Won’t You Take Me Back to School?

Seriously, be prepared to be cuted-OUT in this post. Adorability is at 100% capacity.

Also, seriously, be prepared to take a trip down memory lane with the inspiration for the title:

It’s amazing how much it both hurts and uplifts to see these photos. I have a lot to say on the matter, but unfortunately it’s all locked in my head without the proper ways to say it. In Doctor Who, the Matt Smith Doctor (I saw him in PERSON last month!) once gave a speech about regenerations, that I compared to parenting. The doctor regenerates and he’s still the same person (Time Lord) with the same loved ones and memories, but there are differences too. Different faces and spaces.

Ages and phases, personalities and quirks. And it’s like how you’re handed a new child at various points of your/their life. The child that you know 100% of the time becomes someone you hold less and less. The changes are rapid at first – through the minutes of the days of the weeks of the months. We measure those moments. We have to, lest they slip through fast.

Which they will, anyway.

Somehow it’s not all sad. As Matt Smith’s character said, “It’s ok. It’s all ok.” Maybe it’s even great – this privilege to hold something in your arms and help form it just so, and it takes on its own creation anyway, but your handiwork is imprinted through every cell and every fiber. It’s all ok. And maybe even great too. Somehow it’s not all sad, and somehow you don’t mourn the losses as sharply as you could, because instead you focus on what you gain – what you’ve gained, and what you’re gaining. It’s like losing your child over and over, but each time you get them back with a slightly different face and attitude and personality, but 100% fiercely them just the same. Closer and closer to what they could and can and should and will be.

It’s all Time Lord magic, I tell ya!

Boy, I have wanted to say THAT for a long time. Perhaps another way that parenting has hit me the most, other than the above thoughts and the breathless kind of love that leaves you gasping and confused and overjoyed and crawling on your knees on the floor, is.. drumroll.. something you already know.. and that’s school. I never thought I’d be hit with the changes and transitions the way I have, but it’s the start and the end of the school years that get me. They get me! Not in that good kind of “Hey, I got ya girl” getting, but more in the, “I’ve got you by the throat and the heart, and I’m not positive you’ll survive” kind of getting. Do you know it? You might not. It’s my own special brand of terror/joy/human.

(Scarlet took this photo!!!!)

For a kid who used to get nervous when they changed the TV guide or Sweet Valley Twins formats, I have zero idea how I survived these hurdles so well when I actually WAS a child. Sometimes missing an old life or a person, place, or thing is so overbearing like a dark hollow in my stomach and my heart. If I try to talk about it, I can’t breathe. If I try to write about it, I can somewhat succeed, but often it’s like I have built a fuzzy coating around it and I nearly can’t access it. That’s how strong it is. It’s so strong I can’t even access it. I might feel indifferent or just numb. Sometimes that’s even a luxury.

It gets me in the spring and it gets me in the fall. I rather settle into summer and winter. They’re less transitional, don’t you think? Here I am, though, when my life topples suddenly out of place, I put it back together as best as I can. Then it happens again, and I patch and stitch it back together, but not in the same way. It’s a new way to embrace and learn and find the grooves and the comforts. It changes and some parts are familiar and ancient, and others are brand new. Like a patchwork sweater, I learn to wear it old & new, and find all the ways to let it hold me as I pull it closer and closer in, and all around.

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So what I came here to say (and went in another different direction/regeneration) is that Wednesday was Scarlet’s first day of school! It came so fast and completely smothered by other things in my life, like work and more work and even more work, and probably some other stuff too, but it’s almost like I have accepted that this is my new life. When summer started, it was overwhelming to me that suddenly the kids were home a lot and I’m still trying to build full-time work. Now everything is different, but I’m trying to build myself around this new start too. I’m not the one starting school. They are.

So basically if you’re looking for me, I’m editing photos, starting a new job, at the helm of a busy blogging season, dealing with huge house renovations starting next week, watching the chickens squawk at me, or trying to wrap my head around double sets of paperwork and school menus and schedules and conferences and concerns. It’s a lot. It’s a good lot.

Des starts next week! These days of our lives! Wheeee!

I’m linking up, as one of my favorite things to do, with Finish The Sentence Friday or #FTSF. This week’s topic is “When it comes to back-to-school, I think…” And there’s time to write yours. Come link up with your spin on the matter: HERE.

What would you say about back to school?

Get Them Outside! 5 Screen-Free Activities To Enjoy With Your Kids

Thank you CLIF Kid for sponsoring this post. Be sure to check out the new CLIF Kid Zbar Filled and encourage your kids to get outside and play!

Get them outside! Here are 5 active, screen-free activities to enjoy with your kids during the summer and fall. Don't forget snacks! #ad #CLIFKidSummerPlay

Well, yesterday was Scarlet’s first day of third grade! I can’t believe it.

Des doesn’t start kindergarten until next week. We spent a lot of time outside today and I noticed, as I’ve been noticing, that Des has a LOT of energy. It seems for such a mellow and relatively cautious kid that once he starts running he doesn’t want to stop! He was running circles around me all morning. During his one-on-one kindergarten orientation, he was quiet, engaged, and communicative but once he broke free of the school doors – you couldn’t stop his running! With Scarlet joining Girls on the Run, I can’t wait to find physical activities that Des will love. I’ve also made a list of weekend activities for us.

While screen time has its time and place, my kids are a bit young to have too much access. We let Scarlet play a few games on Cassidy’s tablet, but Des is not ready for it at all. I’m trying to prolong this time as much as possible!

screen-free activities

I know it’s not a perfect science and I know every parent is different. I’m not here to say (or even know) how much screen time kids should have, but I know what’s right for my two, and Des is not ready! Since my kids are so active, and we live on so much land, it makes it easy to find fun activities. Here are our favorite screen-free activities to enjoy together!

1 – Create a hideaway. Who doesn’t love a good pillow fort, secret hideaway, or tunnel? To start, we might drape a sheet over dining room chairs. This is a good rainy day activity! We also like to color on giant cardboard boxes (I get a lot through work) and then all have our own secret hideaway. Sometimes it’s under the basement stairs or making a nook in a bedroom.

2 – Go on a photo walk. Now, Scarlet is a really good photographer. She’s actually taken some of the photos of me on my blog! Many, in fact. And since I’m a professional photographer, it’s the one thing I’m patient enough to teach. And she gets it! One of the best things we do is to go on a photo walk of their choosing. Des is fully capable of using one of my old cameras or phones, and Scarlet can even heft my backup camera around. It’s such fun to explore what makes a good photo, but mainly, it’s about changing our perspectives and looking at our world differently. We always find new things!

3 – Make a city! Yup. This is both an indoors and outdoors activity. Outside, we use chalk. Inside, we use butcher paper and markers or crayons. The kids draw roads, building, lakes, amusement parks, zoos, cars, people, MOOSE, etc. It’s such fun.

4 – Set up a picnic. I’m fairly obsessed with taking our snacks and meals out on the deck, porch, or picnic table. I think there’s something special about it – that allows you to think outside the box and try new things. Speaking of which, we’re in love with CLIF Kid Zbar Filled. We have three flavors! They are perfect for my super active kids, and if we have a picnic, I always pack one for myself too! That’s what I mean about thinking outside the box! More on these below!

5 – Two words. Fairy houses. We love to find the right spots for them in our wonderful woods. Then we use pinecones, stones, twigs, bark, acorns, grass, and flowers to build tiny houses. I think my kids can easily do this for hours.

Now, back to the snacks! The fuel! Kids need this. Zbar Filled makes snacking fun! They are the first and only organic, soft-baked snack with smooth, creamy nut butter filling. This surprises and delights kids (and adults). They offer great taste and delicious flavor combinations that kids LOVE, with nutrition parents can feel good about too. I love how Zbar Filled has all the good stuff in it – such as nutritious ingredients like oats and nut butters. They’re certified USDA organic and non-GMO, and free from ingredients we want to avoid – like high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors. Awesome, right?

CLIF Kid nourishes my kids’ outdoor play!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Keep them active and keep them young at heart!