Friday, September 14, 2007

The princiPAL is your friend

This is the only way I ever remember the difference between "principle" and "principal". No, I'm not dumb. I do know the difference in definitions of the two, but spelling isn't exactly my strongest suit! But as cheesy as it sounds, this came to mind this afternoon when the girls came home and related what had happened after school.

The kids got home today, and poor Alaina was fighting tears. Hoping desperately that it wasn't related to the recent switch to first grade, I was relieved to hear that is was only a missing backpack! I say *only*, but this girl was SO excited to get her very own backpack for school. Especially one that was purple! She was just so devastated at the thought of no longer having it that she couldn't quite figure out what to do.

I asked what was wrong and she told me it was missing. Apparently when she went to get it out of her cubby after school it was gone. I asked if she had talked to her teacher about it, she said that she had and Mrs. Taylor had reminded her the appointed cubby number for her things and suggested she check again. Well, it really wasn't there. I asked the kids if they'd go back to look for it, while telling Alaina that someone likely took it on accident, and that as it had her name and phone number in it we would hopefully find it. Hopefully if it didn't turn up then someone would bring it back on Monday. The girls went back to school and looked, checking the lost and found repeatedly. A sweet person in the office even announced over the intercom that there was a missing purple backpack! Then came the part that made me very happy to hear. The girls were looking through all the common areas in the school, and Mr. Conley, the principal, came and helped them look! How wonderful is that? I have only met him briefly one time, and while he certainly seemed like a nice person, it was really very generous of his to take extra time after his day was finished to help my girls in their quest for a 5yr old's backpack.

There is a happy ending-after checking everywhere and not turning up anything, they checked the lost and found one last time, and there it was! Talk about relief for a little girl who loves her purple backpack!

And what a nice reassurance for a mom; that the man running the school to which she has entrusted her most precious treasures is willing to go the extra mile for the kids over whom he presides, so much as to searching with a broken-hearted first grader until she found what she needed.

Thank you Mr. Conley!

School Days, Part 3

My, how the time flies. It seems like just yesterday my little Alaina was starting Kindergarten, and now she's off to first grade already!


It WAS nearly yesterday!

After staring this entire process back in May, we FINALLY got some answers from all appropriate parties. After two weeks in K, her teacher realized that it just wasn't a good fit. We had a meeting. She then met with the principal. I then met with the principal. He then got with whatever district people needed to be involved. And on Wednesday afternoon we finally got the big thumbs up!

On Thursday morning Alaina started first grade! Though I will very dearly miss Mrs. Weber (her most extremely amazing K teacher), she has promised me that she won't be going anywhere, so if Jacob does K next year we should be able to sneak our way into one of her classes. Alaina's new teacher is Mrs. Taylor. She seems absolutely wonderful from the five mintues I spent with her, and from the reports of two wonderful days that Alaina has brought home. Alaina was thrilled to find that Rebecca and McKenzie are in her class, and before I even left her there that first morning she already had a half a dozen new friends. While she still says there is a lot of free time and play-like activities, I know this will be much closer to her level than K was. The last comments I heard were that she would fit in better academically in second grade, but with her age, size, and the fact that Taylor is in second grade, to us that really isn't an option.

So far so good-and she is especially loving that she gets to eat lunch at school! : ) I am loving that she has a lot of friends to walk to and from school with (including her siblings), and that she feels like she fits in well and has friends there.

On the school front life is good, the kids are adjusting well. Though I have heard comments from them about what they liked better about homeschool, they genuinely seem to be enjoying most of what they are doing now. Let's hope this keeps up for the remainer of the year!

The wheels on the bus

So here I am playing catch up again. Ah, well, one day I'll be on top of it-and I'll add the necessary picture to these posts!

We've had a big addition to our family recently-our new bus! : ) OK, so really it's not a bus, it's just a 12 passenger van. I say just like it's a tiny thing! heehee Well, since we *were* looking at 15 passengers, it does feel like a tiny thing!

And let me just say right now, NO, we didn't get the bigger van because there is an immediate need! Contrary to popular rumor, we did not upsize due to a soon-to-be upsizing in our family. Yes we all still fit in our good old Fire Engine (the red Astro), and will for at least the next 10 months. (AGAIN-do the math, this is not an announcement!!) But with 6 kids in car seats, it was quite cozy, and we figured better sooner than later. You know, let the kids have some space while it's still an option!

The search for the car was all the fun that car shopping is. After not finding much in the market here unless you want to drop 30K for a new one, we decided to get creative in our hunt. Our first stop was at the Auction where we got our beloved Fire Engine (hey-I've never lost the thing in a parking lot). The beauty of Government Surplus! The first auction seemed to be golden! Four 12 passengers, two of which were CNG, and all of which were in great shape. A little high on the miles, but hey, beggars can't be choosers. Well, the auction went well, things were shaping up to fall into our price range, and even a little less than we expected. The magic time rolled around and just as Aaron went to bid-well, nothing. Upon feeling impressed not to bid, he didn't. Why? who knew. Often things that we feel we need to do don't make sense. (many of our choices in life fall into this particular category) So, going with that which he felt directed to do he came home empty-handed. A real bummer. It was kind of frustrating for a couple of days, but hey, you pull your head out (pardon the expression), suck it up, realize that when you do what you are asked to do things have a way of working themselves out.

Fast forward to a month later and we decided to go the online route. LOTS of choices there! Again, mostly out of our price range, but hey at least there were lots to look at! After finding a few on ebay that we liked we still just didn't feel great about anything. Then one night I was online randomly searching places where I might find a van. I checked out local online listings again and then realized that there might be cars on craigslist. I looked locally and found zip. Looked in places not too far away-in the entire state: nada. Looked in Idaho, Nevada and Wyoming, zilch. Ok, there were a few, but really hammered vehicles!! After thinking of all the most common places for larger families to live (thanks to a vast email network of large homeschooling families!), I realized that this checking city by city was going to take me years! Finally a stroke of genius hit; a little nudge to google craigslist and the vehicle I wanted. Voila! A beauty in Phoenix. Not all that close to home, but not all that far away!

We called on this particular van as the photos looked promising and the miles weren't that high. Sweet little (HA!) Catholic family that was upsizing from their 12 to a 15! Wonderful people who through birth, adoption, and fostering have a family that was growing much larger than average and just didn't fit anymore. After hearing a few details, and thinking it over (and of course praying about it!), we struck a deal. A little bit more than the auction, but still within our budget, and loaded with extras that certainly we wouldn't have otherwise. DVD and VHS, two screens, cd player, limo tint, and Aaron's favorite most coveted feature: rubber flooring. For those of you wondering, "rubber flooring" translates directly into "easy cleanup". While it wouldn't necessarily been my first choice in flooring, I have to say that after trying to scrub a good amount of chicken soup (crockpot spilled) out of the carpet in our last van, it really isn't a bad thing!

The arrangements were made, flights caught-which is always the trick with stand-by-and one long day of driving brought our new family car home. It really is kind of a nice drive, and the AC is nice and cold! : ) The kids love not being stacked on top of each other too. And though I am used to driving bigger cars (vans and SUVs), I will admit that I am quite glad not to have to worry about the extra 2+ feet that a 15 passenger would have added.

Bonus points: It tows the boat! : )

Now.....all we need is a road trip!
Only 40 something days until California!!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

School Days Part 2

And yet another first day of school!

(and yes-I do realize that I am days behind! This sort of thing happens when your husband takes apart ALL of your computers, decides to get a mac, and you are too, um, lazy? intimidated? we'll go with BUSY to learn how to use it yet)

Alaina started Kindergarten on Tuesday the 28th of August, after waiting for an excruciatingly long week while the other kids had already started. Her teacher is AMAZING, and yes, that is amazing in all capital letters! Mrs. Weber is a god-send, and the fact that she is in the ward is a bonus! What a treat that has been as we have tried to sort out the confusion of whether she would be starting first grade or K, and working through the process of deciding where she will end up. For now the plan is two weeks of K, then a possible trial of 1st depending on how the K goes. The evaluation with Mrs. Weber went quite well, she said Alaina would have no problem in first but she worried about Alaina being smaller than the rest of the kids-as she inherited my vertically challenged genes. Alaina is in heaven, and loving every second of school thus far. Though it is mostly play time for her (they are pracicing letters and colors right now while she is reading 3rd-4th grade chapter books during her free time). Mrs. Weber has been great about giving her some extra work; like yesterday instead of just practicing writing the letter P she sat with Alaina and gave her a spelling list of words that start with the letter P for her to practice.

It will be interesting to find out where Alaina ends up, and to find the right fit for her not only educationally but emotionally and socially as well.

So far so good with the school if Jacob can just survive until next year (and hopefully slow down on the daily "is it my turn to go to school today?), then we will be doing great! I look forward to getting back into all of my fun pre-school things to do with my little boys and getting them started in the next week or two.

Next up on the list: Teach Jacob how to read, and get Dallin potty-trained!!