Thursday, August 28, 2008

The bus was a no show

Today was supposed to be the first day that Max rode the bus to and from school. We waited from 7:00 until 7:30 and no bus.

Needless to say "we" were devastated.

Maybe tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

It is such a MOM thing

We are trying to get into our new schedule of school time. One thing that has struck me very hard is that this is the first time our family has been apart of something really cliche and stereotypical. So far, I have felt like my young family has been trucking along on the outskirts of life, minding our own business, doing our own things, our own way. This is the first time we have joined the rank and file of a system when it relates to our family. Dropping Max off and picking him up from school... waiting in the "car rider" pick up line for half an hour, car after car, kid after kid...everyone knowing their part.... I felt like such a MOM. Not Becky, not mommy, not a wife or a friend or whatever... a MOM, doing a MOM thing, in a MOM way.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Day 2

So I didn't think I would cry on day 2... but I did.

I was dropping him off this morning and I asked if he needed me to walk him to his class.

Nope... I don't need anybody following me, I know exactly where to go.

Okay, so when you go in through the doors which way do you go.

(Roll eyes) To the left.

That's right. And then you walk down, down, down, down....

Mommy... if I walk all the way down, I would be outside.

Uh, okay... well, then I guess you know where to go.



Bye mommy

Little red head rolls into the crowd of bobbing heads and backpacks.

I almost get into a wreck craning my head backwards to make sure he gets in the door okay.

I cry to the stop light.....

Monday, August 25, 2008

1st Day of School

Oh my, my, my.......

First day of school... my sweet, baby, angel, first born had his FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL today!!! Needless to say I was all vklempt!

The early rising was a bit rough, the lights were slightly brighter than usual, but we managed to rub the sleep out of our eyes and get dressed for school. We had picked our first day of school outfit the night before (we even picked out Mommy's outfit).

I took Ben to daycare school so that we could have the morning to Max, and when I returned, he was dressed for school and helping daddy pack his lunch box. We combed his hair and he saw that mommy and daddy's bed was made, so he was determined to make his bed - so upstairs we went to make his bed. Then down to the breakfast table... which we ate maybe half of our usual.

Then .... time for pictures.....

Obligatory pic with daddy:

Obligatory pic with mommy:

Time to load up into the car:

Cool Transformer backpack? Check!

Cool Batman lunch box? Check!

We head to school, mommy driving, mommy loses it for the first time at the 1st light out of our neighborhood! I quickly turn on favorite rock and roll song ( I like to move it, move it!) to keep things up beat. We head to the school - too many cars, no where to park - okay, Max, you are gonna have to show daddy your new classroom - (start crying again, me that is).... NO WAIT!! Some one is leaving... park.

Head into new school:

Max is about 10 paces ahead of us, which is great, because I wanted to make sure he knew how to get to his classroom.

And here we are..... big smiles, big excitement... big hugs from our teacher! No kiss goodbye, just a wave.... and mommy turns quickly so he doesn't see me cry.... again.

I cry all the way home.....

My kindergarten.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Alien encounters of the elderly kind

So I am dropping the boys off at school today and all of the ages are in one room watching a movie together.... ET. I tell all the kids, "I saw this movie in the movie theatre when I was YOUR age!!" One kid then proceeds to say very loud:

"MAN! This is an old, OLD movie!!"

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Another big change....

This year will be a year of big changes for this family. We are completely revamping how our family works, and I am hoping this is for the better.

So, now that Max is off to big kid school and Ben has transitioned to the new daycare school, Mommy will be changing her work schedule. Mommy is going to be going to work very early in the morning, dropping Ben off on the way when daycare first opens. Daddy will then make sure Max gets on the school bus and off to school. After school, mommy will be home in time to be there to receive Max from the school bus and we will then go pick up Ben. I am slightly torn as to whether or not we will work on homework and then go get Ben or just go get him. Part of me knows homework time will go so much smoother with Ben not there, but part of me knows it will also be very hard for Max to come from all day at school and head straight into homework, a little transition time would be good.

I am hoping these changes help to roll into even greater changes as a whole for our family. I am hoping more time in the afternoon will allow us to better schedule our rituals, allow me to get more stuff done during the week - thus allowing for more free time on the weekends. The extra money we will save from not having to pay daycare for Max will be... well.... amazing.

I am just so happy, I am teary eyed right now. This is the first time I have sat down and really thought about all the choices we have made in one sitting and it is very happy and very overwhelming. I fell like a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders and I am just so hopeful right now.

I just love the fall..... most people experience renewal at the beginning of the year or in the spring bloom, but I seem to renew best in the fall. What a discovery!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

We are just gonna see....

Oh so much to say, such an incredible, difficult, long journey to get where we are today, but we have made a decision and this is for documentation purposes since this is my archive for our lives. Please note, since this is public, some of this may be quite shocking to some of you, but please know we have researched, thought, talked with friends, counseled those involved, and we are very confident that the decision we have made is the best for OUR family. I am open to comments and opinions (as I know there are quite a few out there on all levels of this spectrum), but clearly we have to do what we think is best for our family.

Earlier this week we received a call from the school district. They were inviting Max to be tested for a new program (this is the second year). We later would find out that that this program was only being offered to the incoming kindergartners of 3 elementary schools and if accepted, he would be going to a different elementary school then the one we are zoned. It is a bilingual academy. The program is a duel immersion curriculum with the goal of biliterate and bilingual students by 5th grade.

Side note here: When Mike and I were registering Max in the Spring, I read about this program. At the time, I thought... HOW COOL!! I was a little disappointed when I found out that it was not going to be offered at Max's school. This is one of my 3 genie wishes.... to be able to speak and communicate in any language. I took 10 years of Spanish and 3 years of Russian and other than very conversational Spanish and veeerrryyy little Russian, it is all gone. So the idea of Max getting language development this advanced this young was very exciting to me.

Okay... back to the phone call. I was very overwhelmed. I told the person calling to forgive me, but I was going to have to think about this and call her back. I was so taken aback that I couldn't even think of questions to ask.

I immediately started to research on the Internet. It was a little difficult because this is still a relatively new concept in America and there is not a lot out there. Everywhere else in the world, learning two languages at a young and very advanced pace is normal, but not here. Part of my problem was that I was researching bilingual classes, which led me to Spanish speaking children in English speaking classes or English as a second language (ESL) research. This is not what this program is about. It was not until I got to the term Dual Immersion, where I was finally able to get some solid answers to my questions. My biggest concern was how this was going to effect his overall development. Would so much effort be spent trying to teach the language that he would fall behind on the concepts? I mean, it is great that he would be able to translate the concept, but I want him to UNDERSTAND the concept and excel at it! If he can do it in 2 languages, he is ahead of the curve.

That night Mike and I talked and we left it with, we will allow him to get tested, and see what happens. He may not even be accepted into the program so no need to jump the gun.

I made an appointment to get him tested. I explained to Max that we were going to go and meet some teachers at the new school. I said they wanted to see what he already knows from his other school. He was very satisfied with that. When we parked the car, it was a different school than the one we have been driving past as "his new big boy school", but it was the same school we had to go to register him since the other school was being built, so he was familiar with the school. He asked me, "Mommy.... is this my new school or is the other school my school?" and I answered, "Well, we are not sure yet, that is why we are here." We went inside and the coordinator gave me some forms to read and fill out and turned to Max, "Are you ready to come talk with me?"

This was one of those moments - the first time I had ever had it with Max. He walked away hand in hand with the coordinator and I could do nothing to help him. I couldn't sit with him, I couldn't help him, I couldn't answer for him. I can't teach him this information, I can't make him think. All I can do is lead him to the tools and sit in the sidelines hoping, praying, loving, and supporting.....this was a very new feeling for me... and I got to feel it for an hour. Over an hour. And then he came around the corner again full of smiles and energy and right into my arms. I sat with the coordinator, while Max, bursting with nervous energy, fidgeted. It was clear we weren't going to get a lot of time to talk, and she needed to grade his scores before we met again, so we decided to go look at the classroom and meet the teachers. The classrooms were beautiful. There are 2 classes in this program 16 students in each class; 8 English speaking and 8 Spanish speaking students. They were very clear to advise me that this was not an ESL class or just another bilingual class. The goal here is for English speaking children to learn Spanish fluently and for Spanish speaking children to continue developing that language academically, not just conversationally at home - but reading, writing, etc.

We agreed to meet again that afternoon to go over his scores and talk some more with out Max present. We left the school and I walked Max over to the playground to allow him to get rid of some of his nervous energy and to talk. On the swings I started to lay the ground work. "Daddy and I think that it may be best if you go to this school for big kid school." All of a sudden my happy go lucky kid shifts 180 degrees..."NO!!! I don't wanna go to THIS school!! THIS school is LAME!! I want to go to a NORMAL kindergarten!!!" Oh my.... clearly he has understood waaayyy more than we have let on. We had purposely not spoken about any differences in the kindergartens and yet, he picked up immediately that this situation was special. We talked some more and the more we talked the more it became clear that he was worried about leaving Ben behind. This was where we had to have another big talk about how he was a big kid now and how Ben would be going to "daycare" school and he would be going to "BIG KID" school, no matter which school was decided. This seemed to turn a light bulb on for Max and calm the situation down.

So I called Mike, told him how it went, and even though we hadn't gotten the results yet, the tour and the talks made it pretty clear they were going to make an offer for him to attend the academy, so what did we want to do. I also talked with my mother and good friends and the last thoughts that kept settling in my brain were, he is already advanced for kindergarten. He has already learned the basic kindergarten curriculum at his previous school, so even if we decided this wasn't for him, we could always transfer him to a regular 1st grade and he wouldn't be behind. He would still have his basic reading, writing, and math skills developed.

Here is where my peacock feathers come out in pride and I toot my son's horn a little. This is my blog, and I do this for him to read later, so I want him to know how very proud we are of him. Mike met me at the school and the coordinator sat across from us and said, you truly have an exceptional child. She pulled out the test scores and proceeded to go through them. To qualify for this program, they are looking for children to score a minimum of 50....Max scored 98. She said the moment they walked into the room he was all over the place checking everything out, but the moment she asked him a question, he stopped, and gave her his complete attention, answered the questions correctly (and then some), and then would go back to investigating the area around him. She asked him to draw a car, he drew it then proceeded to tell her what the parts of the car were, how they worked, why they worked, " 'And this is where the human, you know the person?... this is where he drives the car.' All I asked him to do was draw the car." He was asked to say the alphabet, then write it, he wrote it all out, checked his work, realized he had missed a letter ("Oh, I missed the "S"), he corrected his work and then turned it in to her.

She continued to be very complimentary and Mike and I just sat there and got teary eyed. You always think your kid is great, but it sure is wonderful to hear a complete stranger tell you he is too.

It was wonderful that he is smart, but I wanted to make sure that we were heading into this with a stable head on our shoulders. I realized this was going to be a transition for him - and I know it will be hard emotionally at first to grasp this, but I wanted to make sure it was clear what was transitional emotion versus, I am just not getting this. The coordinator assured us that this is why they test. Children who score high on these tests tend to be better equipped to learn this way. Some children did not qualify.

So.... Max is going to learn Spanish... alot of it.... very quickly. Then his curriculum will be taught in Spanish. It is the exact same curriculum as all Texas kindergartners, his will just be in Spanish. Mike and I will be required to go to workshops as well, and there are guides for us. I am fully aware that this is going to be more work for us, but if that helps Max in the long run, bring it on. And if this works, Ben will attend here as well.

There really is so very much more, but this post is long enough as it is, so I will break it down into future posts.

Please feel free to leave questions here. I am forever grateful for all the questions I have bounced back and forth with my family and friends so far, they have helped to create more questions I need to ask and also have helped me to reasure ourselves in our decision. I am going to try to document this journey as best I can for our own sake, and maybe for others later down the line who may be thinking of making the same decision for their family.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Goodbyes suck....

So today is the last day Max and Ben will be at the only school they have every known. It is the place they have been since they were babies. Even when we moved 20 minutes away, we chose to keep them at the same school because it was just that great to us and it was still on my way to and from work, so a little detour was worth it. But now that Max is starting kindergarten, we have to change to a place that can bus him to and from public school. We found a place that is literally less than a mile from our house, so they will transition there starting Monday. We wanted to have a few weeks before school started so Max could have the chance to make friends with the same kids that he will be going to school with this year.

I started talking about this change shortly after Max's graduation. We would drive by Max's elementary and the new daycare and IO would point it out and the boys would ask questions, but it would quickly pass to a different conversation. Then last week we stopped by the new daycare and walked around and let them play on the new playground, just so they could see the place before being left, and they were excited, they wanted to start right away... No... 2 weeks.... you will start here in 2 weeks.....

Beginning of this week, Max asked if he could have a goodbye celebration at school and bring flowers to all the teachers. I said we could pick up a nice cake and cards for the teachers and that seemed to satisfy him. Everyday he was a little more anxious - is today the last day? No - 3 more days... oh, okay....

Well, last night, I was making the cards for the teachers. I had taken a bunch of pictures of them since birth and collage them into a thank you card. They were both very excited and loved looking at the cards. The next thing you know, Max's mood shifts and he sits down and says,
Mommy... I just want to go to work with you tomorrow.
Let's just drop off the cake and cards and then... I don't wanna stay.. uhm... I just wanna go to work with you.
(The anxiety of goodbye was weighing very heavy on him)
Oh, honey... don't you wanna play with your friends and say goodbye?
No mommy (almost in tears) can't we just leave it and go?
Oh, pumpkin, goodbyes are so hard, I know they are, but ya gotta tell people how much you are going to miss them and let them know how happy you are to have them as a friend. And we will try to come and visit when we can...
Everyday? Will we visit everyday?
We can't visit everyday.
Every 3 days?
Oh honey - we will visit when we can.

This morning was a mix of anxiety and excitement. Anxious to say goodbye and excited to present the big cake to the teachers and hand out their special cards. For me, it was very important to let these people know how grateful we were to have them be such an important part of Max and Ben's lives, and how much they are going to be missed. I got teary eyed when I left, but I am trying very hard not to make it harder for Max and Ben.

Funny.... I cried and cried the first time I dropped them off and drove away to go back to work... and now I am crying and crying to take them away......