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Confessions of an ACC Poster Child

22 Mar

Occasionally, a friend or classmate of mine comes up to me and says, “Hey, I saw your picture on the ACC website recently.” This line is always a no-fail conversation starter for a generally reserved person like me.

“Yes, I’m an ACC poster child,” I proudly reply before enthusiastically regaling my unsuspecting listener with story after story about all of the wonderful experiences I’ve had during my four and a half years at Arapahoe Community College.

When I started out as a part-time student pursuing an associates degree, the end goal of graduation seemed like a speck on the distant horizon. I was so intensely focused on each step of my educational journey and the pleasurable pursuit of immersing myself in so many interesting classes and activities that it didn’t really hit me until last week that my graduation is just around the corner.

Instead of feeling euphoric though and ready to move on to the next stage of my life, I’m surprisingly feeling a bit down, reluctant and confused. I’m not so sure I’m ready to give up the comforting intellectual environment of what has become my academic “home” or the attendant connections I’ve made with the amazing faculty members and friends I’ve met along the way.

George Santayana said, “We must welcome the future, remembering that soon it will be the past; and we must respect the past, remembering that it was once all that was humanly possible.” My mind knows it’s time to let go and embrace what the future has to offer, but my heart wants to delay my leaving and enjoy every last moment I have left.

Going back to school at Arapahoe Community College has been the best thing I’ve ever done. The warmth and personal attention of excellent instructors, the small class sizes and the intimacy of such a small campus has provided the nurturing environment I needed to rebuild my scholastic confidence, develop leadership abilities and hone my writing skills.

I’m proud to own ACC as my school and will always be excited to tell people about my experiences there. I will always be proud to be an ACC poster child and graduate. Just don’t be surprised, if like the irrepressible Bob Wiley, I never completely leave. I may be back there this summer or fall, lingering in the hallways and taking a class or two–just for fun.


Sigma Phi Rocks!

11 Mar

This past weekend, I had so much fun with my Phi Theta Kappa friends! My chapter, Sigma Phi, hosted the Colorado Regional Convention at Arapahoe Community College and we had a blast. On Friday night, the officers of Sigma Phi and Alpha Gamma Alpha staged an 80s Highschool Reunion Murder Mystery. I chose the role of Sally Sax, the band dewey/nerd since that was exactly what I was in highschool. I even dug up my old Thornton Highschool band jacket for my costume and borrowed my sister’s saxophone. It was a little harder to dig up 80s clothing than I thought it would be, though I did find some leg warmers and boots in my 14-year-old daughter’s closet. The upturned collar of a pink polo shirt, tacky earrings and the Sheena Easton up-do completed my fairly authentic look. My husband played the role of Danny Drums and my advisor and good friend Erica played a pom-pom girl. In this photo, we’re doing our “interpretive dance” routine (an inside joke from our trip to Virginia last summer…LOL!) I have WAY too much fun at these events…I’ll be SO lost without Phi Theta Kappa and my Sigma Phi friends when I have to transfer to a 4-year school next fall…WAH!

Sigma Phi swept the Regional awards again this year, too. We won the Colorado Distinguished Chapter award, first place in the Scholarship and Service Hallmark categories (I wrote the Scholarship Hallmark Essay for this award), Distinguished Chapter President award, Distinguished Chapter Officer award (that would be ME!!! 🙂 ), and the Horizon Award for our AMAZING advisor.  One of our members is also campaigning for International President this spring.   I am surrounded by a truly wonderful group of people–many of whom have become my dear friends.

Here we are with all our awards…aren’t we a good-looking group? Go SIGMA PHI!

And here I am receiving my Distinguished Chapter Officer Award from my good friend Adam, the now former Colorado Region President.

See? Nerds really DO know how to have fun…:-)

Mi Bolsa

30 Aug

 “As the purse is emptied, the heart is filled.”

-Victor Hugo

The other day, I was chilling out on the front stoop of my house with my toddler and thought to myself, “I could be doing something productive while he’s out here running around.” So I got my overflowing purse out of the van and dumped the contents out onto the sidewalk just to see what had accumulated in there. This is what I found:

  • A small, spiral notebook I use for writing down anything and everything
  • 5 pens
  • A book of selected poems by Christina Rossetti
  • My son’s scorecard from his round at the Sandia golf club in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the beginning of August
  • My wallet
  • A bag of trail mix leftover from our family road trip several weeks earlier
  • Receipts for Safeway (5!), Target, the dentist, the college bookstore, Children’s Place, and Ben and Jerry’s
  • Coupons (which I get with my Safeway receipts and never use)
  • Writer’s notebook (barely written in)
  • An old grocery list
  • A ticket stub to the Debbie Reynolds concert I attended at the Arvada Center at the end of July
  • Appointment reminder cards to the dentist and oral surgeon
  • 2 containers of breath mints
  • My cell phone
  • A $5 bill (a very rare find)
  • My teenage daughter’s Jonas Brothers wristwatch
  • A kid’s hairbrush
  • A small tube of lotion (a free sample picked up in the pediatrician’s office)
  • 5 matchbox cars
  • A partially-made friendship bracelet (dumped in my purse by youngest daughter)
  • A feminine hygeine product
  • A Brio-train car
  • A small hand mirror
  • Girls’ small hair clips
  • A blue Crayola marker

I’ve heard it said that you can tell a lot about a woman by the contents of her purse. So what do these items reveal about me?

#1 I spend far too much time and money at the grocery store.

#2 My life revolves around my kids.

#3 I secretly long to live the writer’s life.

#4 I’m too busy to get organized.

#5 I believe a matchbox car (or 2 or 5) can save the day.

#6 You can never have too many pens on hand.

#7 My life is often a tangled mess at times, a receptacle filled to the brim and spilling over.

What do the contents of your purse reveal about you?

Nose Job

20 Aug


This past weekend my 2-year-old son really gave me something to cry about when he gave me a full head-butt backwards into my nose and nearly broke it. Surprisingly and fortunately for me, there was no blood, swelling, or bruising after the incident. But my son, knowing he had done something wrong, looked up at me with concern and said with his thumb stuck in his mouth, “Mama owie?”

This painful experience has caused me to reflect on just how powerful and unpredictable a toddler can be. It has also reminded me of the title of a book I think I’m authorized to write–Everything I Learned About Self-Defense I Learned From My Toddler.

In the course of raising five children, I’ve had my share of mama owies and wrestling matches as I’ve struggled to get them into car seats and shopping carts. And along the way, I’ve also learned a lot of valuable self-defense skills that I think all women could benefit from.

  • Imagine how effective you would be at taking someone out if you were grabbed from behind and you gave them a full head-butt in the nose.
  • Imagine how difficult it would be for someone to abduct you if you went suddenly limp or ramrod straight.
  • Imagine how difficult it would be for someone to remove you from a room if you were clinging to a doorframe with your hands and feet or were sprawled out kicking and screaming on the floor.

My nose is still a bit tender three days later, but I’m so glad I didn’t end up with an unexpected nose job. I’m a little more cautious around my thuggish toddler now. I suppose having a “head’s up” anticipatory attitude is yet another self-defense skill to add to the list because you never know what life is going to “throw” your way.

Blog Block

23 Jul

I had a good talk with my creativity therapist (a.k.a. my youngest sister) this morning who encouraged me to start blogging again. (Funny to hear that particular advice coming from her since I’m the one that got her hooked on blogging in the first place!)  🙂 With a gentle nudge, she reminded me that the longer I stay away from blogging, the harder it will be to get back into it. I agreed with her and then went on to delineate some of my writing hangups which are as follows:

1. I am a perfectionist. I operate under the belief that in order for me to post anything on my blog, it must be a coherent, meaningful, polished essay. Anything less than that must wait (perhaps indefinitely) in the draft stage until it is worthy to show its brilliant, literary face.

2. I am a “slow-cooker” writer which means that I need ideas to simmer for awhile. I need a lot of time to process my thoughts before I feel they are ready to share with a public audience. This aggravating personality trait is particularly problematice since as a SAHM, I do not have large blocks of time for either solitude of meditation. Hence, my lack of prolificacy.

3. While many bloggers are quite content to be spontaneous, impulsive, and informal, I have this crazy notion that I should be the one to take blogging to a higher level–one that extends beyond the simple, random, and inane ramblings of the masses. As an idealist, I dream of being able to offer my loyal audience a thoughtful composition with some degree of edification whenever I post.

Yeah…whatever. I’m just a crazy INFP personality type that needs to chill out a bit. *Sigh*

“Think of blogging as a conversation, such as the one you’re having with me right now,” my sister said.

Okay, Beeb. I’m going to try to loosen up a bit just for you. And you’ll be proud to know I only spent an hour writing this! Ha!

Family Fun on the 4th

6 Jul


This 4th of July, the Hardman family did our usual thing and spent the afternoon at Evergreen lake enjoying the festivities. Of course, Grandpa Woody was ready to shuttle all of us to the north side of the lake in his green Model A. (The kids can’t do without their yearly ride in the rumble seat!) Unfortunately, the Model A had a break down on its third run, but Grandpa got it up and running again! Hurrah!


 The 4th just wouldn’t be complete without a half hour of paddling around on the lake. (Understandably, Grandma Ruth was not interested in joining us due to an accident she had stepping into a paddle boat several years ago. She was more than happy to stay with Sam on the shore, though.)

The kids got their faces painted…


And we had the pleasure of my 17-year-old son’s company for the entire day. He actually seemed to enjoy being with us and even liked what he called the “bumpin'” music (Sousa marches and John Williams movie tunes played by the National Repertory Orchestra.)

Sam didn’t need much to keep him happy, though he got a little blister on his ankle from walking around in his crocs.

Later in the day, we drove back down to Highlands Ranch for a BBQ at our house and just before dusk, we got ourselves settled in the hot tub just in time to watch the lame firework show put on by the Highlands Ranch Metro District.

All in all, it was a very good day. No sunburns, few bug bites, and no accidents!

Here are some more memorable 4ths (and nearly all of them involve a mishap of some sort):

1. The year my cousin chased me with a sparkler and threatened to catch my long hair on fire.

2. The year her older brother jumped a neighbor’s fence and landed in a cactus garden. Ouch!

3. The year my mother-in-law slipped stepping into a paddle boat and cracked a rib. Big bummer! (The pain from that injury unfortunately persisted for quite awhile.)

4. The year my oldest daughter slipped off the back of our hot tub and hit her tail bone on the concrete pad beneath it. (Luckily, she was okay!)

5. The year my husband and I attended the Stadium of Fire in Provo, Utah and the ignition of 1 million firecrackers just about turned it into a literal stadium of fire. I can still feel the heat from that one and we were on the top bleachers!

6. The year we watched fireworks over Puget Sound in Washington and a boat got caught on a power line.

My Favorite 4th:

Watching fireworks at Adams County Fairgrounds as a kid then on the drive home watching the fantastic lightening storms out on the Eastern Colorado plains.

Warning: Don’t Laugh At This Man!

29 Jun

Part II of my experiences at the Phi Theta Kappa International Honors Institute at San Francisco State University, June 16-21, 2008…

On my day off in San Francisco, I went with my friends Roxanne and Derek down to Fisherman’s Wharf. We rode the subway train (MUNI) down to Pier 1. It happened to be a free day on the MUNI for everyone in the Bay area so the busses along the wharf were jam-packed. We didn’t want to wait around for an empty bus and it was a nice day so we decided to walk from Pier 1 to Pier 43 1/2. As we were walking along, we saw this street performer standing stock still on the sidewalk. I had seen similar performers on You Tube and thought to myself I would take a picture of this guy to show my teenage son when I got home. I didn’t have a camera with me, but I had picture-taking capabilities on my cell phone.

As soon as I whipped it out, Robot Man pointed his finger at me and strode directly toward me with a mean sneer on his face. He stuck a plastic cup in my face and flicked the rim of it with his finger. Out of nervousness, I laughed underneath my breath. He said in a menacing tone, “What are you laughing at ma’am?” I reddened a bit and put my cell phone back in my bag while my friend Roxanne put a dollar in his cup to appease him.

I don’t think this is the same guy, but here’s a video that demonstrates just how unbelievably rude and aggressive these people are.

The incident rattled my nerves a bit and made me upset for several reasons: 1) The guy didn’t even perform–he just wanted money for the privilege of looking at him or photographing him 2) He was a big bully and that made me even less inclined to want to give him anything.

Another homeless man we saw at Fisherman’s Wharf is known as the Bushman. His trick is scaring people by hiding behind two big branches, growling, and jumping out at clueless tourists. At least he makes people laugh instead of intimidating them! After he surprised us, we spent some time watching him, though I admit I didn’t give him any money either. Later in the day when we passed by him, we heard him yelling. We turned around to see what he was so upset about. Apparently someone’s dog had raised its leg on his bushes as it was going by and he was not too happy about being sprayed!

It’s interesting how this experience just happened to correlate with our 2008-2010 Honors Study Topic–The Paradox of Affluence: Choices, Challenges, and Consequences. I was troubled by my discomfort with homelessness and poverty when I was actually confronted with it. I live in a pretty affluent neighborhood and live a pretty cushy life, so I don’t often encounter people in this situation. I’m of the general opinion that a hand up is always preferable to a hand out, but how should our society address this particular challenge?

The best speaker at our Honors Institute, Dr. Raquel Pinderhughes, had some interesting ideas. As a Professor of Urban Studies at San Francisco State University, she has created a working model that provides “green collar” jobs, or manual labor jobs that improve the environment, for adults with barriers to employment. Pinderhughes’ presentation was upbeat and hopeful with an emphasis on the transformative power of education and the need for scholars to walk their talk by getting actively engaged in civic issues. I was inspired by her message and although I am mostly naive, uninformed, and baffled by the complexity of local, national, and global politics, I like to think that through my involvement with Phi Theta Kappa as the Vice President of Scholarship in my local chapter, I have the opportunity to contribute to social change even if it’s on a very small scale. Certainly it’s a step in the right direction as I struggle to overcome my own barriers of apathy and ignorance.