Back to School, Back to Blogging?

The last few weeks I feel my heart yearning again for the self-fulfillment of blogging. It's probably partly thanks to a need to fill the emptiness from three kids being back in school. I've wandered over here a couple of times thinking maybe I'll write something up. So far nothing has happened. Maybe now? If anyone is reading this then "now" happened. Hooray!

School year 2014-2015 has been in session for three weeks. I was so ready for it. Which makes me feel a hefty dose of Mom Guilt. No other year have I been so excited to send my kids back to school. In fact, I was always kind of depressed at the thought of having them go back. But this year I was counting down the days. Let's blame it on the screaming/teasing/fighting sessions between Child #3 (Elle) and Child #4 (Cee). That contention and noise level took an immediate and very noticeable decline the very first day of school. Ahhhhh. Sweet audible relief!

The best image I could get of the hallway tantrum
After a summer of living on the battle front imagine my surprise to find that my girls really do love each other. That first day of the new year Cee and I visited Elle's classroom shortly after school had begun for a brief meeting with the teacher and parents. When it was time to go Cee clung to Elle with everything she had and began to cry when I tried to pull her away. A very toddler tantrum was thrown in the hallway when I finally pried her away from her sworn enemy/bosom buddy. I never knew "hostility" was a love language. You learn something new every day. 

As previously mentioned, the three oldest children are now all in school for a full day. (Yahoo!!) They were less than thrilled about returning. I mean, we did manage to have one of the best summers EVER this year so it's understandable. But still...when I was a kid I LOVED going back to school. Old friends, new friends, new teachers, new clothes, and best of all, NEW SCHOOL SUPPLIES! These three weren't feeling the love Monday morning when the alarm went off for the first time in months, but they were speedily convinced all was well after that first day. 

Dee is loving his 4th grade teacher. She's very chill and casual, even though she has a whopping 32 kids in her classroom! (Ugh!) He came home declaring her to be the best teacher ever and wished he had her for every class EVER. Very high praise indeed. 

I met Jeigh's teacher briefly that first morning. Less than an hour into the school year and she already had her shoes off. As a big fan of bare feet myself I'm not judging her for that. What I didn't care much for was her sarcastic manner and abundance of eye rolling along with the inability to make eye contact. Sarcasm is lost on 3rd graders. And their skeptical mothers.
We've already had some issues with Jeigh's homework this year. As in the back-breaking amount that is coming home each week. The second week in Jeigh was sent home with a THICK packet of math, language arts, and spelling. We worked together on it every night for 2-4 hours. Each night ended in tears of frustration on Jeigh's part and deep breathing and counting to 10 on mine. In spite of our best efforts we still had to turn in empty pages on Friday. I was hoping it was just a fluke but when the next week was met with an even thicker bundle I sent a message to the teacher asking to speak with her. 

These are 3rd graders. This isn't college. They are at school for 7 plus hours a day only to have to come home and work for an additional several hours?! With that load of homework there was no time for chores, room cleaning, piano practice, sometimes reading, dinner prep (for me since I had to sit and help her through every part), much less down time, play time, or family time. With two other school-attending children I cannot give that much time to one child's homework, even if I wanted to. Even as much as I love school, believe me, this isn't something I want.

I was so nervous to meet with the teacher but fortunately she seemed very understanding and gave us permission to cut it off at 30-40 minutes a day. Math is the priority, then Language Arts, then Spelling last. I assumed this was on top of reading so an hour of homework total each day. I'm absolutely good with that. I think a little homework is great but nothing like we were doing the first week. 

Here's the remaining problem: I'm too OCD to let her turn in those empty pages so we still slogged through every single page of homework and spent far more than an hour a night. 33 years old and I still can't defy authority. That's my own weakness. I need to work on that. What's best for my child is more important than pleasing some 3rd grade teacher and hours of homework every night is not what's best for an eight year old child. Balance. Balance in all things.

Elle's 1st grade teacher is very sweet. This is her first year of teaching and she looks like she's 14 years old. With her youthful looks, soft spoken manner, porcelain skin, and rosy cheeks she reminds me of a character you would find in a children's book, such as Miss Honey from Matilda. I think she will be perfect for Elle who is the child I worry about the most.

Even with this very kind, gentle teacher Elle is having a hard time transitioning to a full day of school. She has come home grouchy every single day. She has been extra whiny, mean, and stubborn. Getting her to do her daily reading has been especially trying. I figure she's just tired and overwhelmed from a full day but I hope she makes this adjustment quickly. (Please oh please oh please!)
I laughed harder than I have in ages at this. THIS is my life right now.
One thing she is loving about school is the gluten free lunches. I was really worried about how to feed her at school. Gluten free bread is less than appealing fresh out of the bag. I shudder to think how it tastes after several hours of sitting in a lunch bag. She has had a lot of fun trying the variety of hot lunches from the school. This is a huge relief for both of us.

While all the kids are off at school, Cee and I are left to our own devices. It has been quite pleasant to spend the quiet hours of the day with just her. I foresee much spoilage in this child's future; it's almost like she's an only child. I suppose the baby of the family has all the fun (...says an Oldest Child).
First day of school lunch and cookies with Mom

These kids got a little spoiled too with our traditional first day of school ice cream trip

She and I have started some very casual, yet purposeful educational efforts about three times a week. Since we don't care to get dressed if we can help it I've dubbed it "Preschool in Pajamas". So far our lessons have been "let's read a book and then do a little activity based off what we read". Very little effort but it's going beautifully. This is the most successful I've been with preschool ever. Before my "lessons" were too big and grand and structured. Plus there were too many kids at home to focus on. This is very quiet and homemade and takes only 15 to 30 minutes. I should probably humble myself a bit, but I can't help taking great pride in our little school sessions. She seems to be loving it too.

So that's the nitty gritty of the beginning of school this year. As much fun as summer was, it's always nice to get back into a schedule and a routine. And in a couple of years...it might be MY turn to head back to school too! What a terrifying/exciting thought!

Oh one more thing! It's super silly, but I'm giddy about this little Amazon purchase:

I was pretty sick of wasting my money on pathetic pencil sharpeners that basically chewed up the ends of our pencils. School work has never been sharper!

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