The Hardest Last Day of School

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We have had some hard last days of school.

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When Gabriel was in Kindergarten, we were all excited to start our summer adventure.  We were in the car, and I looked in the mirror at Gabriel.  He was crying.  I quickly asked him what was wrong, and he told me that he missed his teacher.  We unloaded the van, ran back into the school, and cried as we gave her more hugs, thanking her for a wonderful year.

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Fast forward one year to when Gabriel was in 1st grade.  They almost have to kick us out of the building because we are all clinging to his first grade teacher in tears.

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The next year, Ethan was in Kindergarten, and it was a leap of faith for us to even have him in school because there were just so many unknowns.   Ethan did not have the same teacher that Gabriel had, and I remember Ethan’s teacher thinking that we would be disappointed.  I remember feeling so bad that she would think that.  I remember being so happy that she cared so much about what was best for Ethan.  What I remember even more clearly, though, was the last day of school.  I remember hugging her and having tears unexpectedly, but naturally, just flow out of my body in a gentle sob.  I am not sure if she knew, until that moment, how much it meant to me that I was able to trust her to take care of my Ethan every day.  I had to silently thank her because I could not speak.

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Last year, we finally made it through the final day with very few tears.  Ethan’s teacher was the same teacher who we were clinging to in 1st grade with Gabriel.  She is a huge part of our lives now, and we knew that we were not telling her “good-bye”. Gabriel’s teacher had just been moved back to 4th grade, and I was choosing to believe that Gabriel would be in her class again. We were all at peace and happy because it did not feel like we were really saying “good-bye” to anyone or anything.

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Imagine how happy we were to receive the calls from our teachers this year.  Ethan’s Kindergarten teacher would now be Summer’s Kindergarten teacher.  Gabriel’s 2nd grade teacher would now be Ethan’s 2nd grade teacher. Gabriel’s 3rd grade teacher would now be his 4th grade teacher.  It was all so perfect.

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It stayed perfect until the last few weeks of school.  Our beloved Kindergarten teacher decided to leave our school district.  The day that she told me she was leaving, I was a substitute teacher in her classroom.  I knew that she was probably leaving, but I just was not ready for the emotion that over-came me when she told me.  I had to leave the classroom to compose myself.  Needless to say, the last two days of school did not go any better.  Graduation was rough.  I looked over at the end and saw her standing alone, fighting back tears.  It took every ounce of strength in my body to stand up, walk over to her, and hold on to her for dear life.  We were a sobbing wreck.  The last day of school, I could not even say “good-bye” to her in front of Summer.  I had to take Summer home, go back to the school, and say our good-byes without my daughter having to witness just how hard it was.  What she did for Ethan, for Summer, and for me just cannot be put into words.  Yes, she is a friend now, and yes, she will be in our lives forever.  It will just be hard not seeing her face at our school every day.

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It was hard, and it did not get any easier when I went upstairs to say my good-byes to Gabriel’s teacher.  I knew that she might be leaving, too, and I was struggling with it.  When I arrived upstairs, she had asked the students to sit on the floor.  She asked them to close their eyes, and she talked to them.  She spoke to them like a mom who loves her children.  She told them to remember that no matter what happened in their lives that they would always have her in their corner cheering for them. Her voice cracked. She managed to hold it together. I did not.  The students did not know that she was probably leaving.  I did.  It was one of the most emotional, beautiful, touching things I have ever witnessed.   I still cannot think about it without crying.  When she hugged Gabriel, she told him that teachers dream of having students like him and that she was hugely blessed because she had him twice.  I saw the sincerity in her eyes, and I knew that she meant every word.  Gabriel and I felt the same.  Parents dream of having good teachers for their children.  Having a teacher who truly loves and understands your child for two years in a row is something that was truly a dream come true. She was a dream come true.

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Two of the best teachers who I have ever known are leaving our school.  I am honestly a better person for having known them. Our school is a better place because they taught there.  My children are better students because they shared their knowledge and wisdom with them.  Our hearts are fuller and happier because a part of them now reside within it.   Saying “good-bye” was hard, but it was so worth it because it means that we first had to welcome them into our lives and into our family with a simple “hello”. As I have told them many times, once you enter our hearts, you never, ever leave.

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Happiness Is…

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I have missed writing the past few weeks.  My new life is busier than I had expected.  And, in a way, the first three weeks of school feels much more like at least six.  However, it has been good in so many wonderful, amazing ways.  The littles are all blessed with amazing teachers, who are now all dear friends.  When I talk to them, I am able to give them my full attention because I no longer have a little one at my side, begging to leave or trying to interrupt the conversation in various other ways.  As a result, I feel like I get to focus more on the boys because I can connect with what they are doing in class in a much different way than I could before.  Do not get me wrong, I loved having that little one by my side every single day.  I am just embracing the transition and all that is wonderful about this stage in our journey, too.

Speaking of that little one…she thrills my heart every single day.  When I see her proudly walking down the hall with her backpack on her back, I feel like I am living another life.  She was on my hip or right by my side for the first four years that we walked down those halls, so it is quite surreal to see her there as a student now.  And, she acts just like I had hoped that she would whenever she sees me.  She squeals, says my name, and then patiently waits in line like an excellent school girl until I run to her.  Then, she throws her arms around me, hugs me, and smiles brightly, as if it has been days since we last saw each other.  I love it.

Happiness is going to work with my littles.  I have been blessed with many substitute teaching opportunities already, and I absolutely love taking my littles to work with me.

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Happiness is planning a birthday party for a very special little boy.  I think that eight will be pretty great for my sweet Ethan.

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Happiness is rain…especially when I get to sit and truly appreciate the moment, watching the littles jump in the trampoline and play.  They understand that rain is a huge, huge blessing, and they said countless times, “That is the best rain that we have received in months!”  Yes, it was, and we enjoyed every single drop of it.

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Happiness is good food.  Always.  While I have not been posting recipes lately, I have been taking pictures when I have the time.  And, one day, I will get caught up enough to share them with you.

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Happiness is walking in to wake up the littles and finding Gabriel and Summer all cuddled up. While they all have their own beds in their own rooms, they have chosen to all sleep together in the same room.  And, I must admit, it makes me very, very happy that they have chosen to foster their bond even more by spending that quality time together.

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Have a happy week!

First Day of School

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Yesterday was the 1st day of school.

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I must admit that getting three children dressed, packing three lunches, and making breakfast so that we could leave the house by 7:15 AM was challenging, but I know that I am up for that challenge.  Life has prepared me for the hurricane of what happens in our home from 6:15-7:15 AM each morning.  Of course, it is also what will have me counting down the days until summer break.

I woke up extra, extra early to make fresh lunches,

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pack backpacks,

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and have a moment of silence before the chaos started.

Summer had a rough morning.  It was not because she wanted to stay at home, though.  It was because she was having issues with wearing shorts under her dress.  She is my free-spirited one, the one who prefers to be naked than to wear clothes.  So, when she does wear clothes, she wants it to be the bare minimum.  Shorts under a dress was not making sense to her at all.  Luckily, Sean and Gabriel finally helped her find her smiley face, and all was right in the world again.

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They were all perfectly dressed in their first day of school outfits.

Gabriel was calm and prepared.  He was ready for 4th grade, and he knew that he would have a great year because we already know and adore his sweet teacher.

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Ethan was very, very excited.  He was all smiles.  While school is exhausting, it is also a routine.  He and I are so much alike.  We both crave flexibility but desire a schedule, at the same time.  It is an odd combination.  However, it is what prepares us for this season of our lives, while also giving us the motivation to push through, knowing that there will be a season of flexibility, as well.

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Summer recovered from the shorts incident and was ready to shine.  She was all smiles as we left for school, and she was eager to start her new journey, to begin the new chapter in her very own book of life.

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I was so proud of them all as they took off across the school yard together.  In my heart, I could not believe that I suddenly had 3 school littles.  But, in my brain, I knew that I had prepared them all for this moment. They were all ready to shine.

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After school, I was waiting in the clinic for them.  Summer rounded the corner first.  She ran into my arms, just as I had hoped and dreamed that she would.  She had a huge smile on her face, as she told me that it was the best first day of school ever.  She excitedly gave me a re-cap of her day, ending with, “It was great!” For the remainder of the day, whenever people asked her about her day, she kept repeating, “It was great!”

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Ethan and Gabriel had great days, too.  I talked to Ethan’s teacher after school, and she was happy to report that Ethan had a wonderful day.  He stayed in the general education classroom all day, and he stayed on task, with the other children.  She said that the little girls at his table were so happy to have him there.  They were all in his Kindergarten class, and I could not ask for a sweeter group of girls to take care of my sweet boy.

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Gabriel was happy to report that his class is made up of good students.  Good, to Gabriel, means that there are no trouble makers in his class.  Sweet Gabriel is a rule-follower, and it makes him very nervous when other students do not obey the rules.  Of course, he was immediately comfortable and at ease, feeling like he is in the comforts of home, with a teacher who he admires and loves.

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I missed the littles so much yesterday.  I stayed busy cleaning, going through paperwork, and talking on the phone to my sweet mom, sister, and husband.  I think that they had a schedule of who was supposed to call to check on me.  They appropriately spaced it out throughout the day.  While I know (or think) that they really did not, it was quite amusing that I spoke to them in spaced out intervals during the day.  I felt very loved, and I needed that yesterday because my world changed just a bit in the blink of an eye.  I do not think that it was a bad change, just a different one.

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As Summer came home performing all of her songs last night, Sean and I just kept looking at each other and smiling.  We know that she has this Kindergarten thing down already, and we are so proud of her.  This is a new season of our lives, a new chapter in our book, and we are ready to embrace it.