Friday, May 25, 2012

Speaking of Jack, again...

Hey Peeps—

Summer has officially begun!  Yesterday when I picked up the kids from school, we danced and sang all the way to the car.  You know the song…”no more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks”.  I was singing at the top of my vocal range, when Faith informed me that her teachers never gave her dirty looks.  We decided to ride home in quiet celebration.

About five minutes after we arrived home and the children had put all their backpacks, folders, and extra pencils away Will asked his sister, “Hey Faith, you wanna go play school?”  I swear to you he actually said those words.  After nine months of complaints, the boy finally has come to terms with becoming educated I guess. 

We’d been home a while when the kids sat down to eat lunch.  They were chattering on and on about their favorite memories from the year, and how much they will miss their friends.  As Will was literally taking a bite of his yogurt, he said, “Mom, can I have a snack?”  It was at this point I realized we needed to give a refresher course in “Summer at the Repennings, and how not to make mom go crazy”.   It includes such topics as:  The kitchen is not an open buffet,  and Why it is not a good idea to say the phrase, “I’m bored”.  The last topic is more of rule, than a subject, and only applies to our oldest son Jack.  The rule is he is only allowed three questions in a full 24 hour period.  (if you feel this is borderline abuse, feel free to come spend about an hour with the boy)

Speaking of Jack, I could not be more proud my firstborn.  Last night we attended his 6th grade graduation.  We were told in advance to bring tissues, as it was going to be a very emotional night.  I decided to wear a dress, much to Faith’s delight, and therefore had to use Billy’s pants pockets for my portion of tissues, chapstick, and various sundries.  We arrived a little early for the big event and as a family we walked Jack to his elementary school classroom one last time. 

Billy and I were keeping it together fairly well, that is, until the team of teachers came walking in holding hands, with the 6th grade class following behind.  Each kid looked so big and excited, and very proud to have a night be all about them.  Jack came in the gym looking around for us, in his white button down shirt and too big tie that he borrowed from his dad.  He looked handsome and even confident as he waved to us and smiled his big mischievous grin.  We couldn’t help but wave and smile back.  

As the program went on, we were thrilled to see our former principal, Mr. Munier—who came to help give out awards.  Almost all of the elementary teachers attended the event, in support of our kids, to hug each one individually as they received their certificates.  We sat in the bleachers looking in awe at the dedication of those teachers and our hearts overflowed with gratitude for the immeasurable amount of love and wisdom they have poured into Jack for the past seven years. 

The highlights of the night are too many to count, but I will say that when Jack’s teacher Mrs. Welch sang, “I hope you dance” I promise you there wasn’t a dry eye in the place.  It was not just a pretty song, but more of a prayer for every single one of those kids.  Jack’s other teacher, Mr. Burns spoke about maturity, and not being afraid to stay child-like as they continue their education.  As each one was called to get their certificate, the teachers gave them a specific character trait that described the child perfectly.  Jack was called “steadfast”, and Billy and I choked back our tears one more time as he made the way through the long line of hugs.  Jack was grinning from ear to ear as he hugged his teachers from kindergarten through 6th grade.  Each one has touched his life uniquely and he knows he’s been part of something special. 

The last thirty minutes of the program was a slideshow showcasing each child individually and with their friends over the years.  The music was fun and the pictures were met with a gazillion “Awwwws” throughout the whole thing.  We didn’t want the evening to end.  We stayed after talking to our special friends from years of car pools, field trips, and countless hours of standing out in front of the school waiting for the bell to ring.  These people are part of our family—we know their kids and they know ours, and saying goodbye felt bittersweet. 

So today is our first full day home together.  Faith is still in pajamas and it’s nearly 2 pm.  She and Will are playing “school” while Jack has two buddies over locked up in his room playing legos.  My chores are done, and there’s no place I’d rather be than right here watching life go by.  

Friday, May 18, 2012

Summer adventures, big and small

Hey Peeps—

In preparation for summer this year, and as a celebration of another semester of Nursing school under my belt, I rewarded myself with a pedicure.  I asked two of my favorite girly girls, Grace and Fancy Boots, to go along with me because getting pampered is way more fun when you share it with a friend.  My feet look amazing, by the way, as if you didn’t already know that.  Grace and Fancy Boots also have nice feet, but they don’t have to brag like I do, because they have amazing hair and other noteworthy features. 

Tonight we took our first summer bike ride as a family.  The weather was perfect, not one of our children had homework, and I’d just gotten a new cut and color that was just begging to blow in the wind.  We set out as we always do, with hope and expectation, as we travel down our street towards the great Dry Creek Trail.  Two blocks from home, Jack rear ended Will causing a large red, slightly angry mark behind his knee.  As Billy was passionately asking (aka yelling) for Will to get out of the middle of the road, I decided it was time that Jack got a lesson in the Laws of Colorado.  As I was explaining who gets a ticket when there’s a rear ending on the road, I sort of felt myself floating above my real self, and looked down at the lecturing self and felt sorry for Jack.   About this time Will had made it across the street to Billy, so I just let it go and reminded Jack to make sure there’s space between him and the next rider. 

Believe it or not, after a few miles we made it home safe and sound.  There were several times where we had to stop and listen to Will complain of his wound.  I thought it was best not to refer to it as “necrotizing fasciitis” although it took great self control on my part.  Instead I just encouraged him to give it all he had as he peddled home.  After dinner the kids ate ice cream in the back yard as Billy and I sat on the swing and caught up on life.  We had to kick the children off the deck, as they make it difficult to carry on a conversation however, we made sure to mouth to Faith, “YOU’RE not annoying, it’s just the boys” because I believe in being a truth teller.    

Tonight while swinging in peace, Billy and I discussed the possibility of starting a new venture this summer, thanks to a recent ad from Craig’s list, sent from our friend Mark.  Mark owns a boat, so we respect his business savvy and also his ability to find anything you can imagine on Craig’s list.  He sent us an ad for a tee shirt maker that was only going for $250.00.   At first I laughed it off, until Billy explained it would be more of an investment, than a job.  He said, “We could give tee shirts as gifts to all our family for the rest of our lives.  Who doesn’t love getting a tee shirt, with a whippy saying?”  I nodded, as if I was listening, and began to think up what I might put on my first custom made tee shirt.  I asked the family their suggestions too, to see if they had anything better than mine.  Jack’s first shirt would say, “I’m the Kitty Whisperer” and Will had a line to put on his shirt from Nacho Libre: “I need to get another duty”.  Faith’s shirt would say, “ I Heart Friends”, which is exactly who Faith is.     Billy’s first shirt would say, “I smell cookies”—another Nacho Libre line, while mine would say, “Do my abnormally large nostrils make me look fat?” 

After all the big dreaming died down a bit, reality set in, and we knew in our hearts that starting a tee shirt company isn’t a great way to spend the summer.  I’d much rather spend time with the kids riding bikes, going on hikes, eating popsicles out back, and watching the kids run through the sprinklers.  I’m sure we’ll have our fair share of summer squabbles, and boring days, but the memories will be sweet and love will abound.  These are the days I treasure most.  

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Where have all the flowers gone?

Hey Peeps—

Is your May as packed as mine?  I’m so glad I’m wrapping up my third semester of Nursing School in a few days, so I can focus on my children once again.  They’ll be happy to have their mom back to “normal”, which I won’t try to define.   I will say that I tend to be a little distracted when I’m in school, and taking them to places like the park with a giant notebook isn’t much fun for them.  Faith yells from the top of the slide, “Mom!  Watch me go down the backwards!” and I yell back, “Honey, mommy can’t look right now, I’m busy memorizing the signs and symptoms of peptic ulcer disease”. 

That’s pretty much how we’ve lived for the last 3 years.  I got the crazy notion of going back to school when Jack was in 3rd grade, and Faith was in kindergarten.  Will wasn’t even a preschooler yet, and then when he was, he hated it, dropped out, and we’ve never looked back.  Well, technically we did look back last week, when we drove by the Rec center, and he said, “Mom, that’s where I went to preschool.  I had an African American teacher”.  He’s so politically correct.  Anyway, the kids are just about as thrilled as I am to be wrapping up this year of school, and all four of us are ready to sit around the house, NOT doing homework!

Tonight we attended Faith’s 3rd grade Spring Concert.  Billy and I behaved ourselves to the best of our abilities and didn’t act inappropriately even once.  I was very proud of us.  In the past we’ve been known to do the actions to such songs as “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” while the other parents look on in pity, and wonder how our children have thrived in a house of special needs parents.  (I’m not as politically correct as Will)  As the concert begins, we can see our children looking for us in the sea of parents.  At first they vigorously wave, until they see our interpretive dance moves, and then for the rest of the concert they refuse to make eye contact.  We still attempt to get their attention with a lot of thumbs ups, cheesy smiles, and air high-fives, only to discover that we’ve been shunned by our very own children.  That tends to make us laugh even more. 

The rest of May is filled with other activities that involve all our children, with a special emphasis on Jack, as he’s about to graduate from 6th grade and move on to Jr. high right before my very eyes.  The 6th graders have a ditch day, field trip to the museum, several parties, and the culmination of all the fun will be the Graduation ceremony, where I’m sure I will need to be carried out while wailing a variety of phrases, such as “My baby boy! My sweet baby!” And “where have all the flowers gone, long time passing?”  Billy will also try to be strong, but I promise you, he’ll be crying his eyes out too, just like he did the very first day Jack was born.  I’ll never forget watching the two of them--Billy holding his brand new baby boy and telling Jack he’d do everything he could to be a good dad, while the tears streamed down his face.   

And in a flash, we face another milestone.  It might be easier if Jack was excited to head to Jr. High next year.  The truth is that he’s not.  He’s had an amazing time in Elementary school, and I cannot even begin to tell you the amount of love our teachers have poured into that boy.  I am so grateful to each and every one of them.  Jack has been encouraged to grow, be challenged, and most of all, he’s been given the freedom to be 100% himself.   The hardest part of next year for Jack is facing Jr. High without his two best friends.  Life brings change, and people have to move on and do what’s right for them.  Jack understands why they need to change schools, but he’s afraid he won’t find anyone with a passion for Legos like Sam and Zach do.  It’s a valid concern, no?

Our principal caught me after school the other day, as I was picking up the kids.  He stopped to tell me, “You know, I’m really gonna miss Jack next year.  He’s got such a kind heart, and he’s a real leader.  He’s a good kid”.  At first I looked around to see if he was talking directly to me, and sure enough he was.  Wow.  I was so touched by those words.  They renewed the hope and confidence I have in Jack as I watch him grow and struggle, and face his fears.  On the way home I told Jack how proud I am and that he’s gonna be just fine next year.  Sometimes change is good.   Sometimes change makes you stronger than you ever thought you could be.