School Days

Here we are again. It’s been a while since I have posted anything here. We have had a whirlwind of a summer. I feel like summer had really just begun these last couple weeks and here we are starting school again.

This was the summer of “The Move.” We finally bought a house. It is terrifying – the financial responsibility home ownership after renting for so long. But, it was definitely time to do it. We spent most of the month of May getting the new house ready – painting, cleaning, etc. The kids got out of school June 7th and we moved June 8th. Then, amidst unpacking and trying to get settled in the new house, we spent most of June cleaning, painting, and fixing up the old rental house before we turned the keys over. July sped by as we worked on getting settled and here we are already in the middle of August (still with some boxes to unpack) and school has started.

There are so many reasons we wanted to move, but the primary reason has always been to get the kids in better schools. One day in and I am so incredibly grateful for the school district we are now in. The supports they have built into the school day for the kids are amazing. Teachers and counselors have been extremely responsive. The higher expectations they have for their students are laid out from the beginning. I am so excited about the options and opportunities they will have here. Even my oldest, for whom school is rather challenging (and who hates change and new experiences) had a great first day yesterday and is very positive about everything so far.

The hardest part of school starting is going to be adjusting to a new schedule. The bus is coming at 6:40 for the big kids, which is a huge difference from what they are used to. And a huge difference for me. My new wake up time is 5:30 a.m. Let’s just say I’m not a morning person and neither are my kids. The bus thing is all new as well. For the last 9 years, I have driven kids to school every morning. It is strange to put them on a bus and trust someone else to get them to school and back home.

The benefit of this schedule, however, is a little quiet time to myself in the mornings in between the bigs leaving and the little one getting up. I don’t know how long I’ll keep it up, but for two days in a row now I’ve been showered and ready to start my day at 6:30. Since Caleb’s bus doesn’t come until almost 8:00, I have a little time to just do my thing before I even need to wake him. Today, I’m writing. Not that this is anything amazing, but knocking the cobwebs down in this space is a good thing. I’m hoping to spend more time writing, reading, photo editing, maybe even exercising (!). I’m sure a routine will work itself out over time. For now, I’m just enjoying the quiet in this space.

We also added this guy to our family about a month ago. Phoenix is an almost 10-month-old Jack Russell Terrier. His family needed to re-home him due do some medical and scheduling issues and I’m so happy that we were able to add him to our family. He is super energetic, but also so sweet and loving – just not so much toward the cats. We’re working on some training, but he loves to go on walks (and runs) and is getting me out exercising as well which is a great thing. I’m totally smitten.

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6.99

Tomorrow Caleb turns seven. It’s not one of those big monumental birthdays, just a regular middle-of-the-road kind of birthday, yet it still feels very significant. This morning I pulled up Facebook and was greeted with a photo memory the two of us, taken just before his first birthday. Oh how life has changed since then.

caleb reading bey blade paper
Checking out new bey blades

As I scrolled through the memories that Facebook so graciously pulls together, I clicked over to one of my Tuesdays With Caleb posts. That sent me through a wormhole here on this site as I read and reminisced over the photos taken during that time with him. What I wouldn’t give to have those days back. I was definitely thankful then for that time, but even more so now. Being able to work from home a couple days a week and spend time with him was such a gift.

caleb on ipad
a little iPad time

So much has changed since then and I’m a little sad that I’ve failed to document it. I’m really sad that I was not able to continue the photo project I started with him. I’ve taken snapshots on my phone and posted little tidbits to Facebook and Instagram, but the early years of his life were not documented in the same way that his siblings were. I can blame it on life being more busy with three little ones, or the fact that life with Caleb has been a little bit more of a difficult adventure than we expected, or even the fact that I just can’t calm my brain down enough most days to focus on writing, but regardless, I am sad that I don’t have that time to look back on. I have memories, but the details are lost.

caleb with bey blades
Let ’em rip! Bey Blade time!

Today is President’s Day, so the kids and I all have a day off of school and work. We’re preparing to celebrate Caleb’s birthday tonight with the family as tomorrow will be busy with back to school/work/activities. I pulled out my camera this morning and decided I’m going to document just a little. I can’t promise that I’ll continue to write, or even keep up with the photos – but for today, I’ll have those photos and this post to document this time in his life.

cat playing with paper
Bonus kitty photo!

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Taking Stock: November

When life gets to the point of insane-crazy-i-can’t-take-one-more-thing is usually when I most feel the desire to write. Sadly, it is also the time when I can barely keep a thought straight in my head long enough to write it down. So, naturally, I’ve been wanting to write like crazy lately, but there has been absolutely no way I could do it. By the end of the day my brain is mush. Then today I came across this post by my friend Cass during a quick brain break and got inspired. I love the “Taking Stock” idea – short, sweet, and directed so my mind can’t wander too far! Here’s my take:

Making : Crocheting a Luigi Cap (of the Super Mario variety) for Zach. He saw one for sale at a carnival and really wanted it. I opted to buy the $4 ball of yarn and make it myself.

Cooking : Mostly just anything that comes frozen and can be thrown in the oven quickly (life needs to slow down). But, I’m really craving my favorite pumpkin cranberry bread recipe and suspect that it will be happening as soon as I have a chance.

Drinking : Diet Coke (always) and the last few Woodchuck Summer Time Ciders. I’m always sad when they disappear off the store shelves at the end of the summer.

Reading: The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges, S.H.A.P.E. by Erik Rees, and The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller, all for a class/Bible study that I’m currently a part of. With all of that I haven’t had time for any pleasure reading other than a daily stroll through Facebook.

Trawling: Instagram – because sometimes I just want to see pretty things.

Wanting: Clothes that fit and flatter my currently more-flabby-than-it-should-be figure, and shoes that don’t make my feet hurt after being in them all day.

Looking: At the clean surface of my kitchen table because it is the only clean surface in my house at the moment.

Deciding: If I should finish this or just give up and go to bed. I’m kinda on a roll, but my eyes are getting sooooooo heavy.

Wishing: That my house would magically clean itself. I mean, who doesn’t want that?

Enjoying: Having some “alone” time in the kitchen while the rest of the fam is hanging out in the living room watching tv and playing video games. It’s kind of the best of both worlds, though it would be better if my comfy chair could also be in the quiet kitchen with me.

Wondering: If I will ever feel like there is enough time to do it all, or if I will just always fill 110% of the time I have and always feel like there is never enough.

Loving: Firebrand Collective and everything they are doing for the KC creative community. I just wish my schedule allowed me to participate in more of their awesome hangouts and co-working times.

Pondering: Whether or not I want to go back to school, or better yet, whether I have the stamina to keep up with it, a full-time job, a side business, and my family.

Listening: To Caleb describing why he needs to get the toothpicks wet that he’s carrying around.

Considering: Whether or not I should be concerned about the fact that he is carrying toothpicks around and needing them to be wet.

Buying: Christmas gifts….ssshhhhh!

Watching: This Is Us. Best new show that I’ve seen recently. It’s not quite filling the Parenthood hole yet, but I am definitely enjoying it.

Hoping: That I get to sleep in tomorrow morning without being disturbed. For the first time in at least two months, we have nothing scheduled for Saturday morning.

Marvelling: At my friend’s brand new grandson and the crazy progression of time. His mother was barely three when I first met her and now she has her own baby boy.

Cringing: At the current political climate of the United States. I’m both anxious and terrified for the upcoming election.

Needing: A good night’s sleep – preferably more than the five or so hours I normally get.

Questioning: Why I’m still doing this even though I probably should be in bed sleeping.

Smelling: Home. But I kinda wish I was smelling some freshly baked chocolate chip cookies at the moment.

Wearing: Jeans and a hoodie – my favorite Fall/Winter combo

Admiring: My friends who stand firm in their beliefs and are not afraid to speak their mind, no matter who the audience may be.

Bookmarking: Pixeden. I found some awesome textures to download that really completed some recent photos I took. I’ll definitely be visiting there again.

Disliking: That the days are getting so much shorter. I hate leaving for school/work when it is still dark outside and I hate even more that it is dark when I come back home. I need the sunlight.

Feeling: Overwhelmed and worn out. Between our crazy family schedule and a huge software changeover at work I just feel like I haven’t had any time to just be. I’m actually welcoming the slow down of winter this year.

Helping: My kid with lots and lots of homework. We had to crack down a bit after we found out that it wasn’t getting completed (even when we were told it was) and actually handed in. Now I’m on homework duty nightly to make sure it is finished and to help as necessary.

Hearing: Mythbusters on the TV. My kids absolutely love watching it and I love that they are actually learning while they watch it.

Celebrating: A successful first volleyball season for Evie. Her team may not have won a lot of games (or, you know, any) but she learned a lot about volleyball and how to work together as a team and had a blast doing it. We’re both looking forward to the Spring season!

Pretending: That I have it all together and that I can actually get 19,384,230 things done in a 24-hour period.

Embracing: The craziness of this life. We’ve had a wacky, super-full schedule lately but it is winding down after busy sports seasons and adjusting to a new school schedule. Now it is time to start the holiday craziness instead!

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What Makes Us

Our experiences make us who we are. We hear that simple statement so many times during our lives, albeit in many different forms. But it’s true, isn’t it? Everything that happens in our lifetime molds and shapes us into who we are from infancy through our eventual death.

This idea of experience has hit me several times during the last several days, both through personal challenges and exterior observations. I’ve been thinking a lot about how my lifetime experiences have shaped me into who I am now, and about how I am shaping those around me simply by being me. I see glimpses of myself in my kids, both good and bad at times.

I think about Caleb, who spent the last 9 months or so attending Montessori school – an opportunity my other two children did not have. He learned a lot of skills there that they will learn or have learned over time, through home or other sources, but he has had this amazing experience that they will never have.

My daughter is getting ready to head off to a new school next year where she will have so many opportunities for learning beyond what is offerered in a traditional school classroom. How will that change her and shape her life differently than if she continued on her current path? I can’t wait to see.

My oldest son, who has struggled for so long, had the best school year he has ever had thanks to a teacher who really cared about finding ways to make things work for him. Changing a few things both environmentally and procedurally made a huge difference for him. He now has a positive outlook on school where it has always been a little negative.

Our work environments, our social environments, our Spirituality, our teachers and mentors, our friendships – all of it makes us who we are. I am not the same person I was even three short years ago. That time in my life seem so far away now. Not that life is perfect by any means, but losing my job may have been one of the best things that ever happened to me. It forced me to change my environment and get out of my comfort zone where I could grow instead of remaining stagnant.

I’m not even sure where I’m going with this rambling, disjointed entry so I’m just going to publish it and call it good. This is just what I’ve been thinking about.

**random picture of my boy just because!

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Gifted

A couple of months ago, my phone rang. It was a local number I didn’t recognize, so I almost didn’t answer. I caught it on the last ring, just before voicemail would have picked up, thinking that it could be one of the kids’ schools calling.

The woman on the other end of the phone introduced herself and said she was calling about my daughter. Based on recent test scores, they wanted to test her for a program for exceptionally gifted children and she was calling to ask my permission. Say what?!?

It is no secret that my children are all very smart kiddos. The two older kids are both involved in the gifted program at their schools and have always done very well in school. I’m pretty sure that Caleb will follow right along in their footsteps in a couple years as well. I mean, hey, they all take after me, right? Seriously though, I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging, but they are all very intelligent kids.

This whole thing took me totally by surprise though. For one thing, I had never even heard of this program. For another, there are only two (yes, 2) other kids in her grade level currently in the program out of the three school districts that it covers.

To make a long story slightly shorter, I agreed to have her tested and she passed and even I was impressed with the results of the IQ test. Yes, I knew she was a smarty pants, but whoa.

However, there was still a lot to consider. Going into this program would mean changing schools and school districts. Since she just changed schools last year, I worry a little about uprooting her again. Plus, we have to consider transportation to/from school, lunch costs, and before/after school costs (which are much higher).

Then there is the social impact. Evie is a very social little girl and always has been. At the new school she would be going into a classroom with only a few kids in her grade level. They do join the other regular classes for recess and specials (music, art, p.e., etc.) during the day, but the majority of time is spent in a very small group.

The educational experience though, is so far above and beyond what she can get in a regular classroom. It really would be amazing for her and allow her to really excel.

So we went to visit and check out the program. The first thing we found out when we got there was they she knows the other two kids that are in the program – one from her kindergarten class, and the other from preschool. (+1 in the social department!). The other kids in the 2nd/3rd grade class told us all about the kind of projects they have been working on and a little about how they do things in the classroom. We were also given a quick tour of the school by the girls. Then we got to see some examples of the coding project that they have been working on.

All in all, Evie was very impressed. We went in not knowing for sure if this was something either one of us wanted to do, and left feeling pretty certain that it was the right thing for her. She is very sad about leaving the school she’s at now, but is also now excited about going to a new school and experiencing all that it has to offer.

It will mean a lot of schedule wrangling and adjustments, especially since the kids will not even be in the same school districts. I hope that we find it is worth it though. And, if she doesn’t like it or we find it just isn’t a good fit for her, she can always go back to her home school.

I’m still a little blown away by the whole thing, but it really is happening!

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