Friday, September 2, 2016

News from our new routine: Right Now

3 happy kids as summer wound down and headed in to school year adventures. 

I like lists and have been missing Ten on Tuesdays so here is a look at where we are "Right Now."

1. Back to school is kind of hard on my.  I go from a house full of people all day to usually just me. I am a people person and it still is a little confusing that I telecommute given that, but it is so good in so many other ways.  Luckily, my mom has been around a few days a week of late dropping in here and there, but still definitely lonely. This, inevitably, lead to an emotional discussion with Brent on wholly unrelated topics that we both knew was really about my difficultly with transitions and the intense logistics of back to school when all of us, one way or another, have our daytime driving by school calendars. (Brent and I work for two different schools, our 3 kids go to 2 different schools... uh huh).  We LOVE education. Anyway, a lot is changing and going on so I wanted to hit some high and not so highlights here.

2. THE most exciting things this back to school revolve around B, which is cool. B is, like his daddy, not the world's "most" enthusiastic/emotive person on a daily basis.  Last year was hard with transitioning schools, a more demanding teacher, and adapting to all the newness.  This year is off to an amazing start.  He has the only male teacher in the school and LOVES it.  Loves his teachers, the class, looks forward to it, and seems to be thriving.  He has maybe found a new best buddy or two as well, which rocks.  He is willingly doing the very minimal homework he has and reveling in knowing he is really good at some of these things like reading and math.  He is excited about and enjoying 2 hours a week of enrichment (gifted and talented program).  He just seems baseline happier, more cooperative, more chatty, every day.  Such a relief.

3. There is MORE big news for B.  Remember his love of swim team this summer? Well, yesterday he finally started swimming with the King Marlin Swim Club (KMSC). I could probably write a whole post on our kids' activities they have tried and done, but not been passionate about.  We have had the opportunity to expose them to a lot of things and they have taken us up on it.  So far, B has tried - soccer (1.5 years), baseball (1.5 years), basketball (2 weeks?), archery (3 months), Tennis (4 months), Spanish (1.5 years)--- some he liked more than others, but rarely was he really all in.  He is SO all in to swimming.  He has been looking forward to it, practicing his strokes when we visit the neighborhood pool, helping gather supplies for the new team, and being very accepting of the new schedule that means swim team practice 4x a week for 45 minutes. We have never committed this level of time or resources to an activity, but also it never felt like there was an interest. I missed taking him to the first day of KMSC practice because the other 2 kids had teacher/parent meetings. We prepped him with information from our neighborhood coach whose kids swim for this club as well.  She is amazing.  Grandma took him and there were no problems, just 100 or more kids swimming hard. From school/neighborhood teams he knows maybe a dozen including one of those new buddies from school!  He came back super pumped and super starving.  He wants to compete asap.  He says they swam more laps yesterday than in all of the summer combined and yet he loved it.  We are so completely thrilled that he has found something he loves to do that is good for his body, good for the practice of routine exercise, good for his psychology and just plain fun.  Hooray for swimming and GO Marlins!

4.  M is maybe more of a mixed bag.  Lucky for us our kids seem to take turns with the highs and lows.  M is fine.  Her teacher is super enthusiastic and different from last year.  M says they spend a lot of time in circle time and her back hurts.  She is making new friends as some of her best friends are in other classes.  She is having nagging stomach issues, but maybe improving with the acid reflux.  Most of her issues, I think, are at home.  There is a lot of whiny and way too much lying about whether or not she has done what we told her too.  We are tightening up her supervision and basically watching everything she does to verify it is happening.  I doubt it is fun for her and it isn't for us, but we really have to help her build habits of cleanliness, honesty, and good health.  She is leaving chores half done by, for example, putting clothes that go in her drawers in the video game baskets.... So, there's that.

5.  The better news for M is her love of horses and english riding.  She doesn't even need to get on the horses.  She would love to just hang around in the stables and smell them...yes, you read that right.  We arrive at riding lessons 15-30 minutes early most week so she has time to wander the stables.  This week she is being promoted to group riding lessons which are the same price as the semi-private (2 rider) lessons of last month, but now last an entire hour.  She is psyched.  She is reading non-fiction and fiction books about horses. Sometimes a large number if imaginary horses live in our backyard.  She practices posting at the bus stop and everywhere else.  She has a whole area of her room which is a stable area for her toy horses.  It is definitely obsession level.  I don't see, yet, the need to compete that B has with swimming. She just enjoys doing it and being with the animals and I'm just as happy to invest the money in lessons v. competitions and all the gear that goes with it.  Saturday riding lessons are the best part of her week and she is so antsy to go before hand that she can barely handle it. (As a reminder prior to this she has tried dance lessons - 3 different years), Gymnastics 2.25 years, soccer - 1 season, swim team - summer, french - 2 years, girl scouts - ongoing) she tends to alternate between dance and gymnastics and prefers dance of the two, but with nothing like the fervor of the horse riding.  M loves to perform so weeks and weeks of lessons for one performance doesn't really match that although I know as she got older there would be more performance opportunities.  For now, we're fully embracing the love of horses and riding.  She says she wants to be a riding instructor when she grows up.

6. My poor, sweet E is exhausted.  Pre-K for him is actually more time in school than our bigger kids spend.  He, I'm told, does not nap at school.  When he is tired, he goes super fast --- think running all over, which is confusing.  He stops listening and starts hitting people or throwing things.  You can imagine how well evenings are going right now. I think he will adapt, but it is taking some time.  We had his parent/teacher group meeting yesterday and while the comments from his teacher were directed at all the parents I feel sure E is doing all of these things - taking off all his clothes to go potty, not always wiping well, not washing his hands with all the steps (water, soap, rub hands, rinse, dry), being distracted at lunch/not eating, not staying in his chair at lunch/snacktime, not keeping hands to themselves, forgetting to say please and thank  you, wearing a belt, forgetting to go to the bathroom before going to school, should I continue? These are all really life skills not academic ones, but they are things 4 year olds struggle with and we're trying to do a better job of emphasizing them here too.  Scandalously, I accidentally sent him in black rather than navy pants on Thursday.  Who knew we even had black dress pants for him? There was a stern note.

 This week's pre-K color is "yellow" (They are reading all curious george books, obvi) and the theme is "letting your light shine." So we're trying to emphasize that at home too and making sure his light is shining before he goes to school.  This is basically a reminder to be kind to everyone, share, help, talk nicely, mind your teachers, not throw fits, etc..  We talk about ways he is shining his light and try to keep him focused on that.... we shall see how that goes.  It is really hard to have all the tired struggles as I know he remains my sweet, snuggly, adoring boy under all that, but right now he is struggling through transition too and we're trying to help, but do have to also do a lot of parenting to keep him on the path. We, amazingly, did remember to bring his show and share item today - yellow, as requested.  He chose "sunshine bear," which seems perfectly on theme.  I"m excited for a more relaxed weekend with him, reading his new favorite ninja turtles in space book Grandma brought him yesterday.

7. Brent is actually the happiest and least stressed in the fall as he is mostly just teaching classes not doing quite as many of the administrative/camp things.  He is taking E to school two days a week and maybe coming home to cover swimming lessons some days too.  The thing about all school and these activities for our kids is they require a lot of logistics from us and getting everyone to the right place with the right stuff. For example, there can be 15 lunches to be made, 15 folders to review, 10 snacks to pack, etc...  We're working on being a true team on this front so we each really know what is needed and work through the prep together so neither of us goes crazy.  We're also working on the kids doing more of the prep themselves - especially things like lunch and snacks.  (Hooray!).  Otherwise, Brent is getting ready for football season with his dad, playing games with Gavin and Eric, doing lots of LEGOs with the kids, brainstorming fixes for the camps for next year,  and preparing for some of my upcoming trips away.

Yes, you read that right, I'm going to leave the chaos for a ridiculously brief trip in Sept. and then again in October. I should note that I was, in fact, for possibly the only month so far this year actually in Oklahoma every single day of August.

So that's pretty much where we are now.  Trying to adapt on lots of fronts and so, so excited for a three day weekend. 

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