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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Life is not measured
by the number of breaths we take,
but by the moments
that take our breath away.

First day of the last year of middle school...

First day of last year at elementary school

First day of Kindergarten

Reassurance from big brother

First day of school and all three are gone all day. The house is quiet and I don't stay around much. I've been eating out...a LOT. I've been reconnecting with friends. I've been thinking about how I need to clean closets and rooms and I really am planning to get to that.

I've taken a few naps (blissful). I've also gotten to watch some chick-flicks without interruption.

Some ways it's heavenly...some ways I'm lonely.

But, school is going well for everyone and I'm blessed to have such smart, kind and caring children. I hope their teachers know how blessed they are to have Andrew, Nathan and Rebekah in their classrooms.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tips on Tuesday: Hello Blogger My Old Friend

Remember the song, "The Sound of Silence" by Simon and Garfunkel? I feel like singing that song tonight but changing it up so it's about blogging. I've taken quite the hiatus this summer. I beat myself up over it for a while, but I'm in a new place--a good place about my break.

You see, school has started...many of you think that's no big deal. But, my baby went off to all day kindergarten this year. Yup, it's my version of Early Empty Nesting. I know they will all be back next summer, but I miss them in the day...all of them. But I've always had one left at home as the others went to school. Always one last buddy to play with, create with, go places with. I lamented the going places (like clothes shopping, the doctor's office or the grocery store) with any of them...but I miss them when they are gone.

I've spent time before they went to school and now that they are there pondering my One Little Word for the year: Give. I still migrate back to my original words: Cherish followed by Engaged. But Give is appropriate. I have to give my children over to the care of their teachers and schools. And most days it's easy...but some days are hard.

I worked really hard all summer long to Cherish, Be Engaged in what we were doing and to Give to my children the most precious gift I have--my time. We had a whizz-bang summer of fun that I need to blog about so my far-flung family can see what we've been up to. But I needed to Give myself one more summer, one more day, one more precious hour with all of my babies.

One friend told me we should Savor these times of transition. (Incidentally, I think I found my word for 2012.) During this transition, I've put the blog on the back burner. And now, I am going to have the opportunity to re-live and rejoice in the fun we had this summer. I'm back. I'm putting together giveaways for this fall and into Christmas. I'm looking at some exciting interviews I may get to do and post here. I've got family events to share. Lots of things are in the works, but I'm happy that I took time to Give to my family. I truly Cherish our summer of relaxing and doing fun stuff and doing no stuff. I was Engaged with my kids. And I Savor the time we had together this summer.

Hello Blogger, my old friend, I've come to talk with you again,
Because a vision softly creeping, Left its seeds while I was sleeping,
And the vision that was planted in my brain,
Still remains, within the sound of silence.
And it is silent here. Everyday so quiet and still. It's exciting, sad, joyous and scary all at the same time. But I think I can adjust...because when school gets out, I find that chaos all over again.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Life is not measured
by the number of breaths we take,
but by the moments
that take our breath away.

Lily pads at the botanical gardens.
Simple, yet stunning.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Tips on Tuesday: Back to School is Coming

Depending on where you live in the country, back to school is looming large or is still a few weeks off. I know I've written about this before, but I think it bears repeating each year. Back to school is one of the most exciting--and traumatic--times in a child's year. They are so excited to get back to friends and routine (even if they tell you school is boring), but the changes can be scary. There's a new teacher, new room, new rules. The start of school is a new set of challenges that they have to face head on.

Here are some things we've discovered to make the transition easier.
1. Sleep schedules - I don't know about you, but we're all staying up later and waking up later this summer. About two weeks out, we back up bedtime a half hour and then a week out we back it up another half hour so it's about the normal time. We also start making sure they are up closer to the normal wake up time. Some people have their children dressed by the 'start of school time', but we tend to allow jammie mornings the last bit before school starts.

2. Routine explanations - One of the biggest lessons we've learned from Nathan is the value in pre-explaining the routine and schedule. If he has it in his head, it makes the day go much better. While we don't know the exact schedule of the day, we spend time talking about before school, during school (subjects, special classes like PE, music and art; lunch and dismissal). We go over carpool arrangements and where to go after school. A good friend just shared some great social stories with me about school routines and schedules and the lunchroom in particular. If you want to see these, let me know.

3. Breakfast is still the most important meal of the day. While we can choose to eat breakfast at school--and we usually do--on the first day I've learned to feed them at home first, then go to school for breakfast. The lines are slower than normal on the first day and there were a couple times Andrew didn't get to eat on the first day. Now I feed them all and we go practice getting breakfast at school. It's also noisier than normal and crowded with parents joining their kids. Just make sure they get some fuel because they can't hop up for a snack whenever they want one.

4. Clothes, shoes, backpack prep - Each night (not just back to school night), I lay out clothes, shoes and fill backpacks. By doing everything the night before, my morning goes easier. We can hash out appropriate vs. non-appropriate clothing before bedtime and I can pack lunches and make sure homework is returned to backpacks. They sit in a row like little soldiers waiting for orders. At the start of the year, I also make signs for the backpacks if they need anything (like a lunch) added in the morning.

5. Project calm to keep the kids calm - Even if you are a crier like me, learn to project calm towards your children. I don't cry in front of them for the first day of school. And I don't care how old they are, I cry a little each year when I send them off for the first day. While I will cry in front of them for most anything else, I don't want them to feel guilty for going to school and liking it. So no tears in front of them--stay strong.
I also find with Nathan being on the Autism Spectrum, it is harder for me to let him go than it is the other two. I have more concerns and worries about his school year and it is hard to let him go to any teacher (although he has had awesome teachers each year). Let's face it, she will never be me and I have a hard time letting go of that control in his case. So other special needs moms, I say an extra prayer for you before school starts!!

6. Don't forget the PTA/PTO! One of the best ways to shape back to school and the whole school year is to join the school PTA/PTO. These Parent Teacher Associations/Organizations are the backbone to what the school can do and achieve. From fundraisers to classroom help and parties, these are the worker bees. It doesn't take tons of time--unless you want it to. If you can only give a couple hours, do that much to help.
There are lots of 1-2 hour shifts for the evening events and helping with a classroom party is only an hour. Or offer to help once a week in the classroom. Teachers can't do it all alone, help as you can. When your kids see you making school a priority in your life, they start to understand the importance of school. I will also assure you that they have a lot of pride saying, "My mom or My dad did xxxx." Even though they pretend to be embarrassed when I'm in their room, I hear what they tell their friends. They like knowing we are in and out of their schools, too.

With a little preparation and a lot of love, back to school can be a smooth transition in your home, too.
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