school

Revive Us Again

School is back in session. Summer went out with tacit complacency, much like it always seems to do, with pizza and swimming and early bedtimes.  And as much as I hate someone else, or in this case something else, dictating my time, I have found, at least in this first week, that I have enjoyed having a routine again.

MG took right to her classroom, much like I thought she would. This year there was less trepidation from both of us.  And I am reminded of how starting kindergarten in a new state is not for the faint of heart.

This time last year, I was an emotional wreck (I think that’s actually a very accurate description), not only from the new start of school and for having a school-aged child for the first time, but also the impending move and stress of trying to sell our Indiana house. Not to mention, living away from N and also caring for an infant.

Last year I felt like a foreigner forging my way independently.  Of course N was there for our family but he also had the toll of starting over in a new job.  This year I was reminded I was not alone in all of this and I think that has made some difference in my emotional state too.

This year, I was greeted by familiar faces and felt like we are growing on the good foundation that was set last year.  Much less traumatic, much more peaceful.

That being said, the school year always feels daunting in August.  We have nine more months of this.  We have two daylight savings; we have Christmas, fall, and spring breaks; we have 100 days of school; we have PTA fundraisers and school spirit events.  It’s a lot to think about. It’s a lot of items to cross off before the lazy days of summer beckon us again.

In the midst of this, Bea started pre-k this week too.  She was so excited, as was I for her. Finally her chance to have something all for herself. She is always reaching to attain the same status of her sister. Often times that works in her favor, like learning how to swim two years earlier and other milestones.

No tears were shed for her.  Not when she is just so eager.

There is a church that is next to N’s school and they have chronically shown up for us.  When we moved into our house, they showed up with a team of volunteers to move in boxes and furniture, as well as food for everyone to eat.  On big days at school, they man the parking lot,  directing traffic, handing out water bottles on the hot days, and Starbucks coffee to parents.

Waking up at 5:50am to run and shower before getting three babies fed and dressed and packed up for the day makes me weary.  But the volunteers at this church, often two generations ahead of me, smiling and serving, give me a little touch of fire from above, so to speak, to rekindle me along my way.

The school year routine has been revived, though my clumsy self always feels a few beats behind.  But far better than a year ago, and with the notion of just a little leaning in and it could all be downhill from here.

-smk

 

August

Just like the previous “new start months”, January and June, August gives us a chance to reset our schedule, make new goals, and find a new family rhythm for the season.

Unlike my resolutions in January and my summer bucket list in June, I generally don’t write down any goals in August; I just make more promises to myself…. ones that I have really good intentions of carrying out through May.  I’ll always put a handwritten note in her lunch.  I’ll take the girls outside everyday, even when it’s snowing.  I’ll volunteer in her classroom so I can get to know her friends.  I’ll occupy Bea’s time with manipulatives and busy boxes so she will learn this school year too.

And then by September, those promises sound a lot less golden and take some mustering to execute.

Finding our new rhythm always takes some floundering too.  MG is off to school two early (for us) mornings a week.  And it makes sense after I drop her off that I do my errands while I’m in town.  So I’ve had to readjust our schedule a bit to accommodate.  Bea is adjusting (rather quickly) to life as an only child on those days, and I find I’m really enjoying my solo time with her.  For one thing, the house is a lot more peaceful without any bickering or fighting over toys and for another, my mind isn’t being constantly occupied by questions, so I have more space to devote to her ever expanding vocabulary and communication.

As far as MG and school, she is transitioning slowly (her general M.O.), but well.  When I drop her off, I get the I don’t want to go to school today schtick.  But by the time we get there, she is eager to carry her backpack in, hang it on her hook, and jump right in to playing with her friends (only one of whom she can ever remember their names….progress…).  She takes a nap every single day which seems a little strange for my non-napping 4.5 year old, but I think it’s good for her brain to rest after all of the new stimulation.

Speaking of naps, can I get a hallelujah that Bea is still a great napper?!?  When MG was the same age, she had already been consistently skipping naps on a weekly basis and it was a struggle for both of us.  Bea still sleeps a solid 3 hours in the middle of the day and not only that but I lay her down and I don’t hear from her again for that time.  The two days a week when MG is at school, this time is especially golden.  Three solid hours of uninterrupted time!  I can tell I am especially refreshed on these days and have much more energy to tackle whatever the evening holds.

I would be remiss if I didn’t post something of the heartache August has also brought us.  I lost both of my living grandparents (dad’s side) within three short weeks.  They both lived till their nineties and a few health issues between them, their loss to our family still feels like a cold shock.  I eulogized them on FB and IG but it was especially sweet to spend time at the funerals and hear others’ eulogies of them as we sat and mourned together.  Right now, I’m saving up some sweet stories and memories in my heart.  Maybe someday, it won’t feel so raw to type them out.

Less noteworthy, but also sad, we lost Teacup this month.  We played with her on a Saturday morning, left for an hour, and when we came back, we saw her body, unmoving, on the side of the road (thankfully though MG was in the car with us, she didn’t).  With the kitties being outdoor cats, we knew this was a possibility, but it still felt especially tragic to lose her, like this, on the day of my Grandfather’s death.

While I distracted the girls inside, N recovered her body and buried her in a special spot in the yard, with a handmade cross.  We took the girls outside and explained (to MG really) what happened.  We fumbled our way through it, trying to use gentle words, but direct the conversation as she began to ask questions.  It took her a few minutes of asking questions and processing before the wave of grief overcame her and she sat in our laps, bereft, for over an hour.  Her first broken heart.

Like a sweet sister cat, Birdie sat attentively on her lap as MG sobbed into N’s shoulder, and she has been good to her ever since.  I had no idea what to expect her grieving process to look like but after a good day of sadness, she seems to have emotionally moved on.  She still asks questions every once in a while, and she asks me to check on Teacup (her grave) while she is at school.  We concluded that since my Grampy loved animals so much, perhaps he is spending his first few days in Heaven taking care of Teacup.

I sure hope September gives us a break because our hearts are a little tender over here right now.

-smk

 

First Day

Even though I knew this day was coming (since I willingly imposed it upon myself last spring), it hasn’t been any easier to face.

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Today is the first day of “school” for MG for the rest of her life.  Okay technically it’s only pre-school (or is it Mother’s Day Out?) and technically it’s only one day a week.  But still.  It feels monumental.

We’ve been prepping her for this big change for quite some time.  In fact, the main reason I want her to go is so she can become more independent & comfortable in group settings.  Developing a relationship with authority (other than ourselves) and with other children.  The main focus of the year for her little ten person class is playing with each other.  Brilliant.

But I will miss her.  Much.  My biggest fear is that I will look back on this year with regrets.  That I will regret the one morning a week that I willingly gave her up.  That I will wish this time back.  But then I look at little Bea and remember that she needs me too.  Being the good baby that she is and the second one at that, she rarely sees me other than to eat and cuddle these days.  We need a quiet morning with baby activities to enjoy together.  Especially now that she is getting on 4 months and about to start scooting (eep!).

It will be good, right?  For all of us, right?

Because it is the FIRST day and I am a huge, huge sucker for tradition  I couldn’t let today slip by unnoticed.   I carefully handcrafted her lunch, complete with a message on a napkin…of the artistic variety…because cats are her love language…

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At breakfast, I prayed a special blessing over her and for a great school year.  I held out her two little pro-biotic vitamins (because we narrowly escaped the Norovirus last year and I am quite certain it is knocking at our door this year) and let her choose which one she wanted.  The cat won again.

We drove to school and we practiced saying her teacher’s name and what to do if she needed to potty and how to handle a little boy that bothers her (you should hear her say “stop” in her “mean” voice).  Then she randomly brought up the time she had to get her “picture taken by the blue man”

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(i.e. her follow up x-ray for her broken collarbone).  Perhaps this was her way of emoting her fear–by bringing up another time she was afraid.

Once at school, she proudly placed her backpack and lunch in her designated cubby.

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I kissed her goodbye at the door and told her I was so proud of her.

 

I watched her through the picture windows to see how she would respond.

 

My little lone soldier went immediately to the slide (didn’t she learn anything from the blue man incident :)?)

And then she spotted IT

 

And I knew she would be okay.

Later, the preschool director sent me this:

 

All is well for my little student 🙂

And of course I couldn’t let this day get away without a video tribute. So here you go:

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/73867871%5D

MG first day of school from Kate Miley on Vimeo.