Monday, September 15, 2014

My kids started school (a while ago...)

Oh dear. I've turned into that parent. The one who meticulously documents everything about her first and even second child and then by the time the third one comes along, not so much. Or maybe it's just that once they're older and speech impediments have faded that the stories aren't as fun. Either way, I haven't been writing about them as much. Maybe I should hold a family meeting and notify my kids they need to be more exciting. 

That reminds me, though - I've got a trip to document. And a summer death ride. And the beginning of another school year. I might have been the only person who didn't post a "first day of school" picture on Instagram or Facebook. We took them, but I just didn't do anything with them. Guess what - they still started school. Like six weeks ago.

Gemma's transition to first grade has been easier than I thought. And I mean that about both of us. Suddenly I have ALL DAY and let me tell you, it has been filled. This week all of my plans for the past five weeks will bear fruit as my new countertops and sink are installed, dishwasher replaced, gas line and venting run, and cooktop put in place. My new ovens were installed last week and they're so beautiful I almost cried. The final piece is having our cabinets refinished, but that won't happen until the end of October. It has been a lengthy process, mostly because I was scouring everywhere for the best deals. It has been a worthwhile process because I actually FOUND the best deals.

But back to Gemma, while she has been tired, she has remained fairly upbeat. She hasn't tried the whole "can I come home with you" that Donovan did when I'd come to volunteer in the morning. She loves school and phasing out the nap hasn't been too hard. I did get a note from the teacher saying she was noticing Gemma blinking a lot and did I think there might be something going on with her vision. Heh - I replied that she just had her eyes examined and they were perfect but the blinking happens when she's tired and until first grade she was a consistent napper. Poor baby. She loves the chance to nap on Saturday.

Gemma has started taking ballet at the studio where Ainsleigh is studying. I have perfected my ability to make a lovely bun (Ainsleigh takes care of her own). She has also started back up in swim lessons and is loving it. Mostly, she remains my cuddlebug. I like that.

Donovan's in big fat fourth grade now. So far he is loving it. I love that his teacher has a host of jobs and things they do to earn money and at the beginning of each month the kids have to pay rent on their desk. If they can't make rent, they have to sit on the floor with a clipboard until they earn enough to get back into their desk. They can borrow money, but the teacher encourages charging interest. And then there's a class fund and once they save $2000 she will throw them a party. So many concepts being taught. GENIUS. Donovan, our natural miser, immediately campaigned for "class police officer" because it pays the most and he gets to fine people. He actually said to me yesterday, "My job is really a collaborative effort because the hall monitor tells me when someone is in the hall or the desk monitor tells me when someone's desk is messy and then I give out the fines. I feel bad sometimes when the same people can't keep their desk clean, but rules are rules." Besides the whole use of "collaborative" I found his whole revelation amusing. I'm going to parrot that "rules are rules" part the next time he leaves underwear on the floor (now a 10-minute chore fine in this house).

Also awesome at our school is that all kids in fourth through sixth grade get a chromebook. They leave them at school, but they use them every day, most of the day. Donovan's teacher told us that about 80% of their schoolwork is done on the chromebook through Google classroom. It's amazing. Donovan comes home and can pull up all of his work online, work on it, then submit it online. It doesn't matter how many Entertainment Weekly's I read or Top 40 songs I download, I believe there will always be something that will remind me I am getting old.

Football and soccer continue to take up a fair amount of Donovan's extra time. I love watching him play. It helps that he's actually quite good. Unfortunately, I think he is advancing to the time where he will have to pick one sport over the other. With Ainsleigh in ballet and Gemma also in soccer and swim lessons, we can only be in so many places at one time. Also new this year, Donovan has decided to shower every morning. He actually asked me "would it be ok to shower every morning." True to his word, he has gotten up at 6:45 and jumped in the shower every morning. He claims this makes it easier to do his hair. Oh, we're doing hair now, too? This little man bit is excellent.

Ainsleigh has started junior high and the first thing Joel and I noticed is that junior high today (or here?) is far different than the junior high we remember. It's like someone looked at their junior high experience and decided to get rid of everything unpleasant or inefficient. It actually seems like a fun place to be. Although Ainsleigh's class has over 500 kids, they've divided them into three "pods" and those are the kids she has all of her classes with. So within one big school, it's more like 3 (or 6, if you include the eighth graders) mini-schools. We finally broke down and bought Ainsleigh a chromebook because apparently that's a thing here. That or a smartphone. But since most of her work is done/submitted online, the chromebook made more sense. 

The other thing I love about the school is that everything is posted online. I can see what assignments have been issued, when they're due, and then through my parent portal, I can check to see what her grades have been as well as whether or not she has any missing assignments. THIS is amazing. Because within a couple weeks, Ainsleigh had racked up several missing assignments. Some she had done and "forgot to turn in." One was just an oversight. One was an online thing she didn't push "submit" for. I'm hoping we've worked out the kinks. She understands now about checking the calendar and finishing those assignments. And if she has any questions for teachers, guess what - two mornings a week, instead of homeroom, they have "access" where for 45 minutes they can either work on homework, or can go and talk to ANY OF THEIR TEACHERS. Wow. And they're on an alternating schedule where Monday and Wednesday they have classes 1,3,5,7 and Tuesday and Thursday they have classes 2,4,6,8 and then on Friday they have every class. AND their security guards are the nicest ever. I've never seen such cheerful people directing traffic (and don't even get me started on what a well-oiled machine drop-off is!) - almost makes me want to go back to junior high. And that's something I NEVER thought I'd EVER say even if a million dollars was at stake.

Ainsleigh has started doing the occasional babysitting job (when Joel and I don't need her in charge - date night!) and is at the ballet studio 2-3 times a week. She is becoming more and more...teenager-ish. This is good and annoying. I don't mind the growing up, though some of the physical development is startling (seems like I was JUST potty-training her!). The attitude and hormones I could definitely do without. She feels the same way. It makes me sad and laugh a little when she says, "Why am I feeling like this? Why am I acting like this?!" And I have to say, "You're becoming a woman. Sorry." Also, she is pretty sure she's the only person in the world who has zits and isn't sure what she has done to deserve this humiliation. In a show of solidarity, I developed quite the beaut over the weekend. I'm a team player that way.

So that's that for now. Happy mid-September. 


laura said...

Haha, I feel you on the nap thing, Gemma. And Donovan's class setup is hilarious. As is "You're becoming a woman. Sorry."

Wanda said...

I remember you crying and saying something about not feeling right inside but not knowing what was wrong. Just the hormones, dear, just the hormones...

Great post. Almost makes me want to have kids in school. But I don't miss packing lunches!

Becca said...

Oh becoming a woman is awful!! Poor Ainsleigh. Get her zit cream and if it gets bad, a topical prescription of Differin is amazing!!

I just can't believe how digital school is.

Allison said...

Poor Ainsleigh...stupid hormones. And seriously, I giggle at the thought that Mabes takes her laptop from her regular class to AIG. These people trust my kid to take carry a laptop down the hall?!?! I barely trust her to carry her plate with a fork and spoon on it to the dishwasher!