I’ve always loved the beginning of a new school year. The cooling down of summer signaling the start of my favorite season (which seems to have started a month ago in these parts), the excitement of the first day back to school — finding out who your teacher is (I don’t remember ever receiving that information in advance like our kids do now), seeing old friends, making new friends. My next door neighbor Jenny and I would plan our matching first day outfits well in advance of Labor Day, making sure we looked perfectly twin-like in an effort to further confuse our schoolmates.

And then as I got older, it was field hockey season and Friday night football games, when schoolwork still seemed fresh and classes still interesting. There was a what’s-gonna-happen-this-year sense in the air, a hint of possibility pervading everything you did.

And now tomorrow, my big boy Braedan will finally head off to second grade (his district has managed to schedule the latest start date of any in the city, dragging on the endless fighting between two unnamed brothers who have spent waaaaaayyyyy too much time together lately). I am super excited, Braedan slightly more subdued about the whole thing. He has a fantastic teacher and I think this will prove to be an exciting and engaging year for him.

While Braedan heads off to school, Austin and I will kick off Childhood Cancer Awareness Month by going to the hospital for a day full of labs (blood counts and renal function), abdominal ultrasound (to check his kidney and liver), chest CT (to look for possible metastasis to the lungs), ECHO (to check 1) the size of a heart already enlarged due to years of high blood pressure and 2) possible damage caused to said heart by chemo) and a visit to the oncologist. I plan to have all that completed in time to pick up Braedan at 3:15 (luckily, my mom is on standby to relieve me at the hospital if things take longer than expected, which we really should expect by now).

We’ve packed it in over the past two weeks with a last minute mid-week visit to Chautauqua, where we hiked through the stunning Panama Rocks:

A trip to the zoo yesterday (post-crowds since most schools were alreday back in session):

Wait, what’s this? An actual image of the two boys not hurling
insults or toys or punches at one another?
Thank god I captured it for posterity!

And today, we had our requisite end-of-summer trip downtown for lunch with Daddy, which always requires dressing “like a lawyer” (the ties didn’t last through lunch like last year):

Now the backpack is packed, lunch is ready, clothes are clean. Time for a bath and early to bed. And a new year begins ….