “average” or “lazy.”

I prefer to lay the “blame” for this angst at the high school, and even middle school, level.

Certainly there’s a BIG difference between high school and college, particularly when it comes to test-taking. In high school, students are expected to soak up the material like sponges, then regurgitate it back to the teacher on an exam; in college, students are expected to think, to apply what they’ve learned to new situations, and to solve never-before seen problems. High schools are big on extra credit (it’s that “everybody gets a trophy” mentality); in college, tests might be few and far between, there aren’t any “do-overs,” and even your best effort might not be sufficient.

Those are hard lessons to swallow for kids who haven’t been prepared. Unfortunately, even a typical “college prep” curriculum in high school doesn’t cut the mustard when it comes to preparing kids (even the “best and brightest”) for college.

How come? Why don’t high schools (who can tell right away which students are going to continue their educations) require college-bound students to take a “transition to college” course of some kind? Such a course could carry a simple Pass/Fair grade, thereby eliminating the “sucking up” too many kids engage in; it could be more loosely structured, typical of a college class, and require thought, discussion, and application. It also could help them learn how to learn!

I’m not an educator. I’m not an administrator. I’m just a mom who wants the best for her kid, and I’m going to be watching and doing whatever I can to make sure he gets it.

Rainy days

It’s been another dreary, wet day in the Midwest where I live, the kind of day where I don’t dare send my long-haired dog outside to play and chase squirrels. Wet fur just plain stinks; besides, it takes forever to blow-dry and brush out his luxurious coat!

Days like this remind me of countless Halloweens, though, when, as a child, I’d have to bundle up in a winter coat over my clever costume and race between houses doing the Trick-or-Treat thing. Somehow, by the time I got home — dripping wet, freezing, with a ruined costume — the whole thing paled in importance. Perhaps that’s one reason Halloween has never been one of my favorite holidays.

Oh, I know other people love it — love the dressing up, love the parties, love the decorations, love the candy — but I really could care less! I don’t like being wet, I don’t particularly like being cold, and I hate the feeling of “begging” for candy from neighbors (some of whom don’t even talk or wave to you any other day of the year).

When My Favorite Domer was little, I can remember only one Halloween that was beautiful — perfectly clear sky, big ole glowing moon, temperature just right. I think I had as much fun as he did strolling from house to house, visiting with the neighbors, and watching them pretend to guess who the little guy was behind the mask!

But when your kids outgrow Trick-or-Treat time, you have two choices. You can either put your porch light on and distribute candy to other kids, trying to guess who they are, or you can hole up in the dark and wish the entire scene to just go away. Neither sounds very appealing, does it?

Maybe I’ll just put a costume on my dog and see if we can’t find a party instead!


My Favorite Domer tells me the trees all around campus have suddenly decided to drop their leaves, all at once!

Of course, this makes for lots of headaches for the maintenance crew, who probably find themselves in the position of salmon swimming upstream as they try to keep up with Mother Nature. At least they’re not having to rake.

When I was a child, I always used to think of Hell as one long life sentence of raking leaves. That was during a time when our fair community allowed residents to burn, and my mom certainly loved that! We’d rake leaves into huge piles or mountain ranges along the sidewalk, then mom would add a bit of lighter fluid from our summer charcoaling and strike a few matches. The flames and smoke would belch skyward, and we kids would race back to the front porch for safety!

Now we’re more enlightened, and our city fathers have banned leaf burning. Of course, that means some people refuse to do anything with their yards, and their leaves blow this way and that until they can find a fence-row to cling to. Other people have invested in mulching lawnmowers (like my dad did), and they’re the ones who can “kill two birds with one stone”! Frankly, I’m one of the people who can breathe better, now that burning has been banned, and I hope we never go back. If only we could just ban (or even restrict) burning on those portable fire-pits that cause all sorts of respiratory problems for those of us with allergies!

It’s kind of fun shuffling your feet through downed leaves on the sidewalk, though. Even my Sheltie gets a kick out of this! They make such an interesting swooshing sound, much like the sound corduroy pants make when you walk!

When I was on campus last week, the crews were using big blowers to push the leaves into piles. Since ND is so environmentally friendly, I guess they’ll turn these leaves into mulch or something. As for me, I’d hate the thought of having to rake a 1,250-acre piece of property!!

Winners & Losers

Did you catch the Notre Dame vs. Boston College football game yesterday?

I watched the first quarter or so on TV, then had to leave for Mass (I listened on the radio ’til I had to go inside, and no, I didn’t even try to smuggle a radio in with me — everybody who knows me well knows I can’t listen to college football silently!!). When services were over, I flew back out to the car and tuned in again, making it home just in time to watch the Fighting Irish Band play the “Alma Mater” as the team swayed and sang along in gratitude for pulling out another victory.

These guys are really “come-back kids,” aren’t they? My dad always used to say, “It’s the true mark of a champion to come from behind and win,” but I’ve gotta tell you, this season is wreaking havoc with my nerves! They seem to wait until the last few minutes of a game to really pour it on — and thus far, the Luck of the Irish has been with them. Since nobody can count on luck alone, I wish they’d strike early and often, racking up points and getting decent leads instead of this see-saw action!

Oh, but it feels good to be on the winning side! For the past six years, the outcome of this BC game has found the Irish on the losing end, and they were certainly due a win. Still, in every competition like this, there’s a winner and there’s a loser, and nobody likes to lose. From an early age, we’re taught to be humble in victory and gracious in defeat, a lesson that, if learned well, will stand us in good stead for life.


I’m sporting two new bruises since my return from UND, and no, nobody beat me up!

The first one, a quarter-sized yellow-green splotch on my left forearm, appeared after I banged my arm on the side mirror of my car while I was packing to head north to South Bend. It’s not too bad, really — being in the middle of my arm, it doesn’t inconvenience me and it only hurts if I touch it (I know, so don’t touch it already!).

The one I received most recently is now a nickel-sized purple and green spot on my left palm, at the base between my ring and little fingers (palmistry afficionados probably have a fancy name for that spot, but I have no inkling what it could be!). I got it helping My Favorite Domer haul some winter woolies upstairs to his dorm room. I wasn’t paying attention and tripped up one stairstep; hey, at least nobody was around, so neither of us were embarrassed! Anyway, that spot is truly bothersome. It hurts too much for me to play rope-tug with my puppy (a game he loves), so I can only use my right hand and when it gets tired, game’s over (much to his chagrin!). It also means I have to be really careful holding his leash on our walks. Looking on the bright side, at least it doesn’t interfere with my typing!

You know, it’s one thing to have physical bruises, outward signs of an injury of sorts. It’s another thing to have emotional bruises. Those are the little hurts we all get, and inflict on others, every day. As a parent, you want to shield your kids from these, but maybe that’s not in their best interests. As my dad often said, “There’s enough pain in this old world for all of us.” I suppose he was right. Maybe a better thing for parents to do is to teach their kids to be sensitive to others and try hard not to spread more pain.

Hello world!

I’ve just returned from a four-day visit with my only son (hereinafter referred to as My Favorite Domer!) during Fall Break week at the University of Notre Dame.

Because “MFD” is enrolled in the First Year of Studies, he isn’t allowed to have a car on campus yet. He really wanted to stick around South Bend for Fall Break, so when he suggested I take a few days off, and come up, I jumped at the chance. I hadn’t seen “MFD” since I dropped him off one rather rainy, cool day two months ago, and I’ve gotta tell ya, changes have taken place!

Campus itself is robed in splendor — the trees have donned the reds, oranges, and golds of autumn, and an often-brisk wind is seeking to yank those leaves right off and spin them to the ground. One thing’s for sure, this annual ritual is keeping the maintenance crews busy!

“MFD” has changed, too. He’s taller, leaner, and even more capable than he was just a few weeks ago. Of course, he’s had to do things like manage his own time (which includes getting himself up for class in the mornings and falling asleep at night), wash his own laundry, arrange for his own meals (and make healthy choices!), find a doctor when he doesn’t feel well, plus all the other things college students do when they can’t come home every weekend.

I’m ecstatic over the changes! Part of me misses the little boy who used to bring me dandelions (“flowers, mommy!”), but it feels good to have him settling in like this. I believe we parents are charged with giving our kids roots and wings — roots so they’ll always have sturdy soil to cling to in life’s hard times, and wings so they’ll have the courage to fly. This is an ongoing process. Sometimes you wonder if they’ll ever grow up, and then suddenly, you realize they’re doing it, right before your eyes!

As a Writer and Web Designer, I’ve decided to keep a journal (of sorts!) to catalog this four-year passage of time. Some of the topics I plan to muse about include Trials and Tribulations, Successes, Photos, and others. I hope this blog will serve as a resource for parents whose sons and daughters are considering ND (or other colleges); I hope it will be a trip down Memory Lane for those whose offspring have already passed through this phase, and I hope it will update/inform those whose sons and daughters are undertaking this adventure right now.

If I’ve missed something, or erred in fact, please let me know — I welcome your comments and other insights!