Back to School Quick Takes

I think I’ll get a jump start on my quick takes, since I have a minute right now that I am not likely to have again soon. It’s been a very busy couple of weeks.


1. The kids started school last week. Two of my kids are in middle school this year, sixth and seventh grade. This is a new experience for all of us, since I home schooled my now seventh grader last year for sixth grade. He didn’t know the middle school ways, the middle school kids, how to dress–and frankly, neither did I, even though I grew up in public schools and was once a middle schooler. One of the first things that happened after school, is he asked if I could take him shopping at Kohls for new clothes. I have heretofore purchased nearly all of the family’s clothes second hand.

Kohls, he says.

Of all the stores in the world, he wants to go to Kohls. I think it’s sort of cute in a way. You expect your kids to get concerned about their appearance at some point or another. And I’m kind of glad he’s going for the Kohls contemporary look, since he spent the majority of the summer in nylon athletic shorts.


2. After a full week of reporting that he hadn’t really made any new friends, he’s started packing up all of my Jalapeno peppers in the morning to take with him to school. Apparently, he’s charmed his lunch table by engaging in feats of manliness over who can actually chew and swallow an entire hot pepper. We all make our way somehow. I remember my older brother getting paid by his lunch table to eat loogies in the eighth grade. We’ll pray it doesn’t come to that.


3. I made a trip up to Michigan for a long weekend to see my brothers, one of whom lives in Texas and doesn’t often make it up to this neck of the woods. Since my kids were in school, I brought with me only the two babes, and my husband took a couple days off with bigger kids. I did not expect to miss my older kids so much, but being with my nieces and nephews made me feel lonesome for the rest of my brood.


3. All the friendly feeling quickly left me when I returned home and discovered that one of the kids had unplugged the deep freezer in order to plug in a laptop. It had been thawing for three days. Even though the meats were no longer frozen, I couldn’t bring myself to discard them. They didn’t smell bad, and they weren’t discolored. I had purchased a leg of lamb after Easter to save for a special occasion, so I stayed up very late when I got home dressing and cooking all the meat that was in the freezer.  I made chicken and noodles, lamb soup, lamb curry, pork bar-b-que, cooked up some sausage patties and re-froze everything until I could figure out what to do with it. I sampled everything myself, and none of it made me sick, but I can’t bring myself to serve it to anyone nor to throw it away. I guess I’ll save it in freezer limbo until the next time the power goes out and I can guarantee it’s bad.


4. Tons of other food is coming in too. I brought home twenty pounds of blueberries from Michigan, received ten pounds of green beans from some friends at church, absconded with two bushels of tomatoes from my parents’ house, picked a bunch of pears off our tree, and still have buckets of peppers sitting on the counter. Most of it’s gone into the freezer to try its luck, but I’ve been cooking pretty much non-stop since I got home, with the exception of the time I’ve spent running back and forth to school.


5. Two of the boys had appointments at the orthopedist today. One of them just got the all clear from his broken arm over the summer, while the other one got his broken foot x-rayed. He jumped off the jungle gym at a nearby park and broke his heel. Tomorrow, two of the kids have appointments to get cavities filled. Yesterday, one of the kids got scolded at the orthodontist for not wearing his head-gear.

Until the broken foot, three of the kids were running cross country–now only two. One kid is playing soccer. One’s in piano lessons.

I am writing this down mainly so that I can be clear myself where I have to be, when and why. I am trying to get used to a new normal where we are all out and about all day long. I am used to a very relaxed schedule of being home all day doing very little. It’s going to take a new level of planning and preparation–using skills I’ve let atrophy over the years. Every morning, I write out my drop off and pick-up schedule down to the minute because I am terrified I’m going to forget someone somewhere.

I have to say, though, surprisingly, it feels good to be active. I haven’t been this productive in years–since college maybe, when, as I recall, I throve on having a thoroughly booked schedule.


6. One of the fun things about having kids in school is that I’m getting to know my community in a way I never have before. I was talking to my friend Pedge not long ago about how we’ve lived in this town for seven years, and I hardly know anyone. I may be one of the few souls on the internet who does not identify as an introvert. I need human interaction desperately or I get cranky. I’m not very good at planning it for myself because I’m lazy, and it’s easier to stay home and get a few superficial interactions online than it is to get out and meet people, but kids make a great segue into the world. I remember this now from when they were infants and I went to La Leche League meetings. I was glad the kids gave me an excuse to get dressed and go to a meeting.


7. We’ll see how I feel in the deep midwinter, but so far I think all this change is good for us. We were developing some slovenly habits, since for years, I have jealously guarded any demands on my time from extracurricular activities. I stayed up too late, didn’t want to start the next day too soon, and strenuously avoided committing to anything. I’m not even sure why I’ve had this tendency unless it’s been a natural outgrowth of being in a near-constant state of nesting for newborn children.

At some point during the year, I’m sure I will feel a need to regroup and find a way to be more balanced in our involvement rather than all in or all out. Right now, however, all my feelers are out trying to figure out where to put down the next root. It’s exhilarating.





So. I have two number threes right now and no time to fix it. Oh well. Be sure to check Jen tomorrow for more Quick Takes.

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