Friday, August 31, 2012

Charles P. Munk

Charles "Chip" Munk
Last night Annalisse returned from her walk with Jasper and as they were heading up the driveway she started yelling, "Mom! Mom! Come and get Jasper!" I HAD NO IDEA WHAT WAS GOING ON, and thought the worst: What was wrong with Jasper? 

Apparently nothing more than a mouthful of baby chipmunk. There, on the driveway toddling along and tipping over and getting back up and shaking and squeaking was the littlest chipmunk I had ever seen. WHAT DO WE DO? we asked in panic.

I decided to take a walk down to our neighbors, who are both vets, to ask for advice. The husband vet gave me a couple of numbers for wildlife rehabbers who would come to our house to get the chipmunk before nursing it back to the wild. Since it was 8pm, though I had a hard time reaching anyone. We were worried; the poor little guy - who by now Annalisse had named "Jack" - would probably not make it through the night on his own and we had no idea what to do with him. Finally, a friend "tweeted" Annalisse that her mom was a vet and we could bring the chippy over to their place until the morning, when her mom would take it with her to Lollypop Farm to give to one of their wildlife rehab folks. So, we loaded chippy, who I suggested we rename Charles "Chip" P. Munk, into the car and headed out.

We waited all day today to hear if he had made it through the word. Could that be bad news? Luckily Annalisse got text from her friend Ana saying that Charles was doing great.

Yesterday was a weird day for wildlife. We saw a racoon get rolled by a car on the way to pick up Annalisse's senior pictures, then the crisis with Charles the Chipmunk. I don't think the racoon faired very well, so the universe balanced itself with us saving the chipmunk.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Global Villager

The Courtyard, Global Village
On Monday afternoon we took Cam back to RIT for his sophomore year. This year he is sharing an apartment with five other guys in the newish Global Village. He and another kid (that he does not know) are sharing a room, and the other four guys (he knows them: one is from Fairport and two are from Hawaii, of all places! The other guy is someone he met last year).

You should see this place: Shopping! Dining! Outdoor lounging complete with a water sculpture, fire pit and sofas! Seriously, this place is like a country club - it makes me (and everyone I know) want to go back to college.

Cam apparently has a grand plan for improving his grades this year and, while he won't reveal much, it sounds like the plans include getting up early to work out and getting a job on campus. At this point he says he doesn't want to do crew so he can "focus on getting his grades up," so that's disappointing but we shall see. If he does get his grades up it will be worth it.

As for the on-campus job, he had one within an hour of arriving on campus. After we moved his stuff in and got most of it settled, we headed "downstairs" to the Global Village for lunch. A friend of ours runs the food court area of the complex so we went over to say "hi, and Cam mentioned that he'd be applying for a job there. Deb immediately said "Don't worry about it, I'll give you a job," and that was that. He started his first day today. He was pretty happy about that.

He was super excited to get back to school, although I know he's missing his camp friends. Fingers crossed for a successful year academically!!!

The Courtyard
Cam's Bed on his side of the room
Living Room

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Magical, Musical Night

Last night, on a beeeeaaauuuutttttiiiifffuuulll August Friday night we went to the Andy Gramm4er/Mat Kearney/Train Concert at CMAC. The weather could not have been more perfect and made for an ideal setting for this much anticipated concert.

The artists/band did not disappoint! Andy Grammer started the night off and played for 1/2 hour. He's an up-and-comer, and has a couple of hits out right now. He did a great job and obviously got a lot of exposure in front of the huge, enthusiastic crowd. He played for just 25 minutes then made way for Mat Kearney, a fave of ours, especially since we saw him in Buffalo last November. Mat was also awesome, and there seemed to be a lot of fans in the crowd even though he's still not super well known. I would love to see him again in a smaller setting like we did last time, that made for a really great experience.

Next, was Train (!). What a show!!! They were SO AWESOME, entertaining and engaging!! Pat Monahan, the lead singer, has such charisma and even though you know they do these shows just about every night (in addition to their other appearances - they had been on the Today Show earlier in the day), they gave the audience a very special, energetic show, bringing up locals to sing and dance, even giving away an acoustic guitar to a little boy and his sister. During their song "Marry Me" several couples got engaged, and after the song a couple GOT MARRIED onstage by one of the bandmembers, who I guess is an ordained minister. Wow. Just Wow.

Such fun and the stuff that memories are made of!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Clear The Roads!

Today the second Baker kid got her driver's permit. That makes two Bakers unofficially "on the road." Kid #1 needs to retake the 5-hour driving course before he can take his road test (the first 5-hour course expired as they are only good for one year, and this has been a long, drawn-out process...), then he'll be ready to take his big test. Kid #2 needs to get basic training and will be taking driver's ed, probably some time this fall. We learned a great lesson from Kid #1 to Kid #2: TAKE DRIVER'S ED. Without it, the insurance increase is HUGE. We chose private lessons over driver's ed for Kid #1, I think because it didn't work with his schedule at the time, but what an expensive lesson to learn. The cost for insuring him is double as a result.

Boy, all this teenage driving freaks me out. I have no idea how my father did this with three girls.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"Sh*t Just Got Real"

That's what Cam said on his Twitter account after dinner when we were discussing getting his grades up this year and what it would take? There was a bit of banter back and forth, trying to figure out what might pique his interest [let me back up a minute...he's been saying for a couple of months he's going to try to get a 4.0 this coming quarter but, since he's said similar things before, I don't really believe him. Especially since he spends every waking moment (when not with his friends) playing a game on his laptop...). Knowing that a lot of his friends have cars and he's at the age when he'd be interested in that, we agreed that if he was able to finish out the next year with an overall GPA of 3.2 or higher we would give him $2,500 towards a car next summer.

Well, that did it (whew!) - it was "on." While I'm not too crazy about being out $2,500 next summer, I really really really hope he can accomplish this goal. By next summer it will also make sense for him to get a good used car since there's a possibility his co-op a year from now could be at the University of Rochester, where he said a lot of Bioinformatics students go for their placements.

So, I stalked his twitter (which is about the only way I know what he's thinking) and it said:
 parents offering me money towards a car if i can get my cumulative up? shit just got real
It would be truly awesome if sh*t did get real and he earned a 3.2 GPA at the end of this year. Now, he just needs to get his license!!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Test Anxiety

Annalisse has been knee-deep in college prep activities, including the aforementioned college visits and now an SAT prep class. She's taking the ACT in September, and the SAT in October, and, like Cameron, we invested in the pre-class to give her the best advantage possible for the test. Cam took the SAT twice, and was able to increase his score on the second test as a result of taking the class. For Annalisse, it's a little more difficult and she's very nervous about the whole thing.

School has never been easy for Annalisse, having been diagnosed with a learning/processing disability in first grade. The good news is she is a great advocate for herself, understanding her challenges and using resources and tools when needed. The bad news: a test like the ACT or SAT can be a disaster for her. She's smart - she "learns" - but things come harder for her and we're all really nervous about how she'll fare.

LUCKILY, we live in an age where most colleges consider "the whole package" - academics, school activities, life experiences, interest expressed in the school (through visits, an interview, etc.) - and as a result conduct a holistic review of their applicants. Recognizing this, there are many colleges that have a "test optional" policy whereby students can choose whether or not to submit standardized test scores. In our research for schools to visit, a test optional policy was definitely a criteria we considered.

The college search has been infinitely more interesting this time around, as we knew it would, since Cam had only one college in mind: RIT. It's been great visiting different campuses and several are emerging as "first" and "second" choices. Next week, we make our final college trip to Lycoming College in Williamsport, PA; it looks like a nice little school so hopefully it will "make the list."

Then, it's off and running for her senior year as Annalisse finishes up the SAT prep class, takes the two tests, starts her college applications, and begins the happy journey toward the end of her secondary school days!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Senior Pictures, NYC, and All That Jazz

It has been an eventful week with nary a minute to spare to (or to blog). First things first:

SENIOR PICTURES! Annalisse went for her senior picture shoot at Keepsake Photography last Friday and they came out awesome! Jasper came along for the shoot and, after many attempts the photographer was able to get some really good pix of them together. Here's a link in case you want to take a look; I'm not sure how long they'll be available but they are really great!! Paying for them is a little like paying a small mortgage, but hey, what can you do? It's her senior picture.

The other big thing this week was my trip to NYC for the NAGAP meeting. This was my second time in the Big Apple - you can read about my first time here. I will say again how fortunate I am to be part of this awesome group of innovative, smart colleagues and how lucky I am to be able to travel to great places with them. There is no way I could afford to go to these locations and stay in the desirable areas in which we stay in (this time at the Empire Hotel, across from Lincoln Square right right near Central Park). We did a great amount of walking, which felt wonderful, and ate delicious food. It was a very successful two days of strategic planning (held at Fordham University, just a block from the hotel) followed by our association's board meeting. A lot of work with a bit of fun thrown in, too!

The most fun thing we did was to go to the Broadway show (my first!), Nice Work If You Can Get It starring Matthew Broderick (Bueller? Bueller?). A mish-mash of Gershwin tunes wrapped around a silly story, it was a delightful show, with the possible exception of the performance by MB, which we universally agreed was really flat (the expression "phoning it in" comes to mind). But, so much fun!

Now, it looks like things will slow down a little for a while, anyway. For the remainder of the summer and early fall, we'll mainly just be doing some day trips for our final College Tour '12 and a little bit of recruitment travel thrown in. Other than that I'm looking forward to staying put and paying off bills after a very expensive summer!

At this writing, the chickens are all home for a little while. Cam finished his camp job today and will be home until the end of August, before he heads back to RIT for his sophomore year, and Annalisse is in the midst of the Kaplan SAT prep course to get her ready for the ACT and SAT exams this fall. Once again I ask you: Where does the time go?!

James Earl Jones exiting his show
The Theatre Crowd
The Letterman Show 
Wall 'O Posters - Broadway

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Dog Sitters

Wet Dog Blues
On Tuesday we were on the road to another college visit, this time to Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA. We went on Tuesday afternoon to stay over for another college visit day which started at 8:30am on Wednesday.

While gone, I asked my niece, Nicole, to look after Jasper. It seemed like a good idea - Nic's boyfriend, Patrick, had been bugging her to get a dog and what better experience than to take care of a really cute dog for a day or two?

Poor Nic! As fate would have it she had the pleasure of taking Jasper out during pouring down rain (after a really strong thunderstorm) for a long walk during which he DID NOT POOP. She was so worried...should she keep walking? In the pouring rain? When she told Patrick they would have to pick up the eventual poop that would occur he was appalled: "I'm not picking up poop!" - Patrick's got a long way to go until he's ready for a puppy!

Then, the next evening (we were expected home around 8:30 so Nic came over to take Pup out and feed him) Jasper pulled one of his "I'm going to sit right here and not budge" moves on a nearby street. Nic panicked and had no idea what to do - she couldn't get him moving. I forgot to tell her that every once in a while he gets something in his head and wants to go a certain way on his walk. Then, when she eventually got him home he wouldn't come into the house. She was not happy with our usually placid, agreeable dog. Of course, we found it quite humorous.

We gave Nic and Patrick a cherry pie for all their trouble. I wonder if their thoughts on having a dog have altered just a little bit?!

A treat for our good boy
(One of the purposes of this little tale [tail!] is to point out that we were ONCE AGAIN traveling. There are still several college trips left in August. I will be glad when they are done.)