Thursday, October 15, 2015

Day Fifteen: Sometimes You Just Have to Bake It Out and Shake It Off

Thursdays are probably the busiest day of the week. Preschool is a short day. I pick up Daughter #2 at 3:30 and we wait until Daughter #3 is finished with Drama around 4:15. Then we rush home, finish homework, and head to Daughter #2's dance class. We come home with just enough time to eat whatever I remembered to throw in the crockpot and maybe squeeze in a shower (if we were able to finish our homework) before small group starts.

Yesterday I was so proud of how things were going. We were back to our regularly scheduled programming after the couple days from you know where, when I got a text from a friend. "Are you coming?" It took about 2 minutes to realize she meant dance class and that we were officially missing it. With the concussion it was probably a good idea to wait anyway, or at least that's what I told myself.

Friends, when life starts to feel out of control, and I long for the days where I was the only one controlling my family's schedule, I do the only two thing I know to do. Kitchen dance party with a side of baking.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, step one is always a dance party. If you are looking for some fun music, I suggest this playlist of mine from Spotify. It's just the best.

And if you are looking for something yummy to bake, I suggest this recipe for Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies from Two Peas and Their Pod. These are divine. (Just add an extra 1/3 cup of brown me) If you are looking for any other goodies to bake, check out my Pinterest board here.

So shake it off mama, shake it off.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Day 14 - A Follow Up of Sorts

It's almost 9 on a Wednesday evening. All the girls are in bed although I highly doubt anyone but Daughter #2 has fallen asleep.#3 is bound to soon but my sweet #1 girl always has so many things running through her head she has a tough go of it.

As you saw in our Day 13 post, we had a bit of a rough one. Today I kept everyone home from school. After calling all the attendance offices we had a lazy morning followed by a trip to the dentist. Daughter #3 does indeed have four loose teeth, but no serious damage. They took X-rays and everything seems good. We just will be having our first visit from the Tooth Fairy earlier than the other girls did. Her teeth and mouth are tender so Frosties, applesauce, and yogurt have been our diet. 

I was so happy when we pulled the van back at home. We were in for the day. I looked at all the messages of encouragement and support when I saw a dear friend, who happens to be in the medical field, ask me oh so gently about Daughter #2's symptoms. "Sounds like she might have a concussion with the sleepiness, and vomiting..."

Suddenly, all of her symptoms made sense. I called the doctor's office and they fit me in.

Yup, a mild concussion.

Tonight as I cleaned up shoes and toys I heard that voice in the back of my head. "You are choosing to send your kids to public school. None of this would have happened if they had been home learning with you." And that voice was right, in some small way, but it isn't true. What's true is that we made a choice for our family. And it is the right choice for us. And so we beat on, boats against the current, or something Gatsby-esque like that.

Day 13 - A Day in the Life

It's been a while....I know. But let's forget that for now. Because if you have a child in public school, you know my pain. I bet you've had this day, or some version of it. Mine just happened to occur on October 13, 2015.

It starts out innocently enough. The phone rings and it is the school. They don't say the usual, "Don't worry, she's fine" at the beginning, although their tale of monkey bars and a fat lip doesn't sound too bad. "I checked her teeth.....there are no injuries...." You go on with your day.

You bring your preschooler to pick up your kids. Daughter #2 gets off the bus and you double check her teeth and lip. She seems to be okay other than the fact she's not. She takes her backpack and curls up on the sidewalk saying she doesn't feel well and is tired. You somehow manage to get her to the playground to rest so the preschooler can play for the next 45 minutes while you wait for Daughter #1 and her friend to be done with choir. 

The preschooler is tired, you can tell because she is crying a lot and is slow to make good choices. She seems to be coming around until you say it's time to get the girls. She runs back to the swing for just one more belly swing where she promptly and swiftly overshoots the swing and lands on her face.

Run to your daughter and pick her up as blood pours out all over your shirt and coat. Notice her bottom teeth might be a tad bit loose. Pick her up and carry her as fast as you can to the other side of the school to get in the doors. Daughter #2 drags behind trying to keep up while contemplating places to nap on the concrete.You may be shaking but you try not to show it. Have her try to use the drinking fountain. Try not to think about the blood. Try to have her not scream at the top of her lungs. Try to have her calm down as her "I'm gonna throw up!!" echoes through the halls where the kids are finishing choir. 

Sit in the office with a frozen sponge as you call dentist. Find out dentist will close before you can get there (remember you have to drive a whole other child who doesn't belong to you home) and they don't open until 11am the next day. Try not to cry or break your phone. 

Stand in line to pick up the two girls. Daughter #2 is taking a nap on the floor and can't get up. Your preschooler is still crying hysterically. People are giving your strange and sympathetic looks. Wonder if it has something to do with the blood covering your coat. Watch as the choir room doors finally open. Daughter #1 greets you asking if everything is okay. You realize as she speaks she sounds like she has had a two pack a day habit for the past 25 years. 

For those keeping track that is two sick kids and a dental emergency. 

Rush all four kids to van. Realize there is nothing fast about two sick kids, a bleeding preschooler, and a curious friend who really wants to know why everything is so bloody.

Get Frosties for dinner. Because.

Everything seems to be going okay until you realize your amazing daughter who is in corner of couch using the wipe-off markers for practicing addition is actually using a Sharpie. Realize also the Sharpie fell....on the beige microfiber couch. Be unable to hide the scream that escapes your lips. Your sick oldest daughter will immediately turn 16 and yell, "I hate our family!" and leave the room. You apologize to daughter and quickly hit up a Facebook group to find out the correct procedure for removing the stain. As you are doing this your middle daughter will begin throwing up. In the kitchen sink. Which doesn't have a garbage disposal.

Find out so far none of the remedies are working. Use a ridiculous amount of towels to remove vomit from kitchen sink without vomiting yourself. While doing this you remember you are supposed to lead your small group tomorrow. So that's not happening. Begin list of schools to call to report absences tomorrow when preschooler comes in shrieking because she her teeth hurt when she tries to eat. Daughter #1 will use this time to inform you that while she was helping the preschooler fix her craft she accidentally poured out about 6 ounces of Elmer's glue on your table cloth.

Text your husband who happens to be out of town that this is your worse parenting day ever and you want to tag out. He will continue to check in on you and encourage you. You will be grateful and start to calm down.

You let the kids stay up with Netflix longer than they should but it gives you 30 minutes of calm before you send them to bed. Curl up in your own bed and peruse the DVR. Realize about 5 minutes later that all the kids will be crawling into bed with you. Turn off TV. Cuddle with girls. Exhale. Start again tomorrow.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Day Four: A Sunday Night Prayer

Tomorrow morning our kids start another week at school. And even as we tuck them into bed tonight, we hear a report on the news of yet another thwarted school shooting. Last week’s shooting is still fresh to me, but already it has cycled out of our news and the world seems to be ready for the latest scandal as political interest groups continue to fight about underlying causes and the best way to handle it. Meanwhile, I rub my daughter’s back looking at her hair shine gold in the glow of her nightlight and I pray.

Tonight I pray for my children and for yours. I pray for the ones for whom each lockdown drill is an act of bravery. I pray for the ones who worry and are anxious; the ones who are constantly thinking about the worst case scenarios. I pray their hearts while be guarded. I pray they will feel a peace to fill them from the tops of their heads to the tips of their toes. I pray they will remember that God is with them and that they have no reason to fear. I pray the moment they walk into their school Monday morning any worries will be washed away and they will be filled with joy, ready to learn.

Tonight I pray for the lonely, the bullied, the left out and forgotten. I pray for the angry the frustrated and the hurt.  I pray for the ignored, the needy, and the ones whose minds and hearts have veered off course. Because at some point, before the killers whose names go in and out of the news stockpiled ammunition, wrote manifestos, and walked into schools with hardened heart and mind set on death, they were children. They were the ones walking into school each day as students. They played ball, ate lunch, and practiced their times tables. So tonight I pray. I pray that hearts stay soft. I pray teachers and students and families and friends truly see them. I pray for early intervention. I pray for mercy.

Tonight I pray for all the moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, the aunties and the uncles, and anyone else who is tucking in children. I pray for our own hearts. I pray we will remember why we send our kids out to school when fear makes us want to keep them at home.  I pray that when I drop them off at school in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon I will see, really see, each and every student. I pray that even in my most hurried and frantic moments I will pause long enough to smile, to say hello, and to ask how school is going so far. I pray I will never be so busy that they become just faces. Help me to see who they are and who they are made to be.

So sleep well sweet girls, sleep well.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Day 3: This is Where I Struggle

Day Three didn’t get out on time. The reason? Saturday.

When our family made the shift to public school from homeschooling, one of the most noticeable shifts in how we operated as a family was how we spent our weekends. Saturday, being the most notable.  Homeschooling offers a flexibility that cannot be matched or even closely compared to public school. There is room for being able to focus on your learners, to move with their interests, and to make space for what public schoolers would call extracurricular.  Piano? You bet. Gymnastics? Why not? Dance? Of course! Theater? Absolutely. Time to run around the park and burn energy? Mandatory. Arts and crafts and quiet reading time? This is the fabric of what we do. And the beauty of it was all of that was accomplished before dinner, leaving our evenings, and most importantly, our weekends free to spend with the family.

Enter our new normal.

Meet Daughter #1 at school at 3 and let her and Daughter #3 play at the playground until Daughter #2’s bus meets us there at 3:30. Go home to have snack (they are famished after only a 13 minute lunch break) and start homework. Two nights we have some enrichment classes they couldn’t bear to give up but the rest of the evenings are spent doing homework or reading until dinnertime. Eat dinner, shower, and have about 45 minutes together until family Bible time and then bed.

Saturday. Saturday is our day. The one where we can let them sleep in. They all start crawling in bed with us around 7 and stay there until we have breakfast. But instead of lazy days together spent exploring the city, we now start taking them to dance class or rehearsals, because we are trying to leave their school day evenings free. Saturdays are full and good and we watch them dance and leap and beam and do the things they love, but they go fast and before we know it we are eating dinner and curled up on the couch for family movie night. Saturdays, despite all the back and forth have become sacred. Those minutes and hours here and there I both guard and savor.

And that is why Day 3 didn’t post quite on time.

Thank you to everyone following along to my Confessions of a Public School Mom. I am so glad you are here! Be sure to like my Facebook page to keep updated or follow along through email or your favorite reader (just check the sidebar).  -------->

Friday, October 2, 2015

Day 2: Lockdown Drills and Little Hearts

I wasn't going to write about this today. This was scheduled and planned out for later. I was going to let you know about our background with homeschooling and the public school system. I was going to summarize the things I learned my first year. I was really going to set the stage before I dove into some of those topics surrounding public education that are just plain hard.

School shootings are one of those things. But as I was waiting to pick up my girls from school I saw the news flash across Facebook. "Police say at least 10 people have been killed in a school shooting." 

Lord have mercy.

This is my daughter's second year in public school. She attends an amazing Chicago public school in our neighborhood and loves it. One of our biggest challenges when adapting to public school after previously homeschooling was figuring out how to handle my daughter's anxiety. Each time there was a fire drill, my girl came home nervous and fidgety. For days we would see how it had affected her. Her teacher was amazing and worked with us to help minimize the stress these put on her. By the end of the year she could perform a drill without it bothering her in the days to come. Progress.

We weren't far into this school year when we got the memo about a lockdown drill. The Chicago Police Department would be on hand to walk the school through what would happen if they needed to implement a lockdown. (Just typing this is making me cry.) I spoke with my oldest about it. She said her teacher had talked to her about it and they had practiced. She wasn't worried for the drill. I spent Monday praying, hoping she would feel peace.

This Tuesday, on the way to school, I asked her how the drill went. Now that she had a night to process, how did it make it feel. She non-challantly told me it was no big deal. How everything was really smooth and although the school felt really quiet, she knew she was safe. She told me she knew that if she had been in the bathroom during a lockdown drill she should go into a locker until she could get to her room. And I started thinking about how sending her to school was a choice -a  choice which has inherent risk.

And as I think about this I hear her voice from the backseat.  She asks, "Mom, has anyone actually needed to do their lockdown drill. Like in real life?" 

Pause. "Yes, baby."

"Mom, has anyone ever been hurt at a school?"

Pause. Deep breath. "Yes, baby."

"Mom, has anyone ever died at a school?'

Stifled tears. "Yes, baby."

"A lot?"

"Too many."

"Why can't they stop it?"

Tears falling so fast I can hardly see the road.

"Mom, are you crying?"

"Yes, baby."

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Confessions of a Public School Mom - Introduction

One of my greatest fears in life is disappointing people. You will never see me making sweeping statements online about fitness goals or eating plans. The idea of telling people I am going to do something and then not follow through is just about the worse thing I can imagine. So the idea of saying I am planning on writing for 31 days in a row? Well, that’s not in the cards.

But yet, here I am.

Welcome to Confessions of a Public School Mom.

Why should you stay and read? Well, I write this for us. I write for the Homeschooling Mamas out there who can’t understand why on earth I would send my kids to be educated by the Public School System. I write this for my fellow Public School Parents even as we wrestle with Common Core, Lockdown Drills, School Boards, taxes, bussing, testing, safety, bullying, and, and, and. But most importantly, I write this for myself. I write this to remember why we do this; why our family chose this path not out of convenience, but out of conviction.

I hope you will join me this month. No matter what path we choose for our children and our family, we are in this together.