Happy New Year

September, more than January, always feels like a new beginning.

Tomorrow is our first day of grade one (Susanna), grade three (Belén), and grade six (me!).

I imagine Susanna will be trying to decipher what her teacher is saying; this is her first year of French immersion.  Belén will be engaged in high-stakes deals, negotiating who is going to play with who, and I’ll be trying to pretend I’m a teacher.  (Note: if you are a future employer of mine, I’m just kidding.  I’m really very confident and competent, and never have sweaty armpits when dealing with 28 ‘tweens).

Last week I was offered a short-term position in a grade six classroom and I took it.

But, since that’s all happening tomorrow, let’s talk about summer before it evaporates.

I’ve heard winter associated with imagery of cocooning and rest.  Well, I think summer has been that way for us.

We didn’t see friends from school, or our community, much at all.  Mostly we were with relatives, or practically relatives, and our own little family; people who really know us.  It was like a two month “love shelter” before entering back into classrooms full of kids, schedules, and new beginnings.  It bolsters the confidence… maybe even too much… Last week, my eldest ran out the front door and down the sidewalk before she realized she wasn’t wearing a top!

cousins

Don’t let the previous paragraph fool you into thinking we’ve just come out of one long group hug.  We’ve all been enraged, whiny, violent, self-centered cry babies (I’m speaking for at least 3 out of the four of us) intermittently, and needed time outs from each other; though you won’t see any pictures of that.  It’s hard to grab the camera and take a shot for the blog while you’re gripping your child just a wee bit harder than you should, sputtering threats through clenched teeth.  Sand art is so much more photogenic than a mother over the edge, or insolent children.

Besides the relational hazards of being together all the time,  we’ve been coming and going so much that the days we have been at home were usually a scramble to un-pack,  and then pack up again.  And, when we were just at home it seemed we were ALWAYS cleaning.  When I read this line in my favourite blog* last week  – “…the dishes in our sink are like one of those trick candles that you can’t ever blow out”, I was pleased to imagine how I’ll look at my own Mount Rushmore kitchen counter the next time.  I’ll sigh, and then think of birthday cake and trick candles, and feel a tiny bit comforted.

But, despite the mess and fights, July and August have been a retreat.  A reprieve from some of the stresses of normal life.  I’m hoping we’re all a little stronger for it and ready to face the growth and changes that lie ahead.

With Grandma at the dunes

*********

I finally got my butt in gear and tackled the apples in our basement.  I have a formula I use when it comes to evaluating how, and if, I want to process something:  (taste ) / (mess + time),  or something like that.  I think the apple sauce and dried apple pieces come out about even on that one.  Dehydrated apples are probably a little quicker and less messy, but that apple sauce is so… saucy.

Apple sauce, hot off the press. I couldn’t keep the girls, or the wasps, away.

I dehydrated the apples in the back of our vehicle.  We have a dehydrator but I only use it when I have to.  It seems a little silly to be plugging in an apparatus, adding more heat to our un-conditioned home, when the sun is already merrily beating down for free.

I read somewhere that the apples slices are done when they have a raisin-like consistency.  We forgot about ours while we were off lounging at a spray park and the poor things nearly petrified.  Ours are definitely past the raisin stage but both girls thought they were good enough to shovel in by the fist-full.  It could have had something to do with nearing 6 pm and no supper on the horizon.

******

Last week I took the girls shopping for their first-day-of-school outfit.  We happened to be walking near my *favourite store* when Susanna asked optimistically, “Can we get new clothes, Mom?”

“Of course you can, my goodness, what kind of mother do you think I am … but since we’re so close… shall we just check it out?”

Belén thought it was a good idea,  Susanna wasn’t so sure.  Minutes later, we were deep in the heart of my *favourite store* and both girls’ arms were draped with dresses,shirts, and pants and there was this kind of gleeful, celebratory look in our eyes.  But, I was ready to leave it all, if that is what they wanted.

“Are you girls sure you want to stay here, and buy these clothes instead of looking elsewhere?”

“Stay, stay, stay,” they both chimed, especially Susanna.

Twenty minutes later we walked out the doors of my *favourite store* with two bags full and all our clothes shopping done.

‘Turns out I’m the kind of mother who will put up with kids who don’t need new clothes, just pretty ones.

Susanna, hanging her first-day-of-school dress to dry, after coming home from my favourite store

Wishing you courage, enthusiasm and peace as you jump into your “new year”…

*Rachel Turiel is the author of the only “stranger” blog I follow.  I call her my Colorado girl.  Stan always finds it weird that I am looking at pictures of this family I’ve never met.
“It’s her writing,” I tell him.  When I read her posts it’s like eating those candies that pop and fizz around in your mouth, her words are so vivid they trigger little picture explosions in my head.

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