Back-to-School Cookies and Back-to-School Crazy

These are the times that try moms’ souls.

Actually, most people to whom I’ve mentioned school starting have given me a wink and a smile and sung a snatch of “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” But I tend to have a more blubbering reaction.

Today in the car I made the (huge) mistake of playing a few measures of Rosemary Clooney’s “Turn Around.” Do you know this song? If you have children, and unless you need a good cry, stay away from it. I was bawling 30 seconds in and had to turn it off. The lyrics are something like, “Where have you gone, my little one? My own? Where are you going, my baby? Turn around and you’re two, turn around, and you’re four, turn around, turn around, and you’re a young girl, going out the front door…”

OMG please. I might as well treat myself to a double feature of Beaches and Steel Magnolias. (Which I did once, with my best friend. We went through a box of tissues.)

Am I the only one who breaks down at things like this? We had a realtor once who liked to give her clients a copy of her favorite book, Love You Forever, when they had a baby. She gave us a copy when Sally was born. How sweet! I thought. WRONG. The book starts out very nicely and is very sweet, with a funny little recurring love message as the baby grows into a boy and then a man…Until you get to the end and the mom DIES. I mean, OK, she’s a very old lady and she calls her baby home to her, where he rocks her in his arms and sings her the same little love song she always sang to him, so it’s about the enduring love between parent and child and the circle of life but still… I just. can’t. take. it. Even typing this I get tears in my eyes.

Naturally when Sally was a baby, Dr. Awesome thought I was a crazy post-partum hormonal mess and that if he just tucked the book away on a shelf for a few months, it wouldn’t induce sobbing so easily. ALSO WRONG.

I donated it. Then we had Pete, our Baby Boo, and the realtor dropped by with another copy. Very sweet. But I still couldn’t read it. It got donated.

Anyway, for a blubbering cry-baby like me, the start of the school year is bittersweet for several reasons.

The end of sleeping in.
Summer has been one long lazy day around here. It’s been great. The kids were up until 9:30 every night (back when I only had Sally and had read all the sleep books I basically considered that child abuse) but slept in until 8:30 every day. Then they would run around and play upstairs for an hour while I lounged, randomly bounced on by a passing baby, until almost 9:30 myself. Somewhere in there Dr. Awesome would fall out of bed and go to work, but the kids and I never really noticed. We trooped downstairs in our pajamas and were usually breakfasting at 10. Oh, the life!

Now we have to get up at 6:15 in order to get ourselves together and get out the door on time. There is an adjustment period to this as we bring their bedtime back down to a reasonable hour. Here is an exhibit of the early-morning crankies.

20180827_074221A First Day of School Picture?! Forget it, Mommy. Talk to my lawyer.

The end of breathing easy (literally).
It’s also been a fantastic summer for the asthmatic among us. I think we’ve had to use Pete’s inhaler all of three times in the last three months, and never for a serious reason. But, with school comes school germs. Sally started First Grade less than a week ago and the entire family has our first cold in 12 weeks. A nasty virus with burning throats, wet coughs, fevers, and of course, one wee-hours asthma attack that left three of us anxious and exhausted.

Thank God– and I mean that– for asthma medicines. As I lie next to my sleeping baby, stroking his head and listening to him lightly wheeze (an improvement over the gasping and croupy cough that woke him up) I always think about the mothers who don’t have medicine for their babies, and the terror and suffering they must feel. I pray for them, and even in the midst of my anxiety (Will the medicine take effect? When will the doctor call me back? Will we end up at the ER? Will this happen tomorrow night?) I am grateful.

The onset of homework. For me.
Here we are, in First Grade already. We discussed possibly getting Sally a desk for her room…and then we found out that her new teacher doesn’t believe in homework. Hurray, because neither do I! They’re in school for seven hours already, and you want them to do more at home? I don’t think so, lady. They’ve got living to do!

Except, now I am the one with homework. I noticed that when we started Kindergarten. All of the sudden it’s “sign this by tomorrow,” “fill out this for the PTO,” “volunteer here, send money there,” and on and on. Most of it is valuable and important, of course. But so was my Calculus homework way back when. And I complained about doing it, too.

I bet right around now you are asking, “Weren’t there supposed to be cookies in this post somehow?” YES! Here they are.

I wanted to make Sally’s first week special by slipping some homemade goodies in her snack and lunch bag. Pete doesn’t start preschool until after Labor Day, and he has already demanded that I make these again. (Because it’s been six days and they are gone, of course.) I pointed out that he doesn’t have to take a snack or lunch to preschool. That was not a good enough reason, he decided, so I’ll be making these again tomorrow. I based this recipe on an old familiar standby; you know, the one on the back of the bag. But I think it has enough changes to warrant inclusion here.

You will love these if, like me, you relish a chocolate-chip oatmeal cookie. Or a chocolate-dipped oatmeal cookie, the greatest of which is a McVities Hob Nob, if you ask me, which also (if you happen to be my husband reading this) are available at the World Market not far from our house and would be a great romantic surprise next time you have the car… just saying. Where was I?

These cookies have walnuts in them. Don’t take them to a nut-free campus! I used the nuts to replace part of the butter and sugar and to up the brain-food quotient of these dubiously nutritious snacks. If you need to, omit the walnuts and… you know… just follow the recipe on the bag.


Back-to-School Cookies

Makes about 4-and-a-half dozen if you use a tablespoon scoop and have kicked everyone else out of the kitchen.

Necessary: a food processor. Cookie sheets. An oven at 375⁰F.

Handy-Dandy: a mixer. Although usually I prefer to mix cookies by hand, it’s easier to keep sticky little fingers out of the bowl if the paddle attachment, not you, is beating them off.


3/4 cup raw walnut pieces

1 cup dark brown sugar, packed

6 T softened, salted butter

2 T neutral cooking oil, like grapeseed

1 egg and 1 flax egg: 1 T flaxseed meal dissolved in 3 T water

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 tsp each salt and baking soda

2 cups all-purpose flour

12-oz package semi-sweet chocolate chips

3/4 cup toasted old-fashioned oats


Method to the Madness

  1. Preheat the oven. Pulverize the walnuts in the food processor until they look like wet sand.
  2. Cream the butter with the walnuts and sugar. Add the oil, egg, flax egg, vanilla, and salt. Beat until combined. Turn off mixer and scrape down the sides.
  3. Beat in the baking soda. Alternately, you could sift the salt and baking soda into the flour separately before you add it. But this is faster and doesn’t dirty a sifter.
  4. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides. Gently pour the flour over top and turn the mixer on low to combine. Or turn it on high if you need to powder your nose.
  5. Dump in the oats and chips. This is right about the time I thought, “Hey, this would be a yummy blog post,” and finally remembered to snap a picture.


  6. Stir in the chocolate chips and oats by hand.


  7. Steal some.

    So fast, I almost didn’t catch him.

  8. Use a cookie scoop or tablespoon to make even-sized cookies. These will not flatten as they bake. Dr. Awesome and I liked them rounded. Sally requested “normal” ones, so I flattened the next batch a bit with my hands before baking.

    Batch 1 before baking.

  9. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes. Cool 2 minutes on the sheet, then move to a rack. These are soft out of the oven but, especially if stored in the fridge over a few days, tend to get harder and crunchier. But no one complained. (Until they were gone.)

    Sally enjoys a “normal” shaped cookie.

    Bitsy thought the rounder ones were just fine.



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