back to school 2015

This is Theo’s third full week of school and Dexter’s second and I can honestly say things are going better than expected! It was a little rocky leading up to school starting but now that we are into the groove, I couldn’t ask for it to be going any smoother. I don’t know if I can even fully put into words how I was feeling leading up to Theo starting Kindergarten. Aside from the emotional aspect – being forced to acknowledge that my baby is no longer a baby – it was a stressful experience for me as it seemed like there were so many ducks to get in neat little rows. Transportation plans, lunch accounts, aftercare arrangements, in person registration, online registration, school supply lists to fulfill, Kindergarten readiness packet to complete, book fees, back to school night, and the list goes on and on. A week before school started I realized that the school has an odd policy of not allowing parents to walk their children into school on the first day or visit the school for the first few weeks. Heartbroken. Two days before school started, we were scheduled to meet the teacher and see the classroom. I received an email from the principal saying that his assigned teacher was leaving the district and they “hope to find a highly qualified teacher by next week.” That left me feeling like crap. This is where kids can teach us such wonderful lessons about going with the flow. Theo was not phased, despite the fact that we’d been practicing her name (and I might have facebook stalked her once or twice) since we found out that he would be in her class.

Theo’s Back to School night: Tues, July 28.

0001 0002At back-to-school night I overheard her saying she got an offer she couldn’t pass up just 2 days prior with a different school district. She didn’t owe us anything-I think I had already become attached to her on some level because I had to. I had to trust her with my baby boy even though she was a complete stranger. I trusted her to supervise him, take care of him, and comfort him if he needed it. And just like that, she quit on us. 2 days before school started.

Theo’s First Day of Kindergarten: Thurs, July 30.

0003 0004 0005 0006 0007 On his first day, Theo was SO excited. He bounced out of bed and cooperated with every little thing we asked him to do. He grinned for a million pictures and asked a thousand times if it was time to leave yet. We took silly selfies in the endless dropoff line and talked about his plan after school. Don’t get on the bus! You are a car rider today! Ryan drove so I hopped out quickly to get the door for him and give him a hug. As I did, I smashed his ear and he burst into tears. Oh my gosh-I felt like the worst mother alive. The day started with so much excitement and promise and within seconds it was turned upside down. I felt the pressure of eyes on us as he stood on the sidewalk bawling, and I – the mom who wasn’t supposed to get out or walk her kid in or hold up the line or show any emotion at all – basically had to shove him, crying, in the direction of the principal who was waiting to greet all the newcomers. I watched with my head out the window like a happy Labrador as she got down on his level and rubbed his arm to comfort him. I wanted to shout “he’s fine! I smashed his ear! He’s NOT scared!” I’m sure he stopped crying within seconds but I did not. {Immediately after school we went to urgent care, where he was diagnosed with a double ear infection.}

I planned on only working 9-3 that day so I’d be able to drop him off and pick him up and it was the longest 6 hours ever. I thought about him all day, felt awful about how I left him crying on the sidewalk, and was generally anxious thinking about what he was doing and how he was feeling and how did lunch go and is he making friends, blah blah blah.

At 240pm on his first day of school, I got a call on my cell from a number I didn’t recognize so I answered it immediately, thinking he’d gotten hurt or was running a fever. It was school, calling to say that “little Theodore is just INSISTING that he’s a car rider. And honey, we have him down as a bus rider. So we were just calling to confirm that we were right.”

Okay, stop. Pause the scene. This was the part where my jaw dropped to the floor. I had filled out two separate forms prior to back to school night. One at early Kindergarten registration in April. Another online in July. When we got to back-to-school night, the teacher had him down as a bus rider. I explained that he wasn’t riding the bus. Ever. She filled out a new paper and marked on his little pink tag. We put the pink tag on his backpack. WHERE DID I GO WRONG?

What if that sweet lady from the office had not called to confirm? Theo would have just been walking up and down our street while I sat in that pick up line for 30 minutes.

I had never been so happy to get my hands on that little boy and hug and kiss him and hear everything he had to say about his day.

What is so confusing about this?

I found out right away that a new teacher had already started and was there for the Kindergarten babies from the very first day of school! She switched from another classroom and that gave me great comfort. So far, Theo loves her. He has memorized his lunch number. He tells stories about every kid in his class. He seems to know how to behave. I am just in love with him at this age-he’s so enthusiastic about everything. He said to me “Kindergarten is not even like hard work, it’s all about playing and fun.” Good, buddy! You enjoy it while it lasts. I asked him if his teacher ever tells him he’s cute and he said “yeah.” I said, “oh really? How does she say it?” He said, “she just says ‘oh Theo, what would I do without you?'” Love it. The second week I sent a note to her in his folder explaining when he would be a car rider and when he would go to aftercare…just one more time. In case he forgot. In case she didn’t get the memo from the previous teacher. She was so kind-she called me that day to let me know she got the note and then proceeded to chat for 10 minutes. We love Kindy.

Dexter’s Meet-the-Teacher night: Fri, July 31.

Found his cubby but sat right in front of his name…
New guide making a good first impression. He immediately pointed out a favorite book and asked me to read it to him. I said no because it had a lot of words -ha!- and I honestly did not know how much time we were going to spend there. She immediately offered to read the book to him and he immediately liked her. Well played, Ms. Jyoti. Well played.
Montessori boy at heart.

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A year ago today I posted about how Dexter was having such a difficult transition starting pre-school. Long story short, we had opted to put him in a class separate from Theo’s for his own growth and independence. It was rough. He really has a hard time with change so we thought this year would be no different. We found out at the last minute that his primary guide would not be returning to the classroom this year so that added to MY stress, worrying that he would be stressed. I was already concerned that he would have a hard time with Theo moving on to Kindergarten at a completely different school. I am so happy to report that this transition for Dex has been flawless so far. He loves his new teacher and loves that his favorite person in the entire school continues in her role as assistant guide in his class. I can’t overlook his excitement about having his little buddy from last year in the same class again. I think this really gives him something to look forward to. We haven’t had epic meltdowns at drop-off or pick-up (well, maybe a couple that were borderline epic but only because we picked him up before he got to play in the sandbox). Not a single accident. No tantrums in the mornings. Not acting crazy at home in the afternoons. So far so good. He was also excited to be dropped off the first day and we didn’t even have any last second injuries or pain inflicted by a too-hard-hugging mom.

Dexter’s First Day of Pre-School (2nd year): Tues, Aug 4.0016 0017 0018 One big perk to being back in the school swing of things – the boys are exhausted from wearing out their brains and bodies! During summertime they were taking naps at camp and not tired at bedtime. It was frustrating for us just because it was a 2 hour battle/waiting game every night and they were tired in the morning…perpetuating the cycle with those darn afternoon naps. They are back to falling asleep when their little sweet heads hit the pillow at 8 or 830 every night and rolling out of the right side of the bed in the morning. Happy and compliant with all of my crazy morning requests like “get dressed” and “eat your breakfast” that seemed like such chores over the summer. Things are pretty peachy right now and I’m hoping they stay this way for awhile. I am loving my little boys at their current ages and (like always) wish I could freeze time. They are so much fun and bursting with personality. It won’t be long until they are teaching me and I won’t be able to help them with their homework. I’ll look back at these times and remember how much fun they were. School will get more stressful. Less fun. Less exciting. This is only the beginning of their journeys. I’m so happy to be a part of their lives.



catch the moment: wk 31

This week’s theme is definitely back to school with a splash of family fun! It’s been stressful, but in a good way for the most part. A whole bunch of transition but so far, so good. I can’t believe I officially have a kid in elementary school and this time a year from now, I’ll have 2. What?

I’m not sure what’s going on with the Catch the Moment link up group but it seems to be fizzling out. I’m still plugging along but hoping to hear and see more from the group sometime soon. Still planning to continue linking up with Mindi,Stephanie, and Carrie for week 31 of Catch the Moment 365.

211/365: Thursday, July 30th. Theo’s first day of Kindergarten! I’ll have to write a separate post all about this major milestone with a few more pictures. I feel like we are over this hump. There was so much anxiety (mine) leading up to this day and I’m glad that we are starting to get into a routine – bumps and all. MAJOR day for the family and I don’t know why I felt so proud of him, because almost every kid goes to Kindergarten. Maybe it’s the anticipation and promise I feel, knowing that he is capable of doing and becoming whatever he chooses. It’s just the beginning and it’s exciting, although bittersweet. 07-30-2015

212/365: Friday, July 31st. We had Dexter’s open house for new and returning students. This will be Dexter’s 2nd year in Montessori pre-school but he has a new teacher so we all wanted to meet her prior to the first day. After reading a book with her and checking out all the changes in his classroom, he wasted no time getting back to his favorite place on campus. The playground! Theo also enjoyed playing at his old stompin’ grounds.07-31-2015

213/365: Saturday, August 1st. This was the first weekend in many that we really had no big plans. Saturday was a perfect day – farmer’s market with friends in the morning then laundry & playing at home all day before grilling a super fresh summery dinner. After that we ended our relaxing day with ice cream at the park. The boys were really into helping me prepare dinner, including setting the table. Where did these big, helpful boys come from? They literally set every bit of the table – I was so proud of them, but not nearly as proud as they were of themselves. Thank you Montessori…08-01-2015

214/365: Sunday, August 2nd. Ryan had lots of work to do around the house so I thought the boys and I would get out of his hair for a few hours. I took them to the best children’s museum in all the world. We got there before they opened at 10 – I thought we’d stay til 1 or so. We didn’t leave til about 3:30! The boys were very entertained (and entertaining) and the hours flew by. We had so much fun. I hope they remember special times with only Mommy or just Daddy. Dexter and I are particularly fond of the Chihuly Exhibit-Fireworks of Glass.08-02-2015

215/365: Monday, August 3rd. Another day, another first-day-of-school dry erase board. And another late night, forgotten photo kind of day. 08-03-2015

216/365: Tuesday, August 4th. The first day of Dexter’s last year of pre-school. The first day of the last year of my kids being in pre-school. All kinds of mixed emotions on this one! This year Dexter did not hesitate for one second when I dropped him off. He met up with one of his favorite friends from last year and they were off. The transition back to school for him so far has been seamless. I was worried that he’d have issues with Theo not being there, but so far he has been fine.08-04-2015

217/365: Wednesday, August 5th. An after dinner, before bed coloring sesh with my sweet 4 year old. 08-05-2015Today after school I asked Theo if anyone at school ever tells him he’s cute and he said “yeah.” When I asked him who, he said the name of his teacher. I asked “Oh? What does she say?” He replied, “she says ‘what would I do without you?’ to me.” Cue my heart melting…she told me on the phone yesterday that he is a great helper. I’m so relieved that Kindergarten is off to a fantastic start.





#mcdanfamloveswdw: Day 4


Click HERE to see the photos we shared on Instagram from our trip. 

Click Here if you missed Day 1.

Click Here if you missed Day 2.

Click Here for Day 3.

Shew, I’d planned to lump these posts together, 2 days at a time but once I start rambling, I can’t stop and before I know it the post is already too long covering just one day. What is wrong with me? I just love Disney and I want to remember the details!

Saturday, May 9th. We were up and at ’em at 630am in order to make it to our 8am dining reservation at Tusker House, located in the Africa section of Animal Kingdom. We arrived at Animal Kingdom around 730am before being escorted through the completely empty, very cool looking park.

001 {side note}: See how I have my fit bit around my tank top strap? Yeah, that’s because it doesn’t work when pushing a stroller. This was a constant annoyance during our vacation! The main reason I bought the dang thing and it ended up being a hassle. 002 005

I was so excited to try Tusker House – they offer plenty of American breakfast fare with lots of additional African dishes we had fun sampling. The set up and the atmosphere in the restaurant was beautiful.007

First ones in the restaurant!010 011

Jungle Juice was a treat! Orange juice, Guava Juice, and Passionfruit juice – it’s delicious. I don’t know or care how much sugar we consumed during this meal. 012

The bad things about character breakfasts… the kids are so excited for the characters to come to the table that they have a hard time concentrating on eating. Understandable. Buffet style is awesome for value (hello, all you can eat!), convenience, variety, and all taste preferences…but if you are gone from your table to fill up your plate when Mickey comes around, you have to wait til he makes it back (or ask your server to have him make a special trip – they will). Also, the character interactions happen so fast and I am still slow and unsure when it comes to manual settings on my camera so I just turned it on Auto or no flash and there is a lot of blur in many of the pictures. One other note as far as pictures at character breakfasts are concerned – the table are close together and I had to spend a lot of time trying to crop other families out of our special moments. 014 019 021 022All in all, it’s still a super fun experience and just seeing how excited the kids were to have the characters come to us was worth any of the hassle involved. I made the mistake of saying “we’re going to eat breakfast with ___” (fill in any character’s name), which made Dexter think that those sweet, huge stuffed animals were actually going to sit down with us and cram donuts in their furry faces. He was a little disappointed but understood once I explained.

Something that is extra awesome about early character breakfasts waaay in the back of the park is when breakfast is over, you are already in the back of the park. Breakfast ended for us right around 9 (park opening) so we rushed right over to Expedition Everest. We hadn’t made FastPass+ reservations since the boys couldn’t ride it. But wait.


I went first and walked right onto the ride with no wait. As soon as I returned, Ryan did the same. I was standing outside near the Standby entrance when I noticed the measuring device. I looked at Theo then back at the measuring thingy. Then said “oh my God!!” Theo and Dexter asked “what!?” 20 times as I practically ran, dragging them over. I told Theo to get measured and guess what? He hit that 44″ mark, no problem. You guys, I had a major moment here. I was ecstatic on one hand because he was ecstatic and dying to ride Everest. With me. I was freaking out because I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that my sweet, tiny, innocent, little bitty baby boy was BIG ENOUGH to ride a BIG roller coaster. It doesn’t go upside down and there are far scarier rides at non-Disney parks. But for Disney, for me to have not expected it, for him to be so excited, for me to be riding a big roller coaster with my little (but apparently not so little anymore) son…I had a moment. Proud, sad, excited, and full of adrenaline, all at once. We quickly dragged the strollers into the gift shop so we could greet Ryan as he exited the ride. Theo and I both were blabbing about it before he was even within earshot and Ryan had the same reaction that I did. We rode it and HE LOVED it. He talked about it the entire trip and STILL talks about it every time we talk about our trip (he subsequently rode Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom and loved it as well). 024 025One of our favorite family moments on this trip, for sure. What a great start to our day!

As was the case in every park, the free play/exploration area was a hit. Ryan and I had fun too – I wish this was our backyard!026 030 031

The Tree of Life. My little thrill seekers love adrenaline rushes that come from exciting rides but they did not like It’s Tough to Be a Bug inside of the Tree of Life. Too many unexpected interactive elements combined with darkness. We loved finding animals “carved” into the tree.032

Ryan had a daily date with slushies. Obsessed. 036

Playing the drums. 039 040041 045 048 050 051We loved the Kilimanjaro Safari, as usual.

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The boys adored Animal Kingdom. Dinosaur was a favorite ride – we went on it twice. I think I enjoyed the Finding Nemo show and Ryan enjoyed Flights of Wonder more than the boys. We all got lucky on Kali River Rapids – we were refreshingly splashed but not soaked like the other half of our boat. We shared treats. We were hot and tired and decided to call it a day a couple of hours before the park closed. We missed the Lion King show (but saw it last time) and the Maharajah Jungle Trek (in all the times I’ve been to Animal Kingdom, I’ve never done this). 054 057 058 063More swimming at the hotel on Saturday night to ease into Mother’s Day on Sunday morning!

See, I’ve done it again. Up next – a day off from the parks, a little break from being on the go. We had a nice relaxing Mother’s Day.