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When I was a kid, I cherished the start of the school year. Fresh crayons; the faintly chemical scent of new markers; stiff, chalk-white notebooks that suggested hard work and promise. That feeling lasted for a few short weeks, until the binders no longer held their intended single subject and my locker filled with stray paperclips. And so began the long, slow march until June.

My kids didn’t inherit the same love-of-back-to-school gene. They don’t light up at the first sounds of back-to-school jingles in late August. Those August days are lazy days. Days when the big decision is whether to swim in the lake or snoop around the backyard for bugs. Anything that puts a damper on that lifestyle isn’t welcome, no matter how good the markers smell.

School means a lot of things. Of course there are friendships to rekindle and shiny new teachers, but there are also schedules, after-school classes, and the mad rush for dinner. It’s busy season, no way around it. At least for nine more months.

Last week, as I watched as friends post Facebook pictures of eager faces with hand-painted signs (First day of K!), I had a looming sense of dread that my three little ones’ spirits might not be so bright. Although spending a Summer at the lake – which held little in terms of structured activity – took some patience, it was a bonding experience for all. 

So it was with equal parts sadness, excitement, and trepidation that I walked the kids to their new classes last week. Brand new outfits had been laid out the night before to dampen the nerves. If crayons couldn’t get them going, maybe new cotton could.

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With a big hug, I kissed Lauren and Sam goodbye…

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And snuck off with Emma to a local French bakery.

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It’ll be our little secret that Preschool doesn’t start until next week. The backpack? Let’s assume that it was more of a training backpack. Her choice, not mine. Next week she’ll be a full-blown Preschooler, backpack and all; until then, we hang…

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We haven’t been to the High Line since the Spring, and it’s a favorite spot of ours. A great place to kill a few hours before Sam’s half-day pick-up.

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On a hot day, it’s handy that food vendors line the park. We pit-stopped for some Mexican ice pops – passion fruit for her, spicy mango chile for me. Like all ice pops, they tend to do that hot weather thing…

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Pick-up time nearing, we headed back to school…

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….where we greeted Sam who was still not his usual chatty self.

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Things got better when he found a rogue lollipop rolling around in the bottom of his empty backpack. Which I’d say is a pretty big score for the first day of school.

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It felt good to reunite the team and head to the park for some well-needed play time.

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Although someone was still lost in thought…

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Until I broke out the bathing suits. Now this is the kid I remember…

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To celebrate the end of a good, but long day…

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I missed the old routine. Yes, it’s a routine, but it’s a good routine.

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Later that afternoon we picked up a beaming, grown-up Second grader who couldn’t be happier about her new teacher.

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Lauren collage

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I want to thank Old Navy for making this special day even sweeter by supplying the clothing and accessories shown in this post.

And in the spirit of this back-to-school season, I’ve teamed up with Old Navy to bring you a fantastic giveaway too – over $200 in value for one lucky reader – a $150 gift card to use on whatever you’d like, plus a pretty sweet accessories package. (Entry details at the bottom of this post.)

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So for those of you sending kids off to school this year, best of luck. If fresh markers don’t work, remember that fresh threads do the trick too.

And for those of you without school year commitments, may September bring you cooler temps, and an equally fresh spirit that’ll take you through until next Summer.

All the best…

To enter the giveaway, click the blue link below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway details: The package includes a 1. $150 dollar Old Navy gift card and a fabulous accessories package including: 2. 1 pair oversized black sunglasses, 3. 1 floppy fedora hat in Pinot, and 4.  1 black floral printed scarf. In all, a $200 value.  This giveaway is open to Canadian + US residents only and will end on 09/15/2014 at 10PM EST. I will choose the winner using Rafflecopter, which draws a winner at random. I will contact you via email and you will have 48 hours to respond with your contact information or I will choose a new winner.

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Disclaimer: all clothing worn in the post provided by Old Navy. Please note that bathing suits worn at the park are from a previous season and not available online.

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