This year I’ve been on a yard sale rampage — not shopping them, but donating to them. For S.’s school this coming weekend, I’m cleaning out the garage: from kiddie sleds to the human-powered lawnmower that my husband despises, I’m putting together quite the carload. And there’s a bake sale too, which means I’m lightening the freezer’s load to the tune of a few dozen cookies.

Though I haven’t seen the stash yet, my guess is that this will be a great sale, since 75 families are contributing clothing, electronics, household items and toys to it. So come on over to the corner of Victor and 11th on Saturday (Oct. 24) and shop the Soulard School’s first community-wide rummage sale from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.


I love, love, love, love the first day of school — all the excitement in the air! — and this year I’m blessed to be celebrating it four times. Yep, four. Aug. 17: M.’s first day of first grade. Aug. 22: S.’s first day of Spanish immersion preschool. Today, Sept. 2: the first day at the Soulard School, where I was in charge of back-to-school gift bags for the staff. And tomorrow, Sept. 3: S.’s first day in the Soulard School preschool.

I love fall in general, and I’m so pleased that my kids are sharing my anticipating about the changing seasons this year. S. is a little overboard, as always, asking when we can jump in leaves and when the pumpkins will be orange and when, when when! I’m mostly looking forward to breaking out my football purse, which I only carry between the first week of the season and the Super Bowl.

And this year we’re all excited about The Great Godfrey Corn Maze, which opens on Friday (Sept. 4). Most years Labor Day wouldn’t feel like fall, but this year I think it will, given that the kids are wearing jackets at the bus stop at 7:15 a.m.! If you’re not familiar with the maze, here’s the deal: It consists of two paths cut into a 7-acre cornfield in Glazebrook Park. Every weekend until Halloween, it’s open — with many special events, spooky happenings, outdoor movies, etc. In fact, the kick-off event on Friday features a screening of The Tale of Despereaux at dusk, around 7:30 p.m. The maze opens at 6 p.m.

The homepage is a valuable source of directions, discount coupons, events and other info, or you can call 618.466.1483, the Godfrey Parks and Recreation Department. Prices are $6 for adults, $4 for kids ages 6 to 11, and free for 5 and under.

When our family was shopping around for a preschool, it was exhausting.  OK, that might be because I was four months pregnant at the time, but even under the best of circumstances, remembering all the details and personalities and comparing all the offerings takes a lot of mental oomph.  For the parents, that is — for the kids it’s like a progressive indoor playtime.  M. LOVED checking out schools.  Still does, in fact, although we plan to keep him at The Soulard School, where he’s been in the program for a year and a half now.  It’s a relatively new, Montessori-based school with only about 80 students in pre-K through sixth grade (with a combined classroom for the upper grades).  He’s the type who wants everyone to know who he is and what his thoughts are, so its size suits him perfectly.  And if you come to the open house this Saturday, Jan. 26, from 1 to 4 p.m., he will tell you ALL ABOUT his classroom, the Subjunctive Room. As one of the student ambassadors, he has the job of talking your leg off.  And that he can, I promise!  The address is 1110 Victor; for details, call 314.865.2799.

The following day is the open house of The Soulard School’s partner for sports programs, St. Frances Cabrini Academy.   Also located just south of downtown, it’s a Catholic school where religion is taught but is not a factor in who attends.  I like its emphasis on arts, music and Spanish for all grades; I also like that it’s a multicultural environment thanks to a diverse student body.  It’s a relatively new school too; a few years ago Notre Dame Elementary merged with another Catholic school, St. Pius V.  That’s where my next-door neighbors sent their kids to school, and my favorable impression of Cabrini stems partly from the good things I heard about St. Pius V.  It’s at 3022 Oregon Ave.; the phone is 314.776.0883.

If you aren’t looking for a school but have preschoolers who like to bounce, check out Cabrini’s Little Scholar Athletes Day on Saturday, Feb. 2.  (A caveat:  It’s advertised as being for South Side families, although I’m not sure they’ll be checking residency.)   From 10 a.m. to noon, kids age 2 to 5 can bounce, play sports, work on crafts, and chill out with a storyteller.