One of my favorite parts of the year is back-to-school time. I went back to school in August twenty-two consecutive times from August 1978 to August 1999; when we moved to Cheyenne in 2000 I didn't have a teaching job and spent a truly miserable day on the first day of school around here imagining everyone's excited return (and new school supplies). I think I crabbily dug up weeds in the flower beds in a lame attempt to distract myself. I've always considered the start of a new school year to be the Real New Year, when everything is new and crisp and exciting. At least for nerds like me. Luckily, I'm pretty sure we're raising similar-minded girls. : )
Before each new school year, I like to take Maddie out school shopping by herself (and this year, Gracie, too!) I have such good memories of collecting my new supplies, picking out my first-day outfit (over and over and over), and counting down the days. Maddie is no different. It was almost like Christmas picking out all those new things on her second grade list.
2. Shopping for clothes this year was a little more challenging for Maddie. It seemed inexplicably difficult to find cute clothes that make a seven year old LOOK like a seven year old, but at the end of the afternoon and six stores later, we had cobbled together a decent selection. Shopping for Gracie was a piece of cake—approximately 1000 adorable choices for people under 6/6X this fall. To ice the cake, we bought some new socks:
3. Time to start packing Maddie's lunch again. She is a packer, just like I was. With the exception of occasionally buying pizza on Fridays (remember the old rectangular piece of pizza, served with fries??!?) I packed my lunch pretty much every day of my school life. In fact, I never once bought lunch in a cafeteria where I've worked. I do believe this is the year where Maddie will begin playing sous chef for school lunches, with perhaps a full responsibility-transition by year's end. Her lunch, most every day:
peanut butter and jelly (we've never had a no-peanut school rule), some sort of sliced fruit, carrots or edamame (I put frozen edamame in a plastic container in the morning and by lunchtime it's still a little cold), pretzels or some sort of salty thing, and maybe a frozen Go-Gurt. She never complains about the lack of excitement. I think we need some new items in the rotation, though...
4. There was some drama associated with where Maddie would attend school this year; while I'm not thrilled with how far away it is (or how many buses she has to ride to get there and back) it seems to be going OK. Here she is on the first morning, excited as all get out:
5. Second grade was my favorite grade in elementary school. I had a wonderful, wonderful teacher. In a herculean feat of real-time scrapbooking, I even made a page for the new September gallery at Write. Click. Scrapbook. on the first day of school:
Just after she got on the bus, Gracie and Bridget burst into giant wails in the street, distraught that she was leaving for the day.
6. They perked back up after we got back to the house, though.
7. On the second day of school, they did yoga after the bus stop. I think they'll be OK. But when did Bridget grow up enough that she can do the yoga DVD as well as anyone?!?
Also, not an optical illusion. Bee is just one clothes size smaller than Gracie, and one shoe size, too. It won't be long until the fateful day that they're the same size. Eeek.
8. The following Monday was Gracie's first day of preschool. She has been waiting for this day for a very long time. Because of her December birthday, she had an extra year at home, so it feels especially strange for her to be gone a couple of mornings a week. She's ready, though. There was some drama finding a preschool for her before we got here, but once decided, no drama at all. It is a wonderful, kind place. I think it will be a good year for her.
9. It's not just back-to-school, but back to activities as well. In addition to gymnastics for all, Maddie began piano lessons last Monday. She would have started last year, but in Virginia piano lessons are $35/half hour. Here, they are not. Whew. This child has been dying for piano lessons for years.
Note the Light Switches of Disaster to the right. We mostly have them memorized now. Mostly.
This will be my first experience hanging out with Bee on a regular basis by herself. She is a truly delightful kid, and I'm really looking forward to getting to know her better. Her personality is developing at breakneck speed—as is her vocabulary, finally—and she is really fun to be with. We've been to the park, the library, the store, on errands... as much as she misses her sisters (and she really, really misses them) I think she is aware of the opportunity to be Chicken of the House, as we Willis girls were brought up saying.
And, she would like everyone to know that just because she doesn't get to go to school yet, doesn't mean she can't jump for joy, too.