How To and How Not To Decorate Your Boy’s College Dorm Room

This past year has seen many changes for our little family not the least of which is our oldest son, Sawyer, graduating high school and moving away to college. Granted, he is only 1 1/2 hours away but that feels like a million miles when he isn’t at home for good night hugs and washing my dishes.

Obsessive is a strong word but not entirely an incorrect one when talking about my stress over his dorm decor because BABY LEAVING HOME and I wanted to pack as much awesome as would fit into a 10×10-ish room.  That’s when my buzz was killed with the reality that 1.  Boys have no emotional investment in the texture or color scheme of their bedding, 2. They do, however, prefer their room not look like Pinterest went there to cough, choke, and die.  So basically no burlap, chevron, monograms, Christmas lights run along the ceiling, gallery walls, or pallet wood projects allowed. Seriously, what is left?

With that in the front of my deeply disappointed mind I hunted and gathered using pictures like these for inspiration.  Obviously the architecture (hello brick wall and windows, I see you there) of a staged studio photo shoot lends a little more to the room than the tile floors and boring beige walls of a Real Dorm but they did give me a general direction.





As moving day approached I pulled the goods I had collected out of all the closets and boxes to get some sense of what we had and what we still needed. Our living room looked something like this for more days than I would like to confess. No, this is not even a fraction but this is the last time I was emotionally stable enough to look at the pile without bawling.





The emotions went downhill.

This is the last picture of Sawyer with Luke as a full time resident of our home. (Contrary to this picture and my checkbook this is not a sponsored endorsement of Under Armour.)




This is the last picture of him driving away as a full time resident of our road.

(Someone hold me.)





We arrived on campus bright and early expecting a zoo but gratefully we were able to check out a cart and get straight to the room within minutes. Sawyer’s scholarship upgraded him to an upperclassmen’s building and my guess is the older kids are jaded enough by now to stay home until the overzealous Freshmen are out of the way.  It’s a wise move especially if you don’t want to share an awkward moment in an elevator with a crying 40+year-old woman holding a bonsai tree.


And now for some of my favorite things:

1.  Framed Album Covers:

Okay, it’s confession time. Luke said it repeatedly and now I’m admitting these album covers are all about me and nothing about my son. (Who am I kidding.  Very little of it was about him.  It was my therapy.  When I can’t control my emotions, I control my environment.  Or yours. Whatever.) We were at a yard sale where we happened upon a stack of 70’s and 80’s records for 50 cents.  50 CENTS.  I had no idea what I would do with them so I picked up a few that delighted me mostly because I owned the majority of them at one time.  I passed over Rick Springfield for Hotel California.  (Don’t judge me…it’s classic) As iconic as Purple Rain is (I played the grooves off that one in the day which begs the question, “Where was my mother?”) it wouldn’t have been the best choice when trying to establish one’s manhood in a new environment. So, I picked up Men at Work because Men at Work = Manly.  I really bought this one because the better part of my teenage years I would sing about vegemite sandwiches and to this day have no clue what those are exactly.  I also picked up another that didn’t make it to the wall by Blood, Sweat, and Tears. I didn’t know a single song on the album but the cover art was great. I had Sawyer pick a couple he liked best and that one didn’t make the cut even though I tried hard to make the case for the analogy to the next four years of his life. (Blood, Sweat, and Tears…get it?) He didn’t get it.  I’m just glad he liked the Eagles and Land Down Under Enough not to kill the one crafty project that didn’t break the No Pinterest rule.



2.  The Bonsai Tree:

I mentioned toting a bonsai tree in the elevator which I watered with my tears.  Sawyer is a meticulous boy who likes serenity.  I’ve always joked him about his need for zen which prompted my buying him a rock garden as a kind of gag gift for Christmas last year. He loved it with an unexpected intensity.  He’s told me for the last few months that he wanted a bonsai and it just happened that I found one when shopping for some last minute things before he left.  Luke asked me if it came with instructions on how to care for it and I assured him Sawyer would have a pair of Mr. Miyagi scissors and complete instructions Googled before we could get back to the mountain. I was right. I think bonsai care is even more detailed than even he anticipated so for now the tree will live in the window so Sawyer can stare at it when life gets too chaotic aka when we come to visit.  (I feel like I’m going to get letters about all the Eastern Mysticism.  It’s a joke, y’all.  Worry about us when he joins a yoga class.)  It also allowed me to sneak in the green plant that every room needs to feel alive without letting him know I read it on a home decor blog.

Not Pinterest.




3.  The things he chose to bring from home:

* Star Wars figures.  You have no clue the grief these have caused over the years when the brothers rearranged them in Sawyer’s room just to hear him freak out.  And then there is the book of blueprints for all the star ships just in case in his spare time he decides to construct the Millennium Falcon on the front lawn.




* Not one but TWO copies of The Simarillion.  When I asked why he brought them both he said, “Just in case any of my friends want to borrow a copy.” Because every college kid wants to study the history of Middle Earth and the genealogy of Aragorn. He’s so thoughtful.

* A picture of him and his favorite high school teacher.  Please note there are no pictures of his mother on the shelf.

* A  Josh Garrels poster.  He will be devastated if you recognize the name because apparently it’s awesome to have a playlist filled with artists no one else knows.

And here is a pan of the finished thing.  Not quite the Pottery Barn photo but comfortable all the same.  There is a living room that I’m dying to get my hands on but at this point I’m trying not to frighten the roommates. I’ve thrown a rug on the floor and hopefully over the next couple of months and with enough brownies, they will let me continue my work.




Poor baby, can you see the homesickness in his face?



Luke and I drove separately which worked well because I needed to have one last cathartic cry unhindered by a husband who is trying to tell you it’s going to be okay when you’ve just left part of your heart somewhere you are not and NOTHING IS GOING TO BE OKAY EVER AGAIN.  But thankfully Luke called to comfort me by repeatedly saying what a bad move it was to leave Sawyer’s bed so high because he was sure he would roll out of it in the night because he wasn’t used to a twin size. “And Lis, if he rolls out of that he’s dead or at the very least severely injured.”  

So there are the anxieties of moving your son to college and worrying whether or not he will roll out of a smallish bed and die before he wakes or if you are lucky, he’ll just turn into a stoner and flunk out.

Where’s a good rock garden and bonsai tree when you need one?

Fish, It’s What’s Not for Dinner

Over the past few months Sam has taken up fishing. Sam is not unlike his mother in that when he decides to take up a new hobby he is all in.  The difference between him and me is that I tend to fizzle when I get bored but if he loves something he is invested, smitten, sold out for life even. This is why we discourage girlfriends and pets.  The more you show your affection the more likely they are to throw themselves into the highway.  The pets, not the girls.   So the fact he is angling for fish and not women is a good thing. For the women, not the fish.  (Shall we call this post a primer on misplaced modifiers?)  And I should clarify I’ve never gotten bored with Luke and he hasn’t yet thrown himself into the highway.  But there are moments just like this one I do not have one clue why not.  Not one.

While I was working the other day Luke called to tell me Sam caught a 10 lb. bass.  Ten pounds doesn’t seem that significant until you’ve gained it and can’t button your pants so I was completely aware this was a major accomplishment.   They tell the story better (and bigger) but my version will have to do.  The guys had already packed up for the day and Luke was fussing at Sam to leave.  “One more cast, Dad!” and Sam threw Luke’s line out before he got an answer because he is a forgiveness rather than permission kind of boy.  He was goofing off and reeling in much faster than usual when BOOM, something hit his frog.  Sam knew it was big but Luke didn’t believe him until he had it pulled almost to the bank.  By this time the pole was doubled over so being the darling daddy Luke is he jumped into the pond and cradled the fish like it was the newborn Baby Cambridge and carried it to shore before it had a chance to break the line.  It was a messy delivery but dad and son are both doing fine.

I made the guys come see me so we could chronicle the moment:

Dad and Son.  And Baby Fish.  The mom in me wants to make him put that nasty thing down and wash his hands.



I love this sweet face.  The boy, not the fish. Sam was so excited but I also can’t help but notice the desperation in the fish’s eyes.  It was still a little alive and, well, EWWW.  Please do not touch me.


The guys jumped in the truck and went straight to the taxidermist who, by the way, is not yet finished with Sam’s first 5 lb’er that he caught a few weeks back.  His birthday is in October.  In lieu of cards, you can mail a payment straight to the Fish Guy or drop off a sack of groceries to those of us who are starving while others are embalming food to mount in my den.

And yes, I did agree to let one be hung in the family room wall.  How could I resist when Luke actually used the word “eclectic” in a sentence when he told me how awesome it would look?  However, I’m fearful we are moving right on past eclecticness straight into Marine Inspired.  I draw the line at two fish.  With two I can hang them with some sense of symmetry somewhat secluded on either side of the bookcases.  I’m pretty sure three will mess with the energy of the room  if by no other way than grossing me out when I see those desperate eyes following me while I’m trying to watch Revolution. (September 25!)

I think it’s time Sam gets a girlfriend.

Roller Coaster Religion

Sawyer and Elijah’s Sunday School classes went to Six Flags while Luke and I were out of town.  Believe it or not, I was disappointed to not be able to go along even though I’m horrified of roller coasters. *insert foreshadowing here* My boys are a blast to hang out with and have made being the mom of teenagers ridiculously fun.

So I’m in Florida and I get a phone call from one of my bff’s, Kim, and she says, “I just want you to know your son is okay..” (Dead silence.) Sensing I didn’t know to what she was referring, she said, “Oh, I thought you would have heard by now.”

Not a great way to begin a conversation from 450 miles away. I took a deep breath.  I did not freak out.  I simply responded…


It turns out Elijah and several more of our kids were on the Dare Devil (appropriately named) and the car got stuck. At the top.

….AT THE TOP.  For a good half an hour they were lying on their backs. IN A COASTER CAR HUNDREDS OF FEET IN THE AIR,  without their mommies… *deep breath*

…..while the Six Flags staff harnessed each kid one by one and transferred them onto a lift. Which lowered them to the ground. FROM HUNDREDS OF FEET IN THE AIR…

God obviously knew what He was doing when He made sure I wasn’t there.  And I can promise you my boys are glad I wasn’t there because a scene would have been had on the ground that would have somewhat overshadowed what was going on in the air.  I could still stroke out just looking at the pictures.

One thing I loved.  Jacob is my bff Kim’s son and I adore him like he’s my own.  I’ve told him for years God has assured me he will one day be a preacher.  God hasn’t told Jacob this yet but that is irrelevant.  Jacob got on the phone to tell me while they were stuck he turned to the other kids and asked, “Does anyone want to ask Jesus to be their Lord and Savior?”  Yes and Amen.  We have biker churches.  We have skateboard churches.  We have cowboy churches.  I see nothing wrong with Jacob being the pastor of the first roller coaster church.  I predict a high conversion rate.  Very high.

The folks at Six Flags gave the kids meal vouchers and free fast passes for the rest of the day.  You know, I guess that’s fine but I’m thinking FREE EVERYTHING FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE wouldn’t be enough to cover the therapy bills.

Alas, Six Flags wasn’t feeling that generous but the kids did get to see someone who does get the celebrity treatment – Evander Holyfield!  (Yes, it was definitely him.  They checked the ear.)

No Mr. Holyfield, our kids weren’t stalking you here.

Just a coincidental meeting.

Who’s guarding whom? Evander is much more intimidating than Amusement Park Cop.

The Gang.  I’m so happy everyone is on the ground.  And I love y’all, Man.


The End.

Next Page »