Some changes I am ready for (like good-bye 95 degree weather and hello fall) and some not-so-much.
Jamie started first grade at his new school last week. Although he had a great summer, he was ready to meet new friends and get back to being in school, and I admit I was ready to get back into a routine and have somewhere, other than our house, for him to release all that energy, both physical and mental. Jamie is so enthusiastic in all he does, and he loves first grade. He is excited to wear a uniform, pack a lunch, and be at school all day. We are already hearing good reports from him and about him, and he beams from ear to ear every morning when we drop him off at school. Soccer practice has started again, and Jamie has moved up a division. He is thrilled with this as the higher division now plays with goalies (no goalies last year for the little kids!). He played two sessions of indoor soccer over the winter and discovered his love of goal tending. During their scrimmage at practice tonight, the coach said no one had to play goalie, but Jamie just naturally started tending the goal. Last year, the kids all seemed to just run around trying to all kick the ball at the same time. This year, you can see them starting to work together as a team and actually have some technique and strategy. It's amazing how much difference a year can make.
Clare starts school on Friday. This year brings big changes for Clare. She will be in the afternoon class, which makes me happy and a little wary at the same time. Happy for selfish reasons because I will have the two older children in school at the same time (last year, they had opposite schedules) and the two younger children still take afternoon naps. Wow - time for myself! Wary because Clare does not always do well in the afternoon. She has long given up napping, but the afternoon is usually a tough time for her. She expends her energy in the morning, so once lunchtime hits, she is ready to crash. It is usually a time when she vegs out with a video or we rest on the couch with books. I am not sure how she is going to do being in school in the afternoon. We do not have a choice, though, because that is when the 4-year olds have class. I am preparing myself that the first weeks will be rough for her, but hoping that she will become adjusted to the new routine. In the meantime, I plan on keeping our mornings low-key so as not to use up all her energy before school.
The bigger school changes for Clare are that her preschool program has changed. The school department decided not to continue renting the facility they used for the preschool program. Clare's class has been relocated to a different school. The principal of the preschool retired at the end of the school year as well. Instead of hiring a new principal, the school department decided not to have one principal solely for the preschool and, whichever school the class is in, they will fall under the authority of that principal. It makes sense when looking at budget cuts and that the preschool classes are now scattered through the school district. Yet I wonder if NOT having one principal to take charge of the developmental preschool will affect the quality of the preschool program.
We knew all this was happening for months, though. However, we learned of the biggest change in the last days of Clare's summer session - her beloved preschool teacher was leaving. Miss Pam relieved so many of our fears and anxieties about sending Clare off to school (and Shawn always chuckles that I call her Miss Pam - "you can call her Pam, you know, since you're an adult"). There is so much nervousness about sending any 3-year old to school, especially when I've had her with me all day, every day since she was born. But there is so much more vulnerability in sending off your special needs child. In about a week, Miss Pam erased the worries I had about Clare going to school. Clare loved school right away, and I know Miss Pam was a big part of that. We've been preparing Clare over the last couple of weeks that, like Jamie, she would also be going to a new school with a new teacher. She was a little anxious about who her new teacher was going to be and asked repeatedly. Last Friday, after still not receiving any information about when Clare's first day of school was (not a good sign of things to come!), I called the new school. I talked to a wonderful secretary who gave me all the information I needed plus informed me that Clare's new teacher would be Miss Karin. Miss Karin was the paraprofessional in Clare's classroom, but she has recently graduated and is now a full-fledged special education teacher. So she is taking over the class. I told Clare, and we were both grinning. This has given me hope that maybe things won't be so different. At least the school department has given the class over to someone who knows these children, and the children will have a teacher they already know and love. So we are excited for Miss Karin!
Simon is quite the little comedian these days. He loves to tell knock-knock jokes (which never make any sense), make silly faces, say and do anything to get a laugh out of us. His imagination is developing rapidly, and I am reminded again and again of when Jamie was that age. We hear elephants and dinosaurs all over the house, his trucks have conversations with each other (way too cute to hear the 2-year old's perspective of a fascinating conversation!), and he loves to play dress-up. It's an interesting dynamic in our house that if all three of the older children are together, there is usually much squabbling. But if only two are together, they play so well. In the mornings, Simon and Clare come up with all sorts of ideas of what they want to do. At first, I thought it would be too quiet with Jamie at school, but they seem to enjoy having that time to do what they want (Jamie being the oldest and the loudest usually comes up with the schedule of events). It also gives us the chance to play "little kid" toys, such as counting and ABC board games. Clare and Simon are developmentally at the same age in many areas, so they have fun playing the same kind of games. Once Jamie comes home from school, though, Simon is all over him. Simon and Jamie are great buds (for the most part!). They wrestle, play super heroes, drive cars all over the house. Simon is finally at an age where he and Jamie can "be boys" together. I am not always thrilled with the craziness that ensues, but they sure have a good time!
I meant to post on Violet's 6-month birthday, but something always comes up. Now she is over 7 months old, and I can't believe how fast the time is flying by. It always does. In some ways, I think she may be my last baby, but then when I see how big she is getting, I don't know how she could ever be my last baby. That I will never have that adorable bundle of pudge again. Violet is at that stage of babyhood that I love best. She is so interactive - big gummy grins, "ba ba ba," and excited arms and legs whenever one of her siblings plays with her. She loves to sit and play with anything she can get her hands on and has started rocking back and forth on all fours. I am pretty sure she is going to be my earliest crawler. (To put it in perspective, Jamie crawled at 9 months, Simon at 12 months, and Clare not at all!) Violet is such a sweetie and has the biggest, brightest blue eyes. (Jamie, Clare, and Simon all have varying shades of brown and/or hazel, so to see those startling blue eyes is still a shock to me!) She is a big-time mama's girl. I may complain, but I really don't mind (even with an aching back). I know it won't be forever.
We are wrapping up our late summer vacations and ready for fall. We have two more trips planned before we officially close the door on summer. Then it's head-on into soccer season, swim classes, speech therapy, homework, baking, soup making, all the things I associate with the start of fall and cooler weather. My favorite time of year!