Annabelle’s first week of school was a little rocky.
She got in the car on the first day very disappointed. “We didn’t get to play or interact. All we did was talk about all the rules and I can’t remember all the rules and we didn’t do anything fun because we only talked about rules and I’ve never heard so many rules in my life.” I don’t know why she talks in run-on sentences because it’s certainly not from me because I am always succinct and precise and do not blabber on. She didn’t cry when I dropped her off, but she’d cry a few times during the day. Every single morning she says she doesn’t want to go but she doesn’t make a fuss about it. She says it more in a ”just so you know where I stand on this, I wouldn’t be upset if YOU want to go back to sleep and I skip school today” kind of way. She expected there to be more playing like she did at preschool and it never occurred to me to clarify that ahead of time. I think once she adjusts she’ll really enjoy it. She told me on Thursday that she played with a girl named either Delilah or Alana, she couldn’t remember which. On Friday she confirmed that it was Delilah and they played together again. Having a friend has made this week a little easier.
I’ve had to learn how to operate the carline. The drop off line goes so much more smoothly than pickup. Even with each car stopping so they can take the child’s temperature, things move along and everyone is friendly. By three o’clock these people are driving like they’re trying to be on the last helicopter out of Vietnam. It’s much more aggressive. I have to leave the house an hour early to get a good spot in the pickup line so I bring a snack and book to entertain myself. There are unspoken rules that everyone but me seems to know about merging and signaling and I broke all the rules the first few days. My go-to reaction if I don’t know what to do while driving is slump down in the seat and make myself as small as possible.
I’m proud that AB does a good job of reporting the classroom
gossip happenings. She’s terrified of being corrected by the teacher but gives me a report each day on everyone else’s behavior. “Nolan K had his clip moved to yellow but I didn’t. I’m serious, Mom. I didn’t. But Payton didn’t listen and had to do laps during recess.” It’s become clear who the class troublemakers are.
Speaking of driving, I took advantage of my precious alone time hours to visit the DMV. I made an appointment online but surprise, surprise they couldn’t find me in the system. The lady asked if I was sure I already had a Georgia license. There are few things I am sure about these days but knowing which state my license is in is one of them. My most recent Massachusetts license photo was spectacular. I seldom compliment photos of myself but that one was a real winner. Not to toot my own horn, but TSA people would comment on how good it was. My first Georgia license picture wasn’t great but it wasn’t the worst. This trip would be my chance to redeem myself and recreate the Massachusetts glory. Last time I was there the photos were taken in a little room off to the side. This time I had to do it in front of the entire waiting room. There was no privacy and it felt like everyone was watching. It was very awkward. I was barely in position before the lady took the picture with no warning. I had no time to suck in all my multiple chins and look presentable. She printed out the paper copy without showing me the picture and said “This will be your license photo until 2026.”
Allow me to show you the picture I am stuck with for the next six years.
It is mortifying. I will be going into hiding as soon as I publish this. No one will ever be able to see that picture.
One of my favorite children’s books is My Friend Harry by Kim Lewis. The little boy named James gets a new stuffed elephant he names Harry. They go everywhere together and slowly Harry gets worn and well-loved. On James’ first day of school, Harry sat in his car seat all day waiting for him to come home. On Friday, Annabelle’s worn and well-loved Hermione doll that has been glued to her hand for months sat in her car seat for hours while AB had her first day of school.
I don’t know how we got to this point in our lives that Annabelle is old enough to be in first grade. She was only born fifteen seconds ago! Here she is exactly six years ago this week, all soft and squishy and tiny. She was the cutest baby that ever lived. She holds onto Hermione the way she held onto Mr. Lion for years.
I liked homeschooling last year and loved all the time we spent together. Correction: I loved most of the time we spent together. Sometimes it was TOO MUCH TOGETHERNESS ALL THE TIME. There are several reasons she’s going to school this year and maybe someday we’ll go back to homeschooling but time will tell. I’m trying not to plan much these days because we don’t even know what stores will be open next week, let alone our educational plans for 2022. Going to school for the first time during a pandemic is not an ideal situation, but we decided that she’d still go giving the information we were being given. The many, many, many homeschool vs public school discussions Christopher and I had were very emotional and opinionated and usually left one of us in tears. Obviously, I mean Christopher was in tears. I am as stoic as Mount Rushmore.
I’ve spent every single day of the last 6.5 years with Sesame and I feel like I’ve lost a limb when she’s not here for hours on end. The first morning after we dropped her off I sat on the living room floor because I didn’t know what to do with myself. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my alone time. It’s so nice to pop in and out of stores with dealing with a car seat. I can go on long walks in the morning before the temperature hits 100*. I can decide at 10:35 to get my nails done and off I go. I need to make a plan for how I’ll balance house work/errands/appointments and me time while she’s gone. I assume the schools will be shut down in a matter of weeks and AB will be back home. I don’t want her to come home and I regret not spending more time on my own things. My hope is that I can get my things done while she’s at school so that when she comes home I can focus on spending quality time with her instead of saying “I can’t right now because I have to __________” when she asks me to play.
I was very proud of myself for not stating many opinions when she was picking out a backpack. I tried to steer her towards the cuter ones but she’s “not so into cute these days.” She picked a galaxy backpack which is very fitting for her interests right now. I picked out a dress that checked my cute box and her “patterned but not very patterned because I only want, like, a medium amount of pattern” box. I thought she might object to wearing a bow on the first day but she didn’t. Praise the Lord. She loves art so I got this big bow with an appliqued art pallet.
I also got us matching heart necklaces. The card them came on says “Here are two necklaces, one for you and one for me. We will wear them soon…when at school you’ll be! Wear it to school while you work and play…you will have my heart all day.” She hasn’t taken hers off since Friday.
I sat in the back with her on the way to school for the first time. I didn’t want her to be lonely back there; it had nothing to do with me wanting to be near her. All I could think about was when I sat in the back with her when she came home from the hospital.
Don’t think all I do around here while she’s gone is lay around eating bonbons. Yesterday I washed Hermione’s tiny clothes and washed out her matted hair. It was a full spa experience. There’s always someone to keep clean around here.
Annabelle’s dance studio had a little tiny recital last week. Only eight girls from the original class signed up and one had to drop out on the day of the performance so it was a small group. I offered to take the spot of the missing girl but I was turned down. Each dancer’s family was given two seats in the audience so it was only parents and a couple of siblings.
She had two practices before the show and after I picked her up from the first one, she said her dance shoes didn’t fit anymore. We never wore shoes when we practiced at home so I didn’t know she outgrew them during the quarantine break. I had to track down shoes from a friend whose daughter is in another class. We did try the costume ahead of time but we couldn’t get the skirt to line up evenly. It always looks like a shirt badly tucked into pants. That’s because it was an asymmetrical skirt so it wasn’t supposed to be even. I believe the words you’re looking for are, “what a great dance mom you are.”
I love watching little dancers. They’re so precious in their tutus and very little idea of what to do.
The tap song was “Animal Crackers In My Soup” and the ballet song was a version of “Baby, Take a Bow.” At two points in the tap song she was supposed to do a wiggle with one hand on her hip and the other in the air. AB was SO embarrassed anytime she did it. I honestly didn’t know if she’d do it in the recital or not. The lyrics at those points were “who’s that bunch of personality?” and “here’s the future Miss America.” I showed her several times how to do a convincing Miss America move but she was never impressed. When she did it at the recital, she shrugged and stuck one arm up. It was the most minimal effort she could have put forth while still doing it.
If only she had looked to her mother for guidance. I’m very experienced with the hands-on-the-hip move.
Everyone (by that I mean no one) has been asking how homeschooling is going. People are clammering to buy my soon to be released how-to book entitled Starting Strong on Monday but Phoning it in by Thursday, How to Homeschool in 386 Steps will be published.
Just kidding! It’s more like 586 steps.
I spent HOURS UPON HOURS in July making a daily schedule. My goal was to have everything written out in great detail so if I got pregnant and was too sick to teach, it would be easy for someone else to pick up the load and know what to do. My color-coded, alphabetical order loving self was so proud of my handiwork. It got lost in the move and I could never recreate it to its former glory. Then I got pregnant and miscarried which eliminated the original need for such a detailed schedule so I went to a basic schedule. We do math and handwriting first because any subject with large amounts of writing are a trial for both of us. It’s not that she can’t write, it’s that she likes to form the letters her own way. Handwriting usually goes like this:
Me: Pay attention to which letters go to the sky (the top line) and which go underground (the bottom line). Some only go to the top of the house (the middle line). Do you see what I’m talking about?
Sesame: Yep. Can I have a snack?
Me: No. You finished breakfast half an hour ago. Write the letters.
Sesame: does some questionable lettering
Me: What is going on here? The top line is right here.
Sesame: I thought you meant this top line.
Me: No, this top line. The one that’s above the line you’re writing on.
Sesame: Whoops! Sorry, Mom! I guess I’m not really paying attention. I thought this was the top line.
Me: What’s happening now? K has straight lines.
Sesame: I thought it would look good if I added some swirls.
Me: Add swirls on your own time. Start at the top and do it the way I said.
Sesame: Hi, Lulu! What are you doing? Do you wanna play?
Me: Lucy, it’s not playtime. Get off the table. Annabelle, do the K. Why is it going underground?! K’s don’t go underground!
Despite the very bumpy handwriting road, we’ve made some progress this year. She’s gotten to the point in reading and writing where she’ll sound words out and write pages of notes that are nearly impossible to read but so sweet. Our anniversary is coming up and she made this helpful gift chart for Christopher. No frogs. No snakes. Yes cats. She knows me so well.
The other day she lost the privilege of listening to her audiobook. She said she was bored so I told her to find something to do. She decided to write Classical Conversations Latin words.
We spend the rest of the morning and early afternoon doing a combination of grammar, geography, science, reading, history and art. Reading hasn’t fully clicked in her brain yet, but it’s getting better. Her new thing is to read the nametags of cashiers and baggers at the store then tell me their names in the car. It’s nice to know that all my hours of sounding out letters are sinking in.
I make as much of the learning as hands-on as I can. We do math and writing/spelling with chalk. We use acorns and pinecones for addition and subtraction.
AB has NO issues with drawing and art. She colors while eating breakfast all the way to drawing pictures when I read a story at night. She puts all her papers in a green basket and by the end of every week, we have to weed through because the pictures are overflowing. We’ve studied specific pieces by various artists then painted the same piece using acrylics or watercolor. She then paints her own landscape/still life/whatnot in their style. These are a Picasso head, Monet waterlilies under a bridge, and landscape.
For history, we read the American Girl looks and learn what was happening in the United States during that period. I found a website that has lapbooks for each character so we make those as well. So far we’ve read the Felicity, Kirsten, and Josefina books and next week we’ll start Samantha.
She also does swimming, piano, and ballet lessons all of which are currently suspended. My teacher’s paycheck is also currently suspended but I have access to the student’s father’s bank account so it should all even out.
It was much easier to take AB’s birthday photos on her second birthday. All I had to do was fake sneeze and she’d burst out laughing. This year she insisted her leggings matched her dress (they didn’t) and she intentionally let go of the blue balloon and we never got it back.
On birthday eve Christopher inflated somewhere around 38 balloons. We take birthday balloons very seriously around here. I’m so happy we have a mantle to decorate again. Hanging the birthday banner from the tv stand isn’t nearly as festive.
We had a very low-key day. Annabelle opened one of her gifts in the morning (she opened the rest at night) so she’d have a new thing to play with during the day. I baked the cakes the night before so all I had to do was make the frosting and cake toppers the day of. Cake decorating is 1000% less stressful when I’m not worried about all the rooms being spotless for guests who are arriving in 3 hours. Normally I’m a chicken with its head cut off on birthday party day but I enjoyed the slower pace. The downside is no one was here to appreciate what I’m ranking the best birthday cake I’ve ever made.
Sesame wanted a Harry Potter themed birthday which is NOT a theme I ever would have picked. I wasn’t allowed to read the books growing up and I would have been fine if she never read them, but Christopher enjoys them and the two of them have been listening to the books together. He’s able to explain and discuss questionable parts as they go. She won’t be able to listen to anything beyond the first three books for several years which means she’s listened to those three at least 5 times since January. By virtue of living in the same home, I too have listened to the first books 5 times. She has spent so much time telling me the rules of quidditch, the history of this character and asking questions about how such and such potion is made. I’ve been through a similar Harry Potter indoctrination before. We got married the same year the last Harry Potter movie came out and Christopher thought I needed an HP movie marathon to see the previous seven movies. It was SO MUCH Harry Potter. Now nine years into our marriage I’d say peace out, I’m going to watch A Walk to Remember so you’re on your own, but newlywed Sarah was very obliging.
AB asked that her birthday cake have a letter from her favorite characters on it. I printed a birthday letter signed by several characters, colored it with a tea bag and crumpled it to give some texture. I made the little quidditch ball (sphere? playing piece? I haven’t been paying much attention) with playdough that morning and used a black chopstick for a wand. I was dealing with health issues that week and didn’t have the energy to create a personalized wand.
We were able to get both sets of grandparents, all aunts and uncles and a few cousins together to sing happy birthday to her at the same time. It made me so happy. So few family members have been able to attend her birthday parties because of distance and it meant a lot that they did this for us.
They couldn’t get a good view of the cake but they didn’t require me to clean the bathrooms either. All in all they were perfect party guests.
My favorite girl turned six on Saturday. Last month she was swimming in a cake pan because we didn’t own a kiddie pool and now she’s waiting for her first tooth to fall out.
Every March 28th I take her picture at 1:40, the minute she turns another year older. It’s neat to look back and see what she’s doing at that time every year because it really shows what she’s into. She LOVES coloring and drawing right now.
She had a lot of first this year. She graduated from preschool and started piano lessons. She did her first group sport and danced in her first recital.
She got her first headache, first case of HFM and went to the eye doctor for the first time. She went to her first VBS and on her first camping trip. I feel like she’s done so many big kid firsts this year. She’s somewhat adjusted to me working and not being home to tuck her in every night. Most nights she waits for me to get home to fall asleep which is slightly annoying but honestly makes me happy because it’s so sweet.
She still has a wild imagination and an assortment of imaginary friends. Her original group of Goldbug, Garby, Carla, Azelia and the baby are no longer part of her imaginary rotation but I refuse to let them die off. She brings her brother Matt on every trip and I always ask if she’s going to bring Goldbug and Co and she says no. I know she’s going to say no but I ask anyway.
She loves coloring, playing outside, snugging the cats and collecting stuffed animals. We have more stuffed animals than we know what to do with but every time I try to get rid of some she notices. She loves history and doing science experiments. We’re still working on reading and her handwriting leaves much to be desired but we’re getting there. She’s started to sound out words and write us notes and letters and I love it. She loves jokes and making puns. She would listen to kids podcasts and audio books all day if I let her.
She adores Christopher. All day long she asks how long it is until he comes home. They still go on Daddy Daughter Breakfast every Saturday morning and sometimes they let me come but I know she prefers when it’s just the two of them.
I’m not sure how much she weighs but she’s around 47″. She has her 6 year well check tomorrow morning at 8:30 which was VERY optimistic planning on the part of pre-quarantine Sarah. I guarantee you I thought we’d get the appointment out of the way, then have time to go to the library and do some school before swimming lessons. Now we feel like we’re really living it up because we get to leave the house at all and drive to the doctors. How the times have changed.
I love this picture from the cruise because she looks like her two-year-old self and I cling to every little bit of babyhood. ”What a surprise that you don’t want her to grow up” said no one ever.
We’ve had some rough patches lately because she’s started to think she is more of an authority figure in our home than she is. We’ve always given her the respect of listening to her thoughts and opinions but as she’s gotten older it’s become apparent that she assumes she has more influence on daily decisions than she does so we’ve had to work on that. I want her to know she’s an important part of the family but she isn’t a third adult. I never imagined I’d make it 6 years into parenting and only have one child but here we are. I was never someone who wanted to have children close together because I wanted to enjoy each child as a baby and toddler and we’ve gotten that with Sesame. As I say to her every night, she’s my best girl.