February 27, 2023

stacking cups, pong balls: what exactly is Mini studying?

What a weekend. We visited Mini at Notre Dame for her dorm's 'parent weekend'. We met the her group of friends at a bar Friday night. The parents were so nice and a ton of fun. There are 13 girls total in Mini's group. 5 - Chicago. 5 - New York /New Jersey. 2 - Philadelphia. And 1- Kansas City. 

We were surprised they let
 us walk on the field
even with a layer of
snow as a buffer.
Tailgate season looks promising with these new friends. A bunch of us hope to align our schedules and attend the same game(s). I've already accepted that I will probably not be in town for the high school homecoming dance again. The key to our tailgate success will be to buy tickets in the same lot and drive into said lot together so we can park near one another. Or, we can get one parking pass and I can collect everyone in the cover of darkness at a pre-determined meeting spot and pick them all up in the Great White. 

Here come the Irish. 
A bit much for me, and I'm not
 just referring to the price.

I debriefed a few people on my tailgate companion - Gumby, my willingness to drive over people who try to save spots with folding chairs, and my ability to keep chili warm for several hours in a cold car, so they are all up to speed and excited. 
More my speed. But I
 bought nothing.

Saturday morning there was a tour of the football stadium. They basically unlocked a gate and let us walk around. Afterwards, Mini showed Coach and I around the inside of the library which was much cooler than the inside of a snowy, chilly football stadium. 

We looked at the over-priced merch in the bookstore and took Mini to lunch before Coach and I both napped at the hotel. Napping is key for older folks like us who hope to hang with the college crowd. If you haven't hit this stage yet, my advice to you:  DON'T TRY TO BE A HERO. TAKE THE NAP. 

Hogwarts vibe?
Saturday evening, after the catered dinner- in the dining hall that resembles the mess hall in Harry Potter, we all went to a bar called Corby's. I heard one girl ask another girl, "Are we really going to a bar in our sweaters and jeans?" Imagine.

We played a stack-the-cup drinking game. I don't understood the rules, but when people pointed at the cups in
the middle of the table and hollered at me - I drank, damn it. I drank my fair share of the high noons, but one cup I picked up was actual water. The next time I had to drink, it was high noon again. I heard a mom assure everyone that I was just drinking water. I stopped and looked at her:  I DON'T KNOW WHAT KIND OF WATER YOU KEEP IN YOUR HOUSE, BUT THIS AIN'T WATER.

Other parents complimented Mini's extraordinary talent at bouncing ping pong balls into cups. Needless to say, Coach and I are so proud.

Hanging with Mini
 at a bar that I frequented
 in my college days was surreal.
Fun fact, I believe they built this
 bar to use when filming Rudy and
then it continued to be a regular joint. 


Coach admitted on Sunday that we stayed out 1.5 hour longer than he preferred, but he hung in like a trooper till 11 pm. 6 other parents couldn't find an Uber XL Sat night to go to the Linebacker, which is my fav old haunt. We agreed to drop them off in the minivan when we left Corby's. This was the funniest 5 minute car ride. One guy was in the back with two ladies, neither was his wife. Another guy just kept shouting from the middle row:  KEEP YOUR HANDS WHERE WE CAN SEE 'EM. I later heard that the 'Backer was quite tame, and I was glad I hadn't been there to witness that disgrace. 

Sunday marked a year since sweet
 3 year old Violet passed away after
 her 4 month battle with a
DIPG tumor. We stopped
 at the grotto and lit a
candle in her memory.

People, remember how difficult a transition it was for Mini at the start? She is SO happy now, surrounded by great people. She's having an amazing time. She asked which was better:  mom's with Ed, or parent weekend with her, or parent weekend at Tank's in Sept. 


Do you have a hard time resisting merch at your fav college/other haunts? Do you feel nostalgic going back to college bars/other places years later? How many cars do you predict we will park together in our joint fall tailgate? Anyone good at these ping-pong beer drinking games?  Funnyiestcar ride?


mbmom11 said...

I'm so glad Mini has found her people!
I have never gone to a parents weekend at my kids' colleges. The only thing that comes close is the graduation days at the college 2 of my kids attended. 3 days of different ceremonies, gatherings, and being surrounded by alumni dressed in outrageous school gear. Not my cup of tea.
Maybe because I work at a college I dont feel the need to visit. It sounds like you know how to have fun- it's great things worked out well!

Beth Cotell said...

It makes my heart so happy to hear that Mini has found her people!!! And I know that is such a relief to you all. Your weekend with her sounds wonderful and I am glad you guys were able to hang till 11:00! Jeans and sweaters in a bar...ewwwwwwwww. :)

Nicole said...

I'm so glad Mini has settled in! I was wondering how she was doing. It sounds like a very fun weekend with lots of great people!

Nicole said...

Also - Rudy!!! That gave me a smile.

Colleen said...

Like the other friends commented, I am so happy that Mini found her crew and is happy. You guys are such good parents and get really involved in the college kids social lives. We need to work on that! We can never do parent's weekend because the college is too far away and Phil can't take time off of school unless it's a school vacation week or summer. But it sounds fun!!!

Nance said...

I'm just trying to imagine my parents ever doing anything like *any* of that. Ha. Ha.

I knew Mini would be just fine. I'm so glad she is.

Bijoux said...

We went to a Buckeyes game last October, but had a parking pass and a suite. There is no way I’d sit in a cold parking lot and use a portapotty. I’m too old for that sh*t! I’d love to go back to my college bars, but alas, none of them exist any longer. When my husband and I have gone back, we hardly recognize the campus. Even the off campus house I lived in was bulldozed.

I’m glad your daughter is living her best life now. College can take some adjusting. I’ve known a few kids from here who’ve gone to ND and they absolutely loved it.

Jenny in WV said...

I'm sure Mini's abilities with ping pong ball bouncing come from her years of developing hand-eye coordination as a result of competing in tennis, basketball and badminton. I'm glad Mini is having a much better time at school now!

I went to a small college in a very small town, so no parents weekend. My parents only live 35 miles from campus so they did come to a lot of the football games (I was in the marching band) and I often went home on the weekends.

Pretty cool that you got to walk around on the football field!

Kari said...

I'm so glad Mini is doing so well and settling in! Anna struggled a little the first semester, but loved college after that. ❤️

Busy Bee Suz said...

First: I'm OVERJOYED that Mini has settled in nicely and is a happy college camper. THAT IS THE BEST NEWS!!

Mini will go places with that Ping Pong talent. Mind you, it's probably not places you want her to go, but that's another story for another time. HA. KIDDING!

I do see the Hogwarts resemblance here....did you run into any Wizards?

I'm glad you have more team members for the Tailgating...hopefully there won't be any unneeded violence this year. 😜

If you've ever been in a car with our good friends and us, well, you'd need to have your ears cleaned out. We're bad. Funny and bad.

If you don't wear jeans and sweaters to a bar in the winter, what do you wear?

Anonymous said...

I was such a nerd in college that I didn't have haunts other than the library, the computer labs, and my friends' rooms. I haven't been back (haven't been closer than several hundred miles) and could care less about the labs, but I do miss that library. So Many Books and Periodicals, covet, covet.

Pat Birnie said...

At the risk of being repetitive, I am also thrilled that Mini is having so much fun. It sounds like such a wonderful group of friends & parents! Yay you on the drinking game- I don’t think I’ve every played one; I drank plenty when I was in my 20’s but could never chug. I was (and still am) such a lightweight. I could play drinking games but had a pass & drank water. Pathetic. I am also so happy that you and Coach are having some fun times in the midst of a lot of heaviness. That’s life though, isn’t it?

Life of a Doctor's Wife said...

Hahahaha - way to hold your own with the drinking games!

Between my husband and me, we probably have enough college merch to open up our own store! And we have two sets of identical sweatshirts (and multiple identical T shirts). I guess that's what happens when you fall in love in college???

Ernie said...

mbmon11 - It is a relief that Mini has found a wonderful group of friends after her rough start. I may not have updated her situation here, but she really clicked with this group about 6 weeks into the 1st semester.

I look forward to graduation ceremonies now that I know so many people that we will be celebrating with - at all 3 colleges.

Ernie said...

Beth - It is a relief. I honestly feel like she should offer to give a little talk to the current seniors at her high school, because I think her advice would be of value. Yeah, apparently they wear going out gear, which is probably less modest. Ugh.

Ernie said...

Nicole - Yes - Rudy. It's so funny that it was filmed there when I was in school. It must've been my sophomore year that I was in the stands when the movie was being filmed. She is so solid with this group - we offered to meet up with her and maybe one or two other friends and their folks for dinner that first night, but she wouldn't dream of doing something that wasn't inclusive. They are tight and a zero drama crowd.

Ernie said...

Colleen - I really am enjoying this phase of parenting. The kids are fun and they are all meeting such great, fun friends. It is a blast. I know it's hard, but I highly recommend that Phil take a day or two off the next time an opportunity arises.

Ernie said...

Nance - I'm laughing at that. Yeah, my parents would not have been at a bar with me when I was a freshman. This group of girls are really sweet. They all seem really hard workers at school, but they also aren't afraid to have some fun. Very supportive of one another too.

Ernie said...

Bijoux - I am not a fan of the port-a-potty myself, but when we pay the top dollar for the best parking lot then we are really close to the indoor basketball arena. They building is open and a great bathroom option. It's a long story with layers, but my family of origin all are eligible for football tickets and parking passes because they graduated from there. I graduated from Saint Mary's across the street. I'm excited to be able to attend games and be eligible for parking passes while Mini is a student there. Years ago I asked my dad if he could get me a parking pass (that I would pay for), but he said he had one but that he'd decided to give it to my sister (WHO WENT THERE AND COULD GET THEM FOR HERSELF). Um, what now? He wanted to surprise her for her birthday. I have yet to receive a surprise b-day gift for him. Ever. Like I said, layers. I'm in ENJOY WHILE YOU'VE GOT IT mode.

The area around ND is so different than it was when I went to school in the area. It's really built up.

Ernie said...

Jenny - I get what you're doing there - throwing me off the scent of MY KID SPENDS A LOT OF TIME AT THE BARS OR PARTIES PLAYING THIS GAME with your hand-eye coordination stuff. Wink wink.

I do think it can be nice to be close enough to go home to have the option to go when you want, but the ability to stay at school if that's preferred.

The promise of a tour made us think we would get to see the locker rooms, etc. Walking around in the cold was fine but we'd hoped for a bit of a WOW factor.

Ernie said...

Kari - It is like a weight lifted. In all honesty, that weight was lifted a while ago and I probably forgot to mention it here but Coach and I continue to marvel at what a difference it makes to have our guts churning with worry vs having her be so flipping happy.

Ernie said...

Suz - We are delighted with this group of girls. Another mom said in the group text that it is hard to believe that the dorm assignments are random because it seems like they knew this group would be besties. Coach still thinks things can go wrong and some smaller groups might break off, but I don't know about that - they seem pretty tight.

I laughed at 'maybe not places you want her to go.' I asked her to text me a pic of the game table she and her bestie (future roomie) painted at my house over Christmas break, but she hasn't sent it yet. It's really cute. They have to keep it far away from the rector who doesn't have a chill bone in her body.

Her usual dining hall is on the other side of campus and it's very modern. This one is beautiful and old. I remember eating there as a little kid after football games. What is it about a cafeteria and jello with a dab of cool whip - it made me so dang happy.

Our fall calendar fills up quickly - that's when Tank's parent weekend is too. There is much to juggle and there are people who might want to fight me, but at the end of the day I will figure out a way to have a fun tailgate and I've always got Gumby on my side.

If not a sweater, I assume it is something with one strap, or a crop top or something that you wouldn't wear out with your folks present. *sigh*

In that case, I want to be your uber driver one day. I laughed myself silly in that 5 minute drive. The townees had shown up at the bar (we started there very early) and one dad kept saying THOSE GUYS, DID YOU SEE EM? THEY WERE HUNTING.

Ernie said...

Anonymous - I did not have the same college experience. I was a good student but finding something in the library made me nervous. The card catalog made me sweat. Coveting the books? Hilarious.

Ernie said...

Pat - No apologies for being repetitive. I think I neglected to share an update on her progress. She's really been thrilled with the group she's met. Early on she admitted that she preferred a smaller group but she's adjusted. The girl across the hall with nutty roomies is her closest friend and they are going to be in a quad with 2 of the other girls. They are going to try to get in the same section, or near it next year.

The drinking game cups were almost empty. They weren't very full at all, otherwise I would've taken a pass. Her dorm is where they put the scholarship kids AND the kids with dietary restrictions, so she has quite a few friends who have celiac or GF and they don't drink beer. When one of them got stacked, someone else agreed to drink their portion. Big of them. ;)

I got a decent dose of reality when I got home. Had to go to my sister's house where we sorted through the jewelry that belonged to my aunt. I broke down a few times all over again. I might explain that in my next post, because before your comment I was thinking the SAME thing - that was a good weekend because we've got some heavy feelings here that seem to be hovering.

Ernie said...

Suzanne - Who knew I could participate in a drinking game? It helped that there was an alterniative to beer. Mini took a video of my missing the cup with the ball several times in a row. She missed the best part though - a dad yelled out COME ON, ERNIE. DO IT FOR SAINT MARY'S. (my alma mater across the street from ND). It was hysterical.

I don't own very much ND stuff. I wouldn't mind adding a hoodie to my wardrobe. I have a short sleeve t-shirt. I have a few Saint Mary's things, but I lost my favorite zip up sweathshirt and I haven't found anything I like nearly as much every since. I think I have 2 Creighton items (Tank) and 2 IU (ed) items. 1 (very favorite zip up) Iona thing (Lad).

Charlie said...

So happy to hear Mini has found her people and is loving college. What a relief that must be. Parents weekends sound so much fun. It’s not a thing here in the UK, but I’m thinking I should start the trend, it sounds right up my street and great to meet the families and the kids your daughter is hanging out with. We’re just at the point of firming up which university Ella is going to (A level grades permitting), so when she has decided I’ll be writing to the Administrators letting them know of a new event for their calendar :)

Gigi said...

I am so happy that Mini is settled in and loving college life. I know that is a relief for you.

Ernie said...

Charlie - Yep, it is a great feeling to know that she's happy. I love that you are positioned and ready to introduce parents weekend to Ella's future college. Hope she chooses a place where she will feel at home and challenged.

Ernie said...

Gigi - Thanks, yes it is. I miss her a lot, but it is much easier having phone calls filled with stories of fun adventures with friends.

Ally Bean said...

Do you have a hard time resisting merch at your fav college/other haunts? I have no trouble not buying merchandise with anything collegiate on it.

Do you feel nostalgic going back to college bars/other places years later? No, just a sense of relief about not being there anymore.

How many cars do you predict we will park together in our joint fall tailgate? Too many 😉

Anyone good at these ping-pong beer drinking games? The ping pong part I could never manage, but the beer drinking part came easy to me.

Ernie said...

Ally - You are cracking me up. College hoodies are not exactly high fashion, but I guess you were glad to be done with that chapter of your life. I'd like to partner you with Mini - she can get the pong ball in the cup and then you can drink the beer as necessary. Sounds like a good deal. I'm already looking forward to the fall tailgate season. Another mom agreed with me - if it is too hard to get tickets we are happy to walk around campus and relax while the other folks are inside the stadium cheering for the team.

Bibliomama said...

Sounds lovely. Universities here don't really have this kind of thing - we went to Angus's seniors day but that was only one year. When we went for graduation we really wanted to stay up for the candlelight ceremony, which we would have if it was just a matter of napping, but we were recovering from Covid and just couldn't push through.
It's so great when your kids are in a good situation. And you win at beer pong.

Ernie said...

Ali - It was lovely. I was holding my breath when Mini said she had a thing in Feb because Ed had his thing if Feb. I was so relieved when they weren't on the same day. Yes, kids being happy is clutch. Winning beer pong is the icing on the cake. ;)

Amanda said...

I'm happy to hear Mini is doing so well! It's also nice to hear that even when your kids hit college you can make new friends with their friends parents.

Ernie said...

Amanda - Thanks. Yep, it is great to be able to relax, knowing she is happy. The first 5 or 6 weeks were rough. Plain and simple.

I've found that it's far easier to make friends with college kid's friends' parents. Everyone is chill. No one is trying to prove anything. Parenting styles aren't really relevant anymore. Or something - not sure if I'm nailing it exactly, but I've been totally at ease with these people, more so than when they were younger and there was maybe a thought process that included I WONDER IF THEY THINK MY KID IS TOO LOUD. Or worrying that there are events that only some kids/parents are included in - that's all evaporated at this stage. At least, that's my experience. We did not make friends with other parents when the kids were in high school. It was almost like it wasn't allowed - the kids did their thing and if parents showed up and tried to talk to one another it was embarrassing.