School


3
Sep 14

We did it

Today was the first day since school started back up that we didn’t have Adam/Daddy around to help with the morning routine (as per the usual during the school year). It was harried and a bit stressful but hot damn if we didn’t make it to school on time after all! I could not have accomplished that without the following:

1) Set my alarm 15 minutes earlier than I thought I would need to get up. Not because I am a snoozer with my alarm, but because it always seems to take my at least 15 minutes longer than I think it will to get everyone out the door in the morning. So I got up at 6:30 so that we could leave the house around 8 am. An hour and a half seems like an obscene amount of time but, well, that’s what it took us today (and most days).

2) Showered the kids the night before.

3) Got clothes and school lunch ready the night before.

4) Got breakfast stuff prepped the night before.

5) Coffee. Yep.

So, in sum, did everything the night before and still took 90 minutes (where did the time go???) but we were on time (score!!!). It’s a win.


28
Aug 14

Anna, 2nd grader

I have a secret. Please don’t think poorly of me. This is the first year that, as Anna heads off to a new school year, I have not heaved a gigantic sigh of relief. Don’t get me wrong: I love and adore that kid but every other summer has been summer enough. This summer, the summer of absolutely no summer camp and absolutely no big huge long vacation, was over entirely too soon. It was a long, slow summer of lazy days doing nothing more than playing in pajamas and swimming in our pool. Afternoons at the beach and homemade play dough and staying up too late to read “just one more” story. Sleeping in and slacking on housework. It was good. And I kind of didn’t want it to end.

Kindergarten and first grade? I had a newborn baby/little toddler to contend with. It was hard work. Summer just upped the ante because then it felt like I had to take care of TWO little ones’ needs and it just all felt like too much, much of the time. It’s not always easy breezy days around here now, but we did start to fall into more of a rhythm. Life is a tad more predictable. I’m not up all night and stumbling around like a zombie during the day. Lily is old enough now that she and Anna played–like really, really played!–all summer long: dolls and dress up and restaurant and princesses and school and train. They made forts and Anna did Lily’s hair. Sure, they fought. More times than I’d like I had to jump into a biting/hitting/scratching scenario or straighten out whose turn it was for whatever was the favorite and most desirable toy of the day.

But yesterday I came home, relieved that we got to school on time, that the PTA welcome coffee had gone off without a hitch, and realized that I wholeheartedly missed my Anna girl. For the first time, I saw the appeal of having kids home all the time (not planning on starting to homeschool or anything, but I have to say that I just get it for the first time). All day long, Lily asked, “Where Anna?” and “go get Anna now?” So sweet and sad. Our days are both easier and harder, but they are decidedly missing one kid.

This is going to be a great year–Anna came home all smiles yesterday, thrilled with her first day of second grade. She likes her peers, she likes her teacher, she loves her school. All good things.

But I miss her.


5
Jun 13

Bye, Bye, Kinder

I went to Anna’s final sing-along for kindergarten today and had some silent tears slip out when the kids sang this song (“Kindergarten Wall”):

When I was a little kid not so long ago
I had to learn a lot of stuff I didn’t even know
How to dress myself, tie my shoes, how to jump a rope
How to smile for a picture without looking like a dope
But of all the things I learned my favorite of them all
Was a little poem hanging on the kindergarten wall

CHORUS:

Of all you learn here remember this the best:
Don’t hurt each other and clean up your mess
Take a nap everyday, wash before you eat
Hold hands, stick together, look before you cross the street
And remember the seed in the little paper cup:
First the root goes down and then the plant grows up!

**********
I’ve been thinking more about what I want Anna to remember and learn the most during these years, and that chorus says so many important things in such a simple way. Watching her earnest face singing those words with great enthusiasm put such an ache in my heart to capture that moment. And even though I am, in some ways, a real social networking junkie (Facebook addiction, anyone????), I didn’t even think of jumping to get this performance recorded because the real heart of it was sitting there and living that moment, just watching her and letting her know that I am her biggest fan. It’s one of those moments that burns into your heart. I had no clue before I became a mother that love could be like this.


3
Jun 13

When all else fails, pack up everyone and go to the playground

It was one of those scream-y pick-me-up,NO!-put-me-down days (the baby, I mean. I hope that that is obvious?). My arms are tired. This has to count for some kind of exercise, right? Weight lifting? 20 pounds, all day long. Up, down, up, down, up, down. I’m totally counting it.

My floors are disastrous. I would be mortified if anyone walked into my kitchen right now. Muddy paw prints. And am I cleaning it up right now, now that both kids are in bed? No. No, I am not. I am eating a(nother) cookie and blogging and facebooking. And patting myself on the back for all that weight lifting today.

By mid-afternoon I was in that desperate state of having to leave this house RIGHT NOW OR ELSE so after a suggestion from my sis to just do it, even if it seems like more trouble to have to pack everyone up, we went to the playground and, wouldn’t you know it? She was right. It was just what we needed. We went down the slides, we went on the swings, we met new friends. And we came back 45 minutes later feeling that much better for having just packed it up and gone.

School is out for summer in three more (THREE!) days and this fact has given me the opportunity to reflect on how far we’ve come along this academic year. I feel guilty that I did not volunteer in Anna’s classroom this year. Really, really guilty. Like, sad faced child guilty (“Why don’t you come help in the classroom like S____’s mommy, Mama?” See? Sad face). This was just not my year. New babies are hard. I was in survival mode. Yes, this is called rationalization but I need to think that this is true. At this point in the school year (9-ish months later) I am much more able to feel sane but in August? September? etcetera? No, not so much. It was so crazy when Adam started traveling again and the machinations that went on in the mornings still kind of make my head spin (nursing a baby while preparing breakfast, or bouncing a baby on the yoga ball to try and get her calmed/asleep while brushing Anna’s hair are two examples that spring to mind). So, really, I think that I need to let go of this guilt. I did my best, I parented the best way that I knew how. I made after school snacks, I hosted playdates, I helped with homework, I cared for a newborn/baby and I did my best to do all of this without losing my sanity (some days, no easy task). Things are so much easier (not easy! easier!) these days. Lily can play by herself (sometimes). She can wait five minutes to eat (sometimes). She takes regular naps (usually. knock on wood).

Anna has done stellar this school year. I am bursting with pride. She is such a great kid: smart and funny and friendly and focused and silly and just wonderful. I cannot believe that she will be a first grader. Time flies.

We have some fun stuff planned for this summer (three different week-long camps, visits from family and friends) but we also have a lot of downtime, time to not have to rush off to here and there, and I am looking forward to it. Remind of this on the days when Anna is telling me she is bored, won’t you? Actually, no, I’m hoping that there won’t be any of that. Lots of swimming, lots of beach days, lots of popsicles and sidewalk chalk and bubbles and bike rides and all that good stuff. Summer. It’s going to be great.


15
May 13

Homework

Anna’s teacher started sending homework home just after spring break. She has two assignments every night: a journal (teacher gives a prompt and students write one sentence and draw a picture if they want to–of course Anna always wants to, my little artist) and reading out loud.

I’ll be honest: I am hating doing homework with Anna. I hate to say that, but it is true. I feel all rage-y when we sit down to work on it together. I am trying to remain neutral/positive because the last thing I want to do is for her to start hating it, too. Right now, sometimes she doesn’t want to do it, sometimes she doesn’t want to do it Right Now (LATER!!!) but usually she is ok about doing it. The problem is that I feel like I am constantly CONSTANTLY having to pull it out of her and then we end up disagreeing about something. I know we are both stubborn but, really, I’m pretty sure I know the difference between a “b” and a “d” and she fights me constantly about stuff like this, or tells me that I’m wrong because her teacher told her it was HER way (umm, no, these things are universal). Part of it is my (and her) perfectionistic tendencies and OHGOD the frustration of seeing her write it sloppy when I know she can write it neatly! Do I just let this part go (instructions from teacher say to encourage proper letter formation and encourage staying within the lines and encourage correct spelling etcetera)? I want to be there to guide and help her because I believe that school education needs to be supported at home. I believe it is parental slacking to trust that the school/teachers can be the one and only, that parents need to roll the sleeves up and do some of the “dirty work,” too, but GAH!

And the reading out loud. LORDAMERCY. I have to sit on my hands and bite my tongue. This sounds terrible. She is just learning to read and at first every single word she read was like unicorns and rainbows and butterflies erupting from her tiny little mouth, I was just so proud. But now I sit there thinking “just get ON with it!” as she re-sounds out the same word that she has just sounded out on the same page, literally the sentence before, over and over again. I don’t want to jump in and rescue her and do it for her–I think she needs to learn how to do it herself, but it is SO hard for me. I realize that this is all about me. I realize that I am the least patient person in the universe. I feel horrible about this. It also makes me realize how very very very very very patient my own mother was (and is). Mom! I never EVER felt rushed or like you were annoyed when helping with school work. Well, except for maybe that one time when I had to memorize the state capitols. I do remember the horror of those study sessions (so sorry). Maybe it is because reading came more naturally to me? Math was hard for me.

I could never be a teacher. I am not patient enough.

For the record, I don’t think that Anna is particularly struggling with reading or that she is behind or any of that. I just think that she is a normal kid who needs a normal amount of support while she learns. I am thrilled that she is learning to read and write. I DO want to help her. I am just struggling with my own feelings about this. I’m nervous about the years to come. I can foresee the homework future and it is daunting. More work. Much, much more work. More frustration, more difficulty, more opportunity for Anna to tell me that I’m wrong and she is right. It’s a continual lesson in humility and patience. I’m working on it. I love my kid, my stubborn and perfectionistic little one. She’s just like me.


3
Sep 12

Kindergarten, Week One

Success. It has been a total success, I am happy to report!

The really good stuff: Anna loves her teacher, she has made friends, she happily walks to school, and she is just overall enjoying school.

The not-so-great-stuff (that we are still working on): getting ready in the morning is so difficult and I feel like I am always nagging and rushing; walking home from school and late afternoon, Anna has some, umm, behavioral issues (in other words, she gets tired and grumpy); and, finally, this girl won’t eat her damn lunch (even when she picks out everything and packs it herself! Full of stuff she usually loves!).

So we are working out the kinks. Friday morning I set my alarm a half hour earlier than usual (6:30 instead of 7 am) and woke up Anna at 7 instead of 7:15. We were able to leave the house by 7:45 instead of 8:05 like usual and it was actually nice to be there early enough that Anna had some play time on the playground and Adam and I had some socializing time with other parents.

My biggest stress is being anxious about Adam leaving for business trips. I have no idea how in the world I am going to manage getting everything ready by myself. I rely on him so much and he is so helpful, helping make Anna’s lunch, brush her hair and teeth, get her her breakfast, etc. Infants just don’t understand time constraints (sigh) and little Lily loves to take her time with her morning milk (this girl SLEEPS–usually just one night wake up to eat–so she is starving when she wakes in the morning!).

I was able to volunteer on Thursday to do some class prep for Anna’s teacher (I’m planning on doing this 1-2 times a week this year) and it was actually fun to help get all the pieces ready for a project. It was really cool to be able to peek in on Anna in her classroom environment because I feel like we never really hear the whole story about her day. She tells us snippets but then gets annoyed with the questions.

On the whole, I couldn’t be more pleased with how well things are going. I am so glad that school is, thus far, a truly positive experience for Anna!


27
Aug 12

Kindergarten

I was thinking this morning of the ceremony that takes place in girls scouts, when the girl “crosses the bridge” to the next level of scouts (can’t remember from what to what, but that is sort of irrelevant at the moment). I feel very much that way about Anna this morning, that she is “crossing the bridge” in an inevitable march onward towards bigger and better things. This morning my baby Lilith sleeps in bed while Adam, Anna and I prepare Anna for her first day of Kindergarten. As I watched my Baby slumber in the wee hours of the morning (couldn’t sleep! too excited for Anna!), I wondered at the fact that it felt as if I were watching my Baby Anna sleep, so alike are the two when quietly sleeping (their Daddy’s genes run strong!). How is it that my Baby Anna is now my Big Girl Anna who is big enough to go off to Big Kid school? No longer a preschooler….now an elementary school kid.

Having to forego the crown (an entire story in and of itself*) makes it all the more poignant, like there is something in her that is being released, a last vestige of her baby/toddler/preschooler self that is dying off. Now, in her dress and shoes and flowered headband, she looks like all the rest of the new kindergarteners: a bundle of excitement and anticipation (with just a sprinkling of trepidation).

I am so excited for her, my big/little girl.

*Story of the crown will be told soon….when i have a moment to type it up.

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4
Jun 12

Montessori Method

Anna's work for the week

For those not familiar with the Montessori method, I thought you might be interested to see what Anna’s schoolwork looks like. Every week her teachers write out a list of goals for her to complete (the blue list with checkboxes in the upper lefthand side of the picture–each previous week’s checklist is attached with a ring). I notice that she doesn’t always get around to checking off every single item off of the list, but it gives her something to work towards, and it ensures that even though she, in general, gets to follow her own interests, she is also receiving a rounded education (for example, she hardly ever chooses “numbers work” [math] as her favorite, but the list makes sure that she doesn’t only do reading work).

The numbers to the right (partially covered by the red paper) is a 100’s board. She uses this for many different types of projects and worksheets–from making “bead chains” (they have beads that the children link together to show groups of 10’s, 20’s, etc), to understanding and completing tasks related to bigger than/less than, to simply practicing writing the numbers out. She is really getting the hang of understanding how numbers work (and the patterning of, for instance: 21, 22, 23, 24…..and how that is related to 71, 72, 73, 74….).

The white page in the middle is a story that she has been working on. This is the very beginning (she has completed it now). She dictates the story, the teacher writes it down for her, and she copies it into the book. I believe that the illustrations may be her very favorite part, though (this girl loves artwork of any kind!). The picture that is drawn at the top was drawn by one of her teachers (she likes to color it in and to add details).

I love that Anna loves school and looks forward to it. On the drive to school today she exclaimed, “I can’t wait to start my work today!!!!” I hope that she can keep this enthusiasm as she moves forward!


7
May 12

First Report Card

I had a parent-teacher conference with Anna’s teachers this morning and received her very first report card! (Good news….she passed! ).

An excerpt from the written portion:

“Anna is an independent, motivated student. She has a vision of how she wants to do a work and will work until it is finished to her satisfaction. Anna has great focus and a long attention span. She is interested in classroom activities and discussions; Anna is comfortable sharing and talking in front of the whole group. She is friendly…”

I’m feeling like one proud Mama! Her teachers had nothing but positive things to share and feel that she is more than ready to move on to her next year of school. We will be sad to leave Montessori behind (truly an excellent school!) but I’m excited for Anna to experience Kindergarten next year! Onward!


19
Jul 11

First Day

Yesterday was Anna’s first day of summer camp. I asked her, months ago, which (if any) she would like to attend out of a long list of camps. She chose one at Montessori Center School (where she starts in the Fall for Pre-K) that has the theme of “Latin America” because, she says, “I speak The Spanish!”

Yesterday she was all smiles when we left home (see picture, above), but all tears as I handed her off to her new teacher. At pickup, she said it was fun, but it was “too long.” Eek. With nine more days left of the camp (it is a 2 week camp), I was worried about the rest of her time. Today she was all smiles at drop off AND pick up, so….hooray! Yesterday they learned the colors in Spanish (her favorite? Rosa, of course!) and today they talked about the Aztecs and she made an Aztec headdress, replete with feathers and all.

I was (and still am) hoping that this exposure to Montessori will be a positive one and that it will increase her confidence and excitement over beginning the school year (very soon!). I am also happy that we chose to go with half days, rather than full days (like summer camp is) for the school year as I think she really would burn out from it. She is, after all, going from only two half days a week of school to five! That’s a lot and a big transition.

I never feel so happy as I do when I pick Anna up and she is all smiles and giggles and stories about her day. What sweetness! The best!