Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Surviving Middle School: One Day Down

"And tell your Mommy not to cry, OK?"

And so ends the early morning conversation my mom had with Frances before her first day of middle school.  Then Frances looked at me and promptly asked, "Mommy? Why are you crying?"

My sassy response was "because I never do anything my Mommy tells me to either" which, thankfully got a bit of a smile out of her.

Frances has been worried about middle school since the end of last year. Anytime someone has asked her if she's ready for middle school, she's said "no."  She didn't eat breakfast on the first day of school. I made sausage and eggs and even let them have orange juice!  Her stomach just wasn't settled enough to eat much of anything.  Plus she was up MUCH earlier than she's used to.  She is NOT a morning girl!

The truth is, I've been worried about middle school a lot too. The first unsettled feeling came when her fourth grade teacher mentioned middle school at Back to School Night.  We had barely started 4th grade and now I was worried about 5th! 

At the end of last year, we stopped at McDonald's for a snack.  As he usually does when driving that road, Benjamin shouted out, "Look Bubby and Sissy! There's your school!" And then Frances said, "Nope, Ben. That's not my school anymore."  I cried then too.

The teachers did a good job all year of getting the kids ready for middle school. The guidance counselors talked to them about various topics, explained how lockers worked, and reassured them that they wouldn't get lost in the new school 3 times as large as their previous one.

The problem is that none of these things have addressed my worries!  Do I still take cupcakes to her on her birthday or will that make her a square. Or will her mother using outdated language like "square" be sufficient?  When she turns eleven will she want a shirt that has her age on it or will she have outgrown that particular tradition? Will she make new friends? Will she make good friends? Will she be a good friend?

Worrying is nothing new to me as a parent.  I'm pretty much an expert by now.  But something about middle school seems to have thrown me off. Is she still my little girl? Will she outgrow me? Literally, I hope she will.  No mother would willingly curse her child to be only five feet tall.  Figuratively, I'm not ready for her to outgrown me.  I want to be the best mom that I can be and still have her like me (most of the time).

When I was 10 my family moved from Texas to Virginia and I started all over at a brand new school.  I remember feeling scared and lonely and left out.  But I did make friends. I found a place in that school and in that community.  I learned new things academically that year as well as socially and emotionally.  It was a year of great growth (except not literal, obviously) for me. 

I hope that this year for Frances will be much the same: full of book learning as well as life learning. I hope she grows and changes, but still stays my same little girl.  Is that possible?

And the boys? They'll be fine! Henry is excited for second grade this year.  He's in a familiar place, even if Frances isn't there with him.

 And Ben's happy as long as I stop trying to take his picture. He'd also prefer that I not make him eat weird food!


P.S. The cupcake question is a real one! Will I totally ruin her if I go eat lunch with her??

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

#TuesdayTen: Say Cheese!

I cleaned off my phone last week because it's been running slow and getting on my nerves. I had a moment of panic when I deleted everything off the camera roll and then discovered that half of my pictures hadn't transferred to my computer!  Luckily I somehow had iCloud turned on and I was able to recover my pictures. That's good because no one wants to lose pictures. It's also good because this week I am supposed to post ten random pictures on my phone and tell the story behind them.  It sounds like the complete antithesis to Wordless Wednesday, which is find with me because I'm no good at Wordless Wednesday anyway!

I've picked my ten latest pictures that I think deserve to be showed off and explained. I'm pretty sure I haven't posted any of these before, so they should all be new to you!


1. These cool steps are in the office to which we were re-located for the summer. We've move pack to our regular digs finally, but I miss these steps a little bit!
2. I got some new jewelry from my pre-beach jewelry party. I tried out the earrings immediately, but I hadn't found the perfect outfit to wear with my new favorite necklace. One morning I pulled out this shirt and decided that would be the day!  Love it!!
 3. Frances had strep throat last week. Thankfully she got it right before school started instead of after. Plus she loves amoxicillian, so she was excited to be prescribed "the pink stuff." She came to work with me two days since she couldn't go to camp. This is how she decided to read a book and play in the iPad while she was there.
 4. Benjamin hates getting his picture taken!! The only times I can get him are when I sneak it or when he wants to see what he looks like. He requests a picture so he can look at himself. This was the night after his newest haircut. Two minutes before this photo was taken he was screaming bloody murder because I made him take a bath to rinse the hair off him.
 5. I snuck this picture of him at the fair. He wouldn't make eye contact with me for the rest of the ride. In my defense, though, he saw a friend of his on the other side of the ride and spent most of the ride yelling at him and laughing.
 6.  One of the highlights of the end of summer is the JMU Faculty/Staff Picnic. They go all out with amazing food, fun entertainment, free beer and wine and this year they had an area set up with fun for the kids. There were dress up clothes and free face painting among other things.  This cutie loved dressing up and coming to get his picture taken!
 7. I waited in line for about an hour and half for the face painting station. Notice I didn't say the kids waited in line, because they most definitely didn't. They were off playing but I was fortunate enough to be in line with a friend so we enjoyed pleasant conversation the entire time. When we got to the front of the line, I called the kids back and they got their faces painted.  Frances got this beautiful face mask, complete with glitter and jewels!
 8. I can't believe I'm showing off another selfie! I seriously never take pictures of myself.  Then I realize I need a picture of myself and I don't have any.  This was a few nights ago while the kids were riding their bikes in the cemetery. Mine had a flat, so I walked laps while they ride around in circles.
 9.  For the Last Hurrah the kids asked for a bike ride. Since I had a flat, I drove my bike down to the bike shop and had them fix it. Then we drive home, got on our bikes, and rode back to the pizza place next to the bike shop!  This place has HUGE pizzas!  An entire pie is almost the width of the store's doorway. I had serious doubts when the guy took a box out to some people eating outside.  One slice takes up two paper plates!  It was good pizza though!
 10. I was sorting out some old papers last night and I came across this picture. I immediately took a picture of it to send to Ken.  If the date stamp is correct, Frances was not quite two. My heart melts!!


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Monday, August 18, 2014

The Last Hurrah!

Frances and Henry start school tomorrow. That makes today "The Last Hurrah!" Since they typically start school on a Tuesday, I take the day off on Monday to spend the day with them and have our last bit of fun before routines, homework, soccer, ballet, and violin take over our schedule.

 

We don't have exact plans, but hopefully a park and a bike ride will be involved. They really want to go to the pool, but since they've both been sick and are still on antibiotics, I don't think that's a good idea. I also realized that this is the last "last hurrah" with just the two of them because next year Benjamin will be going to Kindergarten!

 

Even as we are contemplating our last adventure of the summer, I am thinking of the year ahead. This year I will have three kids in three schools. Frances is especially worried about starting middle school. We've visited her classes met her teachers, figured out the locker, and turned in the school supplies. She is still nervous.

 

As I think back, I remember that she's always nervous before school starts. She loves school and she's always loved her teachers, but moving on to the next grade is intimidating to her. She's worried that it's going to be harder than the year before. And of course it is. What's the point of moving on if the challenge doesn't increase? I explain to her every year that things are harder because she's smarter and she's ready for more.

 

Henry and Benjamin are both excited for the upcoming year. Benjamin because he is being reunited with his best friend in his new classroom. That's all he's talked about for the past few weeks. Forget about the cool new classroom with the pet frogs and the comfy couches! He can't wait to see S again!

 

Henry isn't in class with any of his best friends, but he knows many of the kids and he's still excited to go back. Second grade was my favorite, mainly because that's what I taught, but the stuff they cover this year is fun regardless: Ancient Egypt, Ancient China, reading fluency, fun math, weather, etc. Those are all things Henry will love and he's excited to learn them.

 

Whether your kids are nervous about the upcoming year, or ready and raring to go, I hope they have a wonderful year with lots of fun, lots of learning, and lots of growth! Happy Last Hurrah Day!!

 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Tell

Five Minute Friday has a new home! Come check it out and join in on the free-writing fun!
1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community...


Five minutes on tell...

GO 


Today is the last day of summer camps and three-year old Pre-K. It's the last day of my flexible, fun, summer schedule.  It's time to get back into school mode and new routines.

We visited the kids' new classrooms yesterday. It took a long time. Over an hour at each school.  Henry and Frances had so many people they wanted to visit at the elementary school.  They had stories to tell and hugs to give.

Frances was a bit more quiet at the middle school. There's so much uncertainty there. New things surrounding her and unfamiliar sights and sounds.

And I'm stuck in between being excited for the new adventures and being worried.

There's so much I want to tell them about growing up. So many lessons I wish I could impart. Things I've learned, some the hard way. But what can I say that they will hear?

These are their lives to life, and while I can gently push them in the right direction, I can't always tell them what to do. They have to make their own choices, their own mistakes, their own ways in this world.

What I can tell them is this: 
I love you.
I believe in you.
I've got your back.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Old School Blogging: Summer Style

My blogging schedule has been pretty non-existent this month, so I was really excited to see Elaine offer up a new set of Old School Blogging questions! Just perfect for today, in my opinion.
If you'd like to join in, just copy the questions and answer them on your own blog. Don't forget to go link up at Elaine's place.

What was your favorite thing you did alone this summer?
With my work schedule this summer, I actually had quite a lot of alone time. I was home most afternoons around 12:30 and had a few hours to myself before I had to get kids from camp or daycare. It sounds crazy, especially coming from me, but my favorite thing I did this summer was clean and organize my house. 

What was your favorite thing you did as a family this summer?
Hands down, I think the best thing we did together this summer was going to North Myrtle Beach. Sadly, it is pretty much the only thing we did all together as a family. Even if there had been competition, though, the beach still would have been my favorite!


What books did you read this summer?
I read and re-read a ton of books this summer!! I can't possibly list them all, mainly because I'm not sure I'd even remember them all. I read a lot of romance novels. I found a lot of free ones on Amazon for my Kindle. Some of them were a waste of space, but there were some good ones too. I also read some great books with the kids: a few Wizard of Oz books, The Secret Garden, and we're finishing Peter Pan.

What do you WISH you had done this summer?
I really wish we had been able to go camping. I guess technically it's not too late. We could still go for a weekend, but I had hoped we'd get in a good week-long trip to the woods.

What movies did you see this summer (if any)?
I don't think I've been to the theater since Frozen came out, but we did watch some at home that we enjoyed. The Lego Movie was a big hit here with all five of us.

Where did you travel this summer?
I did a lot of travelling between here and Natural Bridge because that's the halfway point between my parents' house and mine. We did a lot of kid swapping at that Exxon there!! Obviously, we took a trip to North Myrtle Beach for a week. I don't think we went anywhere else.

What was your favorite treat (as in dessert) this summer?
My friend Julie had a wine party at her house back in July. She served up some delicious food that perfectly complimented the wines. She had some strawberry cheesecake bites that were just heavenly!

What did you celebrate this summer?
Right at the beginning of the summer we celebrated Henry's 7th birthday. Then a few weeks later we celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary.  

Did you grow anything this summer? 
Our garden has been mostly a flop, but we did manage to grow some tomatoes and zucchini. The verdict is still out on the Brussels sprouts. 

What is a favorite post (if you blog) that you wrote this Summer?
I had a couple of good ones this summer. If you're looking for something silly, you can check out my Really Bad Poetry About Sleep.  If you want something more technical, you can read my tutorial on Image Mapping. And if you need a spiritual lift, there's Pennies Dimes From Heaven.

What is a favorite photograph that you took this summer?
My favorite pictures to take this summer were the reunion shots of my kids.  They took turns visiting my parents, so they were away from each other, sometimes for two weeks in a row. When I got them back together they were so excited to see each other I couldn't help but photograph them. Of course they usually started fighting again in the van on the way home, but it was nice while it lasted!



What do you want to do next summer?
I'm really hoping we can make camping happen next year. Another thing I've been hoping to do is to take a family vacation that's just us. We are very fortunate to spend time with extended family, but we don't often get the chance for just the five of us to hang out. 
Also linking up here:
 

How about your summer?  Any highlights you'd like to share?
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