Archive for the Ellie Category

Saying goodbye to first grade…

Posted in Ellie with tags , on May 3, 2014 by talesofanunfinishedmom

I can hardly believe Ellie is edging up on the end of her first grade year. I know this is a common parental refrain but there’s a reason for it. Time flies. And, as your kids get older, I swear it goes even faster. It’s amazing to me that when I first wrote in this blog, it was the year 2009 and I had a toddler. And, now I’m almost welcoming a second grader into my life.  HOW CAN THIS BE?!

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It’s been an amazing year. Ellie moved into a new school and had to adjust to new kids and a much more rigorous academic environment. That was really hard for her initially but she never stopped working and trying. Although she still gets stomach aches over math, she never gives up. She can now read like a champ and is like a sponge when it comes to learning new words. It’s truly amazing to see the progress she’s made over the year. I couldn’t be more proud of her.

Her after school program has been terrific as well. She gets to swim and dance and be in an environment that is incredibly fun and loving. I feel great EVERY night I pick her up here and feel SO good that we made that really hard decision last summer to move her from one school to another.

When I think back to the first week of first grade and Ellie saying that she just “can’t do it” as she sobbed outside her new classroom door or the many many mornings where she clung a bit tightly to me and looked sad at the prospect of parting, it’s hard to believe and wonderful to watch how confidently she carries herself at her school now — and in general. I love walking to school together in the morning and holding hands. I’m so glad she still lets me do this. But, she’s definitely becoming more independent and snuggles come much more on her terms these days.

Seven is a really terrific age. Of course it comes with its challenges, but, mostly, I’ve really loved it. I guess every stage is terrific in its own way but seven is truly a winner.

I continue to embrace these moments with my beautiful daughter as I know they will continue to fly by and I don’t want to miss a thing.

 

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Taking things in stride…

Posted in Ellie, Mommy stuff on September 9, 2013 by talesofanunfinishedmom

Parenting is hard. And rewarding. But, so hard. Each day I get up, especially if it’s been a rough night the evening before, I say to myself, “Today I will do better. Today I will…” fill in the blank. It might be, shut down my computer and be more present with my child or not get too frustrated when I’ve asked for the umpteenth time to get dressed, etc., etc.. I sometimes feel guilty when I lose my patience but then I also remind myself that you can’t HELP but lose patience with your kids.

For example, when we got home this evening, I discovered that my six-year-old had once again left her homework at her after care. Last week she brought home her homework but forgot her folder. She can be very absent-minded. I never have to worry that she’s not living in the moment. She’s ALL moment. I got pretty upset with her and explained that it’s VERY important for her to remember her homework at the end of the day. I was clearly not happy and she asked me if I was angry with her. I said that I wasn’t angry but that I was disappointed. She then got upset and threw her lunchbox and homework folder (minus the homework) on the kitchen counter and said she was really angry because I was angry with her and started crying. I felt REALLY bad that I made her cry until I found out that the reason she was crying was because she was worried that I wouldn’t let her play with her friend downstairs now that she forgot her homework.

In the end, I let her play with her friend for 30 minutes (I’m such a sucker.)

As I was writing yet ANOTHER note to her very strict first grade teacher(who I’m certain thinks we’re not on top of things)I began to wonder if I’d been too harsh with her. After all, she’s only six and she’s kept it together all day long and beyond. Perhaps there’s a better way to work WITH her to help her become less absent-minded but it’s hard to know what that is — especially when I’m not with her all day.

In the moments, I feel as if I SHOULD be upset that she keeps forgetting things but then we lay in bed together and look at book picks for her school’s book fair in a catalog and chat, I wonder if I should be taking this all more in stride. I know it’ll serve her well not to be forgetful as she goes through school and ultimately life, and I don’t think I should stop enforcing the importance of this but when I look into her sweet sleepy face and feel her soft skin and see her vulnerability, I think about the fact that before we know it, there won’t be night time snuggles and leaving homework at the after care will be the least of our worries. I know this is not a good reason to stop enforcing rules but it sure makes me want to sometimes.

And then there was first grade…

Posted in Ellie with tags on September 4, 2013 by talesofanunfinishedmom

I can’t believe I’ve let an entire year (and change) lapse since I posted. Last time I wrote I had a graduating preschooler and now we’re jumping into first grade. What a difference the last year has made. I can barely remember what it feels like to have a preschooler. Ellie has grown by leaps and bounds. My first and only born who always tended toward the 25th percentile is off the charts in height. Her little six-year-old dresses look like mini-skirts. She runs at lightning speed and talks about as fast. Her questions are endless which speaks to her intense curiosity of the world around her. It’s becoming quite clear that she’s an extrovert, wanting almost always to be around and engaging with other people. She continues to sing and dance and laugh with abandon. She is a good friend.

Although I never got a chance to write about it, kindergarten was a year of growth for Ellie. It wasn’t a perfect year (as if there is any such thing) and the transition was not an easy one. No tears but a lot of clinging. In the end, it took about 10 months for her to really “move in” to that school mentally and socially. But, she got there — as always, on her own time table.

Now she’s in first grade at a new school and I’ve been amazed that three weeks in, she seems to have the confidence that took her 10 months to develop in kindergarten. Building blocks of growth, indeed. And, perhaps this really is the better fit for her. She comes home every night animated with lots of stories. She writes and takes spelling tests.  She has new friends. She rarely mentions her old school or friends. Six-year-olds are amazing. I was told that this transition to a new school would be infinitely harder for me than it would be for her but you project so much of your own emotions on to your children imagining how they might feel that it’s hard to believe. And, yet, three weeks in and she’s doing great. This morning as she was getting dressed she said to me, “I’m not going to miss you today.”  I never thought I’d feel so relieved to hear those words.

When a butterfly becomes a dove…

Posted in Ellie, Mommy stuff on July 7, 2010 by talesofanunfinishedmom

In case you’re wondering if I perhaps missed a key class in school regarding the evolution of insects, I am aware that butterflies don’t actually turn into doves. That is, unless you’re my daughter.

Last Tuesday Ellie wrapped up her first year of preschool. It’s pretty hard to believe since it feels like yesterday that I was feeling sooo anxious about her first day of preschool.  It also feels like yesterday that her response to any question you asked was a demure “o-kay” and she was still nursing her nightly bottle. My easy two-year-old of yesterday has turned into a leggy force to be reckoned with three-year-old and today, she officially became a dove.

I had been feeling very apprehensive about the approaching end of her first year in the butterfly class. Her butterfly teachers were extraordinary. One teacher in particular – Teacher Robb as we all called him – truly  redefined my expectations for everything a teacher could be. And, I was not alone. Parents were throwing around phrases such as the “toddler whisperer” with reference to him and at one point during the year, all of the parents rallied to try and get Teacher Robb to move ahead with the Butterfly class. There are many cases to be made for keeping a teacher with the same class – or looping, as the official term goes – and Robb made a lot of those arguments, but for us parents, we just knew that our children were all tremendously attached to this wonderful kind smart man and given an unusual year of vacated teaching positions at the school, we hoped we could request one more move.

Anyhow, it didn’ t happen and I’ve mostly gotten over it (as you can tell) but it still smarts a little. The thing is, I, too, was attached to Teacher Robb. This same fellow who I was suspicious of at our initial parent gathering (Why would a man be teaching preschool? Why does he keep looking down? Why isn’t he smiling more? ), proved to me once again that first impressions can often be uninformed impressions. This teacher was so incredible smart, calm, nuturing, and engaged with each and every one of those 2-3 year olds in my daughter’s class AND the parents. Basically, he was AMAZING. (There I go again…no, really, I’m over it!)

On Ellie’s last day of school I did my best to be upbeat and positive about her move to the Dove room (the 3-4 year old classroom). As I was driving to the 5:30pm pick up to gather my child and all of her things from the Butterfly room for the last time, I had lots of internal dialogue with myself about how I wasn’t going to cry. There was no reason to cry after all since Ellie was only moving DOWN THE HALL. But, I knew, just as I’d witnessed all year, that behind the door of each classroom’s entrance is a special world – a unique environment created by the teachers. And, I hoped that as excited Ellie was about becoming a Dove, that she wouldn’t be missing that special former place too much.

The goodbye was not easy. In fact, to overcompensate for my propensity toward tears, I started asking questions such as “How did the last day go?”.  When he immediately told me that there were tears, I thought, “oh please don’t let there be tears.” I kept trying to act as if it were like any other day, any other regular pick up, until Teacher Robb in all his 6 ft. stature after deciding he’d fielded enough of my questions, came over to me, put his arms around me and said “Thanks so much for a wonderful year. Please keep in touch and let me know how Ellie is doing.” All I could get out was “Thank you. You know how I feel and I can’t really talk about it or…” and with that my eyes welled up with tears and I turned away while another teacher standing by looked at me with that “awwwww” face and I pulled it together. After all, this was ELLIE’S last day, not mine. For god’s sake, as the Mom, I’ve got to keep it together, right?

Ellie was cool as a cucumber EXCEPT I could NOT get her to leave the classrooom. She was working away on some artwork and refused to leave until she finished. He suggested that perhaps she was having a hard time leaving. That’s the thing about three year olds, they can’t really tell you how they’re feeling all the time and so you have to infer from their actions what’s going on. Eventually, she was the only Butterfly remaining and Teacher Robb told her that she could take home the two markers she was using and offered her one last “ride” to the door.  He had used this tactic on occasion over the year when Ellie didn’t want to say goodbye. He’d say “Do you want to fly to Mom?” And, he’d pick her up and fly her in the air to me outside by our car or into her car seat. This time, he flew her to the door and into my arms and we began to make our way down the hallway when she said “Oh, oh oh!” as if she forgot something. She swung open the Butterfly door one last time and ran in to give Teacher Robb one last hug which he eagerly accepted.

Flash forward and here we are, 3 days into Ellie’s first week as a Dove.  My guilt is at an all-time high about leaving her there all day. Previously, when I’d bring her into the Butterfly class in the morning, one of her teachers upon seeing us would say “Ellie!” and would ALWAYS be on hand to give Ellie a hug or pick her up when she was especially clingy to help assist with the goodbye. One of our recent rituals involved Ellie giving me a big PUSH out of the classroom – a way for her to feel as if she was CHOOSING for me to leave. Even if we both knew the truth, it worked pretty well. Somedays, when Ellie was having a particularly difficult time parting, one of the teachers would walk her to a window in another classroom so that I could wave goodbye to her on the way out. All of these special touches made me feel really comfortable about having to leave for work.

Now?

I escort her into the Dove classroom in the morning and the teachers barely look up. There is no special welcome, no gregarious “Ellie!” and certainly no hugs.  I  know she’s moved to the “big girl” classroom but geez, she is still ONLY 3 after all! And, it’s been so hard for me to say goodbye to her in the mornings.

She, however, seems mostly fine with this change. She has, however,  been especially difficult this week which I chalk up to the change and I keep trying to talk with her about it. I’ve tried to be much more patient with her outbursts and defiance, assuming that she has to work all day to be the “big girl” and just wants to let loose when she gets home.

I know it’s taking time for me to adjust. I figure it will be at least a couple of weeks before I stop longing for the old classroom, the old teachers, the old ways.  I imagine it will take Ellie at least as long.

On your third birthday…

Posted in Ellie on December 13, 2009 by talesofanunfinishedmom

I’m having a hard time wrapping my brain around the fact that my baby girl is turning three.  Birthday #1 and even #2 didn’t hit me the way this one has been hitting me. In fact, I vividly remember someone asking me at Ellie’s first birthday party, “It goes sooo fast, doesn’t it?” And, I’m thinking, what’s wrong with me that I think this has been the longest year of my life?  Between the major life adjustment, colic, sleepless nights, pumping, returning to work…I’m sorry, it definitely hasn’t been flying by. It may have also helped that my baby still wasn’t walking or crawling which are big milestones that begin to move them away from that feeling of the newborn state. I was lucky enough to still have a very baby-ish baby.

When her second birthday rolled around, even with all the milestones of the previous year – moving from breast to bottle, learning to crawl, eventually getting herself to walking and her increasing vocabulary, she was still feeling a bit like a baby. And, again, it felt like a very long year. I considered that I must have been doing a good job of embracing each and every moment since time didn’t feel like it was flying. It didn’t hurt that she still took a bottle of milk at night and wore diapers.

Then came this THREE thing. Three?!  Didn’t she JUST turn two?? This past year has flown by. Maybe some of that is based on how much my little girl has developed in the last twelve months. Somehow, she has managed to learn to speak in full sentences, put on her socks and shoes, take off her shirts and jackets, kick balls with ferociousness, develop an amazing right-hand throw, use a tennis racket, and knows more song lyrics than I do. She throws around phrases such as “go away” and “stop talking” (usually directed at me)  and has many other customs of asserting her growing independence.  I find myself flashing forward to her 13th birthday and picturing myself wondering where all the time went.

Don’t get me wrong…I am so grateful that my daughter IS growing up–that after three miscarriages, much uncertainty, and at times, the temptation to give up trying, that I held fast to my dream and continue to be blessed each and every day with this miracle girl who I am lucky enough to call my daughter.

Happy 3rd Birthday, my dear Ellie. I love you more  than you will ever know. You teach me so much every day that I am so grateful for.

Two weeks old

First smile - six weeks old

Ellie now - such a big girl!