When Brailey was in first grade, she would cry every day that I dropped her off in her classroom. And I would cry, too. And now, here she is in middle school, a mature sixth grade beauty, and as she leaves the car, calling, "I love you," I find myself choking back the tears again. Every single day. I know - can you believe it?!
Middle school has not been the happy transition for Brailey that is has been for most of her friends. Granted, we are only in our second week of the school year, but it has been a rougher start than I anticipated. Rewind to before school started, during Sixth Grade Orientation...
I believe I mentioned that Brailey's very dearest friend, Carrie, called her shortly before the Western States Stock Horse show and broke the news to her that she was moving and going to a different school. It was the saddest phone conversation I've ever heard. The minute she got off the phone, Brailey cried. And cried and cried and cried. It was heartbreaking. Britt and I neither one knew what to do other than to offer comfort to her.
Ever since she graduated from fifth grade, I have put the concept of middle school on ignore in my mind. This is how I cope with things I don't want to deal with. I ignore anything I don't want to accept until I am forced to accept it. I shouldn't have done this with regard to middle school.
Alas, we cheerfully went about our business on the day of the Orientation. We got our back-to-school haircuts, we ran errands, and we arrived at Brailey's new school, ready to get her schedule and locker and to get prepared for the first day of school. All of a sudden, Brailey was nervous and quiet. It was a stressful environment. We basically had to figure out where to go, what line to get in first, and it was loud with lots of lines of sixth graders and their parents. It was, as I like to refer to it now, The Great Unknown. One of my friends came over to us in one of the lines, and we hugged and talked about how sad it was that Carrie wasn't going to be there. And then I looked at Brailey, and she was choking back the tears, her little angel-face red from the effort it was costing her. That got me... But I held it together!
We made our way to the sixth grade hallway to find her locker. A very sweet eighth grade girl led us to it and showed us how to open it. And that is when my dander went up. The locker had marker on the outside of it, and the inside was so filthy and disgusting, I can't even begin to explain to you what a shock it was. I was, quite frankly, livid. There was old food in it, and stains that will not be cleaned until they are painted over. In any case, we made our way to her first classroom, and then on to the next, and then we got lost, and ended up in the seventh grade french teacher's classroom, and out of nowhere, I found myself in tears! I was not prepared for this to happen at all. Brailey was crying, also. I tried desperately to pull myself together for her. Britt later told me he had felt like crying, too, because he felt so bad for us. The very nice french teacher gave us tissues and I explained that we were lost and upset about the locker and la-la-la. She kindly took us to every classroom on Brailey's schedule, and as we parted, she went to the office to report the locker. We will always be grateful to this teacher for her kindness.
As soon as we got home, I emailed the school and told them the locker was unacceptable. I wouldn't hang a cleaning rag in it! After a few haggles, they agreed to give her a new locker, which we made a special trip to see the next day and to practice opening. I learned they hadn't even cleaned the lockers before the sixth graders arrived. So they cleaned them the day after the orientation, the same day we arrived to see Brailey's new locker, which was much cleaner and newer, but a "double," and sporting a gynormous dried booger on the front of it. Still, it was so much better than the previous locker, we didn't complain. However, someone needs to take the cleaning of the lockers much more seriously. I sent her with cleaning wipes to get the booger off.
The first day of school proved to be an emotional one, as well. It reminded me of first grade all over again. Staff members met us at the front door and asked us to "say our goodbyes there." If I had it to do again, I would have walked her to her locker, whether they liked it or not. But I did what they asked, sucking my tears down. Brailey sucked her tears down, as well, and went off on her way. The look on her face was nearly more than I could bear, but I wanted to do the right thing and let her spread her wings a little. I cried the second she left and for a good portion of the day. I walked her to the front door every day for the rest of the week. Even though I was the only parent I saw doing this. Brailey held my hand the entire way, and it broke my heart to leave her there, knowing she was full of fear and sadness. But she got a little stronger every day and survived her first week.
And now here we are in our second week. It is slowly getting better, but she continues to pull tears out of my heart (okay, my eyes, too) every morning. She is being strong and trying hard, but still struggling to adjust. So am I. Yet she is looking forward to trying out for the school play. Volleyball starts this weekend. She made a new friend in PE. Several girls have actually given her compliments, which never happened at Buena Vista. One girl Brailey thought was super mean has been surprisingly nice to her this year. She is learning how to be Brailey-without-Carrie. I didn't realize how much of her identity was wrapped up in their friendship, and I now know it is a blessing for her to become Brailey Shaye sans Carrie. I think the tears will dry up as the days go by. She doesn't know I'm still crying (even as I'm writing this, damn it!), and so I think I'm pulling off that strong mother act. In the meantime, we are taking it one day at a time.
Saturday, September 14, 2013
But you know what? He deserves every good fortune that comes his way. In reality, he works harder than every man I know. My dad was a work-a-holic, and still is, even in "retirement," as he calls it. Sometimes it just seems normal to me for Brady to work as hard as he does, because I grew up with a hard working dad. The truth is, it isn't normal, and when most guys are putting their feet up and taking a load off, as they say, Brady is still hard at it. In fact, the man doesn't even know how to relax!
My little B's and I are blessed that he works so hard to provide for his family. I am so happy for him to have a job with perks like this - he loves what he does (Montana Silversmiths, if you didn't know), and it shows, and he deserves every single good thing that comes his way!
Thursday, September 12, 2013
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Happier days, when the summer was our oyster!
Yes, while other people are welcoming the famous colors of fall, I'm dealing with a color of a different nature - blue. I know, I know... Poor me! Fall is a very depressing time for me, though. Back-to-school, number one, and debris everywhere, number two. No, I don't enjoy sending my kids back to school, and no, I don't enjoy raking leaves and cleaning up the mess all those wonderful fall colors leave. I also don't like the loss of warmth as the weather transitions into winter. I'm a 100% summer girl, through and through!
I think I have written some variation on this topic every year I've had this blog. What can we say? Writing is therapy for me.
This year seems worse than years past. Granted, I know it will "get better," and I know I am lucky and blessed and truly a fortunate woman. But this year, whereas I can usually keep the tears at bay, they keep coming out, which is mortifying to say the least. I pride myself on my toughness. Perhaps I'm not as tough as I think I am and I've been fooling myself all these years. Maybe I'm just a big soppy mess of emotion. That is not a welcome thought! At all.
The reason this year is harder is, of course, Middle School. My precious little B's are now at two different schools. The very idea of this makes me feel insecure. The reality of it is harder than I expected. Brailey's school starts an hour after Britt's. They aren't too far in distance from one another, so this poses the problem of "what to do" while waiting. I know we will fill this time as the weeks go by, but for now it is living with the pain of change and "figuring it out." We have this same problem for after school pick-up - nearly an hour in between release times. I will accept it before long, but right now, I am kicking and screaming inside, pissed that a school district could have such poor planning. I know I'm not the only parent with this problem. Fortunately for people who live in town, they have a home to hang out in. Alas, the one and only downside to country living.
Even more annoying, Britt's school has early release one day a week, whereas Brailey's does not. I have always thought "early release" was stupid. Yes, STUPID. Why not take those hours and let school out earlier in the spring? I don't understand the purpose behind early release. It is extremely inconvenient, to say the least.
Another reason for this year being harder than years past is that Brailey's very best friend moved schools. Brailey is having a hard time adjusting to a life without her bestie in it. She is depressed and sad, and that makes me even bluer than normal. It is devastating to see her unhappy, unsure of herself, insecure and BLUE. I'm so used to Brailey's bright light, I can hardly bear the sadness I see on her face. She is trying hard to be strong, and she is very mature and bright, and I know the experience will only make her stronger. Her life can't be perfect all the time - I realize this. However, it is truly heartbreaking to see her eyes fill with tears and then her struggle to choke them down. And why the hell can't parents walk their sixth graders to their lockers in Middle School? Really?! They are still BABIES! They have years and years ahead of them to become independent. Why is so much importance put on independence? No, I'm not digging this Middle School scene at all. And yet, I am making her go through it. Like I said, she will be stronger for it in the end. She is learning important life skills that will serve her well. Yes, I know this.
Basically, school is getting in the way of our lives. With the after-school activities we have, which are only TWO, one per kid and on different days, at least until volleyball starts, then three. But we are stuck in town, waiting for Swim Practice to start, three days a week. The other two days we rush home to go riding, with no seconds to spare. Rush, rush, rush, wait, wait, wait. When do my B's get to be kids? This is another worry for me.
Whatever. I shouldn't worry. We will figure it all out. In the meantime, I am questioning our decision to attend the Spanish Immersion program. Is it worth it? Or would it be more beneficial to move to a school where both kids can be on the same schedule? Would a school closer to home be better? What is most beneficial for our family? For the time being, we're giving the Spanish schools a go. Eventually, things will work themselves into a routine. We will find time for homework and it is only the next two years we have to get through this scheduling hell, and then they will both be at the same school again. And Britt's swim schedule will change after spring break, which will be a big help. Plus, the school year is only nine months long. We can endure anything for nine months, right?
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
The traditional home picture together.
The traditional "sign" pictures the first day. This year, only Britt will be at Buena Vista. For the past three years, it was both of them. Does he look lonely, standing there? A little. But super cool and cute!
Britt's new teacher, Sra. Torres.
She left them each a present! The bag matched his shirt.
Pompei Purple toes. And the traditional sign picture at a new school. In two more years, they will both be standing here.
For the first time, I wasn't allowed to walk her to class, or in this case, her locker. This is as far as I got... She did tear up, here, which made me tear up, as well. But I know she is going to love Middle School. We just have to get through the pain of change.
My Book Club met for coffee after dropping off our middle schoolers. All of us have sixth graders. And our sweet Elisabeth brought us this present! Isn't it fun? And sweet! She is the only veteran mom who has been through middle school before, so she knows what we need. It was the best "coffee chat" I've ever had - just what the doctor ordered to dry my tears.
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Decisions if you are wondering what I'm referring to).
They couldn't wait to show Brady their new faces - he loved them!
The handsome-est judge in the land!
Look! It's ERIC CHURCH! The radio station had this on their pickup - well worth a picture, yah? The 4 B's are the biggest Eric Church fans in the world!
This is a 1000 pound pig from Florida. He's HUGE! And very stinky.
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
And one very beloved and loved horse.
And one very beloved and loved horse.
For some reason, my mom is a bit crippled right now. Her hip is out and she has plantar fasciitis in one foot. She has lost the bounce in her step! So my dad and I talked her in to trying some patches the lady in the picture was selling, which are for humans or horses either one. We also made her get a pressure point massage. We are hoping the combination will get her back on the right track to her healthy self!
After Brailey showed, we were standing by the office watering her horse, when all of a sudden, Brady ran over, ripped his halter off and told Brailey to run to the office with it! You can see what a wild horse Tex is...
See the two proud little faces in the background to the right of the "O?"
The two horse show B's...
See the nervous face in the middle? But he did great!
Papa and Brailey Shaye after her first class. She did so good in her first class, and actually got her named called! This was her best class. Ironically, she had trouble in the next two, and the one that she really wanted to win. She is such a good rider, and although we all may be barn blind, out of all the kids and adults there, she was one of the very best riders. However, Tex is not a Pleasure/Reining horse, so he goes a bit faster than is ideal, and Brailey had trouble with her leads. She loves it and works so hard at it! And Britt, who doesn't love it as much, beat her in both classes he was in ! He even won 6th in one of the classes! My mom said this is exactly what happened to me in 4-H - I worked at it and practiced and did my best and was always right where I needed to be, and my brother would be playing cards when it was time for him to perform, someone would have to rush to find him, and he always placed as well as I did. Ironic, isn't it? But today, I can ride circles around him, because I'm the one who loves it, just like Brailey does. It was nice to hear other people remark on what nice horses we have and what good riders our little B's are.
Brailey's version of Duck Dynasty beards...
The days are getting shorter and shorter, and it ended up getting dark on the last Trail class, which was the one Brailey and Britt were in. Had it been my horse show, for safety, I would have moved the last two Trail classes to the next morning, but it wasn't my horse show, and the show went on. Tex was fine and has been in similar situations many times. Maggie, however, had never been in condtions like this before, and she got amped up, the white's of her eyes showing. It was nearly impossible to see the course, so we took Britt out of the class. He was nervous about her not doing the bridge, anyway, so it was a good call. The only reason we stayed was because Brailey wanted to do the class - she loves Trail! And by the time she went, it was dark! They shined some headlights on the course, but she was not able to really see anything. But she did amazing! As far as her family is concerned, she was nearly flawless. The judge was an idiot, in our opinion, and gave her no extra points for doing such a good job in the dark. She couldn't even see the pole she was side-passing on! But, that's life - it ain't fair. And she was super proud of herself and she impressed a lot of other people who were watching. She ended up 5th, but should have placed much higher, in our eyes. She was one of the last ones to go, and the last five or so were completely in the dark with headlights making shadows on the ground. Not cool. BUT! Brailey and Tex, as my mom pointed out, were a true team, and it was special. Tex trusted her, and she trusted him, and they completed every obstacle. And that made the longness of the day worth it all!
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