Monday, August 27, 2012


Nice skirt.

Most of you know I just dropped number one child off for college and may even be expecting me to write something sentimental and insightful about that experience but all I can say is man that sucks.

And if you are struggling with it like I am you might want to read my friend Christie Mellor's latest book, Fun Without Dick and Jane which is so very cleverly titled you just know it is full of helpful coping advice, which it is.

Instead, I want to write about how much I love back to school time and especially the clothes we wear for the occasion. I have loved back to school since I was in grade school and I would wear a plaid dress with a big white collar (had to be plaid, my favorite; had to be a dress, we were not allowed to wear pants to school back then). I love my first day of school photos with my gap-toothed grin as I stand clutching my pencil box. Remember those?

As far as I remember I wore the same version of that first plaid dress up until about junior high. I clearly remember my 7th grade outfit. By then we were allowed to wear pants to school and I wore purple bell-bottoms with laces on the side. I had a matching purple body suit (snapped at the crotch) that laced up the front and even though it was all one piece it was supposed to look like you were wearing a short-sleeved shirt over a long sleeved shirt which was the height of fashion in 1973. The bells on my purple pants were so wide they covered my shoes. That is how we measured if they were big enough. I could make a joke about that outfit but I think it speaks for itself.

And I loved going off to college in Ann Arbor with my THREE Pendleton wool skirts my mom made me especially the red and black plaid one. They looked fabulous with my shetland sweaters and my penny-loafers which were back in style in the late 70s after having been mothballed since the 50s.

Since I have had my kids I wear my own red and plaid skirt every first day of school when I get my picture taken with the kids--see above. I have worn that skirt for the past 14 years.


Except that this year, I had to unbutton not one but TWO of the buttons on my skirt to fit in it. I know, I could buy a new one but really, I am much too old to wear a plaid skirt to begin with let alone buy a new one.

Several years back, Barbara Brotman of the Chicago Tribune wrote a whole column on being too old to wear a plaid pleated skirt which I literally read while wearing my plaid pleated skirt. I am sorry to say I cannot find that column and if any of you do, let me know (Maria?).

Anyhoo, I pointed out to Lilly that I had two buttons unbuttoned and that maybe it was time to give up on the skirt but she loves tradition more than any of us and looked at me with horror at the suggestion. I guess I have two more buttons to go so I don't see any reason to get rid of it now.

And by the way, speaking of tradition, I did get to read "Kissing Hand" to all the kids even Atticus on the day we drove him to college but I had to sneak in his room and read it to him while he was barely awake so he wouldn't hear me cry and I also had to change some of the words to nonsense like, "Chester skipped off to school and did not look back the little bastard," also so I would not cry too hard.

So, if you have any back to school memories of particularly fetching or ridiculous clothes you wore or wear still, let me know.

Cute girls. Some day their fashion may be funny too!

Wednesday, August 01, 2012


Well here we are. August 1st and that means tuition bills are due and (for many of us) our eldest child is getting ready to go to college for the first time.

I feel like we've prepared for this for a long, long time. We watched our friends do it, we've listened to their advice and now it's our turn.

So far they have been right: This is a difficult, sad, often grief-filled time in which you struggle to deal with the impending separation--but most of the time you will be thinking--hey can you get out of my house now?

Yes, just as I was counseled by the wise women who have gone before me, a young person between his or her senior year of high school and first year of college is umm, well, kind of a pain in the neck. This is nature's way of making it easier to say goodbye.

I'm not sure what it is a mom might find annoying....Maybe it's the way he sleeps until noon then spends the early evening hours with his girlfriend and the late nights on the computer until the wee hours. Could it be his general attitude that he no longer has any family obligations but is still entitled to the whole free food/free laundry thing? Or the way he leaves his socks on the kitchen floor and sometimes his pants and shirt too when he comes home hours after you have already been in bed. Perhaps it's that he's taken to showering in your shower (it's closer than his) so when you go to shower there are no clean towels.

It's true, I will cry when I leave him at the dorm but he's virtually already gone. I only see the back of his head as he plays on the computer or leaves the house yet again to "hang" with someone. 

His sisters and I have taken to talking about him as if he's gone. "Hey, can I put my bunnies in Atticus's room now?" one asks. "I'm still here!" he cries indignantly.

The other sister (and I) can't wait to clear out the hovel in the corner of the kitchen that has been his computer/work space. We pour over Houzz online and pick out new furniture to fill in the space. (That corner below...what do you think?)

I remember when my mom went to parent orientation at Michigan State for my sister (the eldest) and came back and said, "They told us not to turn their bedrooms into sewing rooms. They need to know they're welcome at home." So at first I said no to the bunny hutch idea. But then a wise friend suggested, "Why don't you just move the rabbits back out when he comes home? You can enjoy the extra space while he's away."

Good idea.

So we're all a bit sad that Atticus will be leaving soon (in twenty-four days, three hours, and six minutes).

But we're also looking forward to an actual kitchen table, a sock-free floor, and clean dry towels.

(A special shout out to Kelly and Wendy who have been there from kindergarten...can you believe it's really happening?)