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College-bound kids empty our nest

With two kids moving into college dorms, I'm feeling weepy and looking as pathetic as the "Homeless Pet of the Week."

It's not empty-nest syndrome. It's the larval stage of that affliction: plundered-nest syndrome. My daughter packed up the only hair dryer, hair curlers, and hand mirror in the house. I have a unibrow, but no tweezers. I have a bleak pallor, but no blush.

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Every time I look around, I miss my grown-up kids - or my alarm clock, spare hangers, AA batteries, calculator, laundry detergent, or stash of Dr. Pepper.

I should have prepared for this. I should have bought the 24-pack of toilet paper on sale for $4.99. I should have socked away a spare toenail clipper. I should have known my duo would pack in laundry baskets and leave me wandering around the house with armloads of unfolded clothes.

"Is this the best we can do for towels?" their father asked the other night, as he fished a bleach-bitten scrap from my arms.

I nodded toward a roll of paper towels.

"Get used to it," I said. "Your sock drawer has been liquidated, too."

An eerie quiet swamps the house. That's because our son took one TV, and our daughter took the other, leaving us with a crotchety black-and-white with rabbit ears. It can't hold a channel, but makes a dandy flat surface for holding other stuff, such as laundry.

It's amazing what simple acts can trigger the pangs of plundered-nest syndrome. For example: having to substitute a pair of underwear for a missing shower cap, or having to thread an ugly orange extension cord through two rooms to substitute for a missing power strip.

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As I replenish the nest with microwave-safe dishes, spare pillows, and such, I remind myself that time will ease the sting of plundered-nest syndrome.

I hope it happens before the little darlings pop back home for a visit and find something else - such as the coffee pot or this computer - to cart away.