Uh oh

In one month the kids each start their first year in school - one in "big kid" school (aka elementary) and the other in preschool. But this is not what has me a bundle of raw nerve endings. What is? The bigger kid is taking the bus in just a month. The bus.

The bus excites him. It's big. It's yellow. It's not got Mommy on it.

The bus is unnerving me. It's big. It's not got Mommy on it. It's requires the kid to get off and find his own way to his classroom - the kid that can spend oodles of time deeply contemplating who knows what.

I had been semi-successful in talking myself down from this parenting cliff of mild anxiety. "He's not the first kid to take the bus to Kindergarten. *I* took the bus. I survived. . . granted one day I missed the bus on the trip home and I had to wait in the principals office for my mom...but that was Mrs M's fault. The kid across the street takes the bus. Her mom says the driver is fabulous."

Slowly I was feeling less unhinged.

Then I made the mistake of talking to Logan. We talked about Kindergarten and what he was expecting it to be - all the while he worked to shoot his sister with the imaginary laser from his finger tip. Part way through the "getting closer to school!" conversation we stumbled upon the big, yellow, mommy-less bus.

"Hey, I have an idea," he said to me, taking a cease fire as Megan continued to attempt dismantling one of his Transformers. "You can drive next to the bus when I take it."

"I don't think I can do that, Logan," I replied.

He didn't answer at first. The wheels were turning and he was working through the wrench I had just tossed into his carefully crafted plans.

"How will I know where to get off for school?" he asked.

"Well, honey, I think that'd be pretty obvious, right? I mean you get off when you get into the parking lot and see the school building and the driver says 'Ok, everybody out!' or whatever it is the driver says now-a-days," I told him.

"Ok. . ." he said slowly, "But, how do I know when to get off when he takes me home?"

"Logan, sweetheart, you get off when you see home."

"Yeah, but what I'm too short to see out the window?" he asked, clearly looking to find a way to convince me to play escort to the big, yellow, mommy-less bus.

Yeah. I'm back to being unnerved by the bus.



Every autumn we pack up the kids and the grandparents in the "mommy-van" for an excursion to the orchard. It's a tradition that goes back over 25 years to when my parents used to take my brother and I apple picking at that very same orchard. I can't seem to pass by a tree in that particular set of fields without flashbacks of climbing up their centers in attempt to drop immature fruit on my immature brother's head or of shining up freshly picked gems on our sleeves before biting into them.

But it's not September today. Nor is it October. It is July, of course, and July is berry picking time.
I've not actually gone berry picking with the kids. The last time I went I was still counting years to my driver's license and my kid brother was diabolically plotting new ways to torture me. (Some things don't change, he's still twerp even if he is nearly a foot taller than me.) My soon-to-be-sister-in-law, however, has a favorite blueberry farm and a suggestion that we join her and her daughter on this summer's trip.

It's a good thing to play nice when you're adding members to the family, so I agreed. It was a small jaunt out to the berry patch - you ride from parking lot to trees on a big hay-ride type wagon (sans hay) pulled by a tractor. My daughter, the Thomas the Tank Engine fanatic, dubbed the tractor "Terence."

At the very first bush we reached I pointed a finger to a plumb, dark blue berry, "This is what you want to pick kids. Not purple even if it's your favorite color, Meg. Not green even though it's your favorite, Logan. Dark, deep blue." They nodded gravely and set about the task of filling their coffee cans to the brim. For the record - two small plastic coffee "cans" equated to roughly 2 1/4 pounds of blue berries.

It's been three full days since we went picking. We've eaten berries every night (Megan LOVES blueberries apparently, while Logan is a "in the fields only" berry kid.) We've made the most amazing blueberry coffee cake. We still have berries left.

The yield and baked goods, while delightful, are not the best part of our excursion. The blue-ribbon prize was the experience. No, not plucking berries from their branches, but the warm sun that made Megan's cheeks rosy pink as she worked diligently beside us. It was in the pride-filled grin on Logan's face as he held out his coffee can loaded with sweet fruit. It was in the marriage of "togetherness" and a beautiful day outdoors. It was in creating something to eat from scratch with something you, yourself picked -- topped only by when you create it with something you picked and you grew. (And since we've got tomato plants loaded with green fruit...that's only a matter of weeks away!)
These are the sorts of things I remember from my childhood. The ordinary things done outside the realm of our ordinary days. I sometimes wondered if this particular quirk (remembering the seemingly ordinary as extraordinary) was my own. My family took it's share of vacations - and I can tell you where we went but few specific details from most of those trips. The tradition type events - the seemingly mundane - those are the squares of my fond-memory patchwork quilt. My brother, unknowingly perhaps, offered his reassurance that my desire to give the kids the same wasn't unrealistic.
He watched his niece and nephew giggle over their harvest and lunge back into the branches greedily to snag even more. He smiled a little and looked at me over the rim of his sunglasses. "Do you remember when Mom used to take us to the park to pick the wild berries? That was fun wasn't it? That was summer. That's why I'm glad we could come today."
And with that I knew that this was exactly the sort of thing childhood memories are made of.


If it rains on your parade...splash in the puddles

We got a 1/2 inch of rain in a 1/2 hour. That's a lot of rain. In fact, after a lull in the downpour we're back up to about the same rate as it had been earlier. The ebb and flow of heavy precipitation hasn't slowed us down at all though. As the title says, if it rains on your parade, splash in the puddles:


Truth in cookies

We broke down and had Chinese food tonight. It's not something we eat when Megan's eating with us as Chinese food in general tends to be a high risk for peanut cross contamination. The kids, however, were in bed and we were looking for something different for dinner.

I don't get Chinese food often so when I do, it's hard to "save room" for desert. I tend to fill-up on my sesame chicken. This leaves Bruce with two fortune cookies - a fate he does not shirk from. He snapped open the cookies, munching loudly on them before reading the little slips of paper. Operative word here being little.

Moments later *I* was being handed two slips of paper as he mumbled something about lights and reading glasses in the other room. I stifled my giggle and urge to chide him on age related matters. Instead I read aloud the fortune sitting atop the small stack:

You will have many friends when you need them.

Then, and I am SO not making this up, I read the next fortune:

The time is right to make new friends.

Ahh....think the cookie maker is trying to tell us something?


One of those blatant Mommy-brags

Logan's been tinkering with his shoe laces in recent months. He gets about as far as a string of knots before he throws his hands up and announces the task of tying a bow simply impossible. He'd given up trying, having informed me that he would only be wearing Velcro for the rest of his life if I refused to tie shoes for him. Thankfully, he gave up that idea. Something got him motivated Friday morning, although I'm still not sure what:

I know what motivates Megan. He's in the photos just above tying his shoes. Now that she's got letter recognition down pat, she's decided to pick up on one of Logan's latest hobbies - writing things. Meg's been hard at work trying to write her name. The photo speaks for itself: