Wednesday, September 4, 2013

first day of first grade

I just got back from taking Natalie to school ... for her first day of first grade!  How is that even possible?!  I miss her already, and the house is far too quiet!

Preparations for the "big day" started almost a week ago with a School Supply Scavenger Hunt.  You see I felt a little guilty not taking NHV along for school supply shopping. I didn't want her to miss out on the "excitement" of it but also just wanted to get it done. So this morning I printed out the supply list, hid the supplies all over the house, and had her find everything before putting it in her backpack. She had a blast! I was able to double check to make sure we had everything we needed, get it all in one place and ready to go - with her help. She was especially excited to sharpen two dozen pencils - shouting out a different superlative with each pencil sharpened ... Awesome! Excellent! Fantastic! Great!

On Friday afternoon we found out the name of Natalie's teacher.  She had hopes of getting Mrs. F, and I was a little worried how she would react if that didn't happen.  Well, it didn't but - after looking at last year's yearbook - she was fine. She was also hoping our new neighbor Viv would be in her class but she's not; Viv got the teacher Natalie wanted. Surprisingly she took this double-whammy in stride, and just said, "Oh, Viv is going to love Mrs. F," with a big smile on her face.

Yesterday we prepared for "Meet the Teacher" by choosing a cute outfit and writing a little note to share some of Natalie's favorite things with Ms. W.  Her classroom is adorable and very organized - you know I love that combination!

Before going to bed last night, Natalie helped me pack her lunch ... her motives were two-fold: 1) she loves her new lunchbox and couldn't wait to fill it and 2) she knows I tend to run late in the mornings and she does not like to be late!  

She woke up bright and early this morning (like a good hour before she really needed to be awake) and got ready in record time. I couldn't believe how calm she was - excited but not nervous.  Just ready. 

So ... we leisurely took photos in the driveway ... 

Everything about this outfit - from the flower in her hair to the peace sign on her shirt and the little animal charm on her sneakers - and this pose captures Natalie and her personality.

Natalie loves drawing with chalk!  She is quite the little artist!

We have a new special handshake that involves giving each other a thumbs up ... love how this pose captures that!  Plus the sidewalk chalk is pretty cute!

... and then missed the bus!  Apparently I had last year's bus schedule - which I printed out just a week ago, so I don't know why the school district would leave old information on their website, but whatever!  I thought we still had plenty of time, ran in to check the time, heard her yelling that the bus was here, took off running, ... and watched the bus pull away.  Poor Natalie!  The one thing she really hates - being late, and I made her late for the bus on the first day of school!  She handled it like a champ - although I could tell she wanted to cry.  I apologized profusely, and she said, "It's okay, mommy, but maybe next time we shouldn't take so many pictures."  I may never get a first day photo again!

Thankfully, we still had plenty of time to get to school ... and Chad was working from home so I didn't have to worry about waking up CJV.  I drove Natalie to school and walked her into her classroom, which is what I wanted to do anyway - so it all worked out. 

I think Natalie had taken enough pictures ... but I couldn't resist capturing the length of the hallway and the shiny floors ... this is her place now!

Oh how I love the focus and concentration!

Going to be honest here.  I had the hardest time leaving that classroom.   Knowing that today marks the beginning of her {full day} school career - that she will spend more time in school each weekday than she does with me - that another adult will become an important part of her life - that this is the beginning of letting go - that she will still love me but will need me a little less - well, it overwhelms me.  It makes me hope with all my might that I didn't take those first six years for granted - that I was able to fully grasp what those years meant to both her and me.  

The realization that those years are over and aren't coming back fills me with longing and sadness.  However, the promise of what's to come - watching Natalie gain confidence and independence - witnessing the triumphs and being here when there are struggles - developing new roles and building our special relationship - fills me with such happiness!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Last Day of {her first year of} Preschool

Oh, my sweet Charlotte Jane is growing up entirely too fast!  She has already experienced her first and last day of a school year.  How is that possible?

After a very positive experience in the birth to three program, Charlotte was transitioned to a developmental preschool program via the public school district.  This happened the day after she turned three years old - six months ago now.  I was not planning to send her to preschool until the fall when she'll be almost four years old, and it wasn't an easy decision to make.   I wasn't ready for her to be gone four afternoons a week.  I wasn't sure she was ready to be away from me either.  {We both had a lot of separation issues!}  She seemed so young to be carrying a backpack and sitting for circle time and having recess! 

 She qualified for both speech and social delays and has an IEP with very specific goals.  She joined a class with three teachers and seven other students - only one of which was a girl.  She was the smallest and the youngest, and the transition was not easy.  But we stuck with it, she got use to it and eventually stopped crying when I dropped her off.  In fact, it was really wonderful to see her smiling at school, to hear her talking about friends, and to experience some progress toward her goals.  

We settled into a routine.  I even managed to find ways to spend two kid-free hours four days a week. Some more productive than others if I am being honest. Just like that June rolled around, and we found ourselves having to say good-bye to those friends and her first teachers.  

The celebration included a cookie with chocolate frosting ...

an elephant ride ... {We have been waving to this elephant on the way to and from school for the past month.  Charlotte loved that elephant until I popped the quarters in and it began to gallop!}

 a stop to see the falls ...
and a climb up and down many, many stairs ... {Charlotte reacts to a good set of stairs the way children react to Christmas morning!}

 {love when she proclaims, "I did it!"}

 Here we are together, but she's completely ignoring me and asking to climb the stairs again ;)

We have a fun-filled summer ahead of us and two more years of preschool before kindergarten!
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