Back to school 2014

I waiver between “Damn it, summer is over,” and “Yay, thank God they are gone again!” Mostly I feel the first emotion because, let’s be honest, I love summer and HATE getting up before 7:00 if I can help it. Cora is also currently walking around and whining. It’s going to be a big transition to have her ‘my Simon’ gone all day.

Related: I just pulled Kit-Kat’s head out of the cat box. I just can’t wait to deal with her all day!

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Simon is going into 5th grade and his final year at Deerfield. His teacher is Ms. Heart. Bennett is going into 1st grade and his teacher is Mrs. Bland. It’s so hard to wrap my mind around these facts. Weren’t we just starting kindergarten with Simon? How is this possible?

Regardless, have a great day at school boys! I will see you in 7 hours while my kitchen stays spotless and not a single child yells at another.

Previous back to school: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009.

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A mother’s dream

When I went back to work last year, I had a terrible time volunteering at Simon’s school. It was just too difficult to drag Cora Jane and Bennett inside, only to feel like I couldn’t concentrate on anything but keeping them out of stuff. I did a few small projects at home, but there just weren’t enough hours in each day.image
This year with Bennett being in school and Cora turning two? Well HOT DOG. Let’s do this! Having one child at home is a walk in the park. Seriously, first time parents need to stop complaining. Of course, the only way to realize how easy you have it is by popping out another one. We call this HINDSIGHT.

Pedicure with the toddler in tow? No problem. Grocery shopping? Done. Volunteer once a week at school? I’m there. image
This school year I’ve managed to volunteer weekly in the kindergarten pod. I also try to eat lunch with Bennett once a week. (God save my soul.) Two months into the gig and Bennett appears to be loving school. No major complaints other than he is STARVING after school. He loves all his teachers and talks about them daily. He also loves to spout out rhyming words. CAT! BAT! HEART! FART!

:eye roll:

Simon, on the other hand, has asked that I not come into his classroom and could care less that I now have the time. I’ve solved this problem by peeking into his room despite his wishes. He might be my big boy, but he is still my baby. I will stop and wave EVEN if it embarrasses you, kid. I am your mother. This is my job.

An aside: Simon only has this year and next year left at Deerfield. One of my friends has two children at West Junior High. She said to me, “Every day I send them into the big box and every afternoon they come out of the big box. I have no idea what happens inside the box. ” My heart literally fell onto the floor. It’s like the helicopter parents worst nightmare.image

Deerfield has been such a great school for our children. We love the little box and all that it contains.

Just like I love afternoon naps and walks with my little one.

Back to school pictures

Do you ever take a picture and feel like you are seeing the future? Who is this kid? With the broader shoulders and thicker neck (and pink socks)? If you squint, it’s almost as if those giant teeth have come closer together and straightened out a bit.

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I don’t like it one bit. When I see Simon, I still see this kid.

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This is Simon’s 4th year in school. His teacher is Mrs. Roman and he is most excited about having a daily planner to write down all his assignments. His favorite subject is reading and he thinks he is bad at math (he isn’t). He wants to play basketball and do gymnastics this fall.

Last year, he started walking home after school with a few friends. He carries a phone and texts when he’s left the building. Be still my heart.

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This is Bennett’s first year of school. His teacher is Mrs. Jackson. He is most excited about, um, everything? He only went one day last week, so this week will be the true test of his kindergarten stamina. Can he wear his shoes all day without complaining? Make it four hours without eating? Stand in a line? Follow directions? Write the letter E without fifteen extra little lines?

Time will only tell.

Of this I am sure

I knew it was someplace in the closet. Which child’s closet? I wasn’t exactly sure. I finally found it on the very top shelf, hidden underneath Bennett’s overly stuffed baby book box and disregarded art projects. The art projects are large squares of painted papers with broad paint strokes in brightly colored primary shades. The lines zig-zag around the paper with no rhyme or reason. I do not dare throw this art away, as this masterpiece is surely his “favorite” piece. Instead the stack gets shoved to the top of his closet and out of sight, out of mind.

I stand on my tip toes and stretch in order to feel the top shelf. The papers disturbed rain down on me along with birthday and baby shower (It’s a Boy!) cards as I struggle to remove my prize.

It was covered in dust. Seemingly appropriate since it’s been many days since this big puzzle last saw the light of day. I pulled it out so he could practice. Just a little bit. We sang while we played. No pressure.

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This afternoon is Kindergarten round-up. I will be honest in the fact that Bennett does not know most of his letters. They will ask him, of this I am sure. Which letter is this? What sound does it make? Can you cut along this line? Show me the circle. Find the square. Write your name. Can you wait your turn? Walk in a line? Separate from your mother? Sit without wiggling?

Childhood is not a race. There is no prize for growing up or for being the first child able to read. No extra credit, no awards, no guarantee that you will be special once you become an adult. And so with this thought, we didn’t push our Benny to learn unnecessarily before kindergarten. I do not care if he knows his letters yet. I do not care how many numbers he can recognize or label.

I do care, conversely, that Bennett has a heart for others. I care that he has the ability to show patience while waiting for his turn to share. I care that he is socially and emotionally ready to handle an entire day away from his home. I care that he can show respect for his teacher and his friends. I care that he can listen and follow directions the first time.

Will he learn his letters? Absolutely. Am I counting on the wonderful teachers at school to help make this happen? Of course I am. Just like they are counting on me to send a child who is ready to learn. They are counting on me to help support Bennett’s learning at home. Together we will read the books and practice the letters.Oh, this boy. He is on the verge of leaving his babyhood behind. K-round up is this Friday and I find myself not believing it possible. He was just born. #iswear #wheredidthetimego #bthestairsleeper #PicTapGoThe lines will zig-zag around the paper as he learns to write his name. He will be out of my sight, but not out of my mind. We will save his very best school work when he rushes home at the end of the day. The papers will go to the top of his closet, next to the masterpieces of his preschool years and the cards from his first birthday. Eventually his lines will straighten. There will be rhyme and reason to the art that he creates.

While I fully believe with 100% of my heart that childhood is not a race, unfortunately, the world does not agree. The starting line is just around the corner.

#Mustache man Bennett. #nevergrowup #vscocam

Ready, set, go.

S(no)w thank you

So perhaps you’ve heard? There is a big snow storm coming our way?

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The news has been all over with different totals. I’ve seen reports that say to expect 4″ while others say to expect 15″. I am pretty sure my kids have never seen 15″ of snow. In fact, it only snowed ONE time last year. (My how Cora has grown since then!) I still stand firm that snow is only good if it cancels school.

It snowed randomly this weekend. Cora wouldn’t stop looking at the ground when we went outside. It was, surprisingly, as if she had never seen the stuff before.

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So anyways, snowmaggedon is coming and the smart people at the district already canceled school. We’ve got big plans for our snow day. Simon and I decided tonight that we are going to make Dr. Pepper snow cream, (for the curious: add a can of Dr. Pepper to a bowl of fresh snow), rice krispies, and a snow fort with the trampoline. Well, he has plans to do that. I plan on watching from the window with my camera.

What? I am nothing if not honest. Go ahead, son. Go build your snow fort while I watch from the warmth.

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I’ll be back with more snow pictures tomorrow(ish). Place your bets on how much snow we actually receive.

I wouldn’t be surprised if we wind up with 2″.

Awesome self

Bennett turned five in August. Bennett started M/W/F morning preschool (again) in September. Bennett (currently) loves preschool. We're still only on day four but the point is SO FAR HE'S LOVING IT.

Amen. Let's all give a hand-clap of praise for that adorably cute kid down front.
 

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Part of my job requires that I sit on the Early Childhood Council here in town. At a recent meeting, I heard the statistic that only 56% of kids entering the classroom in Douglas county are ready for kindergarten. That means almost half of the kids entering the schools in my area are not ready to be there yet. And I live in highly educated town with a nationally ranked University. We're not talking inner-city Detroit, people. HALF THE KIDS. Isn't that plain shocking? 

As you know, we could have sent Bennett to school but decided to "red-shirt" him for a year. His bonus year, if you will. I just love it when data shows that I am right.

Actually, I just love being right. Regardless of what the data says.


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He just wasn't ready for kindergarten. I'd much rather have a hard 9 months of carting his butt back and forth to preschool then set him up for years of struggle in the classroom. Most importantly to me, his previous preschool teachers reported that Bennett wasn't excited about learning, wasn't willing to take a chance, and was afraid of failure in the classroom.

I care more about those factors than I do about how many letters he can recite or whether he can count to 10.

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The beauty, however, of his new preschool? Is that there are no rules or expectations about what his "work" should look like. He CAN NOT FAIL at the Art Center. It's simply not possible. His arts-based preschool gives him the opportunity to take risks in the safest environment possible. If he wants to color outside of the lines? SO BE IT. If he wants to paint with a fly swatter and pink paint? Great! You can't be wrong when creating art when there is no right way. This is the confidence he needs to learn now so that he can tackle the hard stuff later.  

So go on with your awesome self, Bennett.

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Don't be afraid to be original. Data shows that we need more kids like you.

Back to school!

I am finding it harder than I anticipated to work (part-timeish) outside of the home. However, I am respecting this time of transition and allowing everyone to experience this new normal before having a melt down. Work will get better once my training period is over. Right now I am learning a lot and going through lots of paperwork. I am finding that some things at home just have to slide to the side. (Hello, laundry pile up to my ears. Good-bye bi-weekly blogging.) Mama's working, babysitter's coming over, Daddy's sleeping. It's all new and I am giving myself the space to make it all work.

It will work. You know what really, really helps? That school has started.

Amen. Praise Jesus for He is good.

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Cora felt the need to photo bomb our little photo shoot. Have you forgotten what she looks like because I am a terrible blogger? She turned 15 months old today. Maybe I'll post again two weeks from now and write her monthly update. If not, here she is with her favorite person.

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I would like the record to state that Simon was a little shit about taking these pictures. (Just keeping it real, folks.) He was embarrassed and didn't really want to look at me or smile. Don't worry, Sunshine. I will be taking your picture on every first day of school. FOR FOREVER. 

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So now he is a 3rd grader and is half-way through his elementary school years. (Be still my heart.) His classroom is on the other side of the building and he is on the other playground at recess. Lunch comes later in the day and he has homework every night. Bascially, he has a whole new normal to learn too.

I'm giving him the same grace that I am giving myself.

We'll both make it through just fine.

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Kindergarten, First Grade (that video still makes me laugh), Second Grade. TOLD YOU, KID.

Bonus

We enrolled and paid for Bennett's spot at the Lawrence Art Center Preschool last week. While we really enjoyed his preschool experience last year, I am looking forward to this year and all the fun stuff that happens at the Art Center. Fun stuff = a million art projects to display.

This is Bennett's special year- his bonus year of "I get to be a kid one year longer."

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We could totally send Bennett to full day kindergarten. His August birthday comes just before the cut-off date. Not going to lie- my life would be SOO MUCH EASIER if we sent him all day. It is so tempting to do what is best for me and not what his best for him. I wouldn't have to worry about childcare, or who is going to drop him off at the Art Center, or who is going to pick him up. I wouldn't have to keep him entertained or feed him lunch. My house would be cleaner and much quieter.

Oh, Ben-butt. Don't worry. I am not going to send you off to school. This is your bonus year and I am not going to make you grow up any faster than necessary. Did you know you have your whole life to be an adult? That is the choice that we are making. Either we push you out and make you grow up OR we let you stay home one extra year. You aren't ready to sit and learn all day. You aren't ready to separate from your home and the people you love best. The maturity you need to manage in a classroom all day isn't there yet. You don't know all your letters and your brain isn't ready to process all the information. I'm not ready to let you go either.

Sure, you would be totally fine if we did send you. You might struggle and have a difficult time but you would eventually make it. However, I don't want that for you. I don't want you to face adversity. I don't want you to struggle. I want you to love school. I want you to be ready for the tough stuff.

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Another year at home is what you get whether you like it or not. You also get the gift, the privilege, of being one of the oldest in your class and we hope this makes you a better leader and a better friend. If nothing else, you can be the friend with the car that drives everyone around. You will not, however, be the friend that buys the beer.

We have high expectations of you, kiddo, and we expect nothing but great things. Great big things that can only happen when you are ready and you aren't ready yet.

So we wait and we hope and we have more year to go.      

Nervous nelly

I have a job interview later this afternoon and WHOA BOY, SIMMER DOWN NOW but MAMA IS JUST A WEE BIT NERVOUS. I've only interviewed for a handful of positions in my short adult life and selling myself for a prospective employer isn't something that I necessarily enjoy doing.

My stomach is all full of raging butterflies and, frankly, I kinda feel like I might pee my pants. I'm sorry. Am I being inappropriate again? I just can't help it. Blame the butterflies.

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I am especially anxious because it's for a job that I have recently decided that I really, really want. The job is for a Parents as Teacher's (PAT) parent educator. The PAT program is a free, nation wide program through the school system that is designed to work with children and their families, birth to age 3, through home visits, classes, and play groups in order to encourage, evaluate, and prepare children for life in the classroom and beyond.

Doesn't this sound like something that would be perfect for me? An opportunity to work with babies and new moms? To foster and encourage a love of learning? We all want to be good parents but parenting is stinking hard work. I am not an expert and I have made plenty of mistakes. Trust me.

But, oh boy, I do love my babies. I want to love on other babies too.

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It is a part-time position and the hours are flexible, (think evenings) so I wouldn't be sacrificing my own children and could schedule some home visits for when Matt is up for the day. (Read: minimal childcare needed.) I love substituting for the school district but the opportunity to earn more money would also be very helpful. I do have a stupid van to pay off, remember?

So if you would be inclined, friends, say a prayer for me? Or send a positive thought? Or good juju? Or dance a jig in my honor? Or cross your fingers and jump 3 times? Whatever you do for luck, do it for me. I need this job. I want this job. I'm either going to be terribly disappointed or fantastically elated. Only time will tell.  

Please and thank you.

Preschool ramblings and a lesson in Spanish

Bennett is feeling much better today. Thank you to those that left comments here and on Facebook. Having sick kids is no bueno.

What is this Spanish class? I don't know where that came from.

So, because of yesterday, Bennett got a sick day from preschool today. I was still in bed when Daddy made the call to keep him home. Had it been up to me, I would have hauled his happy pants to preschool. Bennett never had a fever or runny nose, just the ear infections but alas, I was not awake to protest the decision.

Hi, my name is Bennett

Hola, my name is Bennett and I get whatever I want. All I have to do is flash my big 'ol brown eyes and Daddy becomes a puddle of mush.

"My ear still huuuurts a widdle bit, Daddy."
"Okay, kiddo. No preschool for you."
"Would you like to paint instead and make Mommy's head spin off?"
"Si, Daddy. I would like 'dat berry much."

Art class

Art is his thing. He is always wanting to cut and color and paint and make giant messes and so because he was home and feeling fine, we decided to take a trip to the Art Center. I wanted to enroll him in preschool for next fall and blow his mind at the same time. Mission accomplished. Although Bennett really, reallly enjoys his current Tuesday/Thursday morning preschool, I don't feel like it was a very good fit for me. I think we've decided to bump him up to Monday/Wednesday/Friday mornings at the Art Center instead. I would have kept him at his old preschool but the M/W/F was full and more expensive.

I don't think preschool needs to be a very big deal or taken super seriously. 

I believe that preschool = fun.  

I also believe that preschool =/= Kindergarten. Right now learner behaviors are much more important. Things like sitting in a circle, waiting for a turn, getting along with others, and walking in a line rank right up there with learning letters, writing your name, and math facts.

Art class

He's pretty excited about this next adventure. Of course, the Art preschool doesn't start until August which is a LOOOOONG time from now in the world of a 4 year old. (6 months is like an 1/8 of his life so far?) (Math was never my strong point.) The good news is that is all the more time to practice our letter names and sounds Spanish.

I hear it's pretty important for Kindergarten.

On that note, buenas noches!

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I can't seem to get Spell Check to work correctly. My apologgies if their are meny mispelled wordz. (Spelling was never my strong point either.) (Reading was more my thing.)