I'm still playing catch up from all the fun things we did at the end of the summer that I didn't have a chance to share yet. I have to hurry, we have loads of school things to share already and Rosh Hashana is coming. So much pressure.
But anywho, we love the library.
We go often and I try to stay on top of whatever programs the library is offering, especially in the summer, because they are generally fun, well run, almost always empty and always cost-free.
And though we've spent a nice amount of time upstate, we've never visited a library there. Until this most recent trip, before school started.
We only had time to visit one library on this most recent trip, and we chose the Liberty, NY library over the Monticello library, but only because it was closer to our home base.
We couldn't check any books out of the library because we don't have a library card there, but the kids were able to play on the computers, build with the legos and paint. The library has a really very well-stocked art room where local kids can come each day during the summer to do a different project. That day, the kids were painting canvases - one large canvas, taped off into squares, each kid painting a square. When the canvas is all painted, the library is going to hang it in the lobby.
My boys were not interested in painting, especially when they had the option of using the computers, but my girls were all over the painting project. Thank goodness for my girls because I wanted to paint too and there's nothing that is much weirder than a grown up sitting herself down in the middle of a kiddie art session without bringing kids of her own. In fact, it's not just weird, it might be illegal.
But my girls wanted to paint so I got to paint as well. Happy days.
I can't wait until we visit this library next summer so we can visit "our" canvas on the wall.
If you went to elementary school with me, you might remember the School Supply Store.
The School Supply store was a smallish room at the back of the basement lunchroom, about the size of a garage. My mom, on behalf of the PTA, ran the store and it was probably the funnest place to hang out in school, and not just because my mom was there and I was in second grade.
The School Supply Store had everything that you had no need for, but had to have because you were eight. Every flower shaped eraser, every scratch 'n sniff cupcake sticker, every froggy pencil topper and every personalized notepad a little girl (this was a girls only school) could every dream about. And because it was the 1980's, there were also sequined scrunchies and banana clips, and I don't believe anything in the store was priced over one dollar. Now that I think about it, the School Supply Store might have been the original Dollar Store.
The best day of the year was before school even started. We'd spend the day unpacking all the little erasers and pencil sets and keychains and endless rolls of stickers (you could buy just one, like a lottery ticket for kids). This was the era of the Lisa Frank empire and we obviously needed every single of these things.
At the beginning of last week, before school started, I got to relive a little bit of the School Supply Store. We didn't have sticker books and boxes of every charm necklace every made, but unlike the original School Supply Store, we did have actual school supplies.
My mother in law (hi, Grandma!) saved me this year. She did 80% of our school supply shopping and delivered it all like a Summer Santa, one hot day a couple of weeks ago.
The next morning, Tani and I sorted it all into piles and then each kid took their school supply list and shopped in our store. So much fun, even for the slightly jaded middle schooler.
You might be wondering why Tani got the awesome job of sorting everything. If you are, you wouldn't be alone; there were several other children with angry eyes, wondering the same thing. I'll explain. Tani got to sort and make piles because the movement of picking things up and putting them down and figuring out how to bend down (squatting is the only option these days) is good for her. Like physical therapy, but free physical therapy, which really, is the best kind. And I know this, because her medical bills have started arriving.
Once Tani was done, she insisted I take a picture of her very beautiful piles of folders and notebooks and glue and markers and all the rest. There was so much stuff, I had to use the panoramic feature on my phone, which sounds crazy because how much stuff can four kids need?
I'll tell you how much.
19 dozen sharpened pencils, plus all the rest of this stuff. So much stuff, all for school.
Except for some of the glue and markers. Those I bought at Target for a crazy, one day sale price of 4/$1. And we always use glue and markers in this house.
But the rest of it? Let's just say the store is now closed because all the stock has been spoken for.
This morning, we got up bright and early and headed out for a hike.
Not as bright and early as we'll be heading out tomorrow morning, for the first day of school, but still, pretty early for a day off.
First, we stopped for bagels because, priorities.
But then we really did hike.
We visited the Essex County Environmental Center in South Mountain. Or maybe it was South Mountain at the Essex County Environmental Center. Who knows. But there was a marked trail and tall grass and downed trees to climb over and lots of rocks to trip on, so it was definitely hiking. We may or may not have been able to see the car the whole time, but that's more because we got an excellent parking spot, and less because we did the easy trail.
We walked, we climbed, we used sticks like real hikers do. Do real hikers take selfies? They must, because we did and we're so real hikers. And the kids had so much fun, so we'll be doing this again. Well, except one kid, but there's always an outlier.
And the best part? We were home twenty minutes later. No packing a million snacks, thousands of drinks, and worrying about a bathroom because we were so close to home. Or to a Barnes and Noble. And we all know they have the cleanest bathrooms around, sometimes even cleaner than the ones at home.
My second born, he turned 10 the other day.
He's the one who likes to play it cool, but really loves to hug.
He's a delicious little (big) kid and over the past year or so, we have discovered his love of baking. We already knew he loved to eat cake, so obviously, he's my kid.
That picture at the top? That's him, helping to bake his first cake ever for a surprise party we threw for my mom years ago.
I feel my eyes getting all leaky when I look at that picture. I must be allergic to it.
And down below, this is him, baking and decorating his own birthday cake.
He dreamed it up, all by himself, after weeks of weighing his options.
A layer of vanilla cake, then a layer of chocolate cake, and then another layer of vanilla cake, with caramel frosting in between the layers. And then the whole thing was covered in several layers of chocolate frosting. My father, a diabetic, took some extra insulin just to have one bite of this cake. I think it would have been nice if he had offered some to the rest of us.
And it tasted pretty good too.
A little (okay, a lot) dense. The cake stand may or may not have fallen over from the weight of the cake once half the cake was served and half was still hanging out on the stand. But it was still the best dang birthday cake made totally by a ten year old boy, ever.
My bracha to my not quite biggest boy, but my big boy nonetheless, - may this coming year bring you as much happiness, laughter and joy as the making of your special cake brought you.
And let us all say, Amen!
Are you a Mom?
Of course you are,
your shirt is dirty :)