Beginnings New

School has been in session for a week and a half now, and it’s been an interesting transition. All four kids are in school full-time now, which is great — 8th, 6th, 4th, and kindergarten! Katie has been incredibly bored hanging around the house with me, and I will also admit that after four children my entertain-the-kid well has run a little dry.

I’ve put all my personal projects on hold for years; I’m more than ready to get back to my writing. Also, several months ago I began seriously practicing piano again — I spent most of the spring learning to play the Waldstein sonata (badly) and Chopin’s Fantasie-Impromptu (badly) among other assorted pieces, and after enough of this madness Brian printed up a list of piano teachers who specialize in advanced students. In a way, I’ll be going back to school, too — this Thursday I’m beginning private lessons with Jensina, a piano performance teacher at the community college.

We were able to have our schultuten this year — I’ve discovered that the Japanese bookstore in the International District is the best place to find cool school supplies for the schultute. I found a tiny pair of scissors that fold into a pen for Jeff, a metal holder that can clamp around a pencil stub for Katie, woodland creature sticky notes for Wim, and squishy pencil grips for Katie.

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The papers and some of the goodies for the school cones.
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So excited! I couldn’t get them to stay still for the photo, they were ALL blurry
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Ripping into the goodness

Each cone also held a new t-shirt, which the children wore on the first day of school. Naturally, you can’t see them in this picture:

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Katie looks like she’s saying “PRAISE BE” but she’s really shouting “Hooray for Kindergarten!”

On the first day of school, the 8th graders had a delayed start time, and so did all the kindergartners whose last names began with N-Z. On the same day, Brian had a flight to a conference in D.C. and so didn’t go into work. We all decided to go out to breakfast at Panera together. This was the general mood:

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“When will my breakfast bagel get here?”

Katie was super wiggly and kept crawling under the table so she could do a puppet show with her hands. Jeff endured her antics. (Oh, she so needs all-day school.)

Here is a picture of Katie with her teacher, Ms. S. William had Ms. S for kindergarten as well, and she told us she was really hoping Katie would be matched into her class because she enjoys our family so much! Well, that’s flattering . . .

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Ms. S. attended this same school when she was a child. Her mother also taught at this school! When Ms. S. did her student teaching, she and her mother taught in classrooms next door to each other.

The weekend after the first week of school we were still able to squeeze in our annual Backyard Circus. Hooray!

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The whole gang

Jeff was the ringmaster this year — and possibly the last year he’ll participate? Well, there was another 16 year old boy who allowed his younger brother to smash a pie in his face, so maybe Jeff will keep playing along.

By a strange coincidence, Eleanor and William also chose a pie-throwing act for their performance. It was actually a recreation of the “Four Hats Four Pies” routine that Aunt Kristen & Uncle Sven performed for one of Aunt Caitlin’s “no-talent shows” years ago.

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William put on a different hat for each of the pies he smashed in her face. He mugged for the audience pretty well. Eleanor’s job was to look stoic. I’d say she accomplished that task.

Before she was covered in cream pie, Eleanor was also the “trainer” in a lion-taming routine with Katie. Katie LOVED being the lion, and drew lots of pictures of herself and Eleanor in their costumes.

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The lion mask is falling of K’s face in this picture. They were all over the place, so it’s unfortunately the best shot I got

It’s a great start to the new year, but I admit that I’m a little frustrated at the guilt I am feeling for spending so much of my time alone, working on personal projects, instead of volunteering at the school or church. It might be my imagination, but I feel like more people are nudging extra projects my way, under the assumption that I must be sitting bored at home with nothing to do. It’s annoying to turn them down, especially since I’m not very open to telling people what I do — I don’t feel that I should have to justify what I choose to do with my free time. I imagine many women feel the same way. But I feel confident that I’ll eventually find my rhythm and settle into this new life with fewer misgivings. Hooray for new beginnings!

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