What I Love Lately, Back to School Edition (Volume 2)

Dear Joey,

No rest for weary travelers–remember how driving home from the airport took longer than the flight itself? Welcome home indeed. An empty fridge and bare cupboards even clamored for my attention early the next day. Thank God for my mom, who whisked me out the door and assured me the Goobies would be just fine with her for awhile.

So what does a harried mother do when she finds herself with a free afternoon? I went to Costco, of course, because when do I ever get to meander through it unencumbered? Usually I strap the Goobies in that two-seater cart and frantically push that thing through the aisles like a contestant on Supermarket Sweep. To have time to think about what I’m putting in the cart? Sigh.


My favorite find this time is Autumn’s Gold Grain Free Granola. Cue the chorus to sing hallelujah because 1) YUM and 2) grains and I aren’t getting along at the moment, so stumbling upon easy, grain free morning fare is a big deal. The only trouble with it is this: it contains sunflower seeds, which means that I have to be careful while eating a bowl of it while Emery is around. He’s so allergic to sunflower seeds that I almost didn’t buy the bag at all, but I go out of my way to stock the pantry with foods everyone else enjoys, foods that meet everyone else’s dietary needs, but how often do I buy something that I really want? (I can’t even lean on my beloved Orgain these days because it’s got so much brown rice protein in it.) I hesitated for a half a second in before I tossed the bag into my cart and ultimately decided feeding myself well is just as important as feeding these Goobies well. I can keep Emery away from the granola, and I can explain that it would make him sick if he tried it. He gets that well enough now. Plus, the Goobies’ pediatrician has a son with a peanut allergy just like Mia has, and she and her husband keep a stash of peanut butter hidden way in the back of the pantry, far from his prying eyes. If she feels ok about doing that, then don’t you think this is probably ok too? (Pray for us as you walk out the door every day. We need it.)


This is especially important because school is starting in four days. Mornings will be just as harried and hassled as ever, but this time around my own breakfast options are giving me pause. We all know how quickly this mama’s mood turns sour if I don’t have something in my tummy soon after I wake, and Lord help us all if I have to fry eggs every morning. Sure, I whirl bananas and strawberries into coconut creamy oblivion, but sometimes I crave crunch–and something mindless, especially since I know how much mental energy I’ll need to expend just getting the Goobie girls ready to greet their own days.


Last year, getting one child dressed and ready in uniforms was an every day nightmare. Addie spent her first five years in t shirts, tutus and leggings with not a button or zipper to be found. Teaching Addie how to actually dress herself in real clothes didn’t occur to me until a few mornings before school started when I filled her closet with khaki skirts, plaid jumpers, polo shirts and button up blouses. I did what any mom would do–I panicked and forced her to bear with me as I forced her to learn how to zip and unzip those stiff, tricky outfits. She was eager to learn because it made her feel grown up, and she did love those cute little plaid jumpers. But it wasn’t long before the business of getting dressed turned into a frantic hassle, and we lost our tempers with each other over misplaced biker shorts that had to be worn under the jumper every single morning. Don’t get me started on selling her on the khaki skorts–she pouted just about every time she had to wear them, except for on Chapel days when she knew the school had their say. Getting two school-aged kid dressed in uniforms seemed impossible from my vantage point last year.


This year I sung a merry little song of thanksgiving when I stumbled upon Old Navy’s uniform skirts that already have shorts built right into them, without any zippers or buttons to fool with. (Uniform pants are another story, but it’s far too warm to worry about long pants yet. We’ve got time.) Each girl got two of them because investing in making mornings easier for all of us is money well spent. I may have bought the skirts, but really, I was buying myself some sanity. Lord knows I will need it because Mia is already boycotting the things. Just trying them on make her pout. Don’t fret, Rach, I keep telling myself, These skirts will make life easier. (If I keep telling myself that, will it really be true?)


I got another batch of Emily Press Labels because I’m all about taking the easy way out these days. An afternoon with a sharpie in hand while surrounded by a stack of school supplies isn’t my idea of time well spent–but these labels change all that. I stick them on lunch gear, water bottles, pencil boxes, and scissors, inside of shoes and inside of jackets, and I even stick them on chapel shirts because they won’t wash away in the laundry. These things are legit.


Speaking of investing in my own sanity: job charts. We’ve waited for years to implement chores, waiting for just the right moment to put those babies to use (the charts. Not the kids. Ahem.) I think a lot about how Proverbs urges us to “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6, NIV), and try to apply it in a practical, life skill sort of way. We’ve chosen jobs that train the kids to do things we expect them to do every day (get dressed, brush teeth, clean up their plates, etc.) and train them to do things we hope will develop into good habits (making their beds, developing a love for reading, lending a hand with another person’s chore). We require, but we don’t push. We let the job chart be the boss, and for each job done, they earn a star, and each star earns them 5 cents (except for Emery, who earns a penny for each chore completed). If they don’t do the task? No star, and no nagging from us because we let the money do the talking. At the end of the week we count up their stars and fill their banks. The good news is the Goobies all respond to it. The expectation is clear, the reward is valuable.


One of their jobs is Independent Reading for 20 minutes. I wasn’t convinced this was a good “job” exactly, except that it instilled a new love of reading in both girls (but most especially Addie). The girl craves alone time just like I do, but she’s not great about seeking it out for herself yet. The first day I enforced reading time, I ignored the protests and handed her a copy of Piper Green and the Fairy Tree, the first in a new chapter book series for early readers. Wouldn’t you know that 20 minutes later she was engrossed in the book, laughing out loud, and not ready for reading time to be over? Piper Green was an instant friend, and Addie soared through the first two books in a snap and is anxiously awaiting book three to come in the mail. Independent Reading? Totally worth it. (Mia loved it too, but it wasn’t such a hard sell for a girl who already plops herself down on her bed, book open wide and reading. Her current series pick? The Adventures of Sophie Mouse).

And with that, I’ll say goodbye for now. I just saw the time and realized I’ve got to usher these Goobies off to school today to meet their teachers, and if I don’t get moving, we’ll start those harried, frenzied mornings a few days too early (and I don’t need that kind of stress).



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