Monday, August 1, 2011

Back to School...Traditions Retained and Revised.

It is August 1st and I am itching to get into back to school mode.  My favorite commercial of the season (which I have yet to see this season) is the one with the dad coasting through the aisles at Staples to the tune of "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year"...the gloom-filled kids pacing along, swaying in time to the music... cracks me up every time! But the hitch this year is that my "student" child is soon to be 21 and back to school shopping with Mommy is not high on her priority list.  Needless to say, shopping with and for a college junior who'll be heading off to New Zealand second semester isn't the same as a high school junior for whom the color of three ring binders is crucial to trendsetting!

We have a list...most of which is set for a Costco run...bulk toilet paper (there are four girls sharing the dorm suite), printer paper and ink cartridges, hot cocoa mix,  instant oatmeal and etc...we may go clothes shopping for a few things for the cute girl on campus, but alas, she is old enough and certainly independent enough to buy her own wardrobe supplements.  At this age, buying clothing is more to keep things up to date and fresh rather than address the summer growth spurts of years gone by.  And what 21 year old woman want to go shopping for intimates with her mom? Awkward!

At this stage of the game,  back to school time is more about reassessing, revisiting and resolving.  I find that after twenty years back to school shopping mode, I am all about reorganizing and preparing for new routines.  This time of year is more like "New Year's" than January 1.  It certainly is more practical to set goals, assess your surroundings and make adjustments for transitioning from lazy hazy days of summer to the school days, schools days, dear old golden rule days.  Even with my nest emptying once again, I find that employing my back to school mentality helps me engage with my community and gets me out of the house! No more sleeping in until 8am....

In the coming days, those of us still at home will look through our desks for working pens and pencils in need of sharpening.  We'll double check the staples box and see if we need has been a few years since we bought staples.  There will be a sticky note check, postage stamp count and of course the drawers and files will be organized, refreshing our brains as to what's what and where.

One tradition that still stays the same is the closet and dresser purge.  Everything comes off hangers, out of drawers and boxes.  Shelves are emptied and large bins and bags are strategically placed around the room.  If it fits and is in good condition, it returns to its storage place (or packed for the trip to school).  If it has been outgrown or doesn't suit the wearer anymore, into the give-away bin and if I cannot get the stain out or the fabric around the hole is so threadbare that a repair is impractical...into the trash...although I pull off all the buttons to donate to Goodwill.  Based on what remains, I go out and restock undergarments, socks, basics like long and short sleeve t-shirts, a couple of pairs of jeans, a sweater or sweatshirt or two (we keep the house cool in the fall and winter). Sneakers are the big must have for each of us! 

We usually do a major revamp of Bill's work clothes and shoes...for a guy who works in an office, he can be a bit hard on stuff!  Back when the girls were young, we developed the philosophy that for everything new coming into the closet/drawers/shelves, something would have to go out...preferably to be handed down to someone who needs it.  I am pleased to report that this philosophy has stuck for both my adult children and they are thoughtful  about their purchases and generous to those who are without.

It is kind of husband rarely takes part in the clothing clean out and invariably he'll ask, "Where's my blue Patriots sweatshirt (or something along that line)?  You know the AFC championship one from 2001?"    I'll point him to the new 2011 Bruins Stanley Cup hoodie and he's happy...the disposed of, paint stained, out of shape faded talisman of yesteryear's glory forgotten for a while.

The turn of the calendar from July to August spurs me to "nest" clean, clear and organize.  My kitchen and bathroom cabinets are a key targets.  I check expiration dates on everything...tossing old spices and questionable coffee beans.  I crush old medications and put them in a clear plastic bag and set them in a safe place until the next hazardous waste or medicine collection day.  This preamble to my fall cleaning which usually happens over a long weekend in October...helps me recognize and hone my needs versus wants...and using the coupons from the past few weeks, I rebuild our stores for the fall and early winter.  I guess much like the rodentia in our yard, I am getting a little squirrely!

Later today, I'll be out on my deck drinking in the summer sun, with my notepad for lists and calendar handy to update appointments both professional and collegial.  I'll make note of sales and create the "care package list" for Em's return to University.  She has no say in what goes in is all about me still being Mom...wink, wink...and when she gets back to school, she'll find  among the prizes and treats, a few new pens, some Raisinettes, a new DVD or two,  new socks, practical, white undies...perfect for running and rock climbing and a hand written note wishing her the happiest first day of school ever !

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