Midweek Through The First Week.

We have a third and fifth grader in the house.


It has been a little hectic, a little crazy, a lot chaotic…but I think we are settling in.

Emma got Mrs. S. – who she had as a teacher for kindergarten. About three years ago Mrs. S. moved to 5th grade and Emma has been frequently voicing her hopes that she would get her for a teacher again when she got to 5th. So she was overjoyed when she picked up the postcard. And her BFF Audrey is in her class, along with a lot of her other besties, so she is as happy as can be.


Could they look any older? Or any more ready for middle school already? It is astounding to see the change in them from just June until now. They clearly know they are the top dogs at the school now.

And as for our sassy, 3rd grader. She wanted and assumed she would get Mrs. J. because that is who Emma had. So she had a bit of a meltdown when she got Mrs. T. Audrey, who also had Mrs. T., tried to tell Ad that she is great and Mrs. T. helped her become a much better writer. “She really makes you work hard on your writing, Addie!” Oh, if I could’ve captured the look on Addie’s face when Audrey told her that. Not what she wanted to hear at all. Writing is clearly not going to be Ad’s forte.

But then we got to school and she realized that not ALL of her friends were in the other class. And…they get student planners and get to eat lunch outside like the big girls. So the tears have dried in her camp, too. (You can tell she is the social butterfly of the bunch. It’s all about the friends and fun stuff with our Addikins.)


Okay, they look way too old, too.

When I asked them on the first day what their goals for the year were, I got…

Emma: “To improve my handwriting.”  (Hallelujah.)
Addie: “To be a better writer.” (Surprising! But can I get another “Hallelujah?”)

Of course, ballet, piano, hip-hop, choir and girl scouts haven’t all hit the schedule yet – we are sort of easing into it all this week, but I think it has the makings of being a great year for all.


And then?

How long did you let me nap? I swear all I did was blink, and then all of a sudden, they are official 1st and a 3rd graders.


All three of us are exhausted from the festivities all day. Maybe I’ll get the rest of the excitement up later tonight. But for right now…we are on SUMMER VACATION!

My little spelling bee…


I can’t remember if I blogged about our stubborn little bee after the first report card or not but we had…uh…well…let’s just say Addie Roses had less than stellar marks in the ‘ol reading and spelling department.

Mrs. F. assured me that Addie was completely normal. And I assured Mrs. F. that Addie could sound out words and read many (little) books. But of course this whole ordeal made me a little bit crazy. I dissected it on the phone with my sister who is an educator, and talked about it ad naseum with all of my teacher friends here. Was it because I hadn’t spent enough time with the poor second child? Emma was flying through chapter books at this point in kindergarten, and I literally can’t stop her from reading every free minute she gets.

And yes, I know you cannot compare children. I’m well aware of that. But we parent them the same way – I’ve read to them every day of her lives. Surely Ad can’t be that different from Em, can she?

And then over Christmas, and pretty much for the past month or so, something clicked. I could almost see it “turn on” in Addie’s brain. And I remember Emma getting the same look in her eyes, the pride of reading a sign by herself, the confidence building within her with each finished book. And I am so happy to report that Addie is finally at that stage.

I was helping in her classroom on Friday and she just about floored me. Addie was sitting next to me writing in her journal while I helped her classmate. Addie had drawn a picture and told me what she wanted to write so I told her that I would help as soon as I was finished helping her friend. When I turned to help Addie, she said “Oh, I just sounded it out, Mama. I’m done.”  And her sentence said…

“This is a volcano.”

VOLCANO! She sounded out and correctly spelled v-o-l-c-a-n-o.

I think maybe all the worrying was for nothing. Little stinker. Apparently she can be that different from Emma. In fact, I’d say she is the exact opposite – at least in temperament.

It is Friday. Finally.


Well, Addie’s “before-school-morning-shenanigans” are definitely getting better. Yesterday and today we had a much easier time at school. She also told me this morning, “I like school now, Mama! I made a friend.” Of course when I asked her friend’s name she said, “Mmmm…I dunno? I don’t call her name.”

Okay, then. I’m hoping that the three-day weekend won’t mess with our progress too badly.


Mmmm…three-day weekend.

A few other things I’m happy for on this fine Friday:

-After being in NYC all week, Daddy comes home to us today.
-Generous neighbors and the use of their pool this weekend. (Which looks to be the hottest weekend of the year!)
-Pumpkin scones have returned to Starbucks.
-A fresh new haircut. (ADORE it, Diane…thanks!)
-A clean house.
-Getting projects off of my plate.
-New curtains.
-A great workout.
-Beach possibilities.
-Did I mention Daddy coming home?


Yeah, we are really excited about that one. Hope you all have a great and relaxing weekend, too.


A Rocky and Rough Start…

I can’t lie.

The first week of school has been a bit rough.

We were all so excited and couldn’t wait for school to start. Remember just a mere week ago – all dressed up in our new clothes with our shiny, new backpacks and lunchboxes, sitting on the steps, counting down the minutes til it was finally time to go to school?

Every single morning since that first morning, has been a constant battle. A struggle. Addie does not want to go to school. The pleading started when I was putting her to bed last Wednesday. “I don’t wanna go to school tomorrow, Mama.”

And it continues every morning. “Do I have to go to school today?” “Can you stay at school with me?” “Can it be a short day at school today?”

“I just don’t wanna go to school.”

It’s breaking my heart. More so than the thought of initially sending her off to school did. Her teacher suggested that maybe it was just too fun at home with Mama? Ha. She also said that once she gets to school, after she goes in and sits on the rug, she is fine. She is quiet, but there is no crying.

Quiet? Addison?!

So we are struggling a little bit with kindergarten, which is a very new challenge for us that we never faced with Emma Grace. A few more weeks and I think we will all have it figured out. Plus next week (on Ad’s birthday!) I’m going to start volunteering in her classroom, so I am hoping that will help – not hinder – our little problem.

Emma, of course, loves her class. Loves her teacher. Loves to go to school. So thankfully we don’t have any issues there.

We have however been having some serious ATTITUDE problems around here the last few weeks with both girls. Some of it is just getting back into a routine, and getting used to the long days again (or getting used to long days period in Addie’s case), but some of it was due to our very lax discipline around here all summer long, too.

So we had a family meeting over the weekend and instituted a chore chart with a poker chip reward system. (And also we made a weekly menu so that I don’t have to start the day off hearing, “I don’t want that in my lunch!” or “I don’t know what I want for breakfast.” They helped make the menu, so no complaints! I’ll update more on this when we see how it is working.)


But the chore/behavior chart with poker chip reward system? It is genius. I wish I could take credit for it, but I read about a similar tactic that Swistle was implementing and kind of stole her idea and adapted it to our situation.


The girls get a white chip for every chore they complete. I have listed five that I expect them to do every day, and then have a separate list of extra chores they can help me with like unloading the dishwasher, folding laundry or scooping cat poop if they want to get extra chips. They can also get a white chip for great manners, being kind to their sister – really whenever we see something good happening that we want to encourage.


Once they get five white chips, they can turn it in for a blue chip. One blue chip can be turned in for 1/2 hour of tv or 1/2 hour of computer time.

Aha!  There it is. What motivates my girls? TV and computer time.

But, I’m telling you – whatever works. And it is working! And the threat of taking their chips away…that is priceless. I’m not sure how long this is going to last, but we’ll see.

Now how can I work this chip system in and bribe Addie into liking school?

School’s In Session

And now we have a super second-grader….


And a kickin’ kindergartener….


Although they were not feeling very cooperative this morning…


At least not cooperative at the SAME time…


Emma looks to me like she is heading off to fourth grade! She looks so old.


And once she found her BFF, she pretty much charged into the classroom and never looked back.

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Addie was a little more cautious and unsure. But she was happy to have her best friend to walk to school with.


And after signing in…


And a little quiet time in the classroom with Daddy…


She was all set and ready for school.

And Mama walked back home with Daddy with dry eyes.

Yes, you heard me! The world did not implode. The hours flew by and before I knew it – it was time to walk over and pick up both my girls from school.

A good first day for all of us.

Peace. And Quiet. Very Quiet.

Today, (finally!) Addie got to start school. She is doing M-W-F this year and is thrilled to be going to school even more than she got to last year.

We met her new teachers (one of them is her Sunday School teacher) on Monday and every 30 minutes or so since then she has asked, “On this day, do I get to go to school?” (I LOVE that she always says that, “On this day…”)

(Apparently I am in love with parentheses today, too.)
(I think that is what happens when you are giddy with a quiet house all to yourself.)
(Okay, I’ll stop now.)

So anyhow, on THIS day, was Addie’s first day. The requisite first-day-of-school-under-the-tree-photo…


And the first survey of her new classroom before kissing Mommy and Daddy goodbye and dismissing us…


What a difference a year makes! Look at her on her first day last year, she looks so little and just a “toddler!”

1st day of school

And now we have this gorgeous, all grown-up looking girl. There wasn’t even a discussion if Bear should accompany her to school. She is a big kid now.

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No tears from anyone this year. I helped with the Parent coffee, ran to Em’s school and volunteered in her classroom and am now enjoying my own coffee and catching up on emails before I go pick Ad up. Two happy, in school girls?

A mama could get used to this.

A primer for FIRST graders (according to Em)

First graders are never scared.
My discussion with Em while tucking her in the night before school started…

E: I’m nervous about going to school tomorrow, Mama.
M: (Thinking this might be from discussions with a friend of hers earlier in the day) Why are you scared? What are you worried about?
E: Mmmm. I don’t know?
M: I thought you were so excited about being a first grader finally? Think of all the great things you are going to learn!
E: Hey, yeah. And first graders aren’t afraid of anything, are they?
M: I don’t think they are afraid of trying something new – and they definitely aren’t afraid of learning!
E: Ok. I’m not scared. And I think that first graders don’t need a nightlight either, Mama.

Alrighty then.


First graders are up before their alarm clocks (and parents).
Well, at least on the first day they are. We’ll see if this continues.


First graders get love notes on their way to school…


…and in their lunchboxes.


Speaking of which, first graders get to take their lunches to school!
It really was the highlight of our morning. Deciding what to take for our very first lunch, and packing it in our new lunchbox.  And no, I did not even *strongly suggest* this lunchbox. But imagine my excitement when she chose this one with the cute little tree and bird applique on it. And it says I *heart* trees.

Sigh. That’s my girl.


First graders still have to wait patiently while Moms take a million photos on the first day.


First graders line up to go into their classroom.
And seem oh, so very grown-up standing in line waiting for class. And they have classroom rules – three of them that she already knows by heart. And every time they do something good, they get a cougar paw and entered into a little lottery at the end of the week. Yeah, she already got her first cougar paw today. She was also office helper and line leader. Quite a first impression that kid makes, I’m sure.


First graders wait with crossed fingers to find out if their best friend is in their class.
It was pure agony around here the past week. They didn’t post the class lists until yesterday. I’m sure the shrieks of pure joy could be heard for miles when we walked over with the girls yesterday to discover that they were in fact in the same class.


First graders get awesome little crafty treat bags from their teachers.
Seriously – how cute are these?


…And then immediately break them open to share with their little sisters when they get home.


First graders are much better printers and spellers than kindergartners.
Although Em was a bit dismayed to learn that this week (Wed-Fri) they are doing a little kindergarten review. “It was a very easy day, Mama. I already know all that stuff.”

I can tell she was definitely trying very hard to print nicely. She doesn’t print that neatly at home for Mommy!


First graders are very relieved that first grade isn’t that much different from kindergarten…


…but are certain that it is going to be a whole lot more fun!
(For Mommy, too. So different than last year!)


School’s Out.

And then we had a first grader.

A first grader!

Every time I say that I have a catch in my voice and a lump in my throat. It isn’t just preschool or kindergarten, but an honest-to-goodness numbered grade. It just doesn’t seem possible.

But between bringing home an art portfolio that was bigger than she is and a glowing report card (seriously, she would have a hard time getting better marks or comments – she is such a good kid!), Emma left kindergarten yesterday for the last time. And she just can’t stop beaming or talking about the “most fun day ever!”


I have to admit, their little “graduation” party was pretty darn cool.

Even though we (a neighbor, two friends and myself) thought it a good idea to have a garage sale yesterday and today, I snuck out for a bit and went over to help out with the party, and take photos, of course.

They had little stations set up for the kids; bubbles…


…potato sack races…


…and water tables with water balloon games. By the way, I was filling up water balloons at midnight on Wednesday – and let me tell you, there is a definite art to filling them. I think I have mastered it after about my 50th balloon, and only breaking and getting sprayed by about 15 of them!

I don’t have a lot of action shots, because my station was…face painting. Another mom was doing tattoos and I painted. And painted. And painted – oh, probably close to 100 ladybugs, dinosaurs, puppies, kitties, butterflies, and flowers. There were 40 kids and once we got through all of them, one of them asked for another one on her other cheek, which started a mad rush to the painting table again. By the end of the day I had kids coming up and saying, “um…I still have a spot here!” as they hunted for a spare portion of their arm that didn’t have a tattoo or painting on it. It was really fun!

Except…all my pics of Em, as her last day as a kindergartner? She has this on her forehead.


Nice, eh? This was before she got more painting and tattoos…she was all inked up and the bathwater last night was dis-gusting!

Notice she did wear her dress that I “had to make for the last day of school!” But they all made t-shirts to wear to the party, so she ended up covering up the dress, anyhow. And she asked for me to braid her hair like Aunt Meesh. Although she told me in no uncertain terms, that it was not how Aunt Meesh does it. Everyone is a critic.

Then of course no party is complete without pizza and popsicles!


And goody bags.


And then it was time to say goodbye.


The little boy on the far left is Emma’s friend-who-happens-to-be-a-boy. His mom and I are always laughing about him (he has a twin sister that is in Em’s little group of girlfriends) tagging along with the girls. And apparently B. talks about Em. A Lot. And Em adores him.

So he walked up and said, “Have a nice summer Emma!” And her face just fell. He and his sister are going to a different school next year and I think it kinda sunk in that no more school, also means no more friends every day. And then I reminded her…almost every one of her friends lives within walking distance from our house. We could potentially see them a few times in the next few months. Silly girl.

And she also had another little playmate (who has been out of school for a week already) just patiently waiting for her first-grade sister to come home.


Trike’n It

Just when I thought it was safe to put the ‘ol checkbook away, Addie’s school has decided to do a trike-a-thon. Much like the Em’s jog-a-thon, only with…well, trikes and bikes.

I admire the creativity of our schools in finding new ways to raise the much needed funds and honestly I am very thankful we are not selling the horrid boxed candy. So we will be there, cheering on all the preschoolers.

We got a much needed new helmet for the occasion.

Biker Minnie Pearl

We will be removing the Minnie Pearl price tag before Saturday, of course.

And you can bet I will be taking photos. Fifty preschoolers riding around a track? I’m sure some sort of hilarity will ensue. Emma said to me today, “A trike-a-thon is probably going to be very dangerous, don’t you think Mama? All those kids on bikes, they are all going to fall down! I don’t think it is a very good idea.”

Yes, yes. They probably will. This coming from the (now 6-year old) girl who still panics when you let go of her bike without training wheels.

Yesterday morning Addie crawled in bed with us before it was time to get up and I asked her if she had asked Daddy for some “trike money.” There is nothing sweeter than hearing her little raspy-morning voice squeak out, “Will you sponsor me, Daddy?” (SUCKER!) And she has since asked me three or four times, but when I try to get her to call or ask relatives and friends, she won’t do it. She freezes up.

Thumbs up

But if you want to sponsor her, I know she would appreciate it and you’d at least get a very big “thumbs up!”