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The Pain Of School Year Re-Entry

We are one week and one day into the new school year. We started out well. We started out excited and ready and all bright and shiny. 

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That rapidly declined into something out of a horror movie. 

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I’ve decided that there is no pain like the pain involved in school year re-entry. It’s borderline tragic and I might not make it. If I don’t, thanks for reading along on this little blog. You’ve been great. 

1. Bedtimes. During the summer we pretty much participate in free range parenting. I don’t enforce bedtimes or drag the kids out of bed early in the morning. That’s part of what makes summer great but it also makes school year re-entry torturous. 

2. Alarm Clocks. I hate alarm clocks. I had to disable my snooze on my phone so I wouldn’t be tempted to hit it 27 times every morning. 

3. School lunches. Last year I packed 2 lunches every day. This year I’m packing 4. It sucks. 

4. Bus stops. The first week of school means that the bus is late. It’s just how it works and we all know to expect it. But it sucks. 

5. School supplies. Holy cow, I practically needed a second mortgage just to buy school supplies this year. Over $320 for 3 kids. Not including tech fees, sports fees, bus fees….all the fees. 

6. Homework. Oh the horror of homework. Granted they have way less than they did at their old school but any homework is considered a torture device by my children. 

7. School paperwork. I lost count of how many papers I filled out for each child. 4 times the paperwork. With almost identical information. 

8. Laundry. During the summer my kids lived in pajamas and swim suits. I did very few loads of laundry. I’ve done 4 loads in the last week. And the dryer is broken. I feel like Satan is laughing at me right now. 

9. School uniforms. I like the concept of uniforms. I really dislike paying for them. Especially when I bought them all back in June and a certain child, Zoey, had a massive growth spurt and needed all new ones. Awesome. 

10. Shower battles. Again, during summer I didn’t fight this battle. They swam every day and played in the hot tub nearly every evening. I figure the chlorine and other chemicals got them pretty clean. Now we’re back to nightly showers and it’s sucking out my soul. 

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How Not To Rock Back To School

So my kids start the 2017-18 school year in 2 days. 2 days. And I’m so not prepared. Like really really so not prepared. I could say that it snuck up on me but the date has been set for months. So really I just ignored it and concentrated on enjoying my summer. Now I’m paying the price for such indulgence. I’m normally the uber-organized parent. Let me share my shame with y’all- here’s all the ways I’m not prepared for back to school. I feel like Zoey in this picture.

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1. Uniforms. I’ve been buying uniforms in pieces off the parents FB page for our charter school all summer. Uniforms are expensive and I refuse to buy new for the 2 youngest because I’ll be replacing them every year. Unfortunately what fit back in June does not necessarily fit now. Zoey has 1 polo and 2 skorts and no shorts. So this week has been a scramble. 

2. School Supplies. Yeah. I have half of them. Maybe. I think. 

3. School Lunches. Being at a charter this year means there is no hot lunch daily. We can order hot lunches but they are catered and not cheap. So my kids take their own lunch every day. I realized this morning that we have no bread, no cheese, no fruit, no drink pouches…basically nothing for lunch boxes.

4. Forms. Oh sweet baby Jesus, the forms. There’s an enormous stack of forms that need to be filled out by 2pm today at open house. I’m so tired of filling out forms. So tired, y’all. 

5. School Schedule. Failure. My kids are still sleeping in until 11am. In 2 days they will have to be up at 5:45am. And they are going to be ANGRY. And MEAN. And I have nobody to blame but myself. 

6. Meal Plan. I think I mentioned the grocery shortage above, right? Well that is not just limited to lunch items. The reason we have no bread is because we’ve eaten grilled cheese sandwiches every night for a week. I am so not on top of this right now. I think Matt is considering divorce if I don’t start cooking again soon. 

So for all of you moms out there who are totally unprepared for back to school, take heart. You’re not the only one! High Five! Good luck. And God Speed, my friends. See you on the other side. 

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7 Southern Fails In Our House

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I’ve come to the realization that we are Southern failures in our house. Now, we don’t actually live in the deep South but we are pretty firmly entrenched in the Bible Belt. And living in the Bible Belt comes with some clear expectations. And we are failing to meet those expectations on a regular basis. 

1. We do not own anything with a monogram. Not one thing. I know, I should be flogged. We also do not own anything made of seersucker. It’s a travesty. 

2. Our kids don’t say ma’am and sir. They are polite and use manners but I will not force my kids to say ma’am and sir. I hated it as a child and I still hate it as an adult. 

3. We don’t spend all day Sunday at church. Nope. In fact, and don’t anybody form a lynch mob, we don’t go to church every Sunday…or even every month. Some Sundays Matt will watch Joel Osteen on TV and call it a day. I’m okay with this. 

4. MeeMaw and PeePaw are not words we say. Ever. No. I would die. 

5. We don’t wear big bows. In my defense, I tried to get my girls to wear big bows. It did not end well. I did not try again. 

6. Nobody hunts anything. Unless you count the kids hunting for poptarts in the pantry. And that doesn’t count in the South. I hit a squirrel with my car once. But I didn’t take it home and cook it so again, doesn’t count. 

7. We don’t like grits. Not with sugar, not with cheese, not with bacon….just no. None of us like grits. It’s the texture. I can’t. I just had a full body shudder. 

So I guess I’m a Southern failure. Somehow I will learn to live with that! 

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Charter School: One Year Later

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Tyler just finished his first year in our charter school of choice. I really had no idea what to expect from charter school. I just knew that public school was not an option anymore and homeschooling was not something that was viable for our family. Turns out, this charter school is absolutely hands down the very best thing that could have happened for our family. And this year we hit the sibling lottery jackpot- Mason and Zoey got in via the sibling lottery back in February and Maia was number 1 on the waitlist. We got the call a couple of weeks ago that Maia had gotten a spot. So next year we will have all of our kids in one charter school. Do you hear that sound? It’s the angels singing. I’m not saying that this charter school is perfect. It’s not but the truth is, no school will ever be perfect. You just have to decide what you can live with and what is a deal breaker. For us, any issues at our charter school are minor and acceptable compared to the total nightmare of our assigned public schools. The positives far outweigh the negatives in our experience. 

1. Smaller class sizes. At his old public high school Tyler had anywhere from 28-35 kids in his classes. Sometimes there weren’t enough desks and there were never enough text books. Now he has 15-18 kids in his classes and everyone is really engaged. 

2. Active parents. The fact that there is no free transportation and no lunch program means that parents have to really want their kids to attend this school. It requires a lot. There’s a very active Facebook page full of parents, and everyone is super involved in the school. It’s amazing! I feel like we joined a family, instead of a school.

3. Strong academics. Tyler learned more in one year than he has in the previous 3 in public school. The standard classes are the equivalent of the Honors classes in our public school system. Tyler’s grades went up simply because the teacher spent the entire class period teaching instead of dealing with behavioral issues. 

4. Required service hours. Tyler is required to do 40 hours of service per year. I love this. It forces teenagers to look outside themselves and offer service to other people. And teenagers are notoriously self-absorbed as a general rule. Tyler helped the football coaches collect and catalog gear at the end of the season, he helped them run a skills camp for the younger players, he helped teachers move furniture…he got involved. 

5. Sense of community. Tyler played both varsity football and basketball. He made a ton of friends. Matt and I made just as many friends. We tailgated with the football parents, we did dinners with the basketball parents. I had girls nights with other moms that I met. It’s a culture at this school and I love it so much.

6. Uniforms. Do you know what you see at public high school? Girls wearing booty shorts and bikini tops with high heel sandals. Boys with their shorts down around their knees. Know what you see at charter school? Uniforms. It’s awesome. I love it. No fighting over what clothes they want to wear and nobody knows who the more affluent families are because everyone is wearing the same stuff.

7. Extra supervision. My poor kids. They have no idea the amount of extra eyes that are on them every day. I have good friends who teach in the lower school (grades K-5). I’m friends with coaches in the middle school. I have friends who substitute teach in the upper school, I’m friends with the registrar, and I saw the admin assistant so much last year because of Tyler that she’ll let me know in a hot minute if something is going on. Nothing goes on with my kids that I don’t hear about. I love that. 

8. One campus. This might be my favorite thing. All 4 of my kids will be on the same campus. The lower school, middle school, upper school, athletic center, fine arts building, and STEM building are all self-contained on one property. If one of my younger kids has an issue, Tyler and Maia are right there for help. We never have to adjust to a new school again- Zoey will be on one campus from 1st grade until she graduates high school. I love that!

All in all, putting our kids in this charter school has been the best decision we could have ever made for them and for us. Our quality of life has increased ten fold over the last year. Charter school isn’t for everyone- it’s a lot of work for parents too- but for us it was so worth it. 

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Enjoying Summer Time With Kids

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We were at the pool last week and a new family to the neighborhood was there. I watched them for awhile. It was mom, dad, grandparents, and 4 small kids probably ages 7 and under. They rolled in with huge floats and big bags and all the stuff that accompanies a trip to the pool with small kids. But what I noticed the most was the mom. She was miserable. She never once smiled or laughed. She yelled, she snapped, and she huffed. It hurt my heart to watch her and it broke my heart to watch her kids.

I get it. I was her a few years ago. It was like watching my past through a mirror. I remember those days clearly. I remember bringing 4 kids to the pool when they were all very young and only 1 could swim. I remember being in a constant state of panic trying to keep up with 4 kids and make sure nobody was drowning. I remember dreading days at the pool and being ready to leave 10 minutes after arriving. Oh, I remember. 

I wanted to tell her that it’s just a stage. That it gets better. That soon she will enjoy these days. What I didn’t want to tell her is what everyone always told me. “You’ll miss these days so enjoy them”. Because, no. I don’t miss those days. I don’t miss the sheer panic of those 30 seconds where you can’t see one of your kids in the pool. I don’t miss the huge bags and floats and stuff that you need to lug around. I don’t miss those things. 

Watching her made me realize how long ago those days were. I lounged on a pool chair with a new book on my Kindle sipping a watermelon lemonade while my kids swam and played. All of my kids can swim now and can swim well enough that I don’t need to be within arms reach of them. They also play together without fighting and genuinely enjoy each others company most of the time. I feel like I’ve graduated to a whole new stage of life. And I love it. I love it a lot. And it’s a great feeling to love your life. 

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