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It’s hard to believe that there’s one less Heffernan boy in the house this year when school started today, although for him school started a couple days ago. This year, of the two boys still in high school, one is a senior and one is a junior. Hard to believe that they are so grown up. They both departed for school driving their respective vehicles since after school activities and jobs will take them in two different directions at the end of the day.

I have a soft spot in my heart for “back to school”. I’m still a student at heart and the newness of a new school year, the possibilities, the clean slate are all good things. Pair that up with autumn, my favorite time of the year and well, it’s just perfection. I am sure however, that a lot of children, especially my own, probably would beg to differ.

The air is different, there are warm days and cool, crisp nights. There are chilly mornings. The color is coming onto the hill, slow but steady – every day there is more and more of it and September hasn’t even arrived yet and the official start of fall, or end of summer, depending on your perspective, is weeks away.

Have a wonderful day particularly if this is the first day of back to school. Whether you’re celebrating a new school year and all the possibilities that come along with it, or simply rejoicing that the kids are back to school and occupied for the majority of the day – enjoy!

Happy First Day of School from the hill here in Vermont.

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I made these peach preserves over the weekend with fresh peaches. Oh my goodness, are they good. I found the recipe here at Natasha’s Kitchen and I suggest that you hop on over there to check it out. I adapted it a bit to add a touch of vanilla (about 1 teaspoon) to the peaches before I jarred them. I had my doubts since the recipe takes a couple days to complete, but it seems that it is well worth the wait.

 

Anyone who has had a child knows “the bag” the one that sits, at the ready, for days or even weeks waiting for the “big event.” The one that contained symbols of the new roles that husband and wife would be taking on — the first outfit, the knitted hat, the snuggly blanket, as well as all the mom stuff that the new mother would need while she was being overwhelmed by those first hours of motherhood.

Here’s that bag for me.

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It’s a great bag that my sister bought for me for the baby shower. It not only still exists but it has taken many journeys with our expanding family over the years. Somehow, it seemed appropriate that the bag that brought everything to the hospital when he was born should be the bag that went with us when we delivered TJ to the next big phase of his life. And so, “the bag” accompanied us to Burlington — a symbol of what had been and what was yet to be.

We were off, truck packed and the five of us enjoying a ride through the mountains to TJ’s new home for the school year. It didn’t take long for us to get him unpacked and for him to turn the contents of  those boxes, foot lockers and duffle bags into his new digs. By the time we returned with lunch in hand and perishables for his new fridge, he had transformed the stark space into a very comfy spot, very “TJ”.

Everyone says that saying goodbye and leaving your child at college is hard, but the goodbyes weren’t very different from goodbyes when we’ve dropped the boys off elsewhere. Hugs and small talk. Last minute thoughts, a heartfelt “I love you”. Despite the admonitions from everyone including the parking attendants “Mom, no crying!” when we first pulled in, there were no tears. I am very proud of TJ and all that he has accomplished. He deserved to enjoy that day without a blubbering mom in the background or the foreground and I delivered. What was difficult is the coming home to TJ not being here. When we pulled into the driveway, my thought was “oh TJ’s home” when I saw his truck sitting there…only to realize that “no, he wasn’t home, that’s just his truck”.  So, the long and short of it, is while TJ got the “no tear” send-off from his mom, the rest of the family hasn’t been so lucky since we’ve been home.

I’m mopey, I admit it. No one but another mom understands that it’s hard to share your life and for the better part of a year, share your very body with another person occupying the same space without feeling sad that things will never be the same. Will things be different? Yes. Will things be better? Maybe. Will you be proud of your child and their accomplishments? Absolutely.

But your family will never be the same configuration and chemistry and you will never be the same person as you were when you got in the car for that ride to college. We all know it’s coming. It might as well be printed on that bag that accompanies you to the hospital for the birth. It’s implicit in the very definition of parenting. The process of promoting and supporting the physical,emotional, social, and intellectual development of a child from infancy to adulthood. From the second we are “officially” parents at the birth, it is a process of independence, of teaching another human being to be self-sufficient and in so doing, tearing yourself away from that person that you have created.

Leaving TJ at the door to his dorm, there was not a cell in my body that wasn’t happy for him and confident that Tom and I had done the best job we could in the preceding 18+ years in preparing him for this next journey. There wasn’t a part of me that wasn’t swelling with pride at the young man he has become. At the same time however, there are just as many cells yearning to freeze time and protect the familiar part of my life.  In the days that follow “drop off” there will be adjustment…contrary to the “how to” books, it won’t be so much for the college student as for the college student’s mom.

Try as I might I cannot figure out why over the past several nights I have woken at almost the exact same time 2:15 and been unable to go back to sleep. The first time I blamed caffeine as the culprit but night before last, no caffeine in the picture – I didn’t even have two cups of coffee in the morning! I’m blaming it on hormones I guess since sleep problems do not seem to plague our male counterparts. As I lay in bed tossing and turning, begging for sleep to come alongside me, my husband is sound asleep. It is very frustrating, almost as bad as the sober person around a bunch of drunk folks who are acting incredibly stupid.

After it became apparent that I was definitely, try as I might, not going back to sleep and dawn was now approaching I figured I would get up. I got up, made a crumb cake, made the coffee and then went out for a run (or run/walk as may be more appropriate).  There wasn’t a car out on the road while I was out. Here are some pictures from the morning yesterday

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TJ leaves on Friday for college. We are in the countdown phase for sure. This past week, the UPS guy and the FedEx guy have been making almost daily stops to our house, delivering in drips and drabs various components of TJ’s new life away from home. Each delivery brings with it another dose of reality that things will be very different around here next week this time.  Nonetheless, I am putting on my big girl panties and keeping a brave face. This is not the end, but the beginning.

He will be off to a new adventure for which I hope we have prepared him well. At least, it seems judging by the boxes and foot lockers strewn around the house, he will be well packed.

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Tim and I went blueberry picking and I may go again today since one of the blueberry pick-your-own places indicated on FB that today is the last day of picking for the season. We came home with two bags full of blueberries and I made a blueberry muffin cake. The original recipe is from Fine Cooking but I tweaked it just a bit to add a streusel topping, the same as on the blueberry muffins that I make. It definitely took the cake, which was delicious without the topping to a different level.

For those of you that asked, here is the recipe:

Blueberry Muffin Cake (adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine recipe)

Cake:

  • 4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly; more for the pan
  • 9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 lb. (2 cups) fresh blueberries

 

Topping:

  • 4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 t. cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar

Procedure:

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Butter or spray the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round springform pan.

Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the butter, milk, eggs, and vanilla. Using a silicone spatula, stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Fold in the berries. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly. Tap the pan on the counter once or twice to break any air bubbles.

Mix together the topping ingredients which should make crumbles. Spread the crumbled streusel topping over the cake batter.

Bake until golden-brown and a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  The original recipe says the cooking time is 45-55 minutes which is what worked without the streusel. With the streusel topping, add an extra 15-20 minutes, check occasionally until a tester comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes. Run a paring knife around the edge of the cake and remove the side of the pan. Transfer the cake to a serving plate and serve warm or at room temperature. Ours didn’t make it to the cooling phase. It was steaming still when we removed it from the pan to eat with a cup of tea the other night for dessert.

 

Enjoy.

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Evilwife on the move

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