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Sun Belt Collegiate

Friday 06/06/2014
Such the Spot - Summer bucket list

Summer has officially begun. The calendar might not say so, but I know it’s true because not two days after school let out my seven-year-old son came to me and uttered those three dreaded words: “Mom, I’m bored.” My threat of additional chores to resolve the boredom was only a temporary fix; I also devised a summer bucket list. Our summer bucket list suggests 50 things to do before school resumes. I thought I’d share it here for those of you who are looking for ways to avoid hearing those same three words uttered by your own child(ren). Good luck!

1. Read a classic book.

2. Try a new candy bar in your s’mores.

3. Use sidewalk chalk to create a (temporary) masterpiece.

4. Learn to say hello in five different languages.

5. Visit the zoo.

6. Have a squirt gun war.

7. Take a magnifying glass to the backyard and see what you see.

8. Eat a watermelon Eeggee.

9. Sign up for the summer reading program at the library.

10. Enjoy a picnic dinner at the park.

11. Go geocaching.

12. Develop a secret code language with your friends.

13. Write a letter to a relative and mail it the old-fashioned way (with a stamp).

14. Host a hot dog roast.

15. Visit a splash pad.

16. Make a crazy hat out of household items you already have.

17. Learn a new card game.

18. Write a short story.

19. Watch an 80’s movie.

20. Make pizza from scratch and top it with five unique toppings (peanut butter, anyone?).

21. Use a squirt gun for target practice.

22. Play musical chairs.

23. Take a family bike ride.

24. Sleep under the stars.

25. Set up a lemonade stand.

26. Tally monsoonal rainfall.

27. Fly a kite.

28. Put on a puppet show.

29. Bake cupcakes.

30. Visit a museuem.

31. Take pictures of your favorite stuffed animals.

32. Use aforementioned pictures to make a scrapbook.

33. Join a club.

34. Hike a trail.

35. Start a rock collection.

36. Eat a banana split.

37. Go to the movies.

38. Perform a random act of kindness.

39. Play after-dark freeze tag with glow sticks.

40. Use paper straws and Kool-Aid mix to make homemade pixie sticks.

41. Start a tomato garden.

42. Make a pinwheel.

43. Plan a block party for your neighbors.

44. Play hopscotch.

45. Draw or color pictures for local nursing home residents.

46. Visit Apple Annie’s for fresh summer produce.

47. Blow bubbles.

48. Build a fort.

49. Make a rainbow dinner salad, including an ingredient in every color of the rainbow.

50. Have a checkers tournament.

Posted in Sun belt collegiate, Northwest chatter on Friday, June 6, 2014 4:23 pm. Comments (0)

Friday 03/01/2013
Such the Spot -The world through pixie-dusted glasses

Having grown up in California, I went to Disneyland countless times as a child. I remember fondly trudging out of the park after a long, exciting day—my Mickey-shaped balloon bobbing along as we went. That was back when you could drive right up the front gate and walk right back to your car when the fun had all been had. Long before the days of parking trams and security checkpoints to get into the Happiest Place on Earth. I spent so much time at Disneyland and made so many memories that not all of them are good ones.

The very first time my parents splurged for a stay at The Disneyland Hotel, I came down with a stomach bug during our trip. I distinctly remember lying immobile on our hotel room bed, so nauseous I dare not move. As is typical of little brothers, mine identified it as an opportune moment for torture. One by one he lined up Bugle corn snacks under my nose. I was so sick that all I could manage in response were some guttural grunts which, unfortunately for me, were not loud enough to garner the attention of my parents. Indeed my lunch was lost that day. As revenge, I threw my brother’s beloved Cabbage Patch doll over our hotel room balcony. Also unfortunately for me? He managed a response worthy of my parents’ attention. As I recall, there would be no Mickey-shaped balloon for me that night.

In spite of the fact that not all of my Disney memories are overflowing with sunshine and rainbows, I still hold them among my most dear. It should come as no surprise, then, that as an adult, I’ve made Disney trips with my own family a priority. My hope is that when they’re grown and gone, my kids will recall their own magical moments at the Happiest Place on Earth (hold the Bugle corn snacks).

With my oldest daughter graduating high school this spring, I know our family vacation time is dwindling. And so when it came time to choose a destination for our next trip, the decision was a no-brainer. We’re going to Disney World!

If you know us personally, you might roll your eyes at our decision to—once again—choose a Disney destination. Too many times we’ve heard responses like, “You’re going there again?” or “Don’t you get tired of the same old thing?” With four theme parks, two water parks, a shopping district, exciting nightlife, recreational opportunities and delectable dining all within one sprawling resort, it’s easy to see why we’ve yet to grow “bored” of visiting Disney. But that’s beside the point. At the heart of the matter is, well, the heart.

As a family, we’ve traveled to New York City and Grand Canyon and Seattle. We’ve camped and hiked and toured and shopped until we dropped. And while we hold dear memories from each of those trips, those destinations aren’t the same as Disney. Whereas some people might turn a cold shoulder to Disney, criticizing it as commercialized, we don’t see it that way. When we’re at Disney, it’s as if age dissolves. My husband and I (okay maybe just I) dance along to the parade soundtrack right along with the kids. We throw up our hands and scream on the roller coasters. We smile and pose for family photos with the big cheese himself. No other vacation destination puts us on an equal plane as our kids during the day, while still allowing us the option to go grab a drink at a dueling piano bar after dark.

So yes, we’re headed to Walt Disney World. Again. The destination might be the same, but new memories are added each trip. We’ll make them while we can.

Posted in Northwest chatter, Sun belt collegiate on Friday, March 1, 2013 1:10 pm. | Tags: Darcie Maranich , Such The Spot , Disneyland , Disneyland Hotel , New York , Grand Canyon , Seattle Comments (0)

Thursday 08/09/2012
Sunbelt Collegiate - Getting mean on the Freshman 15

In the wake of the 2012 London Olympics, we've all realized how terribly out of shape we are. Paired with the prospect of returning to school in the coming weeks,

this is perhaps as great a time as any to face our greatest fears as they loom on the horizon of our waistlines. Yes, freshman fifteen — I'm talking about you.

The freshman fifteen is the stuff of urban legend — a horror story that wreaks havoc on the psyches of high school seniors everywhere, for fear that it too might touch their lives, leaving them crying in the Sears dressing room shopping for pants two sizes larger.

The truly terrifying part of this particular myth is that it is anything but an old wives' tale. Every fall, kids go off to college trim and lean as ever, and return home at Christmastime only to be mistaken for Santa Claus himself.

Many brace themselves for the seemingly inevitable weight gain, but the reality is, you don't have to! With just a little bit of cautious foresight, you can not only avoid those extra pounds, but even challenge yourself to outgrow any bad habits you might have had in high school. Here are a few tips to get you started on the right track:

1. Before school even starts, take up some form of exercise. Go for a run, swim laps in the pool, lift weights. My personal favorite is dancing because you can either go solo just blasting the radio at home, or make a night on the town of it — which I suppose is the equivalent of a group exercise class without the awful pretense of waking up at 5 a.m. and competing against fitness buffs with the hint of Muscle Milk on their breaths.

2. Limit yourself to one plate per meal. This is particularly important if your cafeteria is buffet-style, because nothing invites bulking up like unlimited refills when you're on a college budget. Avoid fast food most days of the week, and aim to make half of each plate vegetables (potatoes don't count).

3. Keep yourself motivated! This might be the most important piece of advice, because of all the buzzkills out there, your own mind can be the most lethal. On the other hand, maintaining a positive attitude can make any struggle seem easy — so figure out what it is that will keep you going when you're gearing up to watch TV rather than go on a 3-mile run. Find a work-out buddy, make a playlist, read blogs to keep yourself interested — it's all a matter of personal taste.

For all of these things, make sure you seek out something that works for you. If you hate pilates, don't force yourself to go to a class — try something else, or you'll quit when the school work starts piling up. If spinach makes you gag, by all means do not eat it. There's always something nutritious to replace any of the gaps in your diet created by personal dislikes.

So as you enter into this new era in your life, make sure you take the time to map out a plan to keep yourself healthy — or be prepared to face the consequences come winter break.

Posted in Sun belt collegiate on Thursday, August 9, 2012 3:11 pm. Updated: 3:12 pm. | Tags: Freshman 15 , Sunbelt Collegiate , Gaining Weight In College Comments (0)

Wednesday 08/01/2012
Sunbelt Collegiate - The Lost Appeal of a Set of Wheels

Getting one’s driver’s license has long been treated as a huge rite of passage for 16-year-olds across America. It represents freedom and the dawn of adulthood and always comes equipped with fantasies of late-night joyrides and blasting the radio at top volume. What I’m about to say then is not that the dream is dead, but that maybe it has lost some of its luster.

I used to think it was just me who was slacking and disinterested in getting her license — a feat I managed to put off for more than four years — but I hear of this indifference frequently now, which begs of us the question: Why? How did driving suddenly lose its appeal?

Well, where to begin.

First, those teenage dreams of driving with the top down screaming along to “Don’t Stop Believin’” became obsolete ever since Glee ruined Journey and we all remembered that convertibles always end in sunburns.

With the incessant media out there about cutthroat gas prices, paired with the always-escalating information circulating about our impending environmental doom, having a car seems not only like a totally unnecessary financial burden, but maybe even borderline irresponsible.

These are the excuses I hid behind — and they’re true, valid excuses — but for the most part I was just unwilling to shoulder that responsibility, and was lucky enough to be allowed to coast off of the kindness of my family and friends.

But alas, as we grow up and move out of the homes in which our chauffeur-parents reside, the luxury of wheels become more of a necessity to navigate our worlds as they expand beyond the comfortable bounds of school, Chipotle, and the homes of our friends. After three years in college spent wiling away my Friday nights pleading unable to play Designated Driver I figure it’s finally time to give back.

So family, friends, roommates — this license is for you.

And to those of you putting off driving school: don't be the twenty-year-old taking your permit test for the fourth time. The high schoolers are judging you.

Posted in Sun belt collegiate on Wednesday, August 1, 2012 3:30 pm. Comments (0)

Friday 07/27/2012
Sunbelt Collegiate - The cost of school supplies in college

After 12 years of mindless back-to-school shopping guided by lists sent out courtesy of your school district, being tossed into the unknown of compiling your own supplies can be daunting. Throw in the added cost of notoriously expensive textbooks — no longer paid for by taxes and readily stocked in your classroom — and the prospect of next month’s credit card bill is enough to warrant a panic attack.

But never fear. As always there is a silver lining.

In college, no one’s breathing down your neck about labeling folders and keeping notes stapled. What you bring to class is entirely up to you. So enjoy this freedom to cut out all the things your teachers required of you but always went unused. For me, this subtracted about half of the traditional shopping list.

Binders and dividers achieve the same purpose as a 5-subject notebook. Paperclips are nothing more than shoddy staples. These are some of the invaluable lessons I learned in high school, and which I will impart upon you here.

1. So let’s knock out the biggest elephant in the shopping cart: textbooks. My first semester of college I was blind and naive and spent between 300-500 dollars just on books — the specific sum eludes me, mainly because I still cringe at the thought of the price, unjustified by the disproportionate number of times I actually opened them (read: 5). Thankfully I smartened up immediately, and by spring semester was buying books online, and buying them in older editions. Some professors will say this is a big no-no because texts change with each edition, but the majority of these revisions are minimal if at all noticeable. If you want to be safe, email your professors and ask if a prior edition would be appropriate.

2. As much as it pains me to admit, planners are a must — especially freshman year. I’ve since been able to adopt a new system which involves writing myself calendar notes in my phone, but the objective remains essentially the same: keep your affairs in order or you will forget.

3. While some prefer to keep all courses separate from one another, I tend to favor a good old-fashioned 5-subject notebook. Five parts note-taking space and five parts folder for handouts, these are my most trusted school supply. By the end of the semester it’ll be in tatters, but in the meantime you can rest easy knowing that everything you need is in one place as opposed to twenty — a huge plus for those messy like yours truly.

So skip the rulers, the binders, the fancy mechanical pencils (they’re going to get stolen anyway). This year keep it simple, only buy what you need, and be wary of who you lend your pencils to.

Posted in Sun belt collegiate, Northwest chatter on Friday, July 27, 2012 10:24 am. Comments (1)

Wednesday 07/18/2012
Sunbelt Collegiate - What you need to know: A guide for incoming college freshmen

Going off to college is an exciting time in the lives of all freshmen.

For most, it’s one step closer to being on your own and responsible for yourself. It sounds like a dream, but it also holds the promise of a million mess-ups.

While mistakes are inevitable, it’s always nice to face disaster with a few words of wisdom at your disposal. So here are just a few things to remember:

1. When picking roommates, choose lifestyle over friendship. It’s tempting to fall for the fantasy of non-stop slumber parties and heart-to-hearts with your best friend if you’re going to the same school. Maybe you’re just trying to prevent yourself from getting stuck with a weirdo by rooming with someone you know. I have a terrible secret for you though: your best friend is a weirdo, and never takes out the trash, and will probably eat chips on your bed while you’re out. What’s most important in choosing a roommate is figuring out how they live their life day-to-day. When do they go to sleep? Do they play music 24/7? Is it Nickelback? When I was searching for a roommate I asked my potentials if (a) they snored, and if, (b) they wouldn’t mind my blatant disregard for housekeeping.

One of my future best friends answered no to both questions and we spent the next year borrowing each other’s clothes and getting fined for not vacuuming. A lot of my friends, however, chose high school acquaintances and ended up ruining friendships over who clogged the sink. Save your friendships and choose someone else. At the very worst you’ll have an awful roommate you can tell horror stories about for years to come.

2. Learn to do laundry. A lot of dorms have idiot-proof machines that have settings such as “Darks” and “Woolens” in place of numbers and temperatures and chaos, but as a 20 year old moving into her first apartment next month, I’m already embarrassed for my future self and how I’m going to have to ask my parents for help on how not to turn my whites pink.

3. Don’t spend all your time studying. Go to class, do your work, but don’t unwaveringly choose school over socializing.

School is really really important — your parents and I can’t stress that enough — but know that in a lot of career tracks, who you know is just as important as what you know. So don’t neglect your friends.

4. Lastly, take solace in the fact that college, like any new chapter in your life, grants you the opportunity for reinvention. Whatever reputation you had in high school is now obsolete and irrelevant. Start anew, and if you must, fake it until you make it.

That’s all for now! Check back next week for more advice as the school year approaches.

Posted in Sun belt collegiate, Northwest chatter, Back to school on Wednesday, July 18, 2012 11:33 am. Updated: 2:43 pm. | Tags: Guide For College Freshmen Comments (0)

Thursday 07/05/2012
Sun Belt Collegiate - Summertime: A time to make resumés shine

Aahh, summer. Three months of lounging poolside and perfecting your tan. It always sounds like a dream to the post-finals undergrad, but after three summers of feverish heat strokes and bored weekdays, I seem to have finally learned my lesson.

The pleasure of doing nothing wears off quickly when it's 100 degrees out and you've watched every episode of “30 Rock” online. The monotony of your days gets you asking yourself the big questions: Who am I? What am I doing with my life? Where do I see myself in five years?

And thus ensues the panic attacks.

Very few of us really know what we want to do once we graduate. Even those who say they do will likely change their minds a million times before their four years are up. I started college determined to go pre-med, and after majoring in everything else (Philosophy, Advertising, Non-Profit Management and Film to name a few) wound up all the way across campus studying Rhetoric instead.

In my experience, the most efficient way to confront the literally boundless options at your fingertips is to pick something you're interested in and do it.

The earlier you start, the better — only because it'll give you more time to explore before you graduate and actually have to get a job.

If you want to be a doctor, go shadow at a hospital. If planning weddings sounds like your cup of tea, go intern with an event planner. Career brochures and Hollywood depictions of these things will only show you the pretty side of every occupation, but if you put yourself in the shoes of those who have already achieved your dreams, you'll find out if you can tolerate the ugly as well.

That's where summer's most important. With idleness quickly turning to worried thoughts of one's future, it's the perfect time to stave off the underlying post-grad anxiety by either finding something you love or checking off something you don't. Even if you end up with the latter, you'll realize later on that you've acquired skills and built up a resumé that can help you out in even the most seemingly irrelevant of fields.

What I'm trying to say is don't hesitate. The future is now, and the world is your oyster — go make of your future a pearl.

Posted in Sun belt collegiate, Northwest chatter on Thursday, July 5, 2012 2:05 pm. Updated: 2:19 pm. Comments (0)

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