Caroline is now anxiously sitting in the time between camp and school. Last week I had a mini panic attack realizing she will be home this week while Steve recovers from a yet to be completely determined day surgery on his knee. It should not be too challenging to have her home, Connor at school, and the patient recovering with bad television and his work email. My panic was that I had originally taken this time for her, to make time for some special Mommy and Caro stuff before kindergarten. I hadn't exactly planned on the second week off before school, but we're taking that all in stride too thanks to wonderful grandparents. It was the mommy guilt. Surely, it makes the most sense for Steve to have his surgery this week, while I am available, before school starts, before football season gets into full swing, before the holidays and the snow, and is there really an ideal time to have knee surgery?

While eating a snack in my car/office last week, I was on Pinterest repinning wrecklessly. I tend to pin more when I am eating, anyone else? There are an unreasonable number of back to school pins, things to do with your kids, crafty things to "invite" them to play. I'm clearly not alone in the "holy crap, summer is ending, did I let my kid's head turn to mush since June???" I need to remeber to get my act together with either that chalkboard firtst day of school thing or first day printables.

I have plans for later this week when my patient should be doing a bit better, getting around the house independently, capable of fending for himself for a few hours. We have back to school shopping to finish because apparently sometime between spring and now my little girl has developed her own fashion sense. I got a jump with some excellent steals on leggings to extend her summer dresses through fall and some neutral long sleeve tees to wear under her favorite shirts, with perhaps the most adorable corduroy skirt or plaid kilty thing I've ever seen. She has also requested bumper boats, the library (!), a movie, pottery painting, and lunch with Mommy.

I started thinking about the other times this week when we are home and Connor is at school. She relishes that time at first and then gets desperate for him if he is absent too long. I worried about that time, when I might be distracted helping the man recovering from surgery upstairs. To be honest, I worried that her fun week home would be filled with 21-minute Disney shows and quiet afternoon movies, with a smattering of catching up on Dance Moms because she loves that Chloe.

I took those pins, that you sit and repin and file away. You hardly ever do anything with them, but I wrote a list. I took that list to Staples and Michaels, practically next door to one another in a neighboring town. I found two mini chipboard clipboards and 5x8 index cards that fit on them perfectly. I bought simple paintbrushes, two sets of crayola watercolors, a sleeve of pipe cleaners (the biggest hit so far), a bag of feathers, beads, pom poms, buttons, string, washable paints and mini paint trays, two of those date or number stamps you can scroll through to change, and a box to put it all in that would not look like a craft box. Admittedly, it was a lot. Admittedly, I had no idea what to do with it when I got home. I hoped the kids could figure that part out for me. We have a Kiwi Crate subscription for them and the two of them LOVE it! It comes in the mail and they cheer. We open it up and they dive in. Seriously consider it for your child ages 2-6 (it is recommended to be 3, but Connor has been doing just fine!). I cannot tell you how many "today is the day I lose my mind entirely" moments have been avoided by this green box.

When I brought those bags inside and informed the kids they could choose ONE item to do that afternoon from the new stuff, I had hoped it would occupy them through that terrible before dinner hour. Instead, I barely got dinner organized because they were so excited and wanted to paint, then stamp, then paint again. There was not a single request for television. Not.A.Single.Request.

I didn't have to follow any one pin from that kids board I created. Instead, the kids have been loving the the materials. I simply chose items from some of the activities that I thought they might enjoy using. They sat there at their little table stringing beads and buttons last night for almost a half hour. It was quiet, there were no fights, and it gave me a chance to work on something I pinned last week. I had gotten a berry box at a farmer's market the week before filled with new potatoes. I cut the kids freshly dried watercolors in place of the postcards. I can't wait to finish it and have it be three years from now when we can giggle or tear up looking back on what we did today all those years ago. I'm sure I will think of what a simple time it was, how amazing it was to have the kids on the brink of so many new things. I'm sure when I get to August in about sixteen years I will box it up, label it "memories," and face it every one in a blue moon because I am not the Mom with kids going off to college who could take reading about their college bound freshman's first day at preschool. I'll hand it to them someday when we clean out the attic and move back to a condo downtown with a harbor view (it's happening). They will surely roll their eyes and Caroline (probably) will put it in her own attic, until she someday falls upon it again, placing that painful first box of baby clothes into long storage up there. She'll email me looking for a berry box and that old dusty stamp and I will race it over that very day because by then she will understand and her memory jar will begin and mine will end in that way and begin in another.

I'm hoping that the next few weeks will be filled with nothing but amazing milestone memories, firsts, lasts, and laughs. I wishing that Daddy will recover swifty and successfully and make it to that football game this weekend. I'm hoping that I can remember that pom poms and feathers are fun things to have around and resist the urge to put them in a bag at the bottom of a box because THE MESS. There is lots of crazy coming, lots of tears from Mom for sure, a cup full of anxiety for the new kindergartener, tons of excitement about moving to the big kid side of the building for Con with his two girlfriends Sammy and "my-lena," a nervous Steve who is hoping but not believing his recovery will be fast. It's a hard but wonderful time to be a McCashew.


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