It’s that time of year—getting ready for back to school. When I looked at the calendar and saw that there are only two weeks left until school, I think I actually “eeked” a little. There was no way we were ready for school…clothes, shoes, supplies and other incidentals. I loudly proclaimed, “We need to get ready for back to school,” and then I marched into Monkey Boy’s room.

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When the school announced the date and theme of the dance in mid-January, they also announced that the dress code would be semi-formal, in that no jeans or casual wear were allowed. They asked students to wear something that they might wear to church. The Girl scoffed out loud, and when she told me, we laughed hard. Obviously they did not know what I let my kids wear to church: ripped jeans, sports pants, shorts, flip flops, and/or T-shirts and hoodies. And hats, not fancy Southern, church-lady hats but knit caps, beanies, snapbacks. “We gotta find you something to wear,” I said.

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Last week was Valentine’s Day. And this year we—and by we, I mean me and perhaps the Girl—were going to hand make all our Valentine’s Day cards for Monkey Boy. We had a plan, too. We were going to pick 30 small, colorful and interesting rocks from our garden (we’ve got thousands) and make pet rocks with googly eyes, an alternative to candy. The Girl said she had a bunch of googly eyes in her craft box and plenty of hot glue sticks to glue on the eyes. I had plenty of small clear plastic bags for the pet rocks and lots of cardstock for the “You Rock” Valentine’s Day cards. Perfect. Except it didn’t turn out that way.

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Monkey Boy likes to use my shower. Knowing that means there should be no surprises. You expect the unexpected. Once upon a time, all four of us shared a bathroom. At our last house, we had one bathroom. Mind you, it was a huge room, almost as large as the bedroom the Girl and Monkey Boy shared. All four of us could be in the bathroom at the same, standing in different corners and when reaching our hands toward each other, we would not have been able to touch fingers. We never actually tried that, standing in different corners, but there were times when all of us, and the cats, were in that room at the same time. There were also times when there was a line at the door.

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Last spring Monkey Boy bounced into the kitchen wearing brown and white shorts, a too-small greyish brown tee with a dinosaur crossing Abbey Road on it, a brightly colored green sock and a blue striped sock, and his new-ish sneakers. I did a double take. He then put on his yellow Monster stocking cap with purple ear covers. His outfit surprised me. Not one bit of it matched. And just as I was about to comment on his outfit, as non-judgy as possible, he did dress himself for school, after all, Monkey Boy said, “Hey guys, I want to show you some dance steps.”

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You know how each class picks one kid to be the Star, Or Superhero or Artist of the week? Monkey Boy is the “Artist of the Week” this week in his class for no other reason than where his last name falls in the alphabet. He also got to choose a storybook to read aloud to his class and put together a sharing sack that contained 3 special items from home…He decided on his Spider-Man mask to represent his interest in all things Marvel. He also chose his soccer ball. Finally, Monkey Boy chose to take a family photo. He said, “I want to tell people about my family.”

“Oh yeah? What are you going to tell them about daddy?”

“He’s a pastor, and he plays music.”

That’s cool,” I said. Then I asked, “What are you going to tell them about me? What do I do?”

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We made it through the first week and a couple days into the second week of the new school year. Of course, there was drama. There was drama because I have kids. And there was drama because one of those kids is a teenage girl. And she has teenage girlfriends. If I said nothing else, you would completely understand. But I can’t leave it here. So I am going to start with the easy one…

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I was cutting it kind of close with meal planning. I have fruit aplenty and some carrots and a cucumber. In the pantry, I have a lot of nuts and some dried fruit and protein bars. I also have a cabinet full of spices. I really wanted to just grab a handful of whatever and throw it in a bag, pat some heads, and push them out the door. You can just imagine the conversation in the cafeteria, “I got some wasabi almonds, dried apricots, half a cuke, and a jar of fennel. Anyone wanna trade?”

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Ren’s February writing journal came home. He’s required to write every morning at school at least five sentences on any given prompt. As read I read through his journal, most days it was clear what the prompt was, such as, “What Did You Do Last Weekend?” or “Will the Groundhog See His Shadow?” We’ve always known that he’s quite a storyteller. He weaves a good tale, and now it seems as though his strong opinions and storytelling skills are crossing genres from oral to written. His first journal entry was a rather interesting op-ed piece on Groundhog’s Day, a complex commentary with multifaceted possibilities woven through the piece along with an somewhat predictable segue at the end.

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I handed my phone to Monkey Boy who scrolled through the results. Then he asked, “Hey Siri, is Medusa real?” Without even looking at what Siri found, he asked, “Did King Arthur cut her head off?” Only he didn’t really enunciate well, and Siri misinterpreted what he said. Siri replied, “Okay, here’s what I found for ‘King Arthur is a gonad.’”

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B loves tomato soup, but I wasn’t so sure that the Girl and Monkey Boy would. I was formulating a backup meal plan for them when they wandered into the kitchen inquiring as to the “oh-my-goodness-we’re-starving” what and when of dinner. I braced myself for, “That’s what we’re having for dinner? That’s child abuse. I would rather eat vomit.” Instead, I got, “I love tomato soup!” shouted loudly and in unison. They even high-fived each other followed by a yay and a fist bump and a little jig right there in the middle of the kitchen.

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Sometime over the holidays, I misplaced my winter gloves and needed something to cover my hands when I went outside in near zero degree temperatures. I didn’t want to run back upstairs—again—to grab a pair of gloves from my top dresser drawer, so I dug through the kids’ bag of gloves in the mudroom. Not a single matching pair among them, so this is what I wore.

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There are a few of those extraordinarily ordinary things that I really love, like the laughter of the Girl and Monkey Boy when they are playing or reading and getting along, the softly falling snow in early winter, and freshly laundered and pressed bed linens. Today is the trifecta, and it’s just about perfect.

B went back to work this morning after taking several days off after Christmas, both to rest and refresh. We spent our days in pajamas, huddled together playing games, watching movies, reading books, and doing little else.

Right after B left for the office and knowing that this house had endured quite enough holidaying, I stripped the beds, gathered all the wash, and ventured to the laundry room to start the mountain that had accumulated during our respite.

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It was nearly bedtime when Monkey Boy announced that he was hungry. B was in the kitchen and asked him, “Do you want a piece of bread?

“Yes, please,” Monkey Boy replies. So B cuts a thick piece of bread, and then Monkey Boy said, “How about a piece of cheese, too?”

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