First Week of School

My kiddos completed their first full week of school on Friday. It was a ROUGH week. For everyone. I think that I should have better mentally prepared for it. Instead, I was anticipating a great week with little to no issues. This set me up for failure as I was super wrong!!

Anne had a lot of trouble with math homework, particularly with rounding. Like most of my kids she shuts down when she gets any sort of constructive criticism, and math seems to bring this trait out the most. I was so hopeful that having her repeat 4th grade would help her immensely, but that just isn’t the case. She was also grounded this week due to poor choices made over last weekend, so she was a sorry case. Anne is nearing the end of her trauma recovery program, and as they were going over past trauma this week she made an accusation against one of her former foster brothers. Because she was at counseling and they are mandated reporters for the state of Pennsylvania, they had to write up a report and submit it to CYS. We were pretty shocked, first of all, that she had never mentioned this before. Secondly, Anne is very hypersensitive to anything that she might think is inappropriate or crosses boundaries. The incident that she reported to the counselors may have been misconstrued by her. At the greatest, it was something inappropriate by a high school boy that may or may not have been done on purpose, or even done at all. Scarlett was supposedly there for this situation and she doesn’t recall the event at all. So it’s hard to judge. This brought us to talk to all kids about if something should happen that they feel is inappropriate or crosses their boundaries, they need to tell a trusted adult immediately. It is hard to remedy a situation that took place over a year ago and people’s memory can change as to what happened. So we used it as a learning example, but we are wary that the end of Anne’s program is coming up and we are trying to figure out if she made the most of the situation or we are right back where we started from.

Huck had an equally as rough first week. By Tuesday he was a sobbing mess. He lied to counselors at the trauma recovery program and they called him on it. Which is good, but he does not deal with confrontation very well and the counselor that was in his face is kind of a bull dog so I’m not sure the discussion went as well as it could have. I laid with Huck in bed for a half hour, just holding him while he cried. He is most affected by transition, so while he loves school and is having so much fun with his peers, he definitely misses being at home too.

Scarlett was full of piss and vinegar this week. She is a big napper so being in school and missing her afternoon naps has not been kind to her mood. She has been grumpy and out of sorts. She cried at the drop of a hat this week, over little and inconsequential things. Her teacher seems awesome so I know she’s doing great during the school day, she just falls apart when she gets home. She had a lot of trouble counting coins for homework this week, and she made four attempts before giving up. I consulted with one of my friends who is a teacher and she gave me a couple of good tricks to help Scarlett count. Anne also saw Scarlett at lunch without her glasses, which is a big no-no. She broke her last pair of glasses at school because she wasn’t wearing them when she should. She really has no reason to take them off! So I discussed with Scarlett the importance of wearing her glasses. Her vanity takes over quite often and I know she takes them off to make an impression.

Madeline did very well this week without her siblings. I was worried that she would miss playing with them. We started going to the Y so that I can work out and she plays in the kids area. There are usually one or two other kids there so she enjoys playing with them. Her preschool doesn’t start until after Labor Day so we have a week and a half until then. She did very well at home, except for some whining. I think that’s just part of her personality though! She’s used to being catered to by her siblings and Mama just doesn’t put up with waiting on her hand and foot. She has an interesting personality, being the “first born” by nature and also the “baby” of the family. I feel like those are the perfect storms to be spoiled all your life! She is a natural leader and her siblings often follow her lead. They love to help her when she asks, and she gets angry with them if she doesn’t ask and they try to help her!

On top of our long week my father in law came for his yearly visit, with about 5 days’ notice. So I was trying to clean the house and grocery shop, etc. before his arrival on Friday evening. I do much better planning ahead but wasn’t given much time!

I am glad that we have this week under our belt and I’m hopeful that this week will be better.


The End of Summer

I know that technically we have like a month left of true summer. But here in Central Pennsylvania we start to notice the sun going in earlier and the cooler weather before the end of September. Plus I always associate Fall with back to school, so here we are. The end of summer. Three of four ┬ákids are back in school. Backpacks have been purchased. New lunchboxes have been purchased. Kids have sneakers that fit and first day of school outfits. Here’s a look at our last few weeks before school started… We left to see my family in North Carolina on August 6th and returned home on August 15th. That included one night in a hotel, two nights in Charlotte visiting my sister and her family, and six nights in Raleigh at my parents’ house.

summer5At the Virginia Welcome Center!


Visiting Jordan Lake and swimming!


Walking on the pedestrian bridge that my dad designed. Madeline didn’t like the street noise!


Having a blast at the park!


Walking the greenways.

Before we left for North Carolina, my car got hit by lightning when sitting in our driveway during a regular summer afternoon storm. It took over two weeks for the dealer to get the car back in working order, enough for us to leave on vacation. It still isn’t completely fixed, they’re still working on the modules that control the backup camera and sensor. But the lightning literally fried every computer in my car and they’ve all had to be replaced!


Here’s my baby being hoisted up and taken away!


While we had our rental car we made the best of things. I had promised to take the kids to my alma mater, Dickinson College. I thought it was important for them to see what college is like, and we got a nice tour. They enjoyed seeing the dining hall and dorm rooms. I think it gave them a more tangible idea of what they strive for while in school.

We had a fun-filled summer but man, am I glad they are back in school! As the weeks went by, tempers got shorter. Patience didn’t go as far. And nerves/anxiety about the new school year got the best of them. So they were very ready to go back this week!

First Day of School

The older kids (Anne, Huck and Scarlett) started school today. They all had wonderful days and were full of excitement when they returned home. I have been pleased with their assigned teachers and I was ecstatic to have some quiet around the house today! I actually had to take my car into the shop and enjoyed watching a half hour of tv uninterrupted! I start school next week for my graduate degree, so I’ll have plenty to do with my new-found “free” time. Madeline doesn’t return to preschool until after Labor Day so I have a bit more summer time with her. I have lots of home projects to work on too!

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And lest I forget, here they were last year!! (You can almost tell how much they’ve grown by the notches on the columns!) Don’t mind Madeline, she was not interested in being in the picture but she didn’t want to move!

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Family Day: Part 2

On our second day of camping for Family Day, we visited a beautiful state park in Ithaca, New York. It had lots of waterfalls to see and hike around, and then offered swimming at the bottom for those hot and tired afternoons! We took our time and arrived around 11, put a water bottle in a backpack and the sandwiches we packed for lunch. Then we went off on the hike, 2.5 miles up and 2.5 miles back. I don’t know why we thought that was a good idea with a 4 year old, 7 year old, 8 year old and 10 year old. But we didn’t really think twice. We also didn’t think about how long it would take, how many hills and stairs we’d have to do. It ended up just fine (other than carrying Madeline for half the time) but we could have been smarter. And packed more water. And more food.

Here they are, at the start of the day!

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At least 2 of the 4 seem excited!

state park12The start of the stairs!

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Couldn’t ask for a prettier day, although I bet it’s super beautiful in the fall!

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Some more of the stairs, on the way up!

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Someone needed a nap at the halfway point!

Then it was time to head back down.

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Scarlett was refusing to eat her ham sandwich, so she had to carry it along with her.

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Hubby bravely carrying Madeline down the stairs. I would go up with her but not down, too afraid of footing! Scarlett and her sandwich stuck by my side.

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The three amigos, getting along rather well at this point. Probably about 3 hours in…

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Hubby explaining something about the rock settling.

state parkFinally some swimming at the end!

As soon as we put our feet in the water, they turned numb. It was SO COLD! We were sweaty and salty from hiking for 4 hours but the kids had fun getting waist-deep in the water. Huck even jumped off the diving board near the falls! I wished I could get a picture but I was with the girls in the water.

We were so proud of the kids. Besides Madeline, there were no complaints of heat, exhaustion, sore feet, etc. On the way up we sang songs (minus Hubby), songs from church and school and nursery rhymes. This helped keep their minds off the walking! In general we were going at a slow pace so we could check out the nature around us. I still can’t believe we did it!

Then it was time for a nice dinner by the lake.

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I’m sure Madeline was crying about not being able to jump off the dock or running after a bird!

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We all slept well that night and returned home the next day. We had plans to swim/mini golf/jump more but the weather did no cooperate. We didn’t complain, it felt like an action-packed couple of days!

Family Day

We had an awesome time on Family Day. Enough that it was hard for all of us to come back and get into a routine again. We stayed up late, slept in late, got treats, and didn’t turn on a TV or tablet once! Hubby left his phone in the car often and I only had mine to take pictures. So we made some special memories!

We left on Sunday around lunch time for the Finger Lakes, which are about 2-3 hours from our home. We had great weather the whole trip, we couldn’t have asked for better!

I had wanted to stop and have a tasting at a local family-friendly winery that also provides tours/explanation of how wine is made, but GPS messed up and took us way out of our way. So we checked into our campground and got right down to business: mini golf! This picture is an accurate portrayal of how mini golf went:

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The bigger kids were attempting to annoy each other and Madeline was off in her own world as usual. We checked into our cabin (note: this is as “camping” as I get. We had running water, a small kitchen, a bathroom and two bedrooms with a loft. The living room had a small a/c unit.) and got ready to swim! The kids were so excited that there was a splash park at the pool:

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Huck loved the splash park!

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He was so excited!!

Once the kids were cold enough (we were nearly to Canada after all!), they checked out the large jumping pillow at the campground for some bouncing madness:

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When we got back we had a proper dinner over the campfire: hot dogs, nachos, beans and s’mores!

The night got nice and chilly, and it reminded me of being a camp counselor in Maine. The windows were open and the breeze came in. Kids slept wonderfully and were comforted that we were all in such close proximity. It was even our first trip where Madeline was brave enough to share a bed with another kid instead of me! So her and Huck shared a bed and the two other girls were on bunks. It was so nice!

Stay tuned for part 2 of our trip: the state park!