Move In Day!

Move In Day!

“Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks/Kaplan Test Prep. I received compensation to write this post, and any opinions expressed are my own, and reflect my actual experience.” 

When I was asked if I had any advice about getting kids ready for college, I had to laugh. Do I? Do I EVER!

I mean, come on, I have five children, four currently in college. I could cry you a river.

One, because I miss them, and two, because the college process is a pain, and the first year is the hardest.

I don’t want to scare younger parents. But then again, it’s probably for the best. Go ahead, be afraid. Trust me, your kids won’t. They are worried about the game Friday night, not the Fafsa deadline for 2016.

My main advice is to get involved. I have both public schooled children and homeschooled children. I was actually more involved with my homeschool son’s progress for getting into college because I was worried that as a homeschooler, he would not get access to help that was available through the school system. I bugged him and we did sign up for test prep and did online planning. He ended up having a relatively easy process getting into school as a freshman.

Ironically, I assumed that my public schooled children would get tons of help through the guidance office. Frankly, they did not. They received some paperwork and notice about meetings that were, I thought, pretty useless. I was shocked. I’m not even sure why the school had an office door marked guidance office, that’s how little help they gave.

That all being said, kids do get into college. We are living proof the process did not kill us.

Also, for the record, I do expect a level of responsibility from my kids that not every parent does. I asked them to keep track of deadlines for taking the ACT, the SAT and for getting Fafsa forms filled out and for making sure they made the college deadlines for applications.

If I was able to go back in time and handle things a bit differently, here are a few things I would do:

  • I would start to prepare earlier. As early as Freshman year.
  • Find the websites that can help you and your child. Sites like the KapMap can track progress and warn you about upcoming deadlines.
  •  I would sign myself up (not just the kids) to look at more of the planning tools and deadlines, so I knew exactly what to ask the kids about. Sometimes I was more okay with just looking at the big picture, when we needed to get into the minutia.
  • I would schedule times to talk with the kids about what was going on specifically about college. Talk about what each child was doing to handle the college process. Sometimes, one child would be waiting for us to, say, write a check for a test.
  • I would be meaner about them getting things done.

But even with some things that we could not have done differently in the mix, I know that following a process, akin to what KapMap seems to be, would be helpful.

In looking at the KapMap, I like how specific it is. The KapMap gives you suggestions and clickable links for getting ready for college beginning with your freshman year.

You will find details on things like:

PSAT, Financial Aid Deadlines, ACT and SAT’s, Key College Admissions Factors, Campus Visiting Checklists, Taking AP Exams and more.

I spoke with my son and showed him the KapMap. He thought it was very concise and did a video on his thoughts:

Life is getting more difficult, I believe, and following directions DOES matter. While you can “over” worry, in general, I would say that our most difficult times were because a child missed a deadline and it did cause a problem.

I am including a link to the KapMap for other parents and students to check out.

And, I’m happy to share a special code with my readers!


SAVE $100 when you enroll in Kaplan’s SAT and ACT course through 8/28.* Promocode: SHESPEAKS100.

Check out all that Kaplan has to offer on their site and through social media:

Good Luck!!

Good Luck!!

@SheSpeaksUp

 

The Hundred-Foot Journey

August 8, 2014 — 3 Comments
100 Foot Journey

#100FootJourney

A Review by Andrew Quinn


“Save dinner for after the movie though. You’re going to be hungry”

I don’t know if I’ll go back for seconds but I highly enjoyed this film. What a nice surprise it was too. The relaxed but thoughtful nature of director Lasse Hallström’s (whom you’ll remember from Chocolat and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape) film making is in full swing. The stylish Steven Knight (Eastern Promises and Amazing Grace) is a welcome addition as adapter of the source material. Together Knight and Hallström set up quite the show with enough surprises and laughter to keep even the most cold hearted of people entertained. Having Helen Mirren signed on never hurt anyone’s prospects either.

The cast is wonderful and expertly cast. The Indian family led by Papa played by Om Puri is relatable and well fleshed out. They are the human element that by chance or divine providence meet Madame Mallory’s (Helen Mirren) cold and calculated world. The dynamic between these characters is phenomenally set up. It’s what cements the story and really keeps you watching. Hassan Haji, the aspiring chef played by Manish Dayal, keeps the focus of the film relatable and good natured. The characters gentle spirit and clever nature quickly gain the viewer’s interest and Dayal’s performance was solid.

The real treasure here has to be Mirren. She adds a surprising amount of depth to what could have been a one shtick character. She and the rest of the cast bring a healthy amount of laughs and depth to the picture. I can’t think of one performance that was stale or one character that doesn’t round out and grow through the course of the film. So go see the film for Helen Mirren but stay for the rest because you won’t be disappointed. Save dinner for after the movie though. You’re going to be hungry.

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THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY is rated PG and arrives in theaters everywhere on August 8th.



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Andrew Quinn is a film production student based out of Brooklyn NY.

He knows everything about film because he’s “seen over 240 of them.” 

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Review by Andrew Quinn


I’m hooked on the Guardians, I’m high on Marvel and I’m pretty sure my wife now has a huge crush on “Star Lord.”

*Lets go ahead and get this out of the way: the movie is visually stunning and it has a rocking sound track (the opening credits will be all you need to get hooked.) Surprisingly it’s one of the first films I’ve seen since Avatar where I felt the 3D visuals were justified and not annoying or cumbersome. Ok onto the good stuff.*

 

The Marvel world just got a lot bigger. The big draw for Guardians of the Galaxy is surely Chris Pratt playing Peter Quill aka “Star Lord.” Rightfully so, Pratt brings just the right amount of tongue in cheek humor and is a welcome addition to the Marvel Universe. What people will leave the theater remembering though is a bit bigger than Pratt. The rag tag team assembled throughout the movie is one of the most fun I’ve seen in recent history. I’m reminded of Joss Whedon’s ability to direct the groups from Firefly and The Avengers. Every character from Rocket the raccoon to a seemingly all powerful tree root named Groot are excellently cast and not one distracts from the other.

They’re all solid characters that support one another. Their bantering as they grow as a team is irresistible and surprisingly funny. The film doesn’t just have humor going for it though. There’s a deep understanding of the characters conditions and where they’re coming from. Peter Quill’s origin story is one of my favorites. It’s heartfelt and you become just as attached to his Walkman tape player as he is. The rest of the cast does a great job filling out with interesting motives and ideals. The Rocket and Groot relationship was especially great to watch unfold.

The depth and amount of new Marvel characters that join the Marvel Universe this time around is impressive for the first film in its series. The film does an excellent job of tying itself into the rest of the world (please Marvel take note we really want to see Peter Quill run into Tony Stark at some point.) Thankfully we can already look forward to the announced sequel and after the first film I’ve got all the trust that writer/director James Gunn and the cast will be entertaining us again. I can’t think of a better film to round out the summer blockbusters for this year and I’ll be going back to see it again (I missed a few minor lines of dialogue in my theater from all the laughter and cheering.)

MARVEL STUDIOS

Genre: Action-Adventure Rating: PG-13

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY opens in theaters everywhere on August 1st.


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Andrew Quinn is a film production student based out of Brooklyn NY.

He knows everything about film because he’s “seen over 240 of them.” 

Disclosure: As an Affiliate Blogger for Busch Gardens Virginia through Mom Central I received complimentary tickets for my family but was not otherwise compensated. Opinions are my own.

Roman Rapids Ride

Roman Rapids Ride

As I write this post, I think I want to begin at the end. Because one of the last things the kids did together was so fun for me to watch and it just summed up the reason I wanted to go to Busch Gardens in the first place ~

I wanted to get as many of my kids as possible together and do something memorable and super fun. To get outside together without having to make a ton of plans, just to BE. As all my kids grow up, go to college, and begin their own families, time together becomes more and more precious and it is harder to get everyone together than in past years, for sure…

I have to say, my most favorite moment of the day was watching (almost) all my kids, including my daughters’ boyfriend and my daughter in law, go down the river on the Roman Rapids Ride. I stood there and wondered how time had gone by so quickly. I loved seeing how much fun they were having together…I heard them taking care of each other, and a little bit of teasing, but not much. It’s every moms dream to see your kids having this much fun together, don’t you think? Take a look for yourself:

While my kids may remember Griffon, Verbolten or Alpengeist more, I know I’ll never forget watching them from the bank as they laughed their way down the river. Seriously, right then, I was so glad Busch Gardens existed, that it was nice and that the kids all made it that day.

So now you know how I felt about the day and the park already! But anyway, the day began way earlier as we live a few hours away from Busch Gardens Williamsburg. We took two cars and met up at the park. My daughter made one stop on the way:

On the way to Busch Gardens Williamsburg

On the way to Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Once we all arrived, beginning with the tram ride to the entrance, I found the park facilities to be wonderfully clean, with the grounds so well kept and the staff very friendly. Honestly, the park has the feeling of being well run, overall.

The kids at Busch Gardens Williamsburg

The kids at Busch Gardens Williamsburg

We stayed together mostly as a big group, although we had the roller coaster riders…and the non roller coaster riders! But that worked out because we needed someone to hold bags! Note: the lockers are good, but most people still want to keep phones, wallet, a few little items with them. I would consider wearing a non-lame fanny pack next time. I did get some of the Cashless wristbands, one less thing to carry and my youngest thought it was fantastic.

So, after looking at our park maps and checking the show times, (you can also use the Busch Gardens Discovery Guide App), we had a rough plan and started riding! My son Nick wore a Go Pro camera and filmed a bunch of the coasters, which was neat to see. Park regulations permit go pros with the chest straps.

Loch Ness roller coaster in Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Loch Ness roller coaster in Busch Gardens Williamsburg

As my kids are older, we skipped most of the little kid areas, like the KIDsiderate Attractions, which moms of younger kids should check out. (We did last year) We hit all the coasters! Here is a Nick Go Pro Video of Verbolten, I was laughing so hard listening to this one:

And here’s Griffon:

See more of Nick’s park videos on my youtube channel!

After a bunch of intense rides, we took a little detour to chill out, get some water and decide on lunch. We saw the Clydesdales, the grey wolves, the hawks…as a homeschool mom, I am very interested in all their nature and conservation programs (but I’ll save that for another post!).

Petting Clydesdale at Highland Stables

Petting Clydesdale at Highland Stables

After some more wandering, we ended up eating while watching the Entwined: Tales of Good and Grimm show. This was a great decision, because the show was a trip, everyone ate a solid meal and got to relax. Nick got a chicken and barbeque plate that was very good. Note: I see you can pre-purchase meal deals  with a discount. I think I would do this next time. We hung out in Germany for awhile and checked out some shops and enjoyed the carousel and bumper cars.

Visiting the fountain at Busch Gardens Germany

Visiting the fountain at Busch Gardens Germany

Big brother and little sister Carousel Ride at Busch Gardens #99daysofsummerfun

Big brother and little sister Carousel Ride at Busch Gardens #99daysofsummerfun

My daughter and her boyfriend wandered off to ride some more rides and then they had a portrait done! The portrait is adorable and I know she loves it, great job Gwen!

Busch Gardens Portrait Artist

Portrait done by Portrait artist, Gwen

Then, there was more riding and laughing… and mom NOT doing anything but having fun also!

I have to say, it was an intense day! so much fun and just one day:) We had to leave a lot undone, but we all got to do most of the things we had wanted to.

The day was nearly over by now, but we were able to see the London Rocks Show, which was a very entertaining musical show with great technology as well, loads of classic British rock woven into a story and a few 3D surprises…shhh!

London Rocks

London Rocks Show at Busch Gardens Williamsburg

All in all, it was a fantastic day. You can tell by all the smiles:

my kids at Busch Gardens

My Eldest and his gorgeous wife enjoying family time at the park

All this fun and time together and no one had to make anything or do anything… I think I will start a tradition where our whole family has to meet and do this at least once a year. This year, Busch Gardens is having #99daysofsummerfun, and I like that idea:)

So whether you are a family full of littles needing to burn off energy or have a house full of teenagers, Busch Gardens is a great way to get outside easily and have some fun together. They have special shows and events throughout the summer, and a few other special events throughout the year. You can purchase an annual pass or Fun card. There are other online deals for shorter time periods, as well as plenty of information about the park on their website.

Check out Busch Gardens Williamsburg:

Busch Gardens

facebook.com/BuschGardens

twitter.com/buschgardensva

Instagram.com/buschgardensva

 

Christmas Cranberry Chutney

December 4, 2013

Christmas Cranberry Chutney

This is a simple recipe, yet the resulting chutney is so full of flavor and colorful!

Enjoy!

Nan’s Christmas Cranberry Chutney

2 cups fresh cranberries

2 cups sugar

3 Tbls. water

1 apple, chopped

2 celery ribs, chopped (I slice very fine in cuisinart)

1 Tbls. orange rind

1 cup orange juice

1 cup raisins (use golden)

1.2 teas. ground ginger

1/4 teas. ground cloves

cook cranberries, sugar and water for 5 minutes over medium heat. Then add all ingredients and continue cooking at a gentle simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring often. Let cool. As this cools, it will thicken. You will get about 3 cups of chutney.

Cranberry Chutney

This goes very well with ham. Place into jelly jars and share with friends and family!