This week Kate started fourth grade.

Her school is big–more than 850 students in grades 4-7–but the staff has absolutely gone overboard in placing the kids in small groups, helping them navigate both the ginormous building and their own class schedules, and making sure the kids know the members of their own classes well. (This last bit has resulted in Kate complaining three days in a row about having to play icebreaker games with an annoying kid named Gareth who calls her “tall Kate.” I pointed out that she IS tall and he was merely stating facts, but she and her new friends (new friends!) have decided they can’t stand him.)

Kate also learned to navigate the bus, which picks her up at 7:10 a.m. and deposits her in front of the driveway at 3 p.m. Did I cry the first (and, oh, let’s just admit it) and second day she got on the bus? Maybe a little.

Meanwhile back at the home office, I couldn’t deal with the lack of lighting and air circulation any more, so I got myself a ceiling fan. It’s fabulous, with the exception of the five holes they had to cut into the ceiling to get access, but those will be repaired soon enough.

Tomorrow, Sophia starts Kindergarten. She’s more than ready, considering she’s already reading at a first-grade level, writing, and doing algebra. (Kidding about that last part, but the rest of it is true.) I’m excited for her, too, but there will probably be a few more tears shed after I drop her off for her reduced-hours first week. She’ll start taking the bus the following week, and Kate has already pledged to protect, watch over, and boss her to death on the way to and from school.

I’ve been looking at our landscaping and thinking lately that our yard’s best feature is certainly not the weird hillside plantings of crazy-thorny bushes that the former owners put in, but the wooded sections they left intact in the front and the back. So my new idea is to just let the yard go wild–literally. Derek’s not exactly on board yet, since we’re smack in the middle of the sort of suburbia where people diamond-mow their grass and painstakingly blow the cut grass out of the street and spend hours weeding, trimming, cutting and digging so entropy and nature don’t take over.

And then we go to the mountains, reachable by a mere 10-minute drive south, and I say, “Isn’t this lovely? Don’t you want our yard to look like this?” And Derek mumbles something about ticks and snakes, hoping to scare me off.

This month is my 35th birthday and Derek’s and my 12-year anniversary. We are going to take a romantic trip to Memphis for the anniversary (and if you’re not already laughing, you should be, because there is nothing romantic about Memphis, as far as I’ve seen) to attend the installation of our new District President, a good friend of Derek’s. I actually kind of dislike Memphis and would rather go eat at Dancing Bear Lodge in Townsend, but we’ll save that for lucky thirteen and this year enjoy a dozen years and a dozen uninterrupted hours on the road to Memphis and back.

Load the car and write the note
grab your bag and grab your coat
tell ones that need to know
we are headed north west.

 CORRECTION 8/6/12: Having just returned from the parents’ lunch at Sophia’s kindergarten, I learned that they will, actually, be learning a bit of algebra this year. So I wasn’t too far off on that after all.