The first week of school was a little out of control. That weird bubble in the kitchen ceiling finally turned into full-blown leak. After five years of having not a single mechanical issue with the Mini, the brake pads decided to give way on the way to drop-off. Iris, our usually bordering-on-bonkers Boston Terrier, was slinking around lethargically for days before ending up in the ER until midnight on Wednesday. (She’s fine.) To say nothing of the general first-week-of-school anxieties from the kids that the whole house ends up absorbing.
When I have weeks like this, I find myself spending increasing amounts of time in front of Command Central, the kitchen desk and bulletin board pictured above where all the family organizing happens, and where I can pretend to have some illusion of control. It’s where I keep the laptop, the class lists, the printed yahoo calendar, the birthday invitations, the soccer schedules, the specials schedules, the afterschool schedules, as well as a random mix of photos and souvenirs from all the action, so that every now and then I can step back and remind myself that all of this chaos adds up to happy chaos. (BTW, tagline on back of the cookbook: Life is not chaotic: It’s rich.)
So even though I can’t control who is in my daughter’s class, I can make sure the class list is accessible for playdate arranging. And even though I probably won’t be able to predict the next time I’ll have to dry-wall an enormous gash in my kitchen ceiling, I know my handyman’s cell phone is always a few steps away, push-pinned to the cork. Right next to the list of take-out numbers for those nights when everything seems to be conspiring against a home-cooked dinner.
A few other details below…
Two Files, Not Fifteen. I used to keep a huge three-ring binder for all school- and extracurricular-related handouts. It had many many dividers and files and tabs, but very little grounding in the way I am capable of organizing. (In my experience, three-hole punching is the task that rarely makes it to the top of the to-do list.) I’ve since decided that I need only two files in the kitchen to survive. The first is “The Important File.” In short this is where all the important things go — permission slips, activity registration forms, book order information, general hand-outs from school that will need to be dealt with. (As opposed to referred to — those papers go on the board.) The second I call my “Halfway House” file. This is, in fact, one part of a slightly larger system, the Treasure Chest System. Like most families, we have a large container in the basement where we keep all the artwork, animal reports, Mother’s and Father’s Day cards, homemade comic books, birthday invitations and everyday treasures that we think will be special enough to retain sentimental value down the road. The problem is, the “chest” is in the basement and I can’t be running downstairs every time an acrostic poem comes back in the homework folder. So I transfer those gems to my Halfway House folder in the kitchen. When that folder fills up, I make a trip to Treasure Chest. It’s not pretty, but it works.
This is the kind of thing that passes the litmus test for the “Halfway House to the Treasure Chest” folder. Do you guys know about acrostic poems? Phoebe made one for Andy (above) and then everyone in the house started writing them for each other. Even Milky and Ralph, the gerbils, got their own.
I am not neurologically built to remember which days of the week which girl has to wear sneakers for gym, or something not-so-nice for art. And neither are my daughters, apparently. These little reference cards help us all out.
Birthday invitations, class lists, and a gift certificate my friend Rory gave me to the fabulous Graeter’s so I don’t forget to order my six pints of homemade ice cream. (Such a great gift for a family by the way…she gives it to us every year for my birthday.)
Concert tickets to remind myself that we occasionally participate in the outside world and sometimes even enjoy doing so!