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Susan Wanderer has worked with families in kids ministry for 20 years, with the last ten years serving as Kids Minister at Mount Ararat Church in Stafford. Susan and her husband Ed reside in Fredericksburg and have three amazing kids who joined their family in 2011 and who fill their days with adventure. Come join the conversation over at 

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My Stomping Grounds

Back to School

Four years ago on a hot, beautiful day on a cozy front porch in Ethiopia, I became mom to three incredibly beautiful kids. From the moment I heard my children say "Mommmeeee!" in their delicious Amharic-Accent, I knew I was ALL IN and completely in love.

This week my kids stepped their toes into the first week of first grade, fourth grade and tenth grade.

Five years ago, I had no clue about the many emotions that arrive during this back-to-school season. Before my kids arrived home in America, I saw parents walk through the Target-Back-To-School Section with glazed-over-eyes, zombie-ish in their pursuit of fresh-smelling-school-supplies. As I sipped my Starbucks Chai, while pushing my red basket, I curiously watched them. I didn't understand the very real panic that nestled its way into the nerves of these moms and dads.

Now I know. Now I believe. Now I understand the turmoil.
"Where are the two pocket folders with brads? This folder only has brads and no pockets! What will I do? Will the teacher even allow my child in the classroom if I can't find these pockets that they INSIST exist? Marbled-only composition notebooks? I only see solid colors. What is so special about the marble?!"

Four years later, I am in my own annual state of Parental-Emotional-Frenzy. One moment I'm cheering with my flabby-woman-arms that my cherubs are heading back to school (hallelujah!), and the next moment I'm teary eyed that they are growing up too fast. When mid-August arrives, I honestly feel like I need medication and a good counselor.

For a moment I thought it was just us adoptive-mamas that fall apart like this: "My kids are growing up too fast and they haven't even been in my home that long... I've only got a few more years with them and before I know it they'll be GONE and I'll FORGET WHAT THEY EVEN SOUND LIKE." (all-said-in-one-emotional-slightly-sobbing-breath)

Then I noticed, while in the Back-To-School-Section, a sweet-looking mom who was a hot mess about college ruled vs. wide ruled. "I'm going to blink and you will need COLLEGE RULED PAPER!" She then gathered herself together and placed her wide-ruled paper gently in her cart while exhaling a comforting breath toward her fifth grade daughter. Her daughter, as If on cue, rolled her eyes and exhaled: "Oh good grief, MOM."

They're growing up, moms and dads. And while summer was a blast of excitement, non-scheduled fun, vacations, sunburns, chlorine and lazy days of not knowing what time it is... this new season has made room for routines, number 2 pencils, field trips, sports-mom-swag, homework, tests, book reports, projects, early-morning-wake-ups and parent/teacher conferences. I may just go burn a mulled-spice candle and hang a fall wreath on my door simply because the nostalgia of the moment is JUST THAT THICK in the air.

We have arrived to another new season, parents! We can make it through another glorious year of elementary school inquisitiveness, middle school drama and high school independence!

Grab your chai and embrace the nostalgia.

Emotions, school supplies and all.

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Pouches' Community Corner

Smart Beginnings Rappahannock Area Splash EventMassadYMCA

For the past seven years, Smart Beginnings has thrown the Splash Pool Party fundraiser. This summer, the event will be held on June 24, 2018 from 6:30-9:30 pm at the Steve & Cheri Thurston Water Park at the Massad Family YMCA. Tickets range in price from $12 for a single ticket, $20 for couples and $35 for a family/group of four and each ticket also covers a hot dog, bag of chips and a drink.