Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

School Days

by Stephanie Black

My youngest daughter started kindergarten yesterday. It’s official. All my children are in school. Two elementary schoolers (kindergarten and 4th grade), one middle schooler (7th grade), one high schooler (11th grade) and one college student.


When we were in the baby/toddler/preschooler phase, it was a waaaay distant thing to imagine all the kids being in school, even more far-distant than imagining that golden day—oh joy!—when our oldest child would be old enough to babysit our younger children. And wowie, that one was an awesome milestone. In the Pre-Built-in-Babysitter days we didn’t go out a lot. Now, with three babysitting-age kids, going on a date is usually as easy as saying “See ya” and walking out the door (and maybe sticking a pan of frozen-something from Costco in the oven—or telling them to do it—for their dinner). Having older kids around is awesome. Yeah, tiny kids are cute and cuddly and non-hormonal, but older kids can babysit!

This past weekend was a whirlwind trip to Utah to drop my oldest daughter at BYU (Erk! We’re one babysitter down!). We left Friday evening around 7:30. My husband realized he forgot his sunglasses. We returned to the house. We left again. My daughter realized she’d forgotten her beloved insulated cup. We returned again. It was then my turn to forget something, but I dropped the ball and remembered everything I wanted to bring, because I’m just that organized. Ha ha! In my dreams! But in this case, I did have my stuff: giant jar of Jelly Bellies, check; iPod, check; P.G. Wodehouse audio book of Jeeves short stories, check, what ho.

It was actually a sad trip for audio books. I had browsed the selection at the library and chosen a few that I thought would interest both my husband and me. Of the three I brought, we liked one (the Wodehouse). The second I’d had hopes for because it was by an author I like, but the opening was so boring that we gave up after not too long. Good heavens, man, get to the story! And the next one was a big historical-type thing, and also had a boring beginning and then was kinda unappealing in general, and we didn’t make it past the first CD. But it was a peaceful trip—funny how that works when the only offspring in the car is eighteen years old. We spent the night in Reno, then got to Provo early Saturday evening, then left Sunday morning after snapping a few pictures of my daughter on campus. It’s about a twelve-hour trip each way, so it was a lot of Nevada in a short period of time, but I’m pretty sure the pioneers don’t feel sorry for us in our padded, air-conditioned vehicle.

We did slip in a quick trip to Seagull Book while we were in Utah. I hadn’t yet seen Methods of Madness on the shelf (we have a Seagull about half an hour away, but I haven’t been up there since the book’s release), so when my sister-in-law said there was a Seagull right next to the Wal-Mart we were planning to visit to buy laundry soap and what-all for my daughter, well, of course I wanted to stop in. It was so much fun to see a big display of my books—that’s such a thrill. For years, whenever I'd visit LDS bookstores, I'd yearn to have my own book on the shelf, and now that dream has come true. So I had my daughter take some pictures, and the staff probably thought I was wacko, but they were so sweet and said nice things about my book and I signed the books they had in stock and it was totally fun. So to the lovely ladies at the Lindon Seagull, you are awesome!

And, of course, Seagull is filled with books that I’d love to buy, but it would be dashed awkward, don’t you know (did I mention we listened to Wodehouse on the trip?) if I were to empty the family coffers into the till at Seagull, leaving nothing but a piece of lint and a handful of euro coins from our Ireland days to pay the bills. So I chose one book—Josi Kilpack’s English Trifle. I really enjoyed Lemon Tart—rushed to nominate it for a Whitney Award as soon as I read it—and I’d heard English Trifle is even better, so I’m looking forward to reading it.

And now, I've got two hours and ten minutes left until I need to go pick up my daughter from kindergarten, so I'd better get to work on my own book.


At 8/26/2009 2:41 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

Whenever we take a road trip, I make a point of making a mix CD or two. Usually, I make one of my own favorites of the past year and then I try to come up with stuff specifically for my wife. (Much harder) On longer trips, then, we can listen to past trip CDs. It's fun for me. =)

Out of curiosity, what flavors go into your jellybean jar? I'd go with Juicy Pear, Tutti Frutti, Tangerine and Pink Grapefruit (if I can find it)

At 8/26/2009 3:06 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

That's a fun idea with the CDs!

This was a massive, Costco jar with all the flavors. I love grapefruit and pear--yum. Watermelon is good too. Isn't Tutti Frutti the speckled one that tastes like bubble gum?

At 8/26/2009 3:56 PM, Anonymous mean aunt said...

The super Targets have bulk jellybellies by flavor. mmmm, pear

You should listen to Wodehouse's Uncle Fred in the Springtime. But not on a plane--you'll be laughing so hard your fellow passengers will tie you up with their belts.

At 8/26/2009 4:17 PM, Blogger Josi said...

Wow, Steph, I'm so flattered. I hope it's worth the precious time you'll take to read it--and CONGRATS on the no-kids-at-home thing. That was a beautiful year for me!

As for Jellybellies, I'm a juicy pear girl--start to finish :-)

At 8/26/2009 4:44 PM, Blogger Tamara Hart Heiner said...

if the beginning's boring...I'm outta there. I didn't realize I needed to check out several audio books in the hopes of finding one good one. I'll remember that on my next trip. On the last one, I jsut listened the to one I had. NOthing better to do! (You kind of think, "This person got published and is a bestselling author. Their book must be stellar.") Huh. No accounting for tastes. (In this case it might be my tastes that are off.)

And EEK! Off to BYU land! I get so excited when I hear that, as if I could jump back ten years and do it all over again! b/c I would!!! Happy happy times.

Ah yes, five more years until we have a built-in babysitter. All right, 8 might be a little young. We'll give him six more years.

At 8/26/2009 4:47 PM, Blogger Anna Buttimore said...

Stephanie, I am completely with you on the kids babysitting thing! On Friday my eldest turns 14 - legal babysitting age here - and hubby and are are darn well going out to celebrate! My littlest starts school next week too! She's only 4 and her uniform looks huge of her, but she's so cute in it!

I would love to read English Trifle too, and not just because I am one. AND I would love to see my book on a shelf someday. Apart from in my own home, I mean.

At 8/26/2009 7:25 PM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Stephanie, Lindon Seagull is MY local Seagull! I go there all the time and the ladies are awesome! I wish I would have known you were in town. Congrats on the college student and kindergartner. I'm hearing great things about Methods of Madness. I can't wait to read it myself. :)

At 8/27/2009 12:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there a sample chapter from Methods of Madness you can read online?

At 8/27/2009 11:41 AM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Anon, there isn't one yet, but I'll try to get one up on my website later today ( Thanks for asking.

Julie, that is so cool! Wish I could have seen you!

At 8/27/2009 4:28 PM, Blogger Anna said...

My first starts kindergarten on Monday. I am both excited and nervous. I can see why moms have a hard time with it. You go from childless with no 100% dependence on you to being with kids almost 24/7. Then they grew up a little and you have to give up a few hours each day with them. I am excited for a little more breathing room, but definately a little sad that my kiddo is getting bigger.

I guess that's the beauty of it all though. It's sad to see them grow up, but it's exciting when they are old enough to babysit. Gotta find the joy in each stage and enjoy it.


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