Monday, August 18, 2014

First day of school

Today was the girls' first day of school -- 2nd grade for Delaney and kindergarten for Annie.  They go to a public charter school that is only in its second year of operation and doesn't have one building yet to house all the grades.  They will be building a new one this year, but for now they still use two buildings that are several blocks away from each other.  One is for kindergarten and 1st grade, and the other is for all the rest.  So last night and this morning I was studying Google Maps making sure my route was all planned out and I was ready for two carpool lines in the morning and in the afternoon.  I did not want to be the one driving the wrong way down a street and messing everyone else up.  It was a big day for all of us.

I woke up extra early so I could have time to make muffins and drink coffee in peace and collect myself.  A half hour later the day began with a bang for the kids when Timmy fell out of his bed and started crying.  Everybody was up and it was just as well since I was about to have to go wake them all up anyway.

Once we were all ready to go I had them go out front and pose for pictures.  No signs this time.:(  I just didn't get around to it this time but I think that's OK.
Drop off went pretty smoothly.  I went to Delaney's building first because I would be walking Annie in today. Delaney hopped out smiling after giving me my requested hug.  Then we drove a few blocks over and parked to take Annie in.  Annie was very quiet by now.  She didn't say a word, but for days I've suspected that she's having a lot of anxiety about starting school.  She's been picking her myriad mosquito bite scabs until they bleed, and picking on her siblings even more mercilessly.  I've tried to talk to her about it a few times but to no avail.  She does not want to talk about her feelings with me.  As the three of us walked toward the entrance of her school, with camera at the ready I said, "Annie."  She turned around and I snapped this picture.
I really felt for her in this moment when I saw the wariness of her expression and her body language that I know so well.  The way her hand is right there .. she holds her hands like that when she's determined not to appear afraid.  My brave little Annie.

Annie wanted nothing to do with posing for pictures by now, but I just couldn't resist taking a couple more once we got inside the building.  She found her classroom because she recognized the wall outside with the tree and all the names.  We had just been there a few nights before for open house.
Once we got inside I reminded her to hang up her backpack and put her lunch in her cubby, just like the note the teacher had given me during open house had told me.  Then after saying hi to her teacher I asked if I could take a picture of the two of them.  It didn't turn out so well.
After that I gave her a hug which she received as still as a statue, told her to have a great day, and left.  I know she'll be just fine after she's had some time to warm up to everybody.  It was the same day last year with Pre-K.  That was three mornings a week and I think it took a couple months before the teachers started telling me she was coming out of her shell and playing with the other kids.  Maybe it will happen quicker now that she's there seven hours a day Monday through Friday?  I hope so.  Oh Annie, what will we do with you, child..?

Back at home that morning I have to say I really savored the peace and quiet that reigned over the next several hours.  Sometimes I wonder if I'm doing something wrong when I see them behave the way they do.  I read a lot of blogs and they all paint a much rosier picture of home life and sibling relationships than what is my reality.  I know I could just post those pretty pictures from this morning and hide the reality, buuut I try to keep myself honest because I want to be able to look back one day and remember how it really was, the good and the bad.  There is just a lot of fighting around here.  It ranges from minor squabbles over stuff to all-out hair-pulling and biting (that's what they accuse each other of, although I have yet to find tooth marks on anyone or catch anyone in the act).  It's mostly Annie and Timmy, but sometimes involves Delaney, and usually Annie starts it.  Lately it has reached a fever pitch.  I've been putting people in "opposite ends of the house" and timeout quite a bit.  I've been praying for wisdom to know what to do.  When they get along things are wonderful, they're the best of friends and life is good.  But when they fight it's miserable.  Even still Timmy missed them both a lot today.  He told me several times, "I want Duwaney and Annie to come home now."  Absence makes the heart grow fonder.  I told him we'd go get them after his nap.

Pick up went smoothly enough but it was a lot more time-consuming than drop-off.  I still have yet to figure out exactly the right time to leave the house and the perfect route to take.  I left the house at 2:30, got in line at a little after 3 after taking one wrong turn, and she got in the car at 3:25.  I watched her for a long time before she saw I was there.  She looked hot and tired.  She didn't even notice when I was in front of her, and the teachers saw my car tag and called for her.  When she got in the car she seemed to be in a daze and I thought this day must have been like "shock and awe" for her.  By 3:30 we were in line at Delaney's building, and Delaney got in the car at 3:40.  Other than being hot and tired she seemed happy enough.  Timmy got pretty bored sitting in the car all that time, and I was grateful that all this waiting around in the car takes place AFTER I've had my nap and my afternoon cup of tea. 

So that was day 1 of many to come.  I have high hopes for this school year.  I've heard so many good things about this school from the people who sent their kids last year, and I think it's a great opportunity for our kids.  I look forward to telling you more about it.:)

Friday, August 8, 2014

The most ridiculous thing to be sad about..

.. is the loss of a tiny stuffed animal, one of hundreds owned by our children over the years.  But here I sit feeling sad and not knowing what to do because I've looked EVERYWHERE I can think of for this little guy, and he's nowhere to be found.  I think Delaney's even given up the search but for some reason I can't.  And I wonder why she's turning into such a hoarder -- I feel this way about a few things and she feels this way about ALL THE THINGS.

But there's a memory attached to this one and that's why it's so special to me.  Last year around this time we, just the five of us, went on a week-long vacation in Emerald Isle, NC.  We stayed in a house on the beach and everything was so perfect.  It was one of the most fun and relaxing vacations we've ever had from the full moon at night over the water, to grilling burgers and eating them on the deck, to kids playing in the water fully clothed, having fun dinners out every time with three kids (what?).. I could go on and on.  It was like the stars aligned and everything went right.  We could have done without the dolphin boat tour, but would be our only complaint.

During that week Delaney lost her first tooth and the Tooth Fairy, being short on cash, was pretty generous.  She also had earned some money doing chores, so one morning Tim took her out to pick out something to buy.  I think he took her out two separate times because she was so indecisive, and wanted to make sure that the thing she got was the thing she definitely wanted.  (I still have trouble with that myself!)  As a matter of fact she even tearfully regretted her final selection a day later, which was one of the most adorable toys ever: a bright red mama crab with a pouch on her back out of which peeked a little baby crab.  The baby was removable.  Delaney named the mama "Crabby" and the baby "Snappy."  She got over the finality of her decision and came to like them again, a lot.  Crabby and Snappy have remained among Delaney's favorites, one of the several that call her bed home.

About a week or so ago we went to a playgroup in the neighborhood and Delaney wanted to bring Crabby and Snappy.  As we were leaving Delaney said, "Wait a minute, I want to ride my bike!"  So I told her she could go get it and ride her bike to the house which was one street over from ours.  She dashed back to get her bike and her helmet, then she rode and the rest of us walked to the playgroup.  Since there was a bit of a drizzle I carried Delaney's bike up to the front porch to sit under cover, but I took no note of the toy or whether or not it was even there.  Delaney had stuffed it inside the little zipper pouch that sits on her handlebars.  A little while before we left Delaney mentioned that she didn't have Snappy and wanted to go to the porch and find him.  I told her to go ahead.  She said he wasn't there.  I didn't pay much mind to Delaney's concerns at this point because she's always fussing over a stuffed animal and I was too busy trying to make friends.  But after we got home and she was even more upset because she couldn't find him, I carefully re-traced our route back to my friend's house, then turned around and carefully looked at the road and the surrounding grassy area all the way back.  No Snappy.  I asked Delaney if she was sure, if she was positive, she had brought him.  She was adamant that she had, insisting that she remembered seeing him on the ride over and noticed he was gone while we were at the playdate.  I texted my friend asking her to look out.  She texted me later saying that she had searched her house and had walked to my house and back and hadn't found him.

Since then I've looked at the places where she probably ran in a hurry right as we were leaving the house that day.  The garage, the two or three places that helmets have been kept, and then extended my search to everywhere that she plays with toys.  I can't believe how much it bothers me that that little crab is gone.  I've prayed to St. Anthony, apologizing as I do so because he has way more important things to be helping people with.  I've wracked my brain thinking of places to look.  There aren't all that many nooks and crannies in our minimalist home.  I guess the only thing I haven't done yet is empty her and Annie's dresser drawers.  But I have changed their bedding a couple times since then and no Snappy has tumbled out.

Look at Crabby:
Is this not the most forlorn mama crab you've ever seen?  So sad!  I really need to get a hold of myself, don't I?  But it's hard because a day or so ago, Delaney showed me the August page of her calendar and pointed sadly at one of the days, and I said, "What?"  not understanding what she'd written there.  She said, "Snappy's birthday." :'( 

Well, Delaney, we may not ever find Snappy, but you've got to know I gave it my best shot!