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August 22, 2009

Fall fell last night and caught us unprepared. Mr. Spy went to AJ’s football practice and came home shivering with wet feet. This morning, when I got around to checking the thermometer around 8, it was 52. And it’s stayed cool all day. This was perfect, because today, we needed to think fall. First, we had to double check AJ’s school supplies, a project that included sharpening 48 pencils and labeling lots of very small things. Unfortunately, in the process, we discovered that several items had been added to the list since we printed it out to go shopping. This means yet another trip to the store. And there’s still the letters to iron on his gym shirt. Why can’t I use a Sharpie?

Back to school always makes me a little grumpy. The thing that makes me most grumpy of all is the prospect of packing lunches. That is definitely my least favorite job, mainly because AJ doesn’t like to eat. He regularly comes home with all or almost all of his lunch intact.

Second, we had to clean out AJ’s room to make room for the homework and new books that are sure to be coming. This task required AJ’s presence. He sat in state on his beanbag chair and approved or vetoed the things I held up for removal with his own complicated system of code, which he explained to me in detail before hand. The Secret Service would be lucky to get this kid as an employee.

Third, tonight AJ is playing his first football game of the season. You may have noted an absence of football talk around here as compared to last year. This is because AJ decided he didn’t want to play tackle again this year. Instead, we found a flag league in a nearby town. Flag requires 2 practices and 1 game a week as compared to 4 practices+game per week of last year. It’s also a lot less hectic and practices are shorter and at a more reasonable time of day (at least for now, while it’s still light in the early evening). This has meant a lot less all-absorbing chaos around here.

Tonight’s game is in the football stadium of the high school in that town. It’s one of the swanker high school facilities around here and the field has been recently redone. It looks more like a real field than anything he’s played on to date. I’m sure he’ll be excited when he sees it.

However, the weather, which is perfect for football, has me stymied as to wardrobe. Is it really possible to wear a wool sweater in August? Because I’m thinking I might need one after the sun goes down. Hmm.

The weather has also inspired renewed effort on the garden. I’ve made a list of seeds I need to track down to fill my fall garden with beets and cabbage and spinach and chard. I harvested enough beans this morning for tonight’s dinner. And I poached a pile of overripe apricots in the rose rioja I opened last night that turned out to be too sweet. It turned out to be perfect for apricots, with a stick of cinnamon and some sugar. I pulled the apricots out partway through, cooked the syrup down until it thickened, then added the apricots back while it cooled. The result is a lovely winy, jammy sauce that will make a great base for a drink (perhaps mixed with prosecco?) or over ice cream. The added bonus of cooking such a thing, of course, is that you can drink wine while you’re making it. You’re taste testing, after all. And the house smells like the end of the summer.

And now it’s time to pull on my wool socks and my jacket and go root for the home team.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. freshhell permalink
    August 22, 2009 6:31 pm

    It has rained buckets here today, possibly from the hurricane remnants. But, it’s still summer.

    I am also fretting over packing TWO lunches for two very different palates. I have the bento boxes but now, what to put in them. We’re considering the snack choices (they get to eat a small nutritious snack mid-morning) and what is and isn’t too goopy, liquidy to pack in the containers without lids, etc.

    The good thing is that I pre-order the supply kits through the PTA every year. I pay $35 or so for each kid and all but the teacher’s wish list is included. We pick them up at orientation and deliver them to their classroom. The stuff never sees the inside of the house. It’s ingenious and it’s all good Crayola-brand stuff, not those rotten Rose Art crayons.

  2. August 22, 2009 7:09 pm

    wow. Just wow. (for the cold, for apricots and changing for gym?!)
    And, I have a new lunch idea my kids are loving so far. Pook used the ancient bread machine and we added lots of oregano and basil, plus chopped up pepperoni and cheese. We set the machine to dough and then made breadsticks of it. For lunch, a small tub of red sauce and breadsticks (which I froze but which thaw by lunch). Lunch will not be so interesting come spring, but for now, we’re doing well.

  3. August 22, 2009 9:50 pm

    We’ve done those supply kits in the past, freshhell, but AJ likes to pick out his own stuff. And if truth be told, I kind of like the ritual. I usually do it early before things sell out. But apparently the list wasn’t finalized. AJ is an insanely picky eater. I love the bento box because it inspires me to diversify. But no matter what I put in it, it is rarely eaten. This is partly to do with pickiness, but mostly to do with the fact that AJ eats incredibly slowly and they only have 15 minutes for lunch. Jill, feel free to say wow about the apricots and the cold, but they don’t actually change for gym. They wear white t-shirts with their names on them for all of their “specials.” They always call it a gym shirt, but it also serves as a smock in art class and an overgrown nametag in music. The breadsticks sound like a great idea. I wonder if AJ would go for that. His favorite lunch is pretzel bread, sliced apples, and a side of peanut butter to put on either bread or apples. I might try baking some plain old bread sticks and see what he thinks. It’s certainly worth a shot. Also, I highly recommend Vegan Lunchbox by Jennifer McCann. We’re not vegans, but she has great ideas about creative healthy lunches that I find inspiring. She has a brand new book just out, Vegan Lunchbox Around the World, that sounds even better. You can find more, including some sample recipes, at on her website.

  4. freshhell permalink
    August 23, 2009 8:14 am

    I am too intimidated and depressed by Vegan Lunchbox. My kids would never eat those things and I don’t have time for a beautiful presentation. So, I’m still rooting around for ideas for food Red, especially, will eat but also Dusty – and of course they don’t like the same things.

    I love the supply kit because I don’t have to go shopping which I don’t enjoy, especially with monkeys hanging from the cart and wanting – begging – me for extras and all the shiny lovely things they see. I save that trip for clothes. But I understand AJ’s need to pick out his own stuff.

  5. August 23, 2009 8:37 am

    I can understand that. I don’t actually cook from it too often, but it has helped me to think outside the box a bit. In my own childhood I ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with an apple and a carton of milk almost every day for at least a decade. And I can definitely understand it about school supplies. The difference between 1 and 2 kids here is crucial, I think — there’s no one to egg him on. And he’s usually pretty good about not asking for lots of other stuff. This year, the only thing he asked for was a 50 cent package of colorful pencil grips, a request that was easy to oblige.

  6. freshhell permalink
    August 23, 2009 8:53 am

    The kits save me time more than anything. I’m relegated to weekends for shopping and have to fit it in around groceries and laundry, etc. But, I own two magpies who like shiny things. 🙂 Keeps us all honest and less poor.

    The bento boxes came with a book full of ideas and recipes. Unfortunately, most of the ideas won’t work for my kids because they like the same things all the time and they must by simple, for the most part. I also ate the same school lunch for a billion years. I think in 7th and 8th grade it was a potted meat sandwich. Before that, peanut butter (I never liked pb&j – the mingling of the textures is gross to me). So, I’d like to get them out of the rut but I don’t think it’s going to happen thru lunches I can’t monitor. We make slow progress but I’m not as worried as I could be. Eventually I expanded my menu and I’m sure they will too. I hate waste so I’m willing to give them the (healthy) things they’ll actually eat. I had it down to a science with Dusty. Red is the wild card.

  7. August 23, 2009 9:49 am

    If you have things to suggest, I’d love to hear them. AJ has announced that he no longer likes peanut butter which leaves…nothing. I’ve tried pancakes, veggie dogs cut up, and pasta. He won’t eat any of it if it’s not warm. And no matter what I do, it is never adequately warm. He loves sushi (cucumber rolls only, so lunchbox safe), but he’s embarrassed to eat something in front of his friends that looks so different from what they have. That leaves bread and cucumbers and yogurt. Which, now that I mention it, isn’t really half bad. Maybe I should just let it go. And maybe take advantage of the cold snap and bake some real bread. But I’m sure he’ll find a reason not to like that too. Sigh.

  8. freshhell permalink
    August 23, 2009 10:06 am

    Double that sigh. Red will eat noodles plain. Dusty will not. Neither will eat spaghetti with sauce. Neither will eat mac and cheese anymore. Red will eat noodles with pesto on them. Once or twice. After that, deadly poison. Both will eat sandwiches with soy/peanut butter. Red prefers pumpernickel bread which isn’t always available. Red loves grapes, Dusty doesn’t. Dusty likes olives but not cucumbers. Red likes cucumbers but not carrots or olivesw. One will eat watermelon, the other canteloupe. Neither likes what the other one does.

    I will be posting another snack bar recipe soon that I just made but I’m not sure how they will go over. They seem a bit salty and boring to me. Dusty will eat yogurt but Red won’t. So, I can give Dusty yogurt with a fruit she likes. Red might be stuck with crackers and cheese (and apart from Saltines, they don’t even like the same damn crackers!!), fruit, a sandwich. I will probably end up making my own trail mix with granola, cereal, dried fruit, nuts, etc. I need to get this down to a science, pack the night before, or else nobody will make the bus on time.

    As for AJ’s “warm” preference, Red likes “hot rice” but never gets around to eating it until it’s cold. And then it’s rejected. I am really suprised I haven’t pulled out all my hair. Maybe I’ll post a list of things I might try this year for my fickle fiends.

  9. crankygirl permalink
    August 23, 2009 5:34 pm

    I am very jealous of the Fall. I want Fall!

  10. August 23, 2009 8:47 pm

    If AJ likes cucumbers, you could consider what we call “tea sandwiches” in the lunch box–small thin-sliced bread with either butter or cream cheese on both sides and then some thin cucumber slices. It’s important to coat the bread so it doesn’t get soggy.

  11. August 23, 2009 8:48 pm

    oh, and it is not possible to wear a wool sweater in August in this hemisphere. If you try to tell me it is, I will hum and cover my ears.

  12. August 23, 2009 8:51 pm

    Oh, Jeanne, I wore one on Saturday night. With a coat on top of it. And I was STILL COLD.

  13. August 24, 2009 9:21 am

    “I can’t hear you…”

  14. August 24, 2009 10:51 am

    “la, la, la” can’t hear you

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