Mother Teacher

Back to school surprised me this year.

I was going along, enjoying summer, having hernia surgery, thinking everything was grand and then there it was, staring me in the face: Back to School.

It started with an innocent text to a friend, The Pastor’s Wife. We had talked about having a cocktail hour on her deck all summer and it hadn’t happened yet, so I texted to see if she wanted to put something on the calendar. The Pastor’s Wife happens to teach at the college level, and her response was: I would love to, but I go back on Monday.

I just stood staring at the text for a couple seconds. How could that be possible? It was still early August!

When I asked her as much, she said, well, students are back Aug 22, so inservices, etc.

That is when it hit me: it was NOT the beginning of August anymore, and I had to be back to school August 29…two weeks.

The spell of summer was broken and my brain officially started thinking about my classroom and all that had to be done. I couldn’t shut it down, the launch sequence had begun. So I went in and started gathering my thoughts…and putting desks in groups.

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I’ve got lists and piles and projects to tackle in the next couple weeks before a new crop of 8th graders walk through the door to room 103 on September 6.

While I prepare, I am still in the role of Stay at Home Mom for a couple weeks too. Counting today, I still have the kids all to myself for five more full days. While I am excited to start a new school year and get back to being a Working Mom, I am finding myself realizing we won’t have a summer with a 7, 4, and 1 year old ever again.

We recently finished up Eddie’s back to school shopping. We were given his supply list back in June, so as soon as I saw sales, I stocked up. Going into 2nd grade this fall, the coolest new purchase for him was a new lunch bag since his old one up and fell apart after two years of abuse. This afternoon we get to head to his school and see what teacher he will have. They go old school and post class lists on the office doors…just like when Cortney and I were little.

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My Charlie Bird is going to school this year as a big preschooler! We bought him a backpack–dinosaurs, as requested, and just received the letter in the mail telling us that his teacher is a friend of mine from high school! He will be going four afternoons a week and he is pretty excited about it. I actually am too. I remember being SO sad when Eddie was school-aged, but I am excited for Charlie! He is going to do so great!

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Alice will be back with Ms. Carolyn full-time. They adore each other, so I am not worried about that in the least, but I will miss my little shadow. It was so darn much fun watching her grow from a baby to a toddler with sass this summer. I know when summer comes around again she will be that much bigger and more independent, so I am trying to get in as many little snuggles and cuddles as I can with my Alice Beans.

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We have worn a groove into the summer: Mondays for library, Tuesdays at Ms Carolyn’s, Wednesdays to the Farmer’s Market, Thursdays at Ms. Carolyn’s, and Fridays for Free Fun. I even had laundry loads assigned to each week day so that we would be free for family time on the weekends.

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I was supposed to be keeping track for Eddie’s Summer Stretch homework of how many minutes he/we read this summer. He was supposed to do 100 minutes a week. I just told him to color in the whole chart. I’m sure we read enough. We averaged 20 books per week at the library plus the books we already have at home, plus the countless reading he does over my shoulder, on TV, on signs…it seems like if it has words, he’s reading it to me. Including a sign that said, “Bitchin’ Kitchen” while we were on vacation last month. HA!

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So the end of summer caught me by surprise. We posted a Wish List in June of what we wanted to do this summer. It included:

  • go on vacation (check)
  • go to the beach (check…more than once!)
  • go on a boat (check…thanks, grandpa!)
  • go swimming (so much check!)
  • swim in a pool (check)
  • go to the splash pad (check)
  • visit the Farmer’s Market (lots of checks)
  • play at some parks (check)
  • have a campfire (this has sort of happened, but not as a family)
  • run in the sprinkler (lots of checks)
  • play with friends we love (lots of checks!)
  • visit the zoo (maybe next week?)
  • go to the playground (check)
  • eat lots of ice cream (CHECK!)
  • Go to Sundaes on Wednesday at church (check)
  • Play on the slip n slide (check)
  • Chalk up the driveway (check)
  • ride bikes (check)
  • wash the cars by hand (check)
  • go fishing (check)
  • go to the donut shop (check…many times)
  • visit the library (check…each week)

I’d say we’ve had a pretty darn good summer. And if we can get to the zoo next week, that will be a great last hurrah before I head back to work.

Now if you’ll excuse me, the boys and I are doing some bead art stuff while watching Loony Tunes while Alice naps before we head out to see about that class list. I am required to help sort colors.

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ps. do you like the new header on the blog? That was done by Erin Barkel Photography. She really did a fab job!

pps. I have a project that needs funding over at DonorsChoose.Org. I need shelving for my classroom library! Can you help? Donate here.

Eight Weeks

“Hi mom. How did you sleep?”

Every day for a week this was my morning greeting.

Every day for a week Eddie and I moved into a comfortable buddy relationship that we have never had before.

Every day for a week I marveled at how Charlie went from my mushy little baby into a full on little so-and-so walking and babbling and being full of being Charlie.

Every night I fell into bed completely exhausted.

It was a wonderful exhaustion.

There were times when Eddie and I faced off, when he stopped using his words and instead used his screams and grunts.

There were times when I thought I might lock Charlie in his room for the rest of the day because he wouldn’t stop climbing on ALL THE THINGS (oh yeah, because he does that now).

I learned that Charlie is not ready to drop his morning nap unless we are out and about and super busy, but I also learned that his limit is 3 hours of nap a day.  Doesn’t matter how it’s broken up or when it is, 3 hours. Limit.  Otherwise? We are all up all night with someone who wants to party. Ahem…Charlie.

I learned that Eddie has a voice and that voice has something to say.  When Eddie is heard, his behavior vastly improves.  Every choice was talked over between the two of us.  Cereal or pancakes for breakfast?  Grapes or bananas?  Stop for gas now or later?  Should I have another cup of coffee or have some water?  Should I put Bird down for nap now or later?  Is it a cleaning day or a relaxing day?

Sometimes we decided he didn’t need a nap that day and he helped me with laundry and cleaning and playing Legos and entertaining Charlie and racing Mario Kart and making dinner.

We read books together and napped together and cuddled together and ate together.

He told me stories and made me laugh.

He broke my heart telling me when kids were not nice to him and how he didn’t say anything.

We talked about why flowers and plants and pets and people have to die, and how there is a time for new things to be born and grow.

He asked questions and made observations.  I asked him questions in returned and offered explanation when I had it.

Charlie discovered he can go pretty fast on two feet rather than two knees/two hands.  He found that he can climb on the footstool, the chair, and the couch.  He can also fall.  A million times.  But not a million-and-one times.  Nope.  That is when he suddenly got on his tummy and slide down feet first.  And clapped for himself.

Charlie learned the art of pushing boundaries.  How close can I get to touching something before I am redirected?  Does crying help? No, it does not. Darn.

Charlie protested milk and insisted on a bottle at least twice a day with FORMULA, NOT MILK, MOM! And if I insisted on milk? The bottle came flying back at me and wailing ensued.

Sometimes you choose your battles.

I watched two little men that at one time were little blobs growing in my tummy.  Now they are people with personalities and they are making their presence known with clapping and screeching  and dancing and singing along to the Sofia the First soundtrack.

And now we are back to our routine of daycare and work.  A different kind of exhaustion that is not nearly as satisfying.

But it’s just eight more weeks.

Eight more weeks until we can go back to the business of playing.