My lil’ graduate

Ace had his last day of preschool on Friday and his graduation ceremony yesterday. I cried from the moment he walked out of the door with his mini cap and gown on! I just cannot believe that we are already at this stage; this Fall my little man will be entering the real world. I just want to protect him from all of the ‘bad stuff’ out there, yet I know the best thing I can do for him is teach him how to overcome all of it and stand fast in his Faith.

It seems like it was only yesterday I was at home sitting in front of the t.v. watching home videos with Ben & Jerry while wishing I could keep him home. And even though he was only in school a few months I truly am going to miss the wonderful people we’ve met. His teachers were excellent and they will be missed along with all the little friends he made. The kids will all be attending different schools next year and it was sad saying goodbye them.

So we’re moving on to the next stage, his last summer before real school. I’m hoping to fill it with lots of love, laughter and fun. This summer is going to be a very special one for me and I want lots of unforgettable memories.

I also wanted to let you all know that Ace did get into Harvard! Thank you for your prayers! We’re very excited that he’s been accepted, not just because of their academic excellence but because I feel safe sending him there. I know he’ll be in good hands….though I may not feel that way come the first day.

Applying to Harvard

Harvard University (the real one)

It seems like getting your child into a decent school for Kindergarten is remarkably similar to applying to Harvard these days.

Ace has a screening appointment coming up this week for the only school I will be very happy with him attending. It’s the best public school around and I certainly can’t afford private school, so if I don’t want him going to the other school near us (which is a smaller version of the one in Dangerous Minds, if any of you remember that movie) he must get in to this one.  He screens on Friday so please keep him in your prayers.

Below are some of the things his Preschool teacher told me they screen them on:

01. Counting to 30 and identifying each number

02. Knowing all of the alphabet, both upper and lowercase, and identifying each letter and it’s sound.

03. The name of his city, state and country

04. His address

05. His telephone number

06. His birthdate

07. The first names of his parents/siblings

08. The words a, the, and, to, I, in, is, on, you, cat, ten, sit, dog, run and several other sight words.

09. How to write his first and last name

10. His social security number (just kidding–but I wouldn’t be surprised!)

11. Months (and identify their names)

12. Days of the week (and identify their names)

13. Draw a picture and explain it. They’re also observed with other children and asked to identify different pictures, objects, etc.

I’ve been practicing with him every now and then but I don’t want to overdo it and stress him out. I’m stressed enough for the both of us.

The good news is the school is remarkable. I am so impressed with what I’ve seen of the faculty and campus so far. The curriculum is unbelievable, I can’t believe what they’re teaching them even from Kindergarten! They work with computers everyday and will start learning about web design and video production. I’ll be honest it’s a little scary and part of me wants to keep him coloring and writing ABC’s for awhile longer but I have to accept that one day he will have to make it in society and he needs to be as prepared as possible.

Watching them grow up is so difficult, I never thought I would have so much trouble letting go of so many things! Each new step forward he takes makes my responsibility as his mother that much greater; I must remember the importance of prayer at all times.

Keep us in your prayers! I’ll keep you posted!

UPDATE: ACE WAS ACCEPTED INTO HARVARD! YIPEE!! Thank you all for your prayers! We are very excited to be a part of such an incredible school!

I found this note…

I found this note on the fridge this morning. DH took Ace to school today and before I went outside to feed the animals and collect the eggs I gave him his goodbye kiss.

When I came back in they were gone and I found this note stuck to the fridge:

If you read my Preschool Stinks post you remember that I mentioned how Ace repeatedly reminds me to pray for him every morning. Well he forgot this morning and decided to leave me a little reminder (DH helped with the spelling).

I have to say that I still am adjusting to him being gone all day but I find comfort in the fact that he understands the importance of prayer at such a young age. The innocence of a child…

One thing that I believe helped in his understanding of this is the book Daniel and the Lion by Claire Brandenburg. The story is about a little boy named Daniel who is being bullied at school (the lion). My boys both love it!

The lovely illustrations help a child understand how the Theotokos, the saints and our guardian angel invisibly accompany us everywhere we go when we ask for their intercessions. If you have never read this book, the illustrations alone make it worth it! The story is beautifully written as well–so you can’t lose.

Preschool Stinks…

Ok. It’s been awhile since Ace started preschool and things were going good. I was dealing with it and he was loving it, which equals good-not great, for me at least. :)

But last week we had a meltdown! All of a sudden I get a phone call from his teacher saying that he wanted to sit by himself during playtime because he had a tummy ache. Now, I know that pretty much the only time Ace gets a “tummy ache” is when he’s nervous. So I told this to his teacher and told her to give him some time and if he’s persistent about not feeling well to call and I’d come pick him up. As much as I wanted to go get him I knew if I did that I would be opening a can of worms I knew I couldn’t deal with.

I didn’t get a phone call so I didn’t pick him up early. After school I asked him how he felt and he said he was tired and all day he kept wishing he was at home with me.

So I figured maybe he didn’t sleep well the night before and just had a rough day. The next morning however, DH calls me freaking out because he was going to be late for work because Ace refused to get out of the car. So he put him on the phone and he was hysterical. So I calmed him down and told him that if he wanted, I’d pick him up after lunch. So he agreed and went in.
I called his teacher an hour later and she said he was doing great and I told her what I told him about picking him up early but that I’d only come if she called me.

No call.

Next day: same thing in the morning and DH had to leave him there screaming with his teacher. That night he kept telling us he hated school and didn’t want to go anymore. I made it very clear that we were not entertaining that thought for a minute and that missing school was not an option.

So on Friday as I drove him to school I kept trying to get to the root of the problem, which ultimately I think was just a case of separation anxiety. I told him that along with the prayers that I say for him (this akathist) with our morning prayers, I would do komboskini for him all day. He also made me promise to call his Nono-Papa (his Godfather is the Geronda at our men’s monastery) and tell him to say extra prayers for him too. He kept telling me that he wanted to have a good day but he didn’t know how. I told him he had to just keep telling himself how much fun he was going to have and that I’d be there to pick him up before he knew it. He said he kept trying to close his eyes and not cry but the tears just kept slipping out. I wanted to cry!! I told him that I was certain that today (Friday) would be a better day.

When I dropped him off he said, “Mom, I think I am going to have a good day today. Just write yourself a note so you don’t forget to pray for me.” I told him that for Mama’s and Baba’s praying for their children is like breathing, you can’t forget.

He kissed me and I walked him in. I got in the car. And cried the whole way home. Again.

Oh my goodness this stinks!!!!

It’s been almost a week now and he’s been doing fine again, but whew! I thought I was going to break. I feel like a kid again, I dread Monday coming!

Is this normal? Seriously, I am thinking it’s an unhealthy attachment. I have to be able to let him go. What am I going to do when he leaves home? Oh, my tummy aches now…

Preschool: Day 3

Well, I’m happy to report that Day 3 has been better than Day 1. After I dropped Ace off at school I decided that coming home and watching his baby videos was probably not something I should engrave into my daily routine.

So after I dropped him off I came home and Lucky and I did some finger painting and put a few puzzles together. Lucky’s behavior has been much better over the past few days and I’m wondering if it is because of all the extra attention he gets. I came to the sad realization that many times when I’d be doing something with Ace like cooking dinner or working on a project, I’d often find things to “busy” Lucky, instead of including him in the project. I realized that in my mind he’s remained my baby, when he is in fact a toddler now and I need to start doing fun, toddler-ish activities with him and including him in more things now.

Like yesterday as I was preparing dinner, he took the chopped vegetables and threw them in the pot. He was so proud to be helping! Now every time I go into the kitchen he pushes the chair up to the counter and smiles and laughs because he knows he’s going to get to help. So I am spending much more quality time with him during the day. That’s not to say that I’m not still heartbroken because I surely am, but it has gotten a little bit easier.

When poor Lucky heard DH and Ace coming home from school yesterday he ran up to me and wrapped himself around my leg. He figured now that Ace was home he’d have to fight for my attention again. So when Ace came in I took them both outside to play with the new goats {did I tell you we got 2 new goats?} and run around for awhile. After a few minutes they both forgot about me and had a blast playing with eachother.

Isn’t this photos precious? They were holding hands and walking through the yard. Luckily the camera was close by because I would’ve been so sad not to have captured this moment!

I also thought you’d enjoy this conversation between Ace and I after school on Day 1:

Me: Hey buddy! How was your day?

Ace: Fun! We did a project with letters.

Me: Wow! Sounds neat. Did you eat all of your lunch?

Ace: {incredibly dragged out} Yeeeeeeeess…

Me: What? Was something not good? Did you find your kisses?

Ace: No everything was good but I couldn’t eat my kisses. {they were in a tin with the note}

Me: Why not?

Ace: Because. Mom….the note?

Me: What was wrong with the note? You didn’t like Mommy’s note?

Ace: It was kind of embarrassing Mom.

Me: Why? Did someone tease you?

Ace: No, I hid it under my juice box before anyone saw it.

Me: So what’s the problem then?

Ace: Mom. You wrote in on pink paper and drew all kinds of little hearts on it!

Me: So what? You don’t want me to write you notes anymore?

Ace: {after thinking about how to say this nicely} Umm…don’t make it so girly tomorrow, write it on blue paper and don’t draw any hearts. Tell me to have a good day or something.

So how do you like that?? I’m dying of a broken heart and he’s hiding my love notes under his juice box!

I am definitely looking forward to having him home with me for the weekend and decided that Saturday’s will now be our official family day to do something fun. Either a craft at home or going to the zoo, museum or bowling. He’s never been bowling and has been asking to go.

I’ll keep you posted in case I need more therapy from you all just in case I have a relapse after the weekend. :)

Preschool: Day 2

Every year on the boy’s birthdays I write them a special birthday letter and tuck it away in their special letter box.

One day I was reading through some blogs I ran across the inspiring idea of writing a first day of school letter. I can’t remember where I originally found it though, so I can’t show my linky love! If anybody else knows, please leave me a comment so I can give credit where credit is due.

Here is the letter with a photo of Ace’s first day that I put in his letter box.

My Sweet Angel,

Everything about you looked so big to me this morning. Those hands that used to barely fit around my finger nearly filled my entire hand as we walked down the hall. Those shoulders that used to hunch up against my chest seemed so broad as you proudly carried your new backpack. And those sweet brown eyes that used to spend hours scrunched in colicky anguish were round and bright and full of anticipation at what awaits you.

You had only a brief moment of hesitation before you ventured into your classroom. I saw the momentary uncertainty flash in your eyes as you let go of my hand. But I reached down and kissed your cheek, and I told you I’d stand out in the hall for a minute or two if you needed me. “I’ll be right here,” I whispered. That was all you needed-you bounded forward with confidence, never looking back.

This is as it should be. Your eyes should be ahead–watchful, ready to learn, eager to take in all life will bring you. My eyes are looking ahead too, realizing that this big step of independence you took this morning will be followed by many. Lost teeth, too-short jeans, a deeper voice and first dates…each bold step will take a you a step further toward manhood, and further away from me.

And with bittersweet joy in my heart, I tell you, my sweet angel: Go. Step into each new life experience with the same eager expectation I saw on your face this morning. I trust the One who made you to steer you just where He would have you go. I can’t wait to see the man He will shape you into.

But when the adventure gets bumpy, whether it’s a skinned knee in kindergarten, a bruised ego in 5th grade or a broken heart in college, just point yourself toward home. I’ll be right here.

Loving you forever,

Now go cuddle those angels of yours!!

First Day Jitters…

Ace started pre-school today. Here they have 3 sessions you can choose and we chose the winter/spring one.

I was/am a nervous wreck! We packed his lunch last night and got all of his supplies and clothes ready so the morning wouldn’t be too chaotic. So this morning we woke up, did morning prayers, ate breakfast and got ready. I snuck two Hershey kisses into his lunch box with a little note and told him I was sending some of my kisses with him to school. He kept asking how and I told him he’d find out in school.

The whole drive he kept telling me how nervous he was and that he didn’t know if he could go a whole day without me. I told him he had to be brave like the saints and that we taped an icon of the Archangels (his patron sts.) in his backpack. I also put a few wallet sized photos in 2 badge holders and clipped them on his backpack so he would feel like he wasn’t that far from us. I told him he could look at them anytime he missed us and it should remind him that I’d be there to pick him up soon. I also kept reminding him of all the fun things he was going to do in school. I’m telling you if he would’ve started crying I would’ve turned my little minivan around and said forget the whole thing! :)

We sang fun songs like Bear Hunt and Catalina Matalina while we were driving and once we got close we said a prayer together. I walked him in and his teacher asked him to find his name on his cubby and his seat. So he found his cubby and put his things away and then went to find his seat. Once he did he sat right down and started talking with the other kids. I gave him a hug and a kiss (twice) and then realized that I was lingering. So I said goodbye to the teacher and left. And cried my eyes out the whole way home. Lucky kept pointing at Ace’s seat and trying to figure out why we left him somewhere.

Someone please tell me this gets easier! I’m so nervous leaving him in some stranger’s (however nice) care. I think of all the crazy things that happen in schools and I’m ready to have a nervous breakdown! I keep praying and reminding myself to have faith and that I am sending him to school (and not homeschooling) out of obedience and so everything will be fine. But I miss my boy!