First Days

It's been nearly two weeks since the kids had their first day of school, but I'm finally getting around to writing about it now. So far things are going well for everyone. Little Dude is in second grade and has the same teacher S-Boogie had for third grade (she usually teaches second but S-Boogie was in a second/third split they did that year). S-Boogie is in fifth grade and has a teacher that I have heard good things about. They still both like school and are excited about going every day. P. Bibby is going to a neighbor's house during the morning and she loves playing with her friend there.

A new school year means a new routine for all of us. During the summer it was easy for me to just get up, get ready for work, and leave when the babysitter got here. The kids were usually just barely awake when I left. The school year is more challenging because we all have to be ready to leave at the same time--the kids walk to school and I drop P. Bibby off at the babysitter before going to work. Before school started I made a few new rules and tweaked our routine a little. My biggest issue was the feeling that the kids weren't taking enough ownership of their daily routine and that they weren't helping out enough. During the last few weeks things really have improved as I have raised my expectations a little and encouraged more independence from them. I also did a few things to make some parts of the routine easier--for example, I moved their lunchboxes to a lower cupboard and I bought a second row of hooks for the inside of the closet so they have an accessible place to hang up their backpacks. Also, this summer I bought a big whiteboard to put in the kitchen so that every day we can write down a few goals that they each need to accomplish after school. Clearly communicating expectations and facilitating independence is making a difference I think.

I also had my first day of class two weeks ago. Actually, at the beginning of the month I started the one-credit introductory seminar that everyone has to take. It is a series of assignments that are meant to get you comfortable with online learning. I only have two more modules left to complete and then I will be finished with it. I also started my first 'real' class two weeks ago; it has a lot of reading and online discussion, a few small papers, and one big paper in the end. I've been keeping up on it so far; several people I know who have done online classes all advised me to make sure I log in almost every day to the website and that I make sure to break assignments up into manageable chunks rather than attempting to do them all at once. This has been valuable advice; I hope the rest of the semester goes well.

My final 'first' experience lately was the fact that I went to a singles dance last Saturday. I did try to go to one last year, but left after only a little while because I didn't know anyone and most of the people there were quite a bit older than me. This one was specifically for 'mid-singles' and wasn't officially church-sponsored, plus I went with a friend who likes dancing. It was much better than I expected; it wasn't at all like an old-school stake dance (as I'd been picturing). The music was fast and people were actually out on the floor dancing. I felt a little weird because I honestly don't know how to dance very well and I'm bad at picking up on the beat, but I also had fun just getting into the music and letting myself go. Every now and then I had the thought that I'd rather be home watching a movie or sleeping, which is funny because when I was married I did sometimes want to go dancing. I don't know--I guess I'm a contradiction. At least I tried something different, got out of my comfort zone, and actually felt and acted 'single' for once. Despite the fact that it's been nearly two years since the divorce I still struggle with my identity a bit. I'm obviously not married anymore, but I have no idea how to get back into dating (I've tried a few things and they haven't worked), and I feel like my life is just so busy I don't even really get much chance to sit down and breathe, let alone figure out what my identity even is anymore.

The leaves on the mountain are changing, students are back in school (my commute time just got a lot longer--boo!), and I feel the same way I do every fall--ready for something new. I think this year the biggest new thing I'm going to try is getting to bed on time and reducing my personal reading list. We'll see how that goes!


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