When School Starts, Life Changes

Back to school always means a few things around here. It usually means canning. Lots and lots of canning. It means morning rush to get to school, a new routine, back to extracurriculars and readjusting to additional structure. Brinlee, Kimball, Sawyer, and Caisen started piano at the end of July, and they are really enjoying it. We found a fantastic teacher who comes to our house, and we thought it was a good idea to start this big, new thing before school started again so they had time to adjust. Brinlee and Daisy are back to dance, although at a new studio. We are skipping fall soccer in favor of swim. Chess club starts a few weeks after school starts. Afternoons and evenings will be very busy again.

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September means the garden is in full swing, and that means good eats. It usually also means marathon canning sessions, but this year I just can’t do it. I don’t have the energy for it. Usually the urge strikes once the tomatoes start rolling in, but I am 100% urge free.

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Fortunately we have plenty of ways to use them fresh.

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Brinlee, Kimball and Sawyer had sharing time at school, and they asked me to bring their favorite chicken, Curly. Curly turned out to be a rooster. Roosters are the whole reason I don’t do chicks, because their gender is unknown until about this age, and then in August and September there is a rush of people trying to re-home roosters that nobody wants. How did I get one? I bought some 4-month-old chickens, and they slipped me a rooster. He is a frizzle, which means his feathers are curly, thus the name. He’s also very small, which means he is even cuter.

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I don’t do roosters. They are loud. He started crowing at 4 a.m. Normally that would have meant going to freezer camp if it were any other rooster, but the kids are so attached to him, so we bought a no crow collar, and that solved the problem. I’m sure our neighbors were hating us.

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As long as I had a rooster at school, I decided to make the rounds and take Curly to Caisen’s class too. It was a surprise to him. I had permission from his teacher beforehand. He was so excited!

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I made a big change with my hair. I realized I don’t want long hair. I like short hair on me.

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Not only did I go short again, I went dark. I haven’t had brown hair since I left on my mission to Brazil. When I came home from the salon, Georgia came running around the corner calling my name, and when she saw me, she froze in her tracks. Her eyes were huge. Poor baby was so confused. I kept talking to her, and after a minute she cautiously came to me and let me pick her up.

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At church the next day no one recognized me. It was funny. I’ve gotta say, though, I love my hair, and I haven’t felt that way in a really long time.

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We took the kids to a park for a picnic. It was a busy day, but they had a lot of fun.

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Sawyer is such a patient, kind big brother. He adores Georgia.

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Kimball is also so good with her. They all are, really.

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Once Georgia discovered this slide, that is all she wanted to do. I took Georgia duty, and Adam supervised the others.

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Soon enough she had the hang of the stairs and doing it herself, so her siblings went off to play on big kids toys.

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Caisen’s clothes always need adjustment before school. If his shirt isn’t backward, it’s inside out. Same with his pants. Socks are upside down, shoes on the wrong feet and often not matching.

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Daisy got hold of the scissors and cut her hair.

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After a deep inhale, I turned around and walked out of the room. With the scissors. I most definitely took the scissors with me. When I had regained my composure, I asked her why she did it. “I want short hair.” Ok then.

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She had dance right after, and this was the best I could do.

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That night I gathered pictures of little girls with short hair. The next day after school I showed them to her and asked her to pick the one she wanted.

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We talked about not cutting our own hair, and next time she can just tell me she wants short hair.

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We went to get it cut. She kept trying to get them to cut it over her ears. When I asked her why, she said it was because mine was. I showed her that mine was just tucked behind my ears. She said she wanted her hair to be just like mine.

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It is so cute on her, and everywhere we go, she tells everyone our hair is the same. It makes my heart melt.

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Georgia and I went to the bank, and after we left I realized she had left her beloved Teetee there. By this time I had all six kids in the car, and I just didn’t want to drag everyone in and back out again, so I went through the drive-thru to ask if they had found a brown, round…gorilla? hedgehog?? tribble??? by the banker’s desk. Indeed they had, and he is just squishy enough to fit in the canister, which was just as I’d hoped. THanks for being flexible Teetee. Good as new.

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Now that Daisy is in kindergarten, Georgia is my only little buddy all morning. She is so sweet and easy. She just follows me around and chatters at me while I clean up. We run errands together. She loves to tuck her babies into my bed after I’ve made it. I really enjoy our mornings alone together. Every stage she reaches I want to freeze her. Never get older my sweet baby.

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Georgia going off the diving board. What a big girl!

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Daisy and her bear going on a little walk.

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She even went down the slide by herself!

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We let the kids stay up and see the blood moon. Right when the blood moon reached its peak, a cloud passed in front of it, but it was so perfectly shaped and moved so steadily that it looked like an eclipse. It wasn’t until the cloud passed we realized it was a cloud. Fortunately the world did not end that night.

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Before our trip to France, Adam and I built a new chicken yard in our orchard. I was tired of fighting the endless thistle and bindweed. See how this area looks newly mulched? They’ve scratched up all of it to reveal the mulch I had put in to keep down the weeds.

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The weeds were so thick, and even though we kept it weedwacked, going back there to check or collect fruit was painful business. I have a whole new appreciation for Adam and Eve and being cast out of the Garden of Eden. Thistles are just horrible. In just two months, look at how much the chickens have cleared!

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What they don’t eat, they scratch up. They fertilize, mulch, and eat all the bad bugs and larvae of bad bugs that would eat my fruit. I’ll have to wait for next summer to see how they do for pest control, but they are excellent gardeners. They are doing everything I had hoped they would do, and the orchard is looking brand new.

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Now that they are in such a large area with an easy-to-use gate, the kids spend all their free time back there. They love to catch and carry the chickens around, give them rides in the wagon, pet them. It’s just like this:

Those poor chickens. Any kids who come over want to do the same. We have our own petting zoo. We’ve even had trouble with uninvited guests coming over with their kids to bring them into my chicken yard and play with the chickens and collect eggs. I wish I were kidding. I’m talking about adults here. Adults coming into my yard uninvited. With their children. Like this is a park.

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No matter how many times I’ve told the kids, “We don’t name our food,” they have named these chickens. We have Curly, Brownie 1 and Brownie 2, Stripes and Stripes Jr., Mr. Puffins the first, second, third, fourth and fifth, Honey, Sunset and Sunrise, Blackie, and I don’t even remember the rest. 26 chickens in all. Let’s hope the kids get more creative before they start naming children of their own someday.

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Georgia working on her backstroke. She has been coming five days a week and she is making so much progress.

In other big news, I got braces. You will not be seeing a picture of my metal mouth. The orthodontist told me if I went with the metal brackets instead of clear, I would get them off in 9 months instead of 12. I went with metal. I’ve decided to adopt the Victoria Beckham scowl until they are off. It’s not hard. My mouth hurts so much, the scowl is genuine. I didn’t eat solids for a week after they went on, but beauty is pain. It always has been.

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