The Trouble with Kindergarten

Being away from each other all day is not new. Since he was three months old, Eddie has been in someone else’s care other than mine.

Yet I miss him more this year than I ever have.

Kindergarten is way tougher on me and him than I thought it would be. Way.

I think about him all day. I pray for him all night. I wring my hands.

This isn’t how I thought it was going to be.  I figured he would have an adjustment period. In fact, I knew that even though he was used to be gone all day and used to being busy, it would still be a big change. He would have to make new friends and learn a new routine and get used to a new set of rules and expectations.

But I had all the confidence in the world that he would be just fine. He would thrive. He would struggle with being tired, but he would make friends quickly. He’s a natural leader and so kind to everyone.

I wasn’t wrong about his kindness and ability to make friends.

I wasn’t wrong about being confident.

I didn’t expect the tummy-aches and the worrying from him.

Every day at pick up he tells me he had a great day, and he proceeds to talk my ear off the entire ride home. Every night at bedtime he confesses he doesn’t want to go to school in the morning, and he proceeds to cry out his fears and anxieties.

He is going through the adjustment period that I knew he would. This is all normal stuff. I thought I was prepared.

But I didn’t realize how much it would all hurt my heart.

Published…Again

Today is super exciting…even for a Monday!

In the spring, I was excited to announce that I was published in an anthology of essays, art, and poetry about child loss called Three Minus One: Stories of Parents’ Love and Loss.

Today another anthology is being released that I am blessed to be published in: My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Losing and Leaving Friends.

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don’t mind the post-Sunday-afternoon-nap face I have going on here.

I got my own copy just this past week and I as flip through all of the stories, I can’t help but feel honored to be included besides such fabulous writers.

But as I read over my words, I can’t help feeling a sadness. Because I am still struggling to find the balance in my life that nurturing and maintaining friendships require. I read a viral article online recently about how it doesn’t matter how you feel about your friends if you never show it.  It hit home for me because I realize that is my biggest struggle.

I think about my friends and pray for them daily. But they can’t know that if I don’t tell them or show them.

That is what my essay is about.  It’s about this crazy season of life I am in that has me armpit deep in my own children and in my job and it {unfortunately} pushes my friendships to the outside of my life.  And I can’t blame some of those friends for packing up and leaving.

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The stories in this book are so diverse, and you would be hard-pressed not to find one that resonates with you. I encourage you to get the book–and not just because my words are in there, but that IS a bonus–but because I think it’s a great read for all women.  Because we have all lost friendships.

Project 365 {week 37}

So this summer I forgot to take pictures every day because the first trimester had me couch-bound and nauseous.

This week I forgot a few days because ZOMG BUSY!

For instance I didn’t take a picture on Sunday, September 7. Which is dumb because we had an awesome outdoor church service followed by a church picnic after.  But you know, running after two kids.

September 8: Massive traffic back up that puts me 30 minutes behind schedule and almost late for work. Mondays, man.

September 8: Massive traffic back up that puts me 30 minutes behind schedule and almost late for work. Mondays, man.

September 9: The Reading Workshop has launched! Now to start conferencing with students about their reading.

September 9: The Reading Workshop has launched! Now to start conferencing with students about their reading.

September 10: Found a full-length mirror at school so you can all see that I am already showing at 13 and a half weeks. Gulp.

September 10: Found a full-length mirror at school so you can all see that I am already showing at 13 and a half weeks. Gulp.

September 11: running here and there and everywhere.

September 12: I love my job because I love my students.

September 12: I love my job because I love my students.

September 13: Eddie's first soccer game!

September 13: Eddie’s first soccer game!

We also got some fall weather (FINALLY) in Michigan which means I didn’t have to sweat in my non-AC classroom every day this week.

Also I realized today that my coffee aversion has passed. YAY!

Tell me some good things about YOUR week!

Launching the Reader’s Workshop

Last school year I had a vision: I wanted every one of my seniors to read a book.  I wanted them to have choice. I wanted a classroom library. I wanted to incorporate a reader’s workshop into my curriculum.

I started in April and with the help of you and a grant from The Book Love Foundation, I have been able to increase my library from a measly 104 books to almost 600 books with more on the way. I have an online check-out system for students that has every title in it. I have labeled every book with my name and stamped it with a “property of Sluiter Nation” stamp. I’ve sorted each book into a category so students can “shop” by interest (fantasy, sci-fi, sports, life in high school, etc) when they are looking for something to read.

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We started school with a week of procedures and figuring out where our starting point was. Students took their first SRI (Scholastic Reading Inventory) Test of the year. I had them record these scores.

We talked about goals and increasing SRI scores and reading stamina. I gave them a tour of my classroom library and its categories.  I did book talks of some of my favorite things to read that are available to them in the classroom library.

And this week, I turned my 134 eighth and ninth graders loose to check out books.

It was exhilarating.

Each hour, students crowded the back of my room searching for the book that they wouldn’t hate. Some searching for a particular author or series.

I kept track of requests for authors, titles, and subjects that I didn’t have. I started wait lists for books that were checked out early in the day, but had lots of requests.

By the end of book check out day, I had six pages of book check outs that I had to enter into my book check out program on my computer.  It was the best kind of overwhelm.

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Today (Tuesday) students calculated their reading rate: how many pages they could read per hour (by counting how many pages we could comfortably read in 10 minutes and multiplying by 6). When the 10 minutes were up, many students were complaining that they wanted to read longer because they had just gotten into their books.

My usually chatty junior high classes were silently immersed in books. Almost every student. I only had to take three kids aside out of 134 and discuss being respectful to our sacred reading time. Three.

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We have a long road ahead, but this week was the start. Kids are reading. All the books I’ve lovingly collected and organized are out there.

I really can’t wait to get a groove, learn what works and what doesn’t, and see kids discover reading. Some kids are doubtful and I can tell who will be my “project kids”; but some…oh…some.  They are on fire about this.

That is what keeps me fired up too.

Project 365 {week 36}

Along with starting school this week,

I was finally able to let the rest of the world know about my pregnancy.

It was like a HUGE weight lifted.

While we were busy busy busy this week, it was a great one.

Ok, so I didn’t get a picture on Sunday, August 30. I was napping.

September 1: I packed my first lunch for Eddie's school career. He requested the family picture.

September 1: I packed my first lunch for Eddie’s school career. He requested the family picture.

September 2: First day of school and soccer. When did he get so big?

September 2: First day of school and soccer. When did he get so big?

September 3: Eddie and I get about an hour alone together 3 days a week after school. It's very relaxing.

September 3: Eddie and I get about an hour alone together 3 days a week after school. It’s very relaxing.

September 4: new book alert!  And so far, I can't wait to tell my students about it...and I'm not even done with it yet!

September 4: new book alert! And so far, I can’t wait to tell my students about it…and I’m not even done with it yet!

September 5: Went to see Carrie (the musical). It was good!  Really!

September 5: Went to see Carrie (the musical). It was good! Really!

September 6:  It wouldn't be the first week of school without spending part of my Saturday in my classroom. But look at all the books!  yay books!

September 6: It wouldn’t be the first week of school without spending part of my Saturday in my classroom. But look at all the books! yay books!

This week was exhausting and I can’t believe it’s time to start all over again.

But it’s ok.

Because it’s the good kind of exhausting where you know you worked hard.

even more changes

I’ve mentioned that there is a THING that has been really blocking my writing lately as well as making life, well, a bit difficult for me lately.

We’ve known about this THING since July 5:

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Because of my history of miscarriage, we kept it quiet from most people other than family and very very close friends until August 1st when we saw this:

2014-08-01 15.37.32-1At 8 weeks, healthy as can be with a heartbeat of 177.

And then we were still quiet because I wanted to tell my new principal before he found out via the social media grapevine.

But now he knows.

And so do you.

12.5 weeks and healthy, although the first trimester was full of nausea and vomit and exhaustion (I am sure that explains some of my cancelled plans, facebook statuses, and lameness over the past couple months).

Due March 13 (yes, Charlie’s birthday), 2015.

 

Kindergarten

Dear Eddie,

Today you start Kindergarten.

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We have been talking about it for months. You have vacillated between super excitement to absolute tears of nervousness. Choosing a lunch box/bag was all excitement. As was picking new batman, light up, tennis shoes.

But each night for the past week and a half you have held onto me (or daddy) and cried out your anxiety and fears. Your biggest stress is that you are so afraid you will miss me and daddy. You have been going to daycare your whole life from 7:00am to almost 5pm. You are used to being away from us. BUT you have also had Brooke and Evan with you as your buddies since you were two. They even were in your preschool class last year. Now you have to move on to something new without your besties.

I can see where that is scary.

But Eddie, I know you don’t believe me, but you will be amazing in Kindergarten.  While your fears break my heart because I can so very much remember feeling anxious like that, you are such a wonderful, smart little boy.

You will easily make friends and get to know your teacher, Mr. F, quickly.  You will learn so much this year. You love reading and math and noticing things…you will get to do all those things this year!  And more!  You will sing songs and do crafts and play outside. You will learn to tie your shoes and say your phone number. You will be reading to ME by the end of the school year!

I want you to know it’s Ok to be scared and nervous. Change can be super scary. I’m changing schools this year too, remember. And I’m a little nervous too!  I have taught high school kids, mostly 11th and 12th graders for 12 years!  Now I am going to teach 8th grade. That is a little scary.  So right now? You and I are both starting new schools and we are both nervous.

And it is OK. Because at 3:45, I will be there at the door to pick you up. And we will have an hour together before daddy and Charlie get home where we can rest or have a snack or just cuddle. Whatever you need.

I could say I can’t believe you’re old enough for school and that time has flown and all that stuff, and it’s true, but the truth is, you are ready. You are not a baby or a toddler anymore.  You are a very busy five-year old boy who is in love with learning and playing.

While I’ve been a little wistful (I only teared up once…when they showed that dang video at Kindergarten orientation that said this was your first step toward graduation. Sheesh), I have been mostly just proud.

I love how you hold your head a little higher when you tell people you are going to go to Kindergarten. I love how you look up with me with your proud little smile because you are proud of yourself and you KNOW I am beaming for you too.

You got this, my Eddie Bear. You do.

And I got you. I am here when you need to cry out your fears and anxieties, yes. But I am also here to listen to all the things you have learned and all the fun you have had.

Kindergarten is the start of a whole new part of your life…one you will excel at. One you will CRUSH.

I love you so much, my Eddie.

See you after school.

Love,

Mommy

Project 365 {week 35}

This week was back to work for me,

the last week of daycare EVER for Eddie,

and a test of how grumpy mornings will be around here starting this week.

August 24: This is my view from the couch. I am so over this view.

August 24: This is my view from the couch. I am so over this view.

August 25: Kindergarten orientation! Eddie is pretty excited about meeting Mr. F and seeing his classroom!

August 25: Kindergarten orientation! Eddie is pretty excited about meeting Mr. F and seeing his classroom!

August 26: My first day back to work, so dessert.

August 26: My first day back to work, so dessert.

August 27: Red sky in the morning.  Also I am going to work before the sun is up.

August 27: Red sky in the morning. Also I am going to work before the sun is up.

August 28: dude. My new school feeds us SO WELL. I mean, even better than I feed my own family.

August 28: dude. My new school feeds us SO WELL. I mean, even better than I feed my own family.

August 29: Charlie is sort of obsessed with his doctor kit lately. He listened to my ears, nose, mouth, and legs.

August 29: Charlie is sort of obsessed with his doctor kit lately. He listened to my ears, nose, mouth, and legs.

August 30: The room is ready to go. Let's hope I am too!

August 30: The room is ready to go. Let’s hope I am too!

Our family is ready to start school.

There are some nerves, yes, but overall it’s time to get going with a fall schedule.

So here we go!

Netflix and Kindness

netflix

Eddie and I have been talking a LOT about the new school year.  Just today we filled out a questionnaire together from his teacher. It asked Eddie all sorts of questions about what kind of kid he is and what his interests are.  One of the last questions was “what would you like me to know about you?”

Eddie said, “that I am special.”

On the parent questionnaire, it asked many of the same questions, but in more detail. In the section about what our (as parents) expectations for Kindergarten are, I put that not only do we hope that K continues to foster Eddie’s natural curiosity and wonder about reading and math and other things, but we hope he continues to be a kind, helpful leader as well.

Also today, Eddie hung out with his aunt and uncle and little cousin, Lilly which Cortney and I moved some book shelves to my classroom. When we went to pick the boys up, my sister-in-law told us how helpful and kind Eddie was with Lilly, even counting to make her laugh when she was upset earlier.

One of my favorite Eddie traits is his kindness and willingness to help out.  His compassion even shows in the sorts of movies and shows he likes to watch.

All summer he and Charlie have loved watching Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.  I love this show because not only does it remind me of my favorite childhood show, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, but because the boys sing the little jingles and refer to the show after they see it.

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Much of the show teaches manner and kindness and doing “the right thing” which Eddie has definitely taken to heart. Even when Charlie is mean to him, it takes a LOT for Eddie to hit or push back.  He just doesn’t want to hurt his little brother.s

Most of the shows Eddie chooses for he and Charlie to watch are like this: Curious George, Super Why, Arthur, and Wild Krats all show characters making good choices.

Before having to go back to school, Eddie and I had a movie “day” during Charlie’s nap. He chose The Fox and the Hound.

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This was the very first movie my mom took me to see in the movie theater when I was about Eddie’s age.  Watching it though, I don’t remember it being so dang sad. Eddie noticed too, but kept saying, “they will be friends in the end. you watch. I bet.”  And he was right.

My boy believes in kindness and doing the right thing, and I am so glad that Netflix gives us lots of choices that encourage that belief in Eddie.

Rare Bird {book review}

I must be in a memoir and memoir-style mood.

After reading the fictionalized memoir of Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, I read a very real memoir by a good friend who lost her 12-year old son Jack in a freak accident.

Anna is the writer behind An Inch of Gray who wrote about life and refurbishing old furniture until the day her son was swept down a raging river and her world changed.

Continue Reading…

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