Casual Friday + Back to School

It official! The kids are back in school and, for the first time since March of 2020, things felt largely…normal. There is no mask mandate, though there are still extra COVID precautions in place. We all had predictable jitters. One child declared their teacher was “very strict” but that concern already seems to have abated somewhat. Another child was quite distraught (angsty you could even argue) over class configuration. But we’re almost through the first week and it does feel good.

I purposefully left most of Tuesday open; I did a few hours of deep work early in the day, but stopped in time for a scheduled lunchtime walk with a friend. She started working in town last spring, but we’ve only managed to overlap on her lunch break a handful of times. Tuesday afternoon, after the unpacking-bookbag rigmarole, we went to play tennis as a family. Note to self: I am officially horrible at any team and/or ball sport. Horrible. But it was still very fun and I’m excited to do this more frequently (and get slightly less horrible?).

Wednesday and Thursday were a gong show of meetings, interspersed with checking in on contractors finishing the last of our renovation work. September and October are my busiest months of the year at the university. It’s expected, of course, but always surprises me just a bit. Things are going well overall and I’m doing my best to address each curve ball as it comes – both at work and in terms of the house.

While the return to school didn’t magically make our lives feel like a day at the spa (there are lunchboxes to prepare, school forms to fill out, and lots of post-school emotions from the kiddos), it has felt good to slowly ease back into a rhythm.

A few tidbits from the week.

SOUP | I made a soup! I haven’t yet catalogued all the great reader suggestions for soup recipes and ended up making a loose version of the Pioneer Woman’s Chicken Tortilla Soup. I’ve been making this for years and while no one “adores” it, I had all the necessary ingredients and it was a great way to use up some leftover veggies in the fridge.

COOKIES | I rarely make cookies these days. I decided if we were going to consume giant circles of refined carbohydrates, I might as well outsource the cooking bit somewhere else. As a result, we don’t eat many cookies. But for the first few years Abby was in elementary school, I always made a fresh batch of cookies (or some other homemade treat) on Friday afternoons for when she arrived home. In honour of our fresh start, I whipped up a batch of chocolate chip cookies that were all ooey and gooey when the kids walked through the door after their first day of school. About this they had no complaints.

Flowers spotted at the end of a run. So pretty!

RUNNING | I’m trying to ramp up my running efforts ahead of my 5K next month. Though I haven’t been running a lot over the summer, I’ve averaged at least one run each week, almost always over 5 km. So, on paper, it shouldn’t be hard to increase output, but my ankles and knees are definitely protesting a bit.

I’ve done two runs with run-walk-run intervals (a huge shout-out to Jenny on this one!) and my splits are faster. Like 12 sec/km faster. I know this is an underlying message of this particular running strategy, but it was still shocking (and a bit embarrassing) that I run a kilometer faster…when I walk a portion of the distance.

In adorable running news, one of my partners has been Levi who has been very enthused about running lately. One night I came up from the office just as John was tucking him into bed. I mentioned casually I was headed out for a run and he pounced on the opportunity. Cue a change back into play clothes followed by a leisurely 3 km walk-run combo. (Never again, though. He came home hungry and spent 20 minutes eating, which required another round of teeth-brushing, followed by changing back into pajamas, then out for water etc., etc. It was very cute, logistical nightmares of bedtime routines aside).

SLEEP/MORNING ROUTINE | I remain committed to shutting off my light by 10:30 pm and, for the most part, it’s going well. My alarm goes off at 6:30 am. If sheer willpower could transform a person into a morning lark, I’d be up doing calisthenics on the front lawn by 4:30 am every day. Alas, I am not a morning person. No matter how many things I try to make it so. I don’t like mornings (anything before, say, 7:30 am = early to me). I also know conventional wisdom says things like “Don’t turn on your phone right away. Don’t check your e-mail when you get up.” Honestly, doing a quick check of e-mails and texts in the morning is about the best segue into my day I’ve found, and it means I can check at least one to-do off my list before we launch into the kids morning routine.

Is there room for improvement? Sure. But so far, I’m happy with the cadence we’re slowly settling in to.

And that’s a wrap. Happy weekending friends. Any fun plans for the next few days? Did anyone else launch school-age kids back into an academic year earlier this week?

Header photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

19 thoughts on “Casual Friday + Back to School”

  1. Yes, even though it ultimately a good thing, it can be a little hard to get back into the school routine. I used to make chocolate chip cookies on the first day of school, but haven’t in years. Maybe I should get back to that tradition!
    i’m so glad the run/walk intervals are working for you! We’ll have to keep comparing notes. I just used them on a run this morning and once again, my paces were faster than continuous running. Oh, you are so lucky Levi wants to run with you! I’ve never been able to get either of my kids into running. Then I go to 5K races and see a whole family running together- I’m so envious! I can see why it’s not a great bedtime activity though.

    1. Yes – running does sound like a fun family activity (up until now walking has definitely been a big family “thing”)…just not right before bed.

      I ended up doing my 4th run in 4 days this morning after not a great night of sleep…and my splits were not so great. BUT I’m committed to getting rested up over the weekend and I’m genuinely excited to keep going with the intervals. I could tell from the very first step I was exhausted, but once I started I didn’t want to stop. So I think it will be a great test on Monday when I’ve had 2 solid rest days to see just how much of a difference it can make on my split times 🙂

  2. Sounds like you had a good week overall! Transitions are hard for everyone, but especially the littles. I ran with my neighbor at 5:30 this morning and she was talking about how overtired her 4.5yo is now that she’s back in preschool. It made me glad we are not in the midst of a transition right now as I am traveling on and off for the next 6 weeks or so and it would just be extra hard to be away if the kids were adjusting to something new!

    So I would say I am a morning person, but not a SHU type who is up at like 5. In my line of work, our days start pretty early. Not as early as like an anesthesiologist but early versus more of my peers. Ideally we log in/get to work at 7:30, so that means leaving at 6:45 which requires a 5:45-6am wake up. That is manageable for me, but getting up around 5ish to workout feels so so so so so hard. I did it more before I moved in with Phil but since living with him, early morning workouts have been extra hard for me to do for some reason. But I did get up at 5:15 today and ran at 5:30 and it wasn’t awful. Although I don’t love running in the dark. But I will only do that with a friend. My neighbor isn’t as concerned w/ running in the dark but the recent abduction/murder of a runner has freaked me out a bit, even though I run in an extremely safe neighborhood. We saw sooo many runners this morning but you just never know… and I just don’t like running in the dark in general. I find it very disorientating!

    We don’t have much planned this weekend besides our usual library+gymnastics routine tomorrow morning. Then in the afternoon/evening we have our block party which I’m excited for! We have no plans for Sunday, though, so I need to come up with something because a plan-free day is not good at this stage of parenting…

    1. The Eliza Fletcher story is tragic! I don’t run in the dark at all anymore. I had a scary incident years ago and I stick to light hours only! Even in daylight, I try to stay on well-maintained trails with lots of human movement. Even if I’m out with a friend, we try to either use the indoor walking track (available again now that COVID restrictions are easing) or walk during daylight hours.

      Running by 5:30 am sounds awful to me. To be fair, my best running hours are between 7-9 pm, but it just doesn’t work for me anymore with the kids staying up later.

      I also miss the younger years a bit at this point because, as you point out, the summer schedule isn’t that different from the rest of the year. Preschool never had inservice days or even snow days, so it is a big shift going to public school. That said, there are lots of pluses to having older kids + more fluxuation in the schedules!

      Everyone seems reasonably happy at the end of Week 1. I feel absolutely exhausted, but Wed-Friday I pushed myself too hard on too many things – work, physical activity, renovation stress etc. I am SO excited for the weekend, but it’s nice to know on Monday there is a routine in place for the kids and I have adult-centered work responsibilities that make me feel like a grown up.

  3. Yay for back to routine! Next week I start teaching again, my younger son starts wrestling, and I have a parent meeting. Also it’s my younger son’s birthday next week and I think I’ll probably have a swarm of teen boys at my house Friday. So, busy busy! But good busy.

    1. Wow – a busy week ahead for you, Nicole. But it mostly sounds very fun.
      Easing back into structure can feel like pulling on a well-loved pair of favourite jeans.

  4. We are back from a very fun family reunion to find that at least four people there have tested positive for COVID, so we’re trying to stay away from people as much as possible, which is unfortunate since my husband started back up teaching this week. We are *trying* for routine, but it seems a tiny bit out of reach.

    I love the idea of starting each weekend with a batch of cookies when the kids get home from school! That sounds like an absolutely wonderful tradition. One of the things I like best about cookies is that it’s so easy to make a giant batch of dough and since you only need a handful of cookies at a time, you can freeze the batch and just keep baking off that one batch for a long time!

    1. Oh no! I know your husband wasn’t feeling good mid-way through the visit. Hope he didn’t end up with COVID. I’m so sorry and can definitely see how that will impact any return to routine.

      I don’t think I’ll actually start doing it every week again (though the kids would LOVE this)…mostly because then I’d have to exert some willpower to resist homemade goodies (boughten sweets don’t really tempt me that much). But maybe once a month?

  5. back to school brings normalcy right? and time to be alone. Glad to hear you are enjoying your walk/runs, it makes running so much easier. sometimes when I find a run hard, I tell myself I can take a walk break after few miles… usually I don’t need after the first few miles but when I do, the next few miles always become easier. I think the reason is that it allows our HR to go down a bit, making it less hard.
    I love baking cookies with the girls on weekends, it’s such a fun activity and everybody gets a treat for the week. For us, we usually just follow any recipe with 1/2 of the sugar.

  6. I am so happy for you that you feel like you’re settling back into a routine. As much as we enjoy “carefree” summers, it’s always nice to get back to a more structured week.

    It sounds like you’re ready for your 5k. And there is definitely something to be said about the run/walk methog!!
    Oh, and how sweet that Levi wanted to run with you (although I understand that it was not the best time of day!).
    I’d definitely call myself a morning person, but that does not mean I “enjoy” getting up before 6 a.m. – in fact, if I don’t set an alarm, my natural wakeup time is more at like 8 am. However, I do enjoy starting my daily early… I enjoy working out in the morning (I used to be an evening runner!) and I also start work early (at 7:30 am most days).

    P.S. The cosmos flowers are beautiful – one of my favorites!

    1. I didn’t know the name of those flowers until I walked by the same patch a few days later with a friend and she said “I love cosmos flowers.” I learn something new every day!
      And yes – while I don’t think of myself as an EARLY morning person, I love being productive any time after 8:30!

  7. So happy for you that the KIDS ARE BACK TO SCHOOL! I know how much you’re needing this return to normalcy and routine and just a break from it all. I love the fresh cookies. I haven’t made cookies in a while like that. I work from home, so there’s really no reason I couldn’t whip up a batch to have waiting for them some day. I should plan that! They would love the surprise, because I definitely don’t do that often. Our kids are pretty big fans of brownies (just a boxed mix, usually….), so I try to keep those on hand now and then. It’s a nice quick activity for them to do, too, if they’re feeling a bit bored. They are definitely old enough to make some baked goods on their own now, too! (Though I am sure they’d prefer mom just did it for them, lol.)

    I’m definitely more of a morning person- I LOVE being up and alone in the house before everyone else is. I literally live for that ~hour each day! But, that being said, I’ve never been one to go to bed super early, either, which is problematic. Basically, I want at least an hour of quiet in the morning, and I want at least an hour of quiet at night after the kids go to bed, but….. that is unrealistic with teenagers!! Can’t have it on both ends, really. My “bedtime” is 10:30 p.m. and my alarm usually goes off at 5:30 (though I’ve been aiming for 5:15 now that the boys start school earlier and are up earlier… if I don’t get up earlier, they start encroaching on my time by 6:30 or so!). I’ve never fully understood the people who want to be in bed by 8:30 or 9 pm every night! I mean, I can see how the sleep is nice, but I like having time to wind down and just relax a while. My kids aren’t usually in bed by 9! Our new rule (that I’m borrowing from LVK, because it sounded good for us too!) is in their rooms by 9, lights out by 9:30. In theory, my husband and I should then have from ~9/9:30- 10:30 to watch a show, hang out, etc. I also don’t fully relate to situations where people spend an hour or more reading before bed… not because that doesn’t sound nice, it does! But for me, that’s really the only time in the day that I have for my husband. He’s not home until 6 from work, and then we are usually busy with the kids or dinner or driving somewhere or whatever. It’d be a long week if I didn’t spend any real time with him until Friday! So although it means I read less than others, I don’t usually just sit and read before bed. (I also find that I get VERY SLEEPY if I try to read right before bed, while laying down, anyway.) I actually LOVE crawling into bed next to my husband and flipping on a Netflix or other series show… sometimes I literally sigh out loud out of contentedness and have said, “ahhhh, yes…..”, because it just feels SO GOOD to settle in on my 3 big pillows propped up, lights out, good show on, after a long busy day…… I just love it. 🙂 (sometimes it can require some willpower to not hit “next episode”, though, if it’s bedtime….)

    1. I also love finishing the day watching Netflix together. We do this OFTEN.
      I also like time at both ends, but I just can’t do the early mornings. Hence why I was getting so little sleep over the summer, especially on our roadtrip! I was always staying up late to carve out the quiet time.
      That said, the kids don’t come out of their rooms for the day until 7 am, so I’ve been getting 30 minutes to ease into the day before we launch the school/work prep. It’s not as nice as a full hour or more, but it’s a good place to start.

  8. It sounds like you have had a busy week, I hope the weekend has been an oasis of calm, a balance to the busyness of your week. I hear you getting back into a routine. We are not quite there with that yet, this week will be our first week of a new rhythm which has come together over the last few days, thankfully very easily.

    I seem to have missed your soup post, sorry I got a bit behind with blog reading. I make alot of soup and now that the temperatures are slowly dropping that will be back on the menu. Some favourites here are leek and potato, spicy butternut squash and peanut butter, sweet potato, sage and miso, pea and pesto and courgette and brie. I am going to have a go at making more stews this autumn/winter as we head to our first cool period with a slow cooker. I will throw everything in there in the morning ready for an evening meal later on a busy afternoon when we need to walk in and put a meal straight on the table.

    I have had one of those weekends when you get loads done, all those itty bitty jobs that tend to get sidelined. I have cleared the longest to do list which has felt rather marvellous. Hope the week ahead is a good one xx

    1. The butternut squash and peanut butter soup sounds SO good; maybe you can e-mail me a recipe?!

      Another goal of mine for this fall is to find a great stew recipe (and use my slowcooker more; other than chili, I rarely use it.)

      Systematically tackling lingering to-do’s is such a wonderful feeling.

  9. YAY! So happy the kids are back in school and routine is returning to your life. That must make you have a big sense of relief. 🙂 My mom was a working mom who worked outside the home, and whenever I read books about kids whose moms would have a plate of cookies waiting for them when they got home from school, I was so jealous! So I love that you are making this little tradition work for your family! What a fun memory your kids will have. <3

    1. Yes! It has been nice to get back to routine, though they’re off today for the Queen’s funeral, again this Friday, and twice next week. Sigh. It’s hard to get into much of a routine with that sort of schedule!

  10. Cookies are awesome. A return – somewhat – to routine is a sigh of relief. And, the hidden gem in here? That you are on the “last of [our] renovation work”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What a lovely gift that must be. Although, I do hope that Fiona did not derail what has been done – delay, perhaps, what has yet to be finished, but hopefully not derailing completely.
    I know that it hasn’t been sunshine and rainbows – as I’ve seen some more recent posts – but I also know that you will find your equilibrium.
    Oh! And I didn’t mention the running. Go, you! Consistency is awesome. You so totally got this. (Again, assuming that the race comes off as planned given the whole, well, Fiona thing…) Take good care… thinking of you.

    1. Yes! We are so close to being done. Mostly just little aesthetic and functional updates we’ll do ourselves (hang art back up on the walls of the rebuilt entryway etc). And no damage from Fiona!
      I have NOT been running as regularly as I’d like, but at least I do aim to move everyday and have stuck with that 1 km daily walk since January 1st!

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