Sunday, September 7, 2014

First Day of School

Before we knew it, it was time for school yet again. But this year felt a little different. OK, maybe a lot different. The baby of the family was starting Kindergarten!!

Is this really happening? I'm still trying to figure out how she went from the BABY to the big girl?!

But there's no doubt about it... Kaitlynn was READY, whether we were or not! I made the kids take their obligatory first day of school pics on our front porch. All smiles and positive attitudes!

Earlier this year, Kaitlynn learned to ride her bike without training wheels. I think I may have posted about a huge collision she had on the way to school (riding with Connor last spring) with another one of the bikers. Ever since then, I've been terrified of riding bikes with Kaitlynn. But Jeff is way more patient with her and takes the kids biking often. She has come a long way and is much more skilled at riding and using her brakes.

We decided before school started that our kids would ride their bikes to and from school. It's only a couple blocks away, and riding bikes is so much faster (and cooler) than walking. But I'll be honest, this was the thing I was most stressed about. Not that Kaitlynn was starting Kindergarten, or entering public schools, or whether she was ready for school... Nope, I've just been stressing about her riding her bike. The pathway gets so crowded with parents, dogs on leashes, walkers, and other bikers, not to mention the safety aspect of the sometimes busy streets that border the school. Maybe if I hadn't witnessed that bike collision last spring I wouldn't be so worried about it?

Regardless, it was the first day of school and it was time to go! Jeff and I rode along with the kids, and I was barking reminders and safety tips the entire way, ha!

First day of school bike ride

We made it! Here we are at the back entrance of the school.

My big kids ready for their first day.

We left a little early from our house to beat some of the other walkers/bikers. Everything went great and the kids pulled up and parked their bikes without any issues. The bike racks are at the back entrance of the school, so that's where they'll be entering/exiting from now on.

Once inside, it was time to walk to the classrooms. First up, Connor.

Connor at his desk on the first morning.

Big smiles for the first day.

Then it was time to walk Kaitlynn all the way down to the Kindergarten hall. She knew exactly where to go but was very happy to have her Sweet Daddy walk her to class.

Walking to her classroom.

Picture at her classroom entrance.

Once inside, Kaitlynn received instructions from her teacher, Mrs. Wright, for unpacking her backpack, putting things away, and then starting on her first activity: Play Dough!

Kaitlynn Courtright -- here!

First day of Kinder with her teacher Mrs. Wright.

Gotta love Play Dough!

Still such big smiles!

And that was it! Both kids were settled into their classrooms for their first day. Jeff headed out to work and I went to the Library for a bit and hung out at the Tears and Cheers breakfast. I definitely saw both tears and cheers, but I still wasn't sure which category I fit into myself.

I remember when Connor started Kindergarten, I wasn't expecting emotions and then they snuck up on me all at once. I figured it would be the same with Kaitlynn. After all, she's my BABY. Shouldn't I be sad about this?

I went on home and worked on several things to get caught up on email, house work, etc. It definitely seemed like the day dragged a bit, but then it was finally time to pick up the kids. I rode my bike back up to the school and waited at the back entrance to see the kids come out. I was very anxious to see them and hear all about their day!

Finally, the Biker group was dismissed and walked around the corner. I heard some of the Moms saying "Awe!" and "How sweet!" and then realized they were talking about my kids, who had come around the corner with big smiles and with Connor's arm draped protectively around Kaitlynn's shoulders. Awe indeed!

As the kids got closer, I saw that the smiles were still on their faces. Yay for a successful 1st day of school!! We loaded up on our bikes and make the ride back home.

Big smile for the end of the 1st day!

Riding back home.

Now let me just say: as I type this post, we are almost finished with our 2nd week of school. And I maintain that the hardest and most stressful part of the entire school experience for me is the biking to/from school. Kaitlynn is doing a fantastic job!! But I think I am just an overprotective Mom and probably worry too much about how she'll handle the unknown situations, like an unfamiliar obstacle, a speeding car, or just any kind of mistake on the bike. And Kaitlynn is the ONLY kindergartener who is actually biking to/from our elementary school of 1100 kids, so that alone tells me that she is doing so great and I should just be proud of her. Which I am!

Back to the first day of school... the kids and I sat down at our breakfast table so I could hear all about their days. I had a million questions and so we took turns asking and answering. Here are some excerpts of our conversation:

Me: What were the favorite parts of your day?
Connor: Unpacking my supplies (he is SO my kid!) and also learning that I was going to sit next to Jayden in one of my classes.
Kaitlynn: Seeing Libby in the cafeteria and coloring a picture of myself with a happy face and a rainbow shirt.

Kaitlynn: I also got to see Ms. Pamela (our former crossing guard) in the hallway.
Me: How fun! What did you say when you saw her?
Kaitlynn: (horrified expression) Nothing because I would get in trouble if I talked!

Time for snacks and a daily recap.

As we sat and talked about our days, I kept telling Kaitlynn over and over how proud I was of her and what a big girl she was for doing so well at school. Then we called Jeff and the kids told him all of the same things about their first day at school. He was praising Kaitlynn and telling her he was so proud of her. At which point Kaitlynn asked me, "Why does everyone keep saying they are so proud of me?" Ha!

I have noticed with Kaitlynn, just like when Connor started school, that she has no anxiety whatsoever about leaving her parents and heading off to school. I see some of the other sweet kids clinging to their parents and just so terrified about being on their own, but that is honestly an emotion my kids have never seemed to experience. Maybe because Kaitlynn has been attending preschool for years? In any case, I am so thankful my kids feel strong and independent about going to school, and I'm so happy they see it as a positive place.

For the entire first week of school, both kids did great with their new routines for school. Kaitlynn decided that she wanted a morning checklist and this was a great way to keep her on task before school each day. She reminds me so much of myself -- I have always been a list maker and love putting things on the list that I've already finished, just so I can have that feeling of accomplishment when I check off the box. Kaitlynn was doing the same things with her morning checklist, and she even wanted to make sure I added "go potty" as one of her to-dos. Ha!


The 4th day of school was the first time parents weren't allowed to walk their kids to class in the mornings. Connor and Kaitlynn knew exactly what to do and had no problems heading off toward the door on their own. It was on that morning, as I watched them both head around the corner of the building hand-in-hand and then stick their heads back around for a final goodbye, that I felt my first twinge. My eyes filled with tears as I realized my kids were growing up right before my very eyes. What a milestone we've reached -- two independent kids, now both in school full-time, and no longer at home with Mom.

There are days I really love where we are, and then there are days I put my head in my hands and wonder where all the time has gone.

Another morning of school. Off they went inside, without me!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Last Day of Summer

It was so hard to believe when the last day of summer was upon us! We had a great summer with so many fun trips and activities, but we were all so ready to get back into a good routine. (No one more than me, of course!)

But before the big day, we wanted to make sure we could have a last little bit of summer fun. First up, a tea party. With Sprite!! :-)

Kaitlynn's favorite activity: tea-time with Sweet Daddy.

And as much as Jeff and I try to avoid this place, we surprised the kids with a last-minute trip to one of their favorite stops: Chuck E. Cheese.

Cups full of tokens.

Show us how you REALLY feel about Chuck E. Cheese!

Kaitlynn's first game.

One of Connor's favorites.

And Jeff had to get in on the action by setting a new high score on the basketball game!

Pizza for lunch!

Can't leave before cashing in those game tickets!

Later that day, we went for an evening bike ride up to our nearby Shell station/McDonald's to get after dinner treats. We've all been really enjoying our bikes lately.

Showing off the treats they picked.

Time to head back home.

Arriving back home.

So that was it, the very last activities of our 2014 Summer of fun! I'm exhausted, who's with me??

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Ready for School

The week before school started back up, we spent some time around the school helping out for various PTA things. I'm on the PTA board this year and still trying to figure out what my role is. Both kids have spent a lot of time on campus, but it was fun to be up there and see the teachers preparing their classrooms and getting ready for the onslaught of 1100 students the following week!

As we were walking the hallways, we noticed some other members of PTA working on the new awesome banners/bulletin boards in each grade's hallway. They look like giant chalkboards with awesome artwork and welcoming words. Such talented ladies!! The school's theme for this year is "Happy Happy Happy" of Duck Dynasty fame. ;-)

Kaitlynn in the Kindergarten hall.

Connor in front of the 3rd grade banner.

On the Thursday before school started, Connor and Kaitlynn both had an opportunity to meet their teachers and visit their classrooms. We were so excited for both of them! And we felt lucky that we had already had a chance to visit with each teacher while we were up at the school during the week. But Meet The Teacher night is the first official school activity, so it was starting to feel so REAL that the baby of this family would soon be starting her school career!

Our big Kindergartener with a big smile! She is READY!

Connor and Kaitlynn in front of the school.

We decided to visit Kaitlynn's classroom first. She went straight to her teacher, Mrs. Wright, and was welcomed with a hug. She found her seat and unpacked her supplies while Mom and Dad filled out the endless paperwork. Kaitlynn seemed right at home and really excited to be there. And she even felt comfortable to tell her teacher that she had misspelled her last name, ha!

Sweet Daddy gets a hug before meeting Kaitlynn's teacher.

Kaitlynn with her teacher, Mrs. Wright.

Big smiles when she found her desk.

Unpacking her supplies and paperwork.

Mommy's sweet baby girl!

Welcome to Kindergarten!

Next stop: 3rd grade hall to meet Connor's teacher, Ms. Sumrall. He will have 2 teachers this year. Ms. Sumrall will teach math/science and Mrs. James will teach reading/language. This year, Connor has the exact same classroom that he had last year, so his path to the classroom seems very familiar! After a quick picture with his teacher, Connor walked in and started looking for his name on one of the desks. But before he found his desk, he noticed another familiar name on a desk: Jayden, his very best buddy from school last year. Oh boy, did Connor's face light up!

Connor with Mrs. Sumrall.

Connor in the smarty pants corner of his classroom.

Another fun touch at Meet the Teacher night: Chuck E. Cheese was hanging out in the library welcoming all the kiddos! After the school event, everyone was invited to our local Chuck E. Cheese for food and fun. Unfortunately we had football/cheer practice so we couldn't attend.

On the way out, Connor and Kaitlynn gave a high five to the WoodCreek Ranger in the school lobby. It was a great night preparing our little Rangers for the school year ahead.

Chuck E. Cheese was hanging out in the library.

Welcome WoodCreek Rangers!