It’s school picture time of year! I got both girls’ pictures back last week. And I realized I hadn’t updated the framed pictures in my office in at least 2 years, so I did.
Aren’t they cute? Jenny’s first middle school picture, looking more grown up. Reagan’s third grade picture. She still has a little trouble figuring out how to smile naturally, but it’s very her and very cute.
And my favorite part of replacing pictures is looking at the old pictures that are still in the frame – such fun memories!
Do you leave old pictures in frames or do you take them out when you replace them?Read More
I’m usually not a parent who truly complains about school supply lists. I actually think that our elementary school lists haven’t been too bad, though I sometimes don’t understand why we have to provide all the plastic bags and hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes ever made. But the middle school supply lists really seem like too much to me.
Here are a few items Jenny had on her supply lists from her various teachers:
- Four 1 ½ inch Binders – These are for her core classes (language arts, math, science and social studies). She has to carry these things around every day, and they’re loaded with even more supplies. These things are heavy and take up most of her backpack space.
- Dividers for each of the above binders – So forget the idea to get one big binder and just divide it by subject. Each of these binders has dividers. I’m not sure what each section is though.
- A pencil pouch in each binder – You know the kind of pencil pouches that have holes to be secured in the binder? Those. She has them in each binder, filled with everything she needs for that subject so that she can just pull out her binder and be ready. That’s kind of clever and convenient. But also heavy and expensive.
- A pocket portfolio – A big pocket portfolio with 5 – 6 pockets. This is for her French class because her teacher said she doesn’t like to punch holes.
- A hard cover spiral bound sketchbook – For art. Another heavy, relatively expensive item. That I watched her rip some pages out of last week when she didn’t like the way her sketch looked. I recommended that she practice on regular paper and then draw her final sketch in the sketchbook. I’m sure she won’t listen to me because she never does.
- A flash drive – For her computer applications class. I definitely didn’t need a flash drive when I was in school.
- Ear buds – Also for her computer class. She said they were provided with headphones in the computers at elementary school, but pointed out that sharing ear buds – that you stick inside your ear – is kind of gross.
- Dry erase markers – For math apparently? I guess so she can write on the whiteboard with her own markers?
- Spiral bound index cards – Not the pack of index cards I originally bought on sale. Spiral bound ones.
- Three composition notebooks – I’m not sure what she’s supposed to do in these composition notebooks that she can’t write on the reams of loose leaf paper we bought to fill all those binders, but apparently there’s some need for them.
That’s just a sampling of what she’s carrying in her heavy backpack each day (she weighed it – 15.5 pounds) since 6th graders don’t have lockers. Of course we also had to buy tons of loose leaf paper, pens, pencils, erasers, colored pencils, and glue sticks. And the usual boxes of tissues and hand sanitizer. And a scientific calculator. But don’t worry – she can access her textbooks online so she doesn’t need to worry about carrying them, too.
Does this seem like too much to you? And does it help you understand why I was annoyed when she asked me to go buy her a bunch of magazines for her first school project (a collage about her, using images cut out of magazines)?
As I’ve mentioned, Jenny started middle school on Monday. I was worried about how this school year would start for her because middle school is such a huge change, and it’s, well, a huge school. She has six classes every day, including four core classes and two encore classes. The schedule for her encore classes is an alternating one, so she has to remember which days she has French and Art or PE and Computer Applications. She has so many supplies to carry around that it’s ridiculous. She’s gone from a 5th grade of around 100 kids to a 6th grade with 400 kids. And on top of all of that, middle school starts so early that she has to wake up at 5:30 to leave the house at 6:20. All of this is a major adjustment for her and us!
Jenny is a kid with such a great attitude though. She always has a positive outlook. And I’m very happy to say that she came home from the first couple days happy and excited about middle school. She’s told me about every new friend she’s made. She’s excited about her first project assignment. She cracks us up by telling us about how they “usually” do things even though she’s only been going to school there for a couple days. I feel like some kids come out of the first day of middle school already feeling like they hate it. But that’s not my girl, and I’m glad.
However, last night she couldn’t sleep and came in our room to talk to me at about 10:00. She was in a panic, almost hyperventilating, because she left her planner at school yesterday. She’s pretty sure she left it in her art class. And she was just so worried. I calmed her down, explained that she couldn’t do anything about it last night and gave her ideas about how to approach it when she gets to school this morning. It seemed to help some. And then she told me about more of her worries. One of her best friends hurt her feelings yesterday by making her feel like she was her second choice when deciding where to sit on the bus. Another best friend doesn’t have any classes with her and she feels like they’re losing touch with each other. She’s not sure how to handle a friend she’s not really very close to who acts like she’s her best friend. We talked about the fact that a lot of jealousy is due to the fact that she has four friends she says are her best friends and then when they say they have other best friends it bothers her.
None of this stuff meant she’s not doing well with middle school. To me these were all normal worries.
My one good thing this week? The fact that she came and talked to me. She sat on the side of my bed for 45 minutes while I patted her back and played with her hair and just listened to her and reassured her that these are normal issues, and everything’s going to be fine. I hope that she’ll keep talking to me like this. And I told her that as I told her one last time that she really needed to head to bed and get to sleep. I said, “I’m glad you talked to me about your worries. I’m proud of you. You know you can always talk to me.” And I hope it helped.
(I know this is far from a good picture, but it’s my girl smiling and laughing and being silly, and it makes me smile.)Read More
I am not an organized person. At all. So I constantly make an effort to compensate for the fact that being organized doesn’t come naturally to me, at work and at home. At the beginning of every school year, I try to come up with the right tools to get us started out right. And each year I manage to stick with at least one! It seems like this year may be even more difficult with the girls in different schools with different start times in the morning. Here are the things we’re trying this year:
1. Google Calendar: We’re all on gmail, so I set up a family calendar that we can all view and add items to. We still have our wall calendar (see next item), but I love the fact that any of us can see the Google calendar from our phones, iPods, computers, etc. I color-coded each item so if it’s just for one of the kids, it’s their specific color.
2. Wall Calendar: I got a large dry-erase wall calendar this year – it’s peel and stick so we can move it if we wish. And also so that Brinky can’t try to pull it off the wall like everything else that hangs. We’ll update it each month with most of the items that are already on the Google calendar, but we can all see it when we’re walking through the kitchen. One of Jenny’s concerns is remembering which electives she has in middle school each day, so we’ve marked A and B days on the calendar so she can pack her backpack with the right materials.
3. RE:Writes on the Refrigerator: I love these new RE:Writes! I got two of them at Office Max when we were shopping for back to school supplies. The first is placed on the refrigerator to help us remember which meals we have planned so we do a better job of sticking with the weekly meal list we plan on the weekend and to provide a place to jot down anything we’ve realized we’re out of and need at the store.
4. RE:Writes by the Front Door: My girls have trouble making sure they have all the right stuff in their hands or on their person somewhere when they walk out the door, especially Reagan. Last year when they rode on the same bus in the morning, one would often remind the other that something was missing. Since Jenny will leave an hour before Reagan this year (because middle school starts insanely early), I’m concerned one, or both, will forget something important right when they’re walking out. We’ve also added another reminder here for Jenny about which electives she has each day. I also think it will be a great place to add a fun and motivational message if they have a special day at school – a party or a test or any last thing I might want them to see when they’re leaving. And since it’s dry erase, it’s easy to change each day!
And yes, they struggle with remembering to brush their teeth!
5. Daily Checklists: I create a custom checklist for each of the girls in Excel and print one out each week for them to check off, including everything they’re supposed to do each morning. I haven’t made new ones yet this year because I need to find out what they really have to bring to school each day. Once we get through this first week and have a better idea of what’s necessary, I’ll make new checklists. These are last year’s:
How do you stay organized during the school year? I’m always interested in new ideas! I need all the help I can get.Read More
The girls are off for what will hopefully be another great school year. This morning was a bit different for us since this is the first year we have the girls in different schools – Jenny in 6th grade in middle school and Reagan in 3rd grade in elementary school. (I don’t want to think about the future years when I’ll have a kid in each school once Brinky’s older!)
Because middle school starts at 7:20 (!) and we wanted to leave in plenty of time for Jenny to find her class, we took pictures at about 6:25, when it was still a little dark. Which means they’re not the greatest quality. But I’m going to share some anyway!
Our traditional morning picture with daddy. (I don’t join in on these because I might have to change out of my pajamas.)
Jenny and her giant backpack! See how she’s kind of leaning to compensate for the weight of that thing? Also of note: her new school dress code appropriate longer shorts (required to be no shorter than three inches above the knee).
Cute Reagan. She told me she was so nervous when we were walking into school that her knees were shaking. And I’m sure she’s having a great day!
Brinky walked through some of the pictures. He wanted to be part of the fun.
Another pose we do every year: the back to back. Normally with arms crossed, but Jenny didn’t really cooperate. And the girls were looking at whatever Brinky was doing in most of the pictures.
He was being a pretty boy. That’s what he was doing.
Both girls on their car rides. Jenny tried to avoid the camera, but she couldn’t. This was the first school year I didn’t walk Jenny into school because we figured she should do it herself now that she’s in middle school. Fortunately we saw a friend right when we were pulling up, so I think she felt like she could do it. I can’t wait until the girls get home this afternoon to hear all about the first day!