First of all I was on the fence about them going to school here up until five days before school started. They would both be going to public school which pretty much freaked me out, we live in Quincy which isn't exactly Liberty Lake if you know what I mean...Funny thing is Eden was so excited and was begging to go to school here. She wanted a teacher with a "funny accent". I found out the school was K-4th so that made me feel good and after visiting the school I realized how secure it was so I registered Edes. Her school is just under two miles away, if I wanted her bussed we would have to pay $200! The other annoying thing is that her school starts at 7:45am...let me repeat that again, her school starts at 7:45AM!!! So early for this "NON" morning family.
Maya on the other hand was begging me to home school her. I looked into it but it just seemed like a ton of work for a small amount of time but I was still willing to do it. About a week before school started I decided to go to the Middle school she would be attending. I met with the secretary and she calmed my fears, I really felt peace as I walked the halls of the 90 yr old building.
The smell of recently sealed hardwood and the old metal lockers reminded me of my high school which was also very old. The secretary told me to bring Maya to the school in couple of days to have an orientation with the 7th grade guidance counselor...yes, each grade (5th - 8th) has it's own counselor...so she could get a feel for the school. Maya was game so we went. She felt the same peace I did. The counselor, nurse and secretary were all so sweet and welcoming to Maya. They kept reassuring her (and me) that it was a great school and she would love it there. I'm sure that they say that to everyone, but I really believed it. It's the smallest middle school in the district so there are only 70 seventh graders and each grade has it's own floor and wing. On the way home Maya said she wanted to try it out. I told her to give it a week and if she hated it I would pull her out.
Her school starts at 8:15am and they will not let the students in the building one minute earlier. They have no pavilion to stand under, they just wait out there rain or shine until the doors open. The school is a little over a mile away so she couldn't walk there and she would have to take public transportation to get there if I didn't drive her! Yeah, that wasn't going to happen...I wasn't thrilled about that but it's part of this crazy experience so my days of being in my car more than not began.
To get them looking good and feeling like a million bucks, I took them to my friend Kristen's to get their hair cut.
(She didn't want to go too short this time)
(Kristen was sweet enough to help Maya with some styling tips)
Then we went to the Garment District, an amazing second hand store in Cambridge that has some great clothes at great deals!
After I had made the decision to send them both I felt good about it, but I was still so nervous for them. We usually make a big deal about the night before the first day of school. We have a special dinner and Aric gives them each a father's blessing. This year dinner was a little on the lame side, not our traditional "everyone picks part of the meal", I just made a favorite I knew that would make them both happy...homemade pizza.
Unfortunately Aric was out of town so I was on my own to prepare them for the big day in this strange new place. He did give them blessings before he left which gave them some peace. Neither of them knew a single person when they walked through those doors. There was not one other Mormon kid in either of the schools which is a big deal for them. It's hard to be the only one! And neither of them had any experience with it. So I wanted to give them as much courage as I could.
I got an idea from another blog (NieNie) to have a back to school theme. As I thought about it, it didn't take long for a scripture to come to mind:
"...fear not; peace be unto thee, be strong yea; be strong." Daniel 10:19
I needed that scripture as much as they did! So I made a banner that became a permanent part of our decor:
We all memorized it, even Camden.
I also made them necklaces with a little scroll inside that had their name followed by the scripture on it, to remind them to be strong:
And here they are on the first day of school rushing to the elevator...
Instead of a picture in front of our house like we have done every other year of their entire school existence, we took it in front of our home here...
Eden's First Day picture:
Eden's school has no supervisors. It's the strangest thing! The principal and vice principal direct traffic at the drop off and they also help with recess along with the teachers. It's controlled chaos when I drop her off every morning but it works. Eden is in the minority at this school when it comes to her race. It is a very diverse school which is a great thing. She has a hard time pronouncing many of the names of the kids in her class but it doesn't matter to her. In fact she has befriended a new girl in her class from Iran. She still isn't sure how to say the girl's name so she calls her Nazzi for short. Eden has been assigned to help teach her math. And apparently Nazzi's mom went up to Eden and in her broken English thanked Eden for being Nazzi's best friend.
Maya's First Day picture:
Maya's first day was ROUUUUUUGH! Her schedule was never printed up so she didn't have one for the first hour so that stressed her out and then popular girls recruited her to sit with them at lunch. This proved to be another huge stress for her. These were not nice girls, nice to Maya but not other kids. They cursed and used other inappropriate language. They noticed she didn't swear and tried to get her to say a bad word! They asked her if her parents cursed and when she answered no they couldn't believe it. When they asked why we didn't swear she told them that we were Mormon and they started grilling her with questions. One girl told her that everyone in her family drank and smoked marijuana! There was so much Maya was exposed to during that lunch she came home traumatized and begged me to not make her go back the next day.
Thankfully the next day she met a girl that has become her bestie out here, her name is Sonya and she was an answer to prayers! The popular girls were not happy that Maya wouldn't sit with them again. They kind of made her feel uncomfortable for a few days but then they left her alone. Since then she has made some other friends through cross country which has been such an awesome experience for her that I will do a post on that soon.
I went to back to school night at both schools and was so shocked at how few parents there, but I was so happy with both of the girl's teachers:
This next picture is of Eden and her home room teacher Mrs. Kearnes.
She is beyond FANTASTIC and I love hah and hah wicked ahsome Bahstun accent. According to Eden she dances and sings everyday but isn't afraid to get in kids faces when she needs to. I wish I could put her in my pocket and take her to Utah with us.
Eden with Mrs. Foley her Social Studies and Science teacher
This is a little project Eden was excited to show me. Politics are taken pretty seriously in this part of the country and both of my girls are very emotional charged about it. They do not like being in the minority. Eden is one of two kids in her class voting for Mitt Romney in her school election. She is quite proud of her stance and is constantly talking about policies and debt, wanting to know everything she can about the issues so she can stand her ground. It keeps me on my toes and I love that my kids are interested in who runs our country and how they are going to do it. They were into last election but now that they are older they are way more involved and opinionated. Although I'm pretty sure they wouldn't be this fired up if we lived anywhere else.
So every morning after I drop of Eden, Maya and I have about 20 min to sit in the car and wait for her school to open the doors.
There is a lady on her bike that rides by us at 7:50am, I haven't seen her lately to take a picture, but don't worry I will get one before we go.
Every morning at 8am we see this grandpa and his little grandson heading to the bus stop. It drives Maya crazy that the grandpa smokes and holds the cigarette so close to the little guy. She makes a comment about it everyday.
At around 8:05am the janitor comes out and hoists up the flag.
We watch the same kids walk or get dropped off. Most of the walkers come with a red bull, an ice cream cone, or a coffee/hot chocolate...at least I hope that's what it is, in their hand. We've seen kids eating pickles, potato chips and all sorts of random snacks for breakfast. It is so disturbing to to me! There is a corner store close by so they all get their goodies there. Is that normal in other places? Where we came from it wasn't so it blows my mind.
We use this time to finish or check homework and get a little more studying done for tests and quizzes. But the most important thing Maya does is her scripture study. It's all her. She is so diligent about it and it makes me so happy. I know it helps her get through the day and it helps me have more peace when I drive away. She always crosses the street in the cross walk right in front of me with a smile and a wave. Once across the street she takes a few steps and then turns and looks for one more smile and wave. It makes me teary.
Eden's and Maya's teachers have all told me that my girls are special. "There's just something about them..." they say. They are all so sad that we are moving and tell me every chance they get that I can't take them away. I know my girls are special but they stick out around here because of how kind, respectful and responsible they are. It's been a good experience for them and for me. I am so glad I sent them to school here. They have both grown leaps and bounds...and so have I.
Stay tuned to see what C and I do while the girls are at school...