Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The preschool switch

When I started thinking about preschools for Macey last year, I was mostly concerned with how I was going to handle the logistics of getting her to preschool and Camden to kindergarten. I had already nixed Camden's preschool (which we adored) off the list of contenders for Macey because of their location-- which is in the opposite direction of Camden's kindergarten. And so the search for convenient schools led me to a small preschool literally 3 minutes from our neighborhood. The commute was like a dream come true, so I hoped the school would be a perfect fit for Macey.
My hesitations started early on. When I toured the school with a friend, we commented to each other that the classrooms were pretty sparse; they were dark (no windows) and had very few toys. This was in stark contrast to Camden's old preschool, which was bright and happy and overflowing with toys.  But, I decided to give it a shot anyway, because that kind of convenience commute-wise is hard to come by.
Unfortunately, my reservations only grew as the school year began. Macey came home with a lot of worksheets, which she had just scribbled on because hello-- she's three. There were other things I wasn't thrilled about-- the fact that they rarely went outside to the playground, that the teachers were forbidden to help the kids in the bathroom-- but there wasn't anything awful. In fact, the teachers were very pleasant and Macey quickly made friends with a couple of little girls in the class.
Then one afternoon, I came to pick her up from school and was immediately told that she needed to learn how to get her shoes off and on by herself. As it turns out, there was a bounce house at recess that day, and the kids were not allowed to get in unless they could take their shoes off without assistance. Macey struggled with hers and got upset when she wasn't offered help. Keep in mind that, with her late August birthday, she is the youngest child in her class (the cut-off date in NC is August 31, one day after Macey's birthday). So, as I later told the director, while I totally understand and support teaching children independence and self-sufficiency, it must be done within reason. That was the day I knew I was done.
These days, Macey is attending Camden's old preschool. How'd I swing what I once thought was logistically impossible? Thankfully, my friend drives Camden to school every day, which frees up my mornings to drive Macey in the opposite direction to preschool.  I am so thankful it's worked out the way it has.
The day Macey and I set foot back in Camden's old preschool, it felt like coming home. We were welcomed so warmly, and Macey loves everything about preschool now. She's learning through play (side note: this school has a rule that no worksheets are allowed in the 3-year-old classroom because-- surprise, surprise-- they're not developmentally appropriate). Her teachers (Camden's former teachers) are two of the most genuine, amazing women I've ever met; they love their job and it shows in the way they interact with the kids.
While I initially agonized over making this change (and cried, and agonized some more), I have no doubt that it was absolutely the right decision for Macey. And I learned some valuable lessons along the way, too: don't choose a school solely based on convenience. Just don't. And that little voice in the back of your head trying to nudge you in a different direction? Stop ignoring her.

Macey's first day at her new school. She was so excited to have a tote bag like "bro" used to.

Coming home after her Thanksgiving party at school. I love the pure joy on her face. If I ever feel like questioning my decision again, all I have to do is look at this picture. 

The boy is six

I distinctly remember having the following conversation with my co-worker over lunch one day in my life BK (before kids):

Co-worker: So, you want to have kids, right?
Me: Yeah, I do. But the thing is, I like babies. I don't know if I can relate to older kids.

And then, along came my kids and I proved myself wrong. You see, I totally get that newborns are adorable. They're tiny squishes that make cute sounds and can curl up into the coziest little ball on your chest. But the newborn phase isn't my favorite, because, let's face it: it's also a little exhausting. Okay, a lot exhausting.

Toddlers are adorable little troublemakers who relish in the spotlight and laugh in the face of time-out. I like the toddler phase, as exasperating as it can be sometimes (or most of the time)

But you know what? I absolutely love the relationships I'm developing with my kids as they get older.

Last weekend, Camden turned six. No longer a baby, a toddler, or a preschooler; he's now a bonafide kid. He has his own opinions, thoughts, interests, and friends. He has an entire life outside of our little family now that he's in school all day, five days a week. And he's turning into a pretty amazing little guy.

I've known it since he was very young, but it's even more apparent as he gets older: Camden's a lot like me. He's the spitting image of his dad physically, but temperament-wise, he's all me. He's a listener more than a talker; he's observes before jumping in; he likes having a plan; and he's not a huge fan of change. But he makes friends easily, does well in school, and is kind-hearted. I'm so proud to call him my son.

Happy sixth birthday, Camden Miller. You are so loved.

Macey and I visited Camden's classroom the day before his birthday to bring in a special birthday snack. 

The following morning, on his actual birthday, Camden woke up with a sore throat and fever. After taking him to the doctor to make sure he didn't have strep, we decided to power through and let him go ahead with his party. He was a trooper.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Conversations with Macey

Macey was watching a commercial for a stuffed animal called "Puppy Surprise", where apparently, the mother dog gives birth to a litter of puppies. Macey looked at me, fascinated:

Macey: The doggies come out of their mommy?

Me: Yes. Just like you came out of your Mommy.

Macey: *Looking super confused* An animal came out of my Mommy?

Me: Not an animal. You. You used to live in my belly. So did bro. Then the doctor took you out.

Macey: *Smiling really big, like she suddenly understands* Oh! I am a puppy surprise!

Something like that, kid. Something like that.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Macey Starts Preschool

Dear Macey,

Today was your first day of preschool! You were so excited; you asked if you could bring your stuffed Olaf who sings to school with you. When I told you that you'd better save him for show and tell day, you happily agreed that he would just ride along in the car with you. Olaf sang to us the whole way to school and then you told him goodbye in the parking lot.

We ventured into your classroom where you were greeted by your teacher. You gave her a big hug and then headed in to find your chair. You sat down and started coloring right away.

In true Macey fashion, you did try to sneak away from your coloring to play with toys a couple of times, but allowed your teacher to direct you back to your seat with no problem. I predict you're going to be a leader in your classroom, even though you're the youngest.

When it was time for me to leave, I kissed you goodbye and you waved happily. I lingered outside your door for several minutes and every once in a while, you'd glance up and give me a big smile.

I'm so proud of you, Macey. I'm proud of the sweet, happy little girl you are. I love the way you approach life: with such enthusiasm and a carefree spirit. Now it's time for me to rush out the door and pick you up from school. I can't wait to give you the biggest hug ever!

I love you,

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Happy 3rd birthday, Macey Jean

My beautiful daughter,

You are three.

Since the day you came into our lives, you've been such a joy. You are loving, smart, playful, silly, kind, and an entertainer. Someone once told me that when you smile, your whole face lights up and you even smile with your eyes. I would have to agree.

I love everything about your carefree spirit. I love the way you try to keep up with your "bro" and I even love the way your mischievous side comes out when you grab his favorite toy and run out of the room. I love the way you give affection so freely and your sweet voice when you say, "I love you so much."
This morning, we went to meet your preschool teachers. Preschool. Another milestone checked off in the books. And you handled it just like I knew you would: with confidence and a smile. You walked right in, started playing, and barely gave me a second glance. I watched your blonde pigtails bounce around the room and just watched you in awe. I still kind of can't believe you're mine. I'm thankful every day that you are.

Here's a glimpse of you, at three:

  • You're about 25 lbs. Not sure about height; we haven't had your 3-year check-up yet.
  • You love all Disney princesses, but your favorites are still Elsa and Anna.
  • You're not exactly an adventurous eater, but your favorite foods include: cinnamon rolls, cereal, pancakes, cheese, yogurt, goldfish, peanut butter, raisins, banana, and penne pasta with alfredo sauce.
  • You ask for "noodles"  (aka: penne pasta) for dinner every.single.night.
  • You love playing with your "bro", and you love instigating fights with him too.
  • You know your ABCs, shapes, and numbers 1-20.
  • Your favorite shows are Paw Patrol, Team Umizoomi, Blaze, and Peppa.
  • Your favorite movie is Frozen.
  • You love play-doh and anything crafty (read: messy).
  • You love to FaceTime with your daddy while he's at work during the day. You call him "Daddy big face" when his face appears on the screen.
  • You like to play princesses and constantly swap their outfits.
  • You are very interested in Legos right now.
  • You like to play outside and ride in Camden's jeep.
  • You've pretty much dropped your afternoon nap, with the exception of the occasional car nap when we are stuck in car-line while picking Camden up after school.
  • We're in the process of saying goodbye to your nursery (no more animals on the wall-- sniff, sniff) and giving you a "big girl" Frozen-themed room.
  • Starting next week, you will go to preschool Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
  • You are friendly, active, and easygoing. You clearly inherited your dad's temperament!

Happy birthday, sweet girl. You are so very loved!


Monday, August 3, 2015

And He's Off to Kindergarten

I was talking to a friend a few years ago right around the time summer was winding down and everyone was gearing up for the first day of school. Predictably, our Facebook newsfeeds were filled with sappy status updates and then, a few days later, obligatory first day of school pictures. Most of the captions read something like, "Can you believe Tommy is starting kindergarten?!"

At the time, I had a preschooler and an infant, so the idea of a school-aged child and all of the angst and emotion that goes along with the first day of school seemed eons away to me.

Anyway, my friend said something like, "All of these 'Can you believe it' posts are funny. Because, yes, I can believe it. You had a baby five years ago, which makes him five years old, which is when the majority of kids start kindergarten. It's not really that unbelievable.'"

I remember laughing, and nodding my agreement. Of course I can believe your kid is going to kindergarten. But now that it's mine? Well, it's kind of unbelievable.

It's unbelievable because, when it's your own kid, chronological time kind of goes out the window. I look at Camden's face and I see an inquisitive five-year-old with his daddy's eyes and my cowlick, but I also see the tiny baby that I endlessly pushed around the house in a stroller, willing him to fall asleep. I hear his voice-- a steady stream of chatter discussing everything from white blood cells to the solar system-- but I can also still hear him yelling, "BABABABABA!" in his high chair, marking the first time he ever truly babbled.

So, I see him now, but I see him then too. And sometimes the then is hard to let go; and sometimes the now moves a little too quickly.

First Day of Kindergarten, 2015-2016


Sunday, July 5, 2015

Summa, Summa, Summa time

It's already July and I'm just now getting around to writing about our summer break. I think those of you who still read this blog (all two of you) probably expect that from me by now.

Summer break has been hectic! Camden got out of school in late May and he'll start kindergarten in the first week of August, so his break is about a month shorter than in years past. The school he's going to in the fall follows a modified year-round schedule. Basically, they have a slightly shorter summer break (by about 2-3 weeks) and then slightly longer fall, winter, and spring breaks. Anyway, since his summer break is shortened, I've been trying to squeeze in everything I wanted to accomplish. So far, so good.

On our summer bucket list:

Lots of pool days: check

Swim lessons for Camden: check

Rocking said swim lessons: check

Lake trips to Mom and Dad's house: check

Jet ski and boat rides: check

Macey's first time jet skiing: check

Summer reading program through the library: check

Exploring playgrounds: check

Spending time with friends and neighbors: check

Various indoor playground dates: check

Potty training: check

Beach trip: upcoming!

Trip to visit my grandmother: upcoming!

Water slides and sprinkler runs out back: check

Visiting new cousin, Greyson: check

Trip to Michigan for a friend's wedding: check

Watching the sing-along version of Frozen at an outdoor theater: check
Daddy saying goodbye to his old car (after 14 years!!): check
Fireworks on the boat: check

Minion hunting: check

Ice cream dates: check

Mastering the big slide at the pool: check
Lots of family love and fun: check