Back to school dinner…

Chinese food takeout has become our traditional back to school dinner. I used to make a beautiful homemade meal and then one year in order to simplify we grabbed chinese food and it’s been that way ever since!

This year we are focusing on the idea of “Love, Share, Invite”. It is as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. We talked around the table of different examples in these categories and Briggs and Hallie had vastly different ideas, but fitting for both of them all the same.

We reminded the kids just how lonely school can be for some kids (which is a foreign concept for many kids when they go to school with the same neighborhood kids year after year) and what a difference feeling loved and being invited can make. Can’t we all afford to feel loved? And who doesn’t want to be invited into the circle?! To the lunch table? To the swim party?

This year, now that we’re in person, we’re focusing on reaching out.

First day of school 2021…

Our highly anticipated day (with extreme temperatures of 111 degrees) has come and gone and each kid came home with their own version of the day.

Briggs had a great first day of school. He did tell us that the class almost missed their recess because the kids weren’t singing good enough. Not sure what that was about, but luckily the class redeemed themselves and the crisis was averted. He loved his pepperoni and crackers he had at lunch and he didn’t understand anything his Spanish teach said.

Cannon was happy to report that he sat by Avery at lunch and on the bus and played with her at recess so that is basically his best day. He also enjoyed his music class today and was a little bummed they didn’t do more math. 🙂

Bennett had nothing bad to report. He loved playing soccer at recess and there’s a new kid that is really good. He talked about how sweaty he got at recess and just how sweaty the collar of his shirt stayed long after recess. He has decided collar shirts are better left for cooler weather. He loved the fact that his teacher gave him an apple today and read them some stories.

Hunter admitted to being a little anxious starting junior high, mixed with some excitement. Of course as soon as he got there, and started classes he said it was all good. He recognized a lot of people from his school last year, sports and other social connections. He loved riding the bus (which was not the case for Hallie) he figures its just another 1/2 hour that he can spend with his friends each day!

Hallie came home less than enthusiastic. Her high school is undergoing some serious renovations but they’re only part way done and none of the area she sees has been updated yet, she was hoping it would be further along, instead, the campus is just torn up. She was also bummed that she didn’t have more friends in her classes. In a school of almost 4000 kids the chances of knowing people in your classes are slim – but there’s always a hope. And that hope was dashed today. The redeeming factor of the day was her friend’s birthday who brought Cane’s for lunch. The good thing about Hallie is she easily makes friends so although she doesn’t know any kids in her classes today, she’ll make friends before long.

Tomorrow is another day – a half day, but another day nonetheless!

Love where you live…part 1…

I have found my people in the neighborhood where we live! The people who are quick to respond to my mass text that asks who is willing to bring water balloons to ambush the kids getting off the bus on the last day of school. It’s become a neighborhood tradition that everyone looks forward to. A tradition that was squashed last year with COVID and the cancellation of school.

But this year we brought it back in full force. We had THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of balloons thanks to all the neighbors who contributed. (Which is made significantly easier thanks to ZURU quick fill balloons party pack. I remember the painful process of filling up balloons when I was a kid and you filled up 10 and didn’t want to fill up anymore!)

We made a call to the school and bus dispatcher to let them know that EVERY kid would be getting off the bus at our house for end of the year popsicles. The kids that have been here for a while knew exactly what “popsicles” really meant. The kids exited the bus to greet the neighborhood parents, younger siblings, and any kids in the neighborhood not riding the bus for one reason or another armed with water balloons.

And then the epic battle erupted. I’m always amazed at how fast that many water balloons can go. I saw all the coolers, bins, kiddie pools filled with balloons and I thought it would take forever to go through all them. Newsflash: It didn’t take much time at all!

Some kids timidly avoided the ring of fire and they tossed balloons from the outskirts. And then there’s those (Steve included) that couldn’t help but be right in the middle, soaking wet.

The drawback to throwing so many balloons is you have to pick up that many balloon pieces. You would think it would take longer than it does. But once the battle is over, everyone, kids and adults, picks up tiny fragments of colorful plastic all over our lawn and street. Within 10 minutes, it’s all cleaned up and we hand out all the popsicles.

It’s such a simple tradition. The kids love it and every year the bus driver sticks around and videos the event.

It brings our neighborhood together.

It strengthens our community.

And it’s another reason why we love where we live.

Last day of school…

We made it.

The kids were far more resilient than I was – they rolled with every new change like champs. I, on the other hand struggled with what didn’t feel normal. I took a very active role in my kids education and to do that across 5 kids was exhausting.

The online learning environment was a struggle and I could see it wasn’t a great situation for some of my kids so we had to adjust. By the time they were finally allowed to go to school in person they were disappointed to learn that half their friends would be attending on opposite days. But they rolled with it. Masks – no problem, they never complained.

After October break they got to go back to a full but distanced classroom and this was probably the happiest day of the whole school year. This came at just the right time to boost morale.

They worked through the never ending changes and rules that never seemed to make sense. Let’s play basketball. It’s postponed. Now it’s cancelled. Just kidding, do you still want to play with crazy rules? They jumped through so many hoops…and they just kept jumping.

They made it. They loved their teachers. They loved playing sports. They loved being with friends again. The school year started extremely rough and I was a ticking time bomb ready to pull them from their schools. Luckily I had a heavy trigger finger! It worked out. There were a lot of not so great moments and I’m hoping the school/district has learned how to manage this situation better in the future in case such a problem arises again.

We are happily closing the 2020-2021 school chapter and hope to not look back or repeat it!

Another chapter closed…

All good things must come to an end – and that includes preschool. I have paid our final preschool dues and I couldn’t be happier about the situation. Briggs had his final preschool program and even though I have attended this program 8 different times (two years for each kid) it never gets old. Each kid is so different and their performance is unique to them. Bennett is our most animated kid, but put him on a stage and he goes serious. For some reason, Briggs was trying so hard not to show his teeth and that in itself made me chuckle.

Seeing as though the teacher was retiring on the very last year we needed preschool was no doubt a tender mercy. All my boys went to her and there is one particular song where she invites previous students to the stage to sing along. I was hoping to have all four boys there to celebrate our teacher’s final performance, but Hunter knows his recess days are short and he wasn’t about to get pulled from school and miss recess.

But Bennett and Cannon were more than willing and they were happy to join Briggs on the stage to sing.

As you can tell, the theme for preschool this year was trolls and they’ve known all year long they were working for trolls trophies. And they did not disappoint! Briggs is now the proud owner of two vintage trolls which I know were hard to come by for the teacher to find.

This sweet lady has my heart. She has taken my kids in to her home and loved them like her own. Even when I know they were difficult. Side note: Hunter just reminded me of a time he got in trouble at preschool. He was always a mischievous kid and I often wondered how he handled being in her class. Anyway, some girl was using the drinking fountain and in Hunter’s eyes, she was taking her sweet time. Every once in a while she would stop sipping and look back at Hunter standing behind her waiting not so patiently I’m sure. After she would grin at him, she would slowly turn to the fountain and resume drinking. She did this a couple times before Hunter was done waiting and he pushed her head into the drinking fountain.

He has many stories just like that – but this teacher loved him anyway. She trained my boys to be obedient in the classroom and she was strict with them – and I know a few of them probably pushed her buttons. She taught them to read and she praised them and gave them confidence. She loved them. I see it in her eyes and my kids adore her as well. I can’t count how many times Briggs has created a picture that we had to drop off in her mailbox.

I find it a privilege to know we were with her when it ended – a teaching career that lasted over thirty years. And I feel blessed to have been associated with her. In a way, she’s made it so easy for us to move on without sadness because my kids are so ready. I don’t worry about them moving on. They’re ready. I’m ready. We’re all ready and it feels good. We’ve had such a fun preschool run and we have officially closed that chapter. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

We have just a few days left before all the kids are out of school and I’m enjoying these last moments of our one-on-one time. In all reality, he just wishes the play place at McDonalds would open back up – that would be his preference every day if given the choice. He doesn’t recognize the large changes that are coming so for him it’s business as usual. But I see them. I know change is just around the corner so we’re just going to soak in a few more moments.