Monday, September 7, 2015

Get schooled

There's so much school going on in our house. We Marylanders started back two weeks ago, thus the silent period on social media while I attempted to gather my wits about me ... and pack lunches, fill out paperwork, stay on top of spelling words...

I told him I wanted a picture for his first day of school and this is the stance and expression he chose ... for all 5 pictures. 
We'll start with the veteran, since he started first. Jack is in first grade this year and we were delighted to hear that the teacher he was assigned is supposedly really great. I can't exactly speak to that myself, since I barely met her (we shook hands at Sneak a Peak day), and I haven't heard much from her (other than a short note informing me that my son had to be told more than once to stop licking the table.)

Jack isn't super crazy about school this year. He says it's a lot of work and they have to He does have a desk, with his name on it, which I think is kind of cute, but apparently his own desk just doesn't do it for him.

Trying to get Jack to talk about his day is a chore in itself. Amazingly, not a single classmate of his from last year is in his first grade class, so we're still learning names. Everyone is just "boy" or "girl" at this point. A boy liked his ham-wrapped pickles at lunch. A boy wants to be his friend. A girl got "on the yellow" for talking too much. Not much detail.

We did manage to get in a day trip to Knoebels before school started!

Lia's first roller coaster--and she's in the front seat!

She still talks about aunt "ay-chel" and how she painted her toenails.
The biggest adjustment has been spelling homework. It's not huge, usually just a 20 minute assignment. But when he doesn't get off the bus until 4:00pm, and we start our bedtime routine around 7:30pm--and I need to fit dinner and dishes and sometimes soccer practice in there, it can get a little hectic. And then there's the fact that I hate to make him sit and do work after he's just spent the day doing that at school. Not that he really sits and does work. Somehow practicing spelling words with Jack usually includes running laps around the dining room, spontaneously "hugging" Joci, spinning on the chair, and climbing under the table. (And this is why I seriously doubt that I could ever homeschool my oldest.)

Lia's first time on the flume too!

Looks at that face!

Jude doesn't do coasters. Go carts are more his style.

Do you see how many non-mommy people this girl is allowing to hold her?!? Joci loves to watch videos of "unca ee-kah" on Snapchat!

But we're very excited that Jack has a new bus buddy each morning--his little brother, Jude!

No magazine quality poses here.

This girl--always runs straight for the camera lens.
While Jack was at his first day of school, Jude and I had a conference with his new teacher. And then since they stagger incoming Kindergarteners over 3 days, Jude's first day wasn't until that Friday. We were equally delighted to find out that Jude was assigned to [who we've heard is] the BEST Kindergarten teacher. Again, the jury's still out on that one. I thought her classroom was pretty bland for a Kindergarten teacher, but she wears the brightest dresses with coordinating, colorful chunky jewelry so she must be a fun person.

They both LOVE the bus, it's the best part of their school day!

Also, I just about fell over when I opened Jude's backpack after he got home and found a HANDWRITTEN note telling me he had a great first day. We've never had a teacher send home positive, encouraging notes before. So I guess I'm more than willing to forgive the colorless room decor. Also, I've got lots of compassion for Jude's teacher this year because, instead of 4 classes of 15 students, they've decided to only do 3 classes of 21 students. That's a 1:21 teacher/student ratio, folks. On a positive note, she's extremely receptive to parent classroom volunteers. On a negative note, some of us have more kids at home that prevent us from volunteering. :(

[Not so patiently] waiting for our conference.

First soccer game of the year!

How forgot how HOT these soccer Saturdays can get!
But I have no doubt Jude's going to have a great year. He LOVES school and was jut a little disappointed to hear that Labor Day is a holiday. He doesn't have homework this year, so when he comes laughing and skipping off the bus, the first thing he does is grab Lia and together they play school, because apparently 8 hours of school just isn't enough.

He's a BEAST on the field this year.

I think being away from home has been a bit of an adjustment for him as he's been extra cuddly and loves to curl up by my side and tell me about his day. Sometimes it's stories about [what's my friend's name?] and then I have to remind him it's "Max" from your soccer team. But mostly it's about poor Nevaeh [anyone else get it? "Heaven" spelled backwards!] who seems to spend a lot of her time "on the red." I should add here that I've got loads of sympathy for kids and mamas of kids who find themselves on "the red." But I'm also somewhat relieved that there's another kid or two whose behavior will detract from any of Jude's potential failings.

Open House at preschool!
Moving on, we're on round 3 of preschool this fall with Julia's first year in the 3's class! We've actually changed preschools and she'll be attending one at a church right across the street from our neighborhood. It's not only less expensive than the one the boys went to, but I'm also head over heels in love with their program. And Lia's teacher? She's everything I've wanted in an early-education teacher and so much more!

It really is a hot summer day, but her wool coat is her painting muse.
Let's see, first, there was the polo shirt with embroidered apple and her name on the front. Then there was the open house scavenger hunt where each kid got a prize--a bag full of treats with coordinating poem. There was the letter she sent us that explained her classroom philosophy and how she thinks preschoolers should get dirty. And finally, the little book she wrote that we're supposed to open and read the night before the first day of school--complete with magic confetti stars to place under your pillow to help with first day jitters.. I'm dying. I almost want to become a preschool teacher.

Yeah, okay, totally kidding with that last part.

Downing Shirley Temples at the bar. (Nana's 80th birthday party in NJ, and the only picture I took that night!)

Daddy get's a head massage with the magic Disney princess brush.
And then there's me. See, the kids aren't the only ones going back to school this fall, although I'm not exactly on the learning end of things. I returned to work at my former university, after a three year hiatus, basically doing the same thing as before and doing it full-time from home. It's been an adjustment for the whole family, but I have no doubt that this is where God has led me since the opportunity only came about because of him.

Chipotle--our happy place where mama doesn't have to cook or wash dishes and everyone likes the food!

Ready to go! ... except for that whole two legs in one pant opening thing.
And that's what I remind myself when the phone starts ringing and the baby starts screaming at the same time. Or when I shut down the computer for the day and turn around to a house absolutely decimated by two small girls with very little supervision. Or when we end up having pancakes for dinner because mama forgot to plan ahead, again. But for the most part, it's going well.

Lovely mommy-daughter selfie ...
And it's forced me to get really serious about my goal to be more intentional this year--more intentional with the time I spend with my husband and kids, more intentional with the time I spend doing house chores, more intentional with the time I spend running errands, and more intentional with the time I spend with my friends. Because my time is a little more precious to me these days and I want to make sure I'm spending it wisely.

Thankfully, she doesn't appear to be suffering any from lack of attention.
I spent a week in August down in Virginia Beach for job training, all by myself. It was my first time traveling on my own and leaving all four kids behind. Between Jon, my parents, and Aunt Kylee, the kids managed just fine. I had a bit of a harder time. I viewed it as a kind of a mama retreat--I was looking forward to some quiet evenings on my own to get my life in order before returning home to wifing, mothering, and working. But I REALLY missed my husband and kids. The week couldn't go by fast enough.

The part of Virginia Beach I miss the most--sunset walks on the bay beach.
Because everything I have is all I really want. I just want to live for Jesus. And then I want to love my husband and be the best wife for him. And then I want to serve my kids and be the kind of mom that I'm called to be for them. And however God wants to use whatever free time I have left--whether it's helping students get admitted to grad school, helping mamas grow through MOPS, loving on the orphans, taking some more classes, or just trying out another new Pinterest recipe in my kitchen--whatever it is, I just want to do it for His kingdom and His glory.

So you see, this is a new season for us. The kids aren't the only ones getting schooled. We're all learning. Learning is my favorite. And so is fall. So I guess, secretly, back-to-school holds a special place in my heart as well. And I've got high hopes for this semester!

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