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.

Another school project…

All my kids approach school projects a little differently – all of them good in their own way. Bennett’s approach has not changed since he was assigned his first project back in kindergarten.

When he gets an assignment, it doesn’t matter when the due date is, he wants to turn it in the day after it was assigned. Never fails, he comes home in a tizzy demanding we work on this right now and then I find out the due date is three weeks down the road. Let me tell you – if that deadline is three weeks down the road, I am not going to be offering all my time and attention on day one! 🙂

This has been a struggle over the years. His anxiousness to get it started, and my desire to work through a planning phase before jumping in. His desire to get it done quickly often overshadows the need for quality work – something we’ve been working on for years.

This project is part of an animal report he had to do on the flying squirrel. He had to come up with a diorama to go along with his report. After some frustration of not being sure of how he wanted to depict the trees, he landed on this idea and I love how it turned out. He was forced to slow down just a bit because Amazon only works so quickly.

I’m learning to address his needs of urgency and he’s learning to think through a project before jumping in – we’re both making progress!

Briggs the Cowboy…

How in the world is it finally “Cowboy” day at school. All these theme days mark time for me in the preschool year. Cowboy day seems to mark the steady roll down hill to the end of school. How is January over?

He’s been talking about this day for a while. I think his teacher must really hype up this day because every day he was asking Alexa how many days until January 28th. He made his horse days ago. He decorated his marshmallow guns. And today…he was ready.

He came home and we had a full fledged marshmallow war. The problem was he would shoot a marshmallow and then pick it up and eat it. Shoot another, eat it. Before long our war was over because he ran out of ammunition! I asked how he was going to shoot his brothers when they got home from school and he gave me a surprised and concerned face. “You need to go buy a new bag of marshmallows.” 🙂

And this is our 8th and only living stick horse.