Sunday, September 12, 2010

Back to School!!!

So after the longest summer of our lives (May 21- September 7), school finally started. There were some really fun vacations (Hawaii, Virginia Beach), some really fun holidays (Father's Day, 4th of July, Harrison's Birthday, Labor Day), and some run of the mill summertime activities (park, pool, free movies, library, etc). But when the children weren't being entertained by yours truly, their activity of choice was fighting. And I had had about enough of that. So I was more than ready for school to start.

We kicked it off last Sunday with our First Annual Watabe Family Back to School Feast. I gathered ideas from a few friends (and virtual friends) and this was the result. It started with an invitation taped to their door that morning inviting them to the feast. They were asked to wear "nice" clothes and come with ready with a goal for the school year.

The kids were very excited as they watched everything get set up for "the celebration."

We started with a toast to a great school year.

Please note Elizabeth's idea of nice clothes. A hand-me-down brown corduroy jumper in size 5T, aqua polka dot tee shirt, and lip gloss.
The menu: Stuffed Shells with Italian Sausage, Artisan Bread, Spinach Salad, and Cupcakes. Thoughts on the menu: I wanted something nice that the kids would eat. That's a very short list to choose from. I had only made this one other time and had forgotten how labor intensive it was. Between making bread, cupcakes, salad, the main course and decorating, I was getting a little frazzled. At one point, Nate said if I was going to act this way this would be our first and last Back to School Feast. So, I took a few deep breaths, plastered a smile on my face and pressed forward. Next year I will definitely simplify the menu. I'm thinking Salmon. They like it and it's super easy.

During dinner we talked about our expectations for the school year. Harrison was ready with his goal and then we helped him elaborate on it. Elizabeth's goal cracked me up. So typical. I had forgotten (repressed?) that Nate was starting school again too, so he also set a goal. After one week of school I can report that we have all done a good job. Elizabeth's teacher even said, "She's such a great helper." To report a little more accurately, I have only gotten Harrison to school on time, not Elizabeth. But pre-school is not as important, right? I'll work on that this week. And I'm going to add a "happily" to the first one too, because I really need to work on that.
The kids had been introduced to Silly Bands the day before and were very enamored with them. My friend gave me a pack of "Back to School" ones that we busted out that night. They got to pick two and then we said if they did a good job they could pick another one each Sunday.

Please note Harrison's belt. He only wears belts to church, but he came up with this as part of his "nice" outfit. Cute.

When we remembered Daddy was starting school, Harrison lent him his crown. He wore it while doing the dishes.

During dessert we talked about Priesthood blessings in preparation for their Back to School Father's Blessings. The kids were very reverent and listened very closely during their blessings. It was a wonderful evening and next year with my simplified menu (read: better attitude) I'm sure it will be even better.

So two days later, we started! Here's Elizabeth in her first day of school outfit that I purchased at the eleventh hour.
Can you tell how excited she is?
She was psyched about her backpack and felt like such a big girl.

Miss Leigh had taken pictures from the Open House and made cute little flowers for the garden.
Here she is with "Buzzy" the mascot of "Busy Bee Pre-School."
That afternoon Harrison started at the new Charter School, SkyView Academy. Here his is in his uniform. Now I know the shirt is supposed to be tucked in.

His teacher, Mrs. Alm, who we already love.
Kindergarten Take Two. . .and Action!
So, I'm happy to report that I think we made the right decision about repeating Kindergarten. First of all, 5 out of 20 kids in his class are repeating (I guess I wasn't the only one who saw a golden opportunity in moving to a brand new, more rigorous school).

My second reason is a little bit of a brag fest, but after all the negative reports I got (and passed along) last year, I feel very justified in sharing. He came home the 2nd day and told me he had gotten silver on his behavior chart. He said that's the best you can get and he was the only one in the class that got it. I really hoped this was accurate information. Sure enough, the next day the teacher confirmed and told me what a fabulous job he was doing. This was such a contrast to last year when on the 2nd day of school the teacher had to pull me aside and talk to me about Harrison's poor behavior.

I was so thrilled, proud and relieved. Harrison felt really good about it too. He said, "Mom, last year it took me until October 25th to have a great day and this year I had a great day on the 2nd day of school!" (I don't know if it was exactly October 25th, but it did take a really long time, and even after that it was never consistent). Then he said, "You know what helped me have a great day? That blessing Daddy gave me." So heart-warming.

I'm hoping and praying that he continues to do well. I am so thankful for a fresh start. I really think that being older and more mature will be to his benefit throughout his school career.