Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Ten Things

1. Grandma took Riley to the WWII museum before he went back to school. They had a great morning!

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2. Look how big the Brownies are! So stinking cute.

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3. Nola and Nopsi gave Riley his birthday present early, and he’s already finished building it: the Scooby Doo haunted mansion set.

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4. More gorgeous skies. So much prettier in person.

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5. It’s a little weird not having this crazy kid with me every day.

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But don’t worry; I’m fine.

6. After school shenanigans.

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7. Dana and I took the kids to Moo-yah after Riley and Claire were done with their second half day of school. Milkshakes for all!

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8. The wonk potatoes wearing his Jack Skellington shirt and way too small Mickey slippers.

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9. Family dinner out at Cheesecake Factory!

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10. Kenny (with some help from Riley) has been busy on a project in Riley’s room: a platform under his dormer window with space underneath to play Legos. Riley is very excited.

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Rory has also requested a platform in his room, after he saw how cool it is. The boys are keeping Daddy busy!

Friday, August 19, 2016

New Adventures

This first full week of school has been tough. For everyone. Monday went fine; no issues.

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Since then, though, Rory has cried almost every day, turning on the waterworks even before we have left the house, and sometimes starting right after he wakes up. Mrs. Claire and Ms. Lisa have let Rory keep Tiger with him all day this week to help him cope. I know he hasn’t cried the entire school day: Lisa has told me that he plays with trucks and Legos and even jokes around during lunch. (He also told her before lunch one day that he was ready to take his nap. Too funny.) However, when I ask him in the afternoons what he did at school, all he says is, “I cried.”

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Riley had a major breakdown at drop-off on Wednesday morning, refusing to go inside the building. I chose to leave him on the front ramp in the capable hands of the school staff, and they handled the situation beautifully. He eventually went to class and ultimately had a good day. But I cried the whole drive home.

The level of anxiety I have experienced this week may be greater than theirs. All I can do is tell my boys that I’m sorry they don’t like it but they have to go to school. That I love them, and that I will be back for them in the afternoon. And then I have to leave them in the care of their wonderful teachers and trust that they will be okay. I know they will be.

But it’s so hard.

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I want them to enjoy going to school. I want them to learn everything they can. I want them to bound into the car in the afternoons, bursting to tell me about their days and all they did. I realize that is very wishful thinking. For now I’ll just settle for them not crying.

They don’t have to like school. They can wish they were home playing with their Legos and their trucks instead. But they do have to try. They do have to do their best. That’s all Kenny and I will ask from them.

I hope and pray that things will get better as their school days continue. There’s always an adjustment period after summer; I know that. And this being Rory’s first experience with school, I figured he would take time to get used to it. I just hope it doesn’t last for too long.

At the same time the boys have been struggling with their new academic adventures, I have begun a new adventure of my own. I have officially started training for the Walt Disney World Half Marathon. (The race is 140 days away and counting!) So instead of sitting at home wondering if Riley and Rory are okay at school, I’ve been running and doing Jazzercise.

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It’s actually been a decent distraction, even though it’s really hot outside right now during my runs. (Come on, cooler temps!) I’m following a 20-week program, with runs 3x a week, cross training (Jazzercise) 2x a week, and 2 rest days. My training is also interval based, meaning I run some and then I walk some. I started off easy: 10 reps of running 1 minute and then walking 2 minutes. I decided to run on the lakefront walking path right by the house, which has actually been nice. It’s breezy out there, and I have seen lots of other runners, walkers, and bikers.

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If you asked me a year ago if I would ever train for a half marathon, I would have said that you were insane to even think that was a possibility. But here I am, working towards a goal I never thought I would set for myself.

The boys can survive school. I can survive training.

Let’s do this.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Friday, August 12, 2016

School Days: First Day of PK3 {Rory} and 1st Grade {Riley}

It’s official! Kenny and I are the parents of a PK3 student and a 1st grade student at SCR. We found out their teachers and classmates on Monday at Book Day. The stars aligned this year: Riley and Claire are finally back together! Rory and Colin are in the same class, too. Dana and I are SO thrilled.

Parent orientation for the new school year was held on Tuesday night. We met the boys’ teachers and saw their classrooms. Rory is in the same room that Riley was for PK3, with Mrs. Claire and Ms. Lisa. So glad we have Lisa again! We love her. And Mrs. Claire seems very sweet.

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Riley is with Mrs. Smith, who seems really great and funny. This year is going to be eye-opening for the wonk potatoes, though: real tests with letter grades, lots of focus on reading and handwriting, and learning how to stay organized. I know he’s scared, but I also know that it will be a fun year for him. Not without its challenges, though!

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The night before the first day of school, Riley packed his new rolling school bag with his supplies. Then, before the boys went to bed, I read them special letters from each of their teachers, which we got at orientation. A very nice letter from Mrs. Claire for Rory, and a really sweet poem from Mrs. Smith for Riley, including magic confetti to put under his pillow.

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The boys requested blueberry biscuits for their first day of school breakfast, and Kenny and I must have checked 8 stores looking for them. No luck whatsoever; I’m afraid Pillsbury stopped making them. So in order not to disappoint our boys, we woke up extra early yesterday morning to make homemade blueberry biscuits. We also surprised them each with two new books.

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It’s going to take us a week or so to get back into our regular school morning routine, but we managed fairly well yesterday. Rory looks SO cute in his uniform, and Riley looks SO grown up in his. Here they are!

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Yesterday’s schedule was a bit nuts. Riley went from 8-11:30, while Rory went from 9-10:30. I took Riley to school for 8, and Kenny brought Rory at 9. Riley did fairly well at first, especially considering the massive amount of chaos that was happening all over the school. We got to his room and he gave Mrs. Smith his little gift. Then we found his desk, turned in his summer reading log and information sheets, and put his supplies away.

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Then the principal made an announcement saying it was time for the parents to leave. That’s when Riley lost it. He had a death grip on me and would not let go. Not even Claire could distract him; I didn’t even get a picture of them reunited in the same class! He just plain freaked out. I can’t say I wasn’t surprised, but that didn’t make it any easier. Luckily, kindergarten teacher Ms. Jen saw what was happening and stepped in, allowing me to extract myself. But as soon as I got out of the classroom, I leaned against the hallway wall and cried a bit. Even though I knew he would eventually be fine, I hated seeing him that upset and knowing there’s nothing I can do about it. See how red and puffy his eyes? He stopped crying just long enough to take a selfie with his mama.

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An hour later, it was Rory’s turn. I met him and Kenny at the PK3 building, where we were greeted by his teacher Mrs. Claire. I got him to give her his little gift, but he didn’t really want to and wouldn’t hug her afterward. Kenny and I walked him in and showed him his cubby and his classroom. Then he broke down.

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We tried to get him to sit down in his seat and play with the Legos on the table, but he wanted no part of anything. We finally just gave him hugs and kisses, told him we loved him and that I would be back, and left. The last thing we saw as we were walking out (me tearing up as I went) was Mrs. Claire holding him.

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When I picked Rory up at 10:30, he was smiling. He did tell me that he cried at school, but Lisa later told me that he stopped after about 15 minutes, which coincidentally was when they got to eat cookies. After that she said he was fine, playing with Legos, seeing how the Promethean board works, and talking on the carpet as they went through their morning routine. They also got to take a special cookie home!

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Rory and I killed some time at Barnes and Noble while we waited for the big kids to be finished…..

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…..and then we got in the supremely long carpool line to pick up Riley. It just so happened to be raining yesterday, which, when combined with the very first day of school, made for an awfully slow dismissal process. So slow, in fact, that Rory ended up falling asleep for about 20 minutes.

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But we finally got Riley, who luckily was also smiling. He told me they read a story called First Day Jitters and then enjoyed magical jitter juice to send their jitters away. Mrs. Smith also did a poll to see who was excited, happy, nervous, or sad about the first day of school. (He said he was 1 of 2 people to put sad, “because of my tears, Mama.” The pic is from the other class, but they each drew a picture of themselves and put it on a chart.) And he got to share his first assignment from Mrs. Smith: his “All About Me” bag. We got this at orientation as well. Riley had to decorate a paper bag and fill it with 5 items that represented him. He chose to include Giraffey, a Lego guy, a mutant machine car, a WWII airplane toy, and a purple quartz crystal. He told the class all about his special items and what they meant to him.

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And with that, both of my boys (and their mama!) survived their first day of the 2016-17 school year. Riley goes back tomorrow for another half day, and then they both start full days on Monday. I know it will take some time for both of them to adjust, but I just pray that time comes sooner rather than later.

It’s going to be really hard for me to celebrate having my days to myself if they both cry every morning at drop-off.

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