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Choosing a college: Back to square one?

4 May

I thought it was over, I really did. I picked a college, I put a deposit down, I had a roommate….and then I got accepted into somewhere else…..

So finally I am a senior, yay! right? Well, it wasn’t all fun and games. First I had to get through SAT’s, then the ACT’s,  then to make a list of schools, and begin my application process– which wasn’t actually as bad as I expected, mostly because I was so excited to move on that it was the first thing I did when I got home from school everyday. Call me crazy, but by early October I was done. Yes, I was done and I was done early, and I was excited! .

I began getting letters back from colleges early too- some acceptances, some deferred, and sadly even some rejections.  I remember opening that first letter.   I wasn’t expecting it at all, I just figured it was a letter saying that they received all my information. I opened the envelope not thinking anything of it. I pulled it out and called my friend saying “I think I just got into college!”  It was more of a state of shock than anything else, it was also a sigh of relief.  Getting those acceptance letters was a great feeling, but the best feeling is when your first school is an acceptance; it gives you that feeling saying “hey I’m really going to college.”

After that first letter, more letters came rolling in. It was fun to receive them in the mail even if it wasn’t an acceptance.

There was one school I saw while visiting that I fell in love with, I didn’t get in. I knew it was a harder school for me to get into so when I received my rejection letter- I focused on the other schools that I got into, and really felt fine with it. Obviously it wasn’t meant for a reason and this school didn’t even have my major.

When I began applying to schools, James Madison University (JMU) is one that I didn’t know much about.  My guidance counselor put this one on my list, because she saw it last year and fell in love with it. So I applied and was accepted!  After receiving the acceptance letter, I had heard that about eleven people from my school applied to and I was one of two who got in! So I decided I needed to learn some more about the school. I began talking to a graduate from my high school who goes there and loves it and another girl I met, slowly it began reaching to the top of my list.

When my Mom and I got to campus we walked around for a bit and said ehh, it’s pretty but not that big. We got into the car to find a hotel for the night when we crossed over the highway and saw that there was an entire other half of campus, we laughed about it and looked around, now the campus really became something. For me, the only down side of the university that I found was that it is 6 and a half hours away from home andthe transportation wasn’t the best… but over all the school is beautiful.

So I put my deposit down.

Then shortly after I began over thinking if I actually wanted to go there. I went to my guidance counselor and she told me that almost everyone begins to second guess their decision after they put a deposit down, this made me feel a lot better and I realized that there was no other school I wanted that I got into.

… Although there was one I didn’t hear back from. But it didn’t  matter. I wouldn’t get in anyway.

Fast forward to yesterday.

I received the letter from that last one, SUNY New Paltz, and it was an acceptance letter! I got in!!

New Paltz is the complete opposite of JMU.  I thought I wanted a big school with the “RaRa” life, but not filled with the crowd and personalities in my town, that’s what I wanted to get away from. I wanted people who were down to earth, I wanted to get away. New Paltz is a smaller school, without the “RaRa”, but still getting away from my town. And my parents think I should go see it.

Both schools are beautiful, but now I am back to stage 1, deciding where to go. This, is the hardest part of the entire process, I know you can transfer, but my goal is to pick a school where I am going to be happy and stay there for my entire college career.

 *sigh*  What to do?



Teen Insider: Music Connects All

1 Jun


Music is a gift. The right kind of music, not lyrics of “blah blah blah” but a song on the piano, a voice lifting through the air, the whistle of the wind. Its the gift we get, the gift we feel when we listen to music.


Its weird to say that music keeps people together, and sometimes the lyrics of a song  or how to play a musical instrument are the only things that some people remember.  So why is it that if a budget were to fail or something has to be cut from school, music would be the first option?


Just the other day I was at my friends house and we walked down the street to his grandparents house where their family eats dinner every night. Just like my grandpa,  his grandfather has Alzheimers. I have been over several times, last night being one of them. When I walked in my friend asked him if he remembered me, he said of course, then asked my name when his grandson walked away. I told him it like it was the first time we met.  We sat at the table talking while his grandpa hummed along with contributing in the conversation. My friend got up, grabbed a harmonica and handed it to his grandfather, his grandfather picked it up and played as if it were nothing. His grandfather forgets he had dinner twice already, but he plays this harmonica just as he would blink his eye, or breathe for that matter.


Every Sunday I do volunteer work in a town right by me; it is like a camp from 9 to 12 for children with special needs. I work with kids with autism, there are two kids in particular, they are very difficult and don’t really like to listen, but they do react to music. They dance and will stop when they hear a song. Music class, my favorite class to go in with them, on good days, they sit and interact by singing the songs and playing the instruments. They rarely remember my name as a seven year old, but they remember the words to songs. Every week the teacher goes over a few of the same songs and hell stop at a word and wait for them to fill in the blank; the music gets them to stop, and really think. When they get to bang the drums they sing, its astonishing how much music impacts them and gets a child who has trouble connecting, to really pay attention.


It inspiring  how important music is, how much of an impact it leaves on anyone. Not just an elderly with Alzheimers, or a child with autism, but sitting in the car you can hear a 2 year old singing to a song that comes on the radio, or shows up from Barney on TV. The nursery rhymes that are read to them every night, or just a tune they can walk around humming. The way music moves a person, getting them to feel like a part of something, emotionally by the words or by the sound.


Its when  a song comes on the radio and makes you smile, or how a person can walk into a room, and Broadway show and not know a word to a song and have the beat stuck in their head. A rhythm sticks, a song sticks, a math problem or a Chem definition don’t  stick; a drummer sits down not even realizing that their hands are moving slightly as they keep the beat, what beat? The beat that sticks in their head because of the way a piece of music has influenced them.


Not everyone is a painter, a writer, a doctor, or a mathematician, but everyone has music. You may not be the best dancer, instrumentalist, or vocalist, but in some way music moves you, it reminds you of something- an important time in your life, it reminds you of someone, or it just makes you smile, and sometimes even cry. No one realizes how important music is until the radio turns off.


– Brit

The Teen Insider- Guest Speakers Inspire

14 Apr

I’ve never had an inspiration before, well until today that is. Every year my high school holds a wellness day where we have guest speakers come in and talk to us about activities that may influence our lives, many from the perspective of those who have had their lives changed. Our guest speakers talk about many thing: drinking, drugs, gay/lesbian, disabilities, illnesses, nutrition, sex, cancer, holocaust, and many more. As a junior, this is my third time experiencing this day, the good part about it- new speakers every year.

So when we recently had such an assembly, I didn’t know what to expect walking in, I just figured a usual “don’t drink and drive” type of man, but then my teacher announced that he models and just that was a shock to me, who could they possibly be bringing in?

Onto stage walked a man, a very very cute man in all honesty, he got up there and the first thing I noticed were the crutches. Then I saw his missing leg. The only thing I could think about, was how did this happen? While the people around me were shocked or gasped, I watched him walk around the stage just as anyone else, and I watched him smile just as well as anyone else could do, and I didn’t pay attention to what was missing.

His name is Josh Sundquist and at a young age he had to get his leg amputated because of cancer. He is now seen with just one leg (and sometimes his prosthetic leg) and two crutches which help him throughout his daily activities. Yes josh probably looked down on himself when this first began, he probably wished that of all things that could happen to him- for this to not be one of them, however; he got onto the stage they set up in the gym for him and he smiled. He smiled!

For two 41 minute periods straight, Josh told jokes, he told stories about him having one leg, he even sang a song at the end, but; he always smiled. Josh lives a normal life even with a missing piece, he knows what’s missing, and he once knew what it was like to have it, he also knows what its like to have something so essential to life, not there anymore. Therefore, josh has learned more then any 80 year old who is healthy and still married; he learned importance. He learned life, and he learned that there is much more to it then sitting around and sulking. Josh taught me a lot while he talked, he found the benefits in having one leg and he doesn’t hide the fact that something isn’t there. Josh is very open, and expresses himself, trying to help people, especially teens who might be embarrassed about something, that this one thing should never hold you back.

Out of my three years in high school and hearing other speakers from middle school, had to have been my favorite. I have never heard someone so inspiring, and through the conditions he’s been in, so happy!

This day I realized through all the troubles anyone can go through, big or small, it is important to always look ahead because sitting around feeling bad for yourself won’t get you anywhere, and if you give up on yourself eventually the people around you will too.

Josh taught me.  Josh inspired me.

There are always people who will walk into your life, they may just be there for a moment and after many years you might forget their name or what they look like, but things they have said to you will stick like glue. Josh’s words will stick to me, his smile will let me know that there are always going to be obstacles but your the only one who can truly make yourself feel better about them, josh has learned this. Now its about time his words, his ideas, his wisdom, begins spreading; so anyone who has a problem can learn too- can learn for him and maybe even be inspired by him, just as I am.

If you want to check out Josh’s website

The Teen Insider on Being The Middle Child

31 Mar

Know what drives me crazy?
Every time I walk into the room and its dark (or my mom doesn’t have her contacts in) she asks, “Erika?”
Me:...  “No its Brittany”.
Every time my parents call the house and I answer (which I do over any of my sisters) and they say “Erika?… Jordana?”
Me:“No. … Brittany”
EVEN when I call my parents I get, “Erika?” … When obviously there’s caller ID because I’d hope they’d have me in their phone.
Me: ..(Sigh)… “Brittany.”
I am a middle child,  sandwiched between an older sister in college who tells my mom EVERYTHING, every-little-piece-of-her-life (one reason I don’t tell her anything), and my younger sister who is still “the baby” of the family… which means although she has the biggest attitude in the family, she’s still spoiled because she’s the youngest, the last child, the only “baby” left of the family. Then we have me…… the middle child. I’m not given an identity, I’m the child that’s forgotten about.
So where does this leave me? I’m just the junior in high school who is beginning to look at colleges. How does that make me special in anyway? How am I suppose to stand out in my family when I’m just the child thrown in the middle?
Living as the creme in the middle of the cookie sandwich, I always need to find a way to not be called Jordana, Erika or even my dog, Martini (yes my dog is named Martini, I know) And it takes one person to make me stand out- me.
If you were to ask my mom who would be the best child to babysit, hands down she’d tell you Brittany. She’d say, although the older one will bring cookies to make, Brittany is the most responsible.
Jordana has better grades then me- I work harder. Erika gets away with a lot (even with an attitude)- I’m the most reasonable and down to earth.
You see through years of wanting to be unique, I’ve learned who I am; and though many people (myself included), would say they will be like their parents when they grow up, I also want to find ways to be different.
This past summer I went miniature golfing with a friend, it began to rain and the people in front of us were going slowly. My friend became agitated, while I just stood there, not minding the slowness of everyone else- I told him to be patient. He looked at me with a bit of shock and asked why I am so patient, I told him my parents are very impatient and I don’t like it, so I make sure I am patient with everything – its tones everything down, and, I promise,  it doesn’t add on stress to wait.


I’ve also noticed how everyone likes to talk about themselves. I’ll admit I used to be one of those people. Then I took a minute and started listening to what everyone was saying, and this is what I heard; ” I this- I that- I want- I need – I cant- I heard – I did – I,I, I, I,… !!!“. So now, I hold back my “I” in a conversation with people.
I’m more down to earth then a lot of teenagers in my town and I’m definitely more mature.
And although none of this may  change my being called Erika when I answer the phone at home, I’m confident that other people will see all that makes me stand out- because I am unique!… Even if I am the middle child.
A note from the Toy Insider Mom
It’s not easy to read (and post) a blog like this from my daughter and not address it.  However, the deal is that she is here to answer questions and talk about her life of feelings as a teen. That is the deal, and I must respect it.
For those of you with teenagers, you understand how special those small windows of insight into their world are… we don’t get them often (for those with younger children, you’ll get it soon enough).
The Nickelodeon Parent Connect Mantra “We’re not perfect, we’re parents” never rang more true to me. It is important for us as parents (of kids of all ages) to realize that Parenting -every step of the way- is about listening and learning because every child is unique– no matter the birth order. It is something that we as parents recognize from the moment they are born.
* And for the record, I can’t even begin to tell you how much I (and her dad) adore that never forgotten about middle child and what she means to us. I hope she reads this note at the end of her blog!

The Teen Insider… decoding the world of teens

11 Mar


When it comes to Teens, they aren’t always eager to open up to Mom (I know mine aren’t). So what’s a parent to do when they want so badly to be able to understand and relate to their teen?  Well the truth is, if you’re looking for advice about a teenager… the best thing to do is to …  ask a teenager.

I’ve asked my middle daughter, Brittany to become part of this blog by talking about some issues weighing on parents minds regarding their teens and also responding to parents who may want to annonymously submit questions to her as the “Teen Insider”.

I didn’t give her much direction except to become involved, read through some of my blogs and write down some thoughts. Her first blog is below.  I think she’s off to a great start!!

-Laurie, The Toy Insider Mom

Meet our official Teen Insider- Brit


Usually it’s the adult who doesn’t understand how to work these social networking pages, but as I attempt to begin my first blog- I am quickly realizing that I am the one trying to learn and understand, while my moms’ running with several pages and blogs.

As a teenager, we grow and we learn about the new technology. And the older we get, the more it improves. Our parents didn’t have what we have now, the computers, the phones, the networking device to keep in touch with friends from all over the world. But now ask, is this good or bad for us?

Before texting, every conversation was was face to face; however now every conversation, from catching up with an old friend, to breaking up with a boyfriend is through text.  As a teenager, I ask, are our communication skills being hampered? Do we have the ability to have a conversation that is face to face and actually shows emotion?  As we grow older, and our technology improves, are our conversation skills decreasing from overuse of staring at a screen?

We live in a world that makes communication easy, that helps us keep and make new friends from all over the world, but sometimes I wonder if it will leave us lacking quite a bit in our everyday dilemmas- especially when we need to solve problems in the workforce. Will we fire (or find out we were fired) from a job by text? I hope we can figure out how to make technology more face to face friendly.

– Brit

Have a question for the Teen Insider? … submit them here.