I LOVE new school years. I always loved school growing up--shopping for new school supplies, a new planner, and back to school clothes, finding out who my teacher was and which friends would be in my class, and discovering which books were on our book list!
As I transitioned from a student to a teacher, I loved the same things in different ways. I loved making copies of my syllabus in fun fonts with inspirational literary quotes on bright colored paper, and when I ordered a novel for my students with course fees, I would get giddy opening up my Barnes and Noble boxes. I made a dramatic show of passing out books to my students, making them open them up and smell the pages. There is nothing like a new-book smell to English nerds.
When Patrick and I were engaged and talking about important stuff like budgets, dream vacations, how many kids, and who was responsible for what, I told him that one of my non-negotiables was that I would always need to have a new outfit for the first day of school. I didn't ask for much, so he obliged with a glimmer in his eye. ;)
Even though I no longer teach full-time, and my kids are in their preschool years, and I don't know how I feel anymore about how or where I will choose to educate them, the beginning of something new is always worth celebrating. This year I decided that their "new" outfits would be homemade. After Patrick and I talked about putting our house on the market, I knew I had some sewing projects to tackle before I would be ready to pack some supplies away, so one Thursday night, I got busy and cranked out these appliqued shirts with matching shirts. They are full of imperfections, but I was still excited about them anyway.
As a rule, we try to steer clear from getting "Target Treats" all the time and just give our girls "occasion" gifts. It makes it more fun for me, and it makes them more appreciative, I think. Back to school gifts are some of my favorites, and when I heard that one of my favorite local gift shops was closing, I decided to stock up on some future gifts at such a discounted price. I was thrilled to get the girls these super cute personalized lap desks, and I filled them with new crayons, markers, pencils, coloring books, and preschool workbooks, and we picked them out some new water bottles.
Before school actually starts, we have a day called "Sunshine Smile Day" where parents bring their kids to meet their teachers while they attend an informational meeting. Addison was really excited to get to be in Mrs. Glenda's and Mrs. Carrie's class and in the long-awaited Pre-K program. Ansley was excited to be in Mrs. Beth and Mrs. Debbie's class, and there were no tears for her this year. I was excited to meet my new 3's and 4's too. Since I am still new to the preschool world, I was anxious about how it would be without one of my own children in my class. Would I connect as well? Would I still have the patience, joy, and creativity that I would need to be effective? Honestly, it did take me a few times to get in the swing of things--as it always does no matter what level I teach--but I now have 11 sweet kiddos who have once again captured my heart.
(Luckily for Patrick, my new "first day of school" outfit is now partially provided by my employer, but I must tell you about the amazing dry fit "skort" concoction that I got. It is Royal Robbins at REI, and it is shorts covered by a skirt, and I would wear it every single day if I could get away with it. I really wanted to in Disney... It doesn't show sweat, and I can sit on the floor "criss cross apple sauce" because they are shorts, and I still follow dress code by not really wearing shorts since it's covered by a skirt. WIN.WIN.WIN.)
After Sunshine Smile Day, my girls were ready to go to school every single day, but they had to wait until the following Tuesday. We started off their first day with a hot breakfast (a rare delicacy), a fun sign, and a hand-in-hand walk into school. I know that they will not always enjoy dressing alike, but right now they do, so I am milking it for all of its worth. Plus, this is the last year that they will be at the same school for a couple of years, so I wanted to etch this into my memory.
This is a moment that I will treasure for sure. My heart exploded.
They are both having great years so far, and I am continually so thankful that the Lord lead all of us to Sunshine School. It has been an answered prayer on so many levels.