Tuesday, August 11, 2015

In the blink of an eye

Six years ago at this time I was eagerly approaching my due date.  I can still remember the extreme discomfort of being pregnant.  In August.  In hot, humid Hampton Roads, Virginia.  I just wanted to touch my toes damn it!  And despite the discomfort, I was so thankful to feel it's kicks and jabs on a regular basis. 
 
But the mantra of my days still remained along the lines of "For crying out loud, COME ON BABY!  GET OUT! ".  I was so ready to know if I was having a boy or girl.  I was so ready to be a mom.  I was so ready to hold that ball of baby stuffed into my ever expanding stomach.
 
Then, in a blink of an eye, that long overdue baby (a week is a long time in baby expecting time) started kindergarten.  And he did it like a seasoned pro.

 

 
With both the hubby and I having teaching backgrounds, education is something that is not taken lightly in our household.  For many years I could not fathom educating my children in any way other than homeschooling.  Then, two years ago we moved to an area with much better public schools, and yet I still didn't feel close to comfortable with the idea of public education. 
 
Nothing about public schools felt right for Mannchen.  As a baby/toddler/preschooler he was highly sensitive to a need for consistency and rhythm - hence why I am so drawn to Waldorf Education.  Public school felt too big for him.  Too pushy.  Too test driven.  He's a creative little thinker - always engineering some elaborate train set-up (today it climbed onto his shelves) or creating a transformer/robot out of art supplies and recycling bin items (he's been working on it for months and I have to resist the daily temptation to chuck all that mess into the trash, for fear of it ruining his creativity).  I just couldn't picture him in a formal school setting - desks, limited recess times, being taught to a test, etc.  He's a sensitive, introverted soul and a strong affinity for his mama.  And as a youngster, he seemed to lack confidence. 
 
But with the hubby being in graduate school, I had to find a preschool for both kids while I worked.  Our first year here my mom watched the kids, but due to health reasons and her sanity, preschool started to look like the best option.  Looking back on it, being pushed towards preschool was the best thing for our family.  We were fortunate enough to find a preschool that fit our wants and needs exactly.  Honestly, I cannot imagine a more perfect preschool experience for my kids.  LOVE their preschool.  Mannchen was able to grow in a safe setting.  Töchterchen was able to have the daily social interactions she craves.
 
At his fifth birthday, Mannchen was still so clingy, so attached to home and family.  As the school year went on, he gradually started to detach.  By the spring, he was even ready to look at his teacher when talking with her.  By the end of the school year, he really seemed to begin to "grow into himself".  His physical developments began to blossom and with that, his confidence. 
 
At the start of the summer, I was still on the fence about public schools.  I knew homeschooling was out for us, but there's a wonderful little private school in town.  I placed him on the waiting list and crossed my fingers. 
 
Then, through various experiences this summer, Mannchen showed us that he was ready for public school in every possible way.  He is physically ready for desk learning.  He has begun his change of teeth.  His body proportions have changed.  He can tie his shoes.  He loves sports and does well with the skills needed to play them.  (Read this first grade readiness list for more of the changes and developments I was looking for to determine school readiness.)  He is mentally ready for the decoding required to learn to read.  He is confident of who he is and rooted in his physical and emotional self.  About two weeks ago, I couldn't imagine anything other than public education for him.  He was so eager to be a part of the larger group setting.
 
And so this morning, I pulled up to the front of his elementary school and he unbuckled himself, grabbed his backpack, and gave me a quick kiss before hopping out of the car with confidence.  I watched him walk right towards the front doors, knowing exactly where he was headed.  No longer the overly cautious and tentative child he was in his first phase of life. 
 
And it all felt right.  Just right.  But damn it happened fast.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Trash to Treasure

I like to think I'm good at seeing the potential in things - furniture, houses, this apartment.  Hubby is a realist, but I'm always coming at him with ideas of "but if we do this, then it will look like that and be wonderful!".  Needless to say, we balance each other because everyone needs a little of both in their life.
 
Several months ago the kids and I found this wood shelf in the dumpster of the neighboring townhouse complex.  It's made of real wood, so even though it was beat up and broken, it seemed like an easy fix.  We had a lot going on at the time, so we just shoved it into the kids' closet and almost forgot about it. 
 
 
 Last week I realized the school year was almost over and if I wanted to breeze through this project without any "helping hands", I better get it done ASAP.  I glued together the broken shelf and reinforced it from below with wood bracing.

Then I painted it with leftover paint from a small sample of paint I purchased when I was considering paint colors for the kids' room.  Now, instead of having Legos all over their dresser, closet floor, and oh knows where else, all of Mannchen's many Lego creations now have a home.  For free.  What's not to love about that?

 
Have you ever transformed trash into something useful? 
Please share!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Kindergarten...woah!

On Monday I registered Mannchen for Kindergarten.  Woah.  Real deal school. 

The night before I mentioned to Hubby that I couldn't believe he was old enough for me to actually take this step.  His response was along the lines of "Seriously?!".  Which got me thinking.

He's right.  Mannchen is five and a half.  He'll turn six right around the time school starts.  He has a great attention span.  He's not hyperactive.  He's eager to learn to read.  He loves puzzles and math.  He's (maybe...on the good days) learning self control and body control when he's with his friends - that translates to "we don't have to touch/hug/wrestle/fall on the floor together everyday coming and going from school".  He's as ready as a kid can possibly be to start school.  And yet, as his mama, it's still hard to believe.

Some of my difficulty with wrapping my mind around something like this stems from wanting to give my kids a Waldorf education at home for so long.  But after digging deeper in Waldorf education principles and Steiner's philosophies on development, reading so many other books, and watching my children grow in preschool this past year, I really think sending them to school is best for them.  It saddens me that they won't get a Waldorf education - there are so many beautiful aspects to it.  But reality is, there's no Waldorf school within hours of us....so yeah, that's not happening.  The public schools in our town are about as good as public schools get.  The elementary school we're zoned for is small and has high parent involvement.  Trust me, I've spent hours analyzing and thinking about what will be best for Mannchen next year.  And there's no way I would send him to the public elementary school if I wasn't comfortable with it.  So while I recognize what we're missing, I'm mostly comfortable with our change of plans.

But as I was running this morning, I kept thinking about this.  And why does this seem like such a shift in our life.  And it hit me.  This has nothing to do with Mannchen.  It has everything to do with my personal realization that we are nearing the end of a era in our house.  Töchterchen is not much younger than Mannchen (14 months ain't much in parenting time).  Before I get a chance to blink, I'll be registering her for Kindergarten also.  Up until this point, my life and days have revolved around meeting their basic needs and finding way to make our family run as smoothly as possible, while managing two babies/toddlers/preschoolers.

And we're nearing the end of that era.  If I've learned anything since the kids were born, it's that time goes fast once you have children.  We're not totally there yet, but we are close enough that I am able to recognize that soon both my children will be in school from 8:30-3:30.  SEVEN hours is a lot of time to fill.  I work part-time.  And I do enough cleaning, errands, running, etc to quickly fill the rest of the time.  It's not that I don't know what to do with myself once they are in school (I already went through that early mid-life crisis when I considered going back to school).  It's just that I'm recognizing the shift in how much time I get with my kids.

They are awesome kids.  All kids will wear you down.  All kids will push your buttons.  But your own kids are always worth it.  We have so much fun working in the yard together.  We love to spend an entire day crafting on a rainy day.  We love to spend a whole morning or afternoon at the park.  We love to snuggle on the couch and read books (or on occasion, watch a movie).  We love to ride bikes at the track.  We love to cook together.  Really, the list goes on and on. 

So, I wouldn't say I feel sadness about sending Mannchen off to Kindergarten next year.  I just feel a huge awareness that our number of hours together each day are growing shorter.  And the year following him, Töchterchen will head off to Kindergarten.  And I don't have any other babies.  And I never will.  And the era of precious, helpless little people, depending on me for most everything ALL DAY LONG will be over.  As will the era of spending day after day, filled with hour upon hour, together.

And so, in the meantime, we are going to LIVE this summer up.  Less work for me.  Hubby will be right here, at home, working in town.  Maybe one camp per kids...maybe no camps for the kids  Time.  Just glorious, glorious time together.