Wednesday, August 31, 2016

First Full Week of School

Whew…I’m so glad that’s over.

We got through the first full week of school (last week, which hence forth shall be call The Week of Hell or TWoH for short.)

I don’t know why it was so hard this year. I don’t remember it being this hard in years past.

Maybe it’s the fact that summer flew by. It feels like they just got out of school and here we are, back in, packing lunches each night, doing homework, laying out clothes and having arguments (Olivia!) over what to wear each morning.

Whatever it is, last week was full of it.

But so far, this week seems calmer, less hectic, less like I might need to get in my car and just start driving. And oh how awful I feel when I think like that. I mean, come on, we all know I’d never actually do it, but the fantasy is there if only because if I were in my car, driving away, the noise, the chaos, the stress that I felt during TWoH would be behind me.

I think part of my own stress is the fact that I never feel like I’m doing enough. Even when I’m so tired I could cry, or when my head hurts from who the hell knows, I feel like I should be sucking it up and giving more.

When I get cranky with the girls because it’s late and time for bed and they want one more minute of snuggle time, I feel awful because of course I should be grateful that they want to be near me. Of course I should be soaking this all in because someday they’re going to grow up and away from me.

And there’s Tom in the kitchen canning his hundredth jar of green beans or his fiftieth jar of salsa. Oh, wait, he’s going out to mow the lawn while the beans cool before he takes them out of the hot water bath. Watching him work makes me feel like a sloth. I feel like I can never, EVER keep up with him even though I leave the house all week long to go to work.

On the bright side (which might be why I’ve escaped TWoH) I did go through some clothes this past weekend and packed up four boxes for G, Tom’s granddaughter. She gets all of O’s hand-me-downs. I always tell her mom that once the clothes are in her hands, I truly do not care what happens to them. They can give them to other friends, donate them to their local Goodwill, burn them, whatever. I’m just always glad when they’re out of my house. Alas, those boxes are not yet out of my house, but they are off the ‘guest’ bed and in boxes, so I’m counting it as a job done on my part. Now it’s up to Tom, the hardest worker in our house, to get them to his van and to Huntington to G and her loving parents.

I feel like this post is coming across as negative when that wasn’t my intention.

What I meant to convey in the last 500 or so words is that this week has been way better than last week. We seem to be finding our groove, our schedule. Everyone and everything seems to have calmed down and we’re getting there.

Yeah, that’s what I wanted to say.

Monday, August 29, 2016

School Pictures

We have a photo wall heading up the wall of our stairway.

It’s got the girls’ school pictures, though, I have to confess, Alyssa’s pictures start at second grade because, well, we moved into our current house three days before she started second grade and, well, her kindergarten and first grade pictures are still in a box somewhere in the garage. Sigh…mom/wife fail number one…

But yeah, we have her pictures from second grade on up on the wall. O’s pictures are up there too, starting with preschool and going up to second grade.

This year’s school pictures are being taken this week.

I realized yesterday that I hadn’t yet put up last year’s pictures…fail number two…

Yes, I know in the grand scheme of things hanging pictures, or NOT hanging pictures really isn’t that big a deal.

But I kind of wanted to get last year’s pictures up before this year’s pictures were taken, so I found the frames I’d bought last year around this time…mom triumph number one…and put the pictures in them. Then I hammered a couple of nails into the wall and up the pictures went.

Olivia supervised the entire process and declared me a master picture hanger.

After last week during which I felt like every single second of every single day was a major fail I’ll take being a master at anything at all.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Sort Of

Each day this week when I got home from work, after hugs and kisses all around, I asked Olivia is she talked to her teacher or her classmates that day.

And every single day her answer was, “Sort of.”

I didn’t push further than that because, well, the school year just started and this girl is a work in progress. Aren’t we all?

She’s already farther along in communicating than she was last year at this time.

Sure, it helps that Mrs. H was one of her KinderKids teacher. But she wasn’t all that close to Mrs. H back in KinderKids because O was actually in the other Mrs. H’s classroom and considered her the ‘real’ teacher. The fact that the two Mrs. Aiches co-taught the entire class and just separated them alphabetically so they’d all have a place to hang their backpacks didn’t matter to Olivia.

But she’s also a little behind in the game this year because Mrs. A, the special ed teacher who’s been with her since KinderKids was moved up and is now teaching the fourth through sixth graders. Which…yay for fourth-grade Olivia next year but a little harder for third-grade Olivia this year who is getting to know a new special ed teacher, Mrs. B.

It appears (from what I can get from O in her less than forthcoming answers to my questions) that she’s adjusting fairly well the new teacher, the new schedule, the new classroom, the new locker.

I love that she’s been with some of these kids for four years, this being their fifth year together. It means the kids know her, they may not understand her quirks but they’re used to them and most of them accept her and think she’s sweet and funny.

What I want most for Olivia is that she feels accepted and that she’s happy. I want others to see her as I do, someone with a lot to offer, someone who would be a great friend if they’d just give her a chance. She be that friend with an impeccable sense of style who would advise them if they’d just let her. She’d tell them awesome stories that she’s made up about the Monster High characters as well as regale them with tales about what it’s like to have a teenaged sister.

These are the things I imagine for, wish for Olivia. I’m not giving up on her having those things. We’ll continue to muddle through it all together.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Taking Stress Home

I was grouchy last night. I was tired and irritable and wanted a little quiet.

The girls, on the other hand, are rarely quiet. And if I’m home, they rarely want to be anywhere that I am not.

Yesterday was tough at work. I hate Tuesdays…I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned that before. Anyway, it was Tuesday and it was hard and I was tired when I got home.

But that’s no excuse for taking that stress home with me.

After dinner, I went upstairs to get pajamas for Olivia. While up there, (I’d managed to go up without anyone ((Olivia)) noticing I was leaving the first floor, so I had several minutes to myself) I read a couple of pages in the book I’m currently reading, I brushed my teeth and then I heard Olivia call up the stairs, “Mom?”

I took a deep breath and said, “What?”

She started up the stairs, “Where are you?”

I replied, “I’m here.”

Okay, so there are four bedrooms on the second floor of our house as well as two bathrooms and several very large closets so calling out ‘I’m here’ isn’t all that helpful. But I figured she’d follow my voice.

At that point, I decided to lay on the bedroom floor in hopes that my prone position would let her know that I just wanted a few minutes of quiet and maybe, just maybe, she’d go find her dad to regale with stories about the Monster High characters.

I’m such an optimistic fool.

Alas, while my foolishness held, my optimism did not. She laid down next to me on that dirty floor (I REALLY need to vacuum up there) and started talking.

Not five minutes after Olivia snuggled up against me and regaled me with stories of Draculaura dancing on our ceiling, Alyssa joined us with her tablet, playing a video on youtube of Pentatonix singing happily.

At that point, I crawled (because I’m SO mature) to Olivia’s bed and put my head underneath it. I was just so desperate for quiet, for peace for even just a few minutes.

Alyssa playfully tried to pull me out from under the bed. She pulled hard enough hurt my ankles but I tried not to let her know how much it hurt.

As I lay there, the stress of the day, the pressure of being ON all day long and all evening long got to me. I fought tears even as I heaved myself off the floor and went to Liv’s closet to get her some pajamas.

I tried to hide the fact that I was on the verge of tears but that Lyss is a perceptive one.

When the three of us got back downstairs, Alyssa tried to make Olivia stay with her in the living room while I got pie and ice cream for Liv and cake for Lyss. (I swear, the feeding never, EVER ends…)

It made me REALLY sad to know that my thirteen year old was so worried about my state of mind that she was trying to protect me from her nine year old sister. It broke my heart to know that my stupid mood, a left-over from work, made her feel like she had to be the adult in that moment...I never want my kids to feel like they have to parent me.

I put the dessert on hold and went in to tell Lyssie, “I’m okay, Sweetie. Really. You don’t have to worry about me.”

She gave me a grateful smile and let her wriggling sister go.

And you know what? I was okay. Those few moments of wallowing helped but what helped even more was saying out loud that I was okay. Facing my moment of weakness, letting myself feel all the feels and then deciding that the stress at work wasn’t going to crush me, it helped.

I helped O eat her pie and ice cream. I gave Lyss her cake and we settled in for the night.

When 10pm rolled around, I was able to laugh myself into coughing fits at Henry Winkler, William (aka Bill) Shatner, Terry Bradshaw and George Foreman as they made fools of themselves in Japan.

And then we went to bed and I got to wake up this morning and do it all again…

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Eighth vs Third

“They already gave us homework!” Alyssa lamented the minute I walked in the door last Friday afternoon.

It was the first day of school and she was disgusted that three of her teachers had given homework that very day.

Welcome to eighth grade, I thought with a smile.

She’s actually really good about doing her homework and I never worry about whether she’s left anything undone or if she even needs me to check it for her.

Olivia pranced through the room and announced, “My teacher said we’re going to review a lot of stuff and so we probably won’t have homework for a couple of weeks.”

I think that if Alyssa had been able to throw something at her sister at that moment without repercussions, she’d have done it.

Today was the third day of school. Alyssa packed her lunch last night as I packed Liv’s. This morning Alyssa was texting away on her phone as I cajoled Olivia to eat just a little more of her breakfast. Alyssa doubled checked to make sure her homework was in her backpack while Olivia asked again, “What is homeschool and why can’t we do that?”

Eighth grade is all about independence, learning to do and think for herself. An eighth grader is expected to know what her homework is, do it herself and turn it in without reminders. Eighth graders know when to shower, can pick out weather-appropriate outfits and, biggest news of all, they can sit in the front seat of the car.

Third graders, our third grader at least, still wear whatever Mom lays out for them. They eat what is put in front of them and hey bathe on the schedule set for them.

And that’s okay. They’re both still growing and learning and I am loving both the third grade stage and the eighth grade stage. I feel lucky to get to do this with these sweet girls.

Oh yeah, best of all (according to Liv), third graders still let (need?) Mom to do their hair.

We call this one: Beach Volleyball Hair.

(Please ignore the ugly pink countertops and the horrific clutter on said ugly pink countertops.)

Monday, August 22, 2016

School Prep

Every single August, I wonder where the hell I put the scissors Olivia used the previous year in school.

And I can never, ever figure out where they went and so we end up buying a new pair of scissors along with the twenty pencils, the two erasers, the bottle of school glue, the five folders (plastic, because they hold up better than paper, at least in O’s backpack,) the four one-subject notebooks, the dry erase markers and the new lunch box, because the one from the previous year smells REALLY bad.

Where are those scissors from the past five years?

I mean, seriously?

As I labeled and packed Liv’s new school supplies into two plastic WalMart bags, I reminded her, “You only cut paper with these scissors. You do not cut your hair or your clothes!”

She rolled her eyes at me and told me, “I only did either of those things one time, and they were both in first grade.”

Okay, fair enough, but I feel like if I didn’t remind her that scissors are for paper only, she’ll claim to have ‘forgotten’ that rule the next time she comes home with a shirt sleeve in tatters or one chunk of her bangs suddenly an inch shorter than the rest.

Each fall I tell myself that next year, when school lets out for summer, I will find a bin and label it “School Supplies” and into that bin, we’ll dump everything the girls bring home from their lockers/desks on the last day of school.

But then that day finally rolls around and we’re all so glad it’s finally SUMMER that the bin never materializes, it never gets labeled and the school supplies get strewn about the house until the disappear into the piles of clutter that accumulate around our house until I can’t stand it anymore and purge everything, only to have to buy more freaking scissors come August.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Déjà vu

The alarm went off at 6am…just like yesterday.

I looked out the window and was greeted by a dense fog…just like yesterday.

I waited until 6:10 to see if the school would call about a delay and when it didn’t, I woke the girls up…just like yesterday.

I braided Olivia’s hair (into a heart, of course), took her downstairs to clean her glasses and hand her off to Tom for breakfast…just like yesterday.

Then we went outside to take pictures…just like yesterday. In fact, the girls even wore the same outfits as yesterday because the minute after the call came in yesterday about school being closed, Tom sent them both upstairs to change out of their ‘first day of school’ clothes and into jammies.

Sadly (for the girls) the difference between yesterday and today is that there was no call about a delay or a cancellation. The bus arrived (though a little late) and off they went to school.

Here’s to the REAL first day of school.

And a pic of their shoes just because.