It’s been a busy summer. While we haven’t gone on any vacations (a real bummer when you live in Phoenix where it’s eleven billion degrees by 7am), somehow it’s been go, go, go for the past few months. The one place that hasn’t been terribly busy is the blog. Right here! While I’ve been sharing quite a few recipes over on my Ebay blog…
But Love From The Oven has cooled off a bit over the summer months. It wasn’t really my plan, but sometimes, life happens. Our summer started with a hospital trip for my husband that thankfully, for the most part, was just a big scare. But big scares have a way of sometimes giving you a big dose of perspective, making you take stock, and focus on what matters the most. For this summer, that focus has been family.
The start of this school year is less than two weeks away, and it will be a big one for us. One daughter is getting ready to start middle school. And not just MIDDLE SCHOOL (which is enough to strike fear into any parent), but she’ll be going to MY middle school. Double whammy. Walking onto the campus, which hasn’t changed a bit, is like a painful, bad 80’s fashion, big hair, school dance, deja vu. My other daughter is getting ready to start kindergarten. Hand me a paper bag to breathe into, the baby is starting school!
It’s a pretty big time of transition for us. I won’t lie, it’s an emotional and slightly conflicted time for me. I’m the person who got teary eyed about college the first day I took my oldest to kindergarten. Every time I drop her off for school, in my head I do a quick count of the months and years I have left dropping her at school. I’m the one who fights back tears the first and last day of every school year. I repeat my little Dr. Seuss mantra over and over, “don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened”. I’m an emotional, sentimental, the days are long but the years are short, type of mom.
There will be no more little ones at home with me during the day. Ever. That chapter of parenting is closing. That on it’s own is big. But it’s also the end of an era of hours and hours sitting in therapy offices, and having therapy assistants in our home, doing all we can to help our little one over come and manage the challenges she faces. We’ve logged roughly 2600 hours of therapy in the past four years. It has truly been a part time job for my daughter and myself. We will continue therapy of course, but a lot will be done at school, and our hours outside of school will be quite limited compared to the schedule we’ve always kept.
Thankfully all that therapy has moved her forward so much further than we hoped, and further that were told to expect. A year or so ago I had to embrace and accept that no matter how much we worked, no matter how many hours we spent in therapy, we would not be able to “catch her up”, as you often think you will be able to do when you have those first assessments with things like Early Intervention teams, doctors and specialists. In my head I was always thinking in terms of, “by the time she gets to school…”. You hear “delayed” and you think well then “double time!”, let’s make this happen with a lot of hard work! It doesn’t quite work like that.
Her going to kindergarten is more than her going to kindergarten, it’s that marking of time I’ve carried in my head for years, that one day, that some day. That day is here. I tried to delay it, I tried to hold out for another year of preschool, but when you are already in the special ed system (as she was with preschool), the push is very strong to not delay kindergarten. And I know she’s ready, and will have much more support in school than she would in preschool.
We feel pretty positive about her school placement for the coming year. She’ll be in a small, self contained special needs class. While early on I wanted her in a mainstream class, I truly feel that this will be the best placement for her. It will be different, and she’s starting to become aware of that difference. She’s watched her sister head to the playground every morning when we drop her off at school, and she will no doubt be unhappy to realize that she doesn’t get that luxury, as her class meets in the cafeteria with the teacher and duty aides before school. One of the many things that I know are truly in her best interest (I can’t imagine her on her own on a playground with a school full of kids and an open gate!), but it will no doubt be hard.
You hope and pray that different will somehow find a way to be equal, but know in many ways, it might not be. I hope this year brings her happiness and growth. I hope she can make friends and manage peer relationships. I hope she can feel safe, comfortable and confident at school. I hope those working with her will understand her and have patience with her challenges. I hope they see and celebrate her strengths.
It’s a lot of change, and a lot of unknown, and it’s tied to a lot of emotions. So much so that sometimes it overwhelms me. And that is why I’ve been pretty MIA this summer around here. I’ve needed to be with these girls of mine, and not just be with them, but be present, as much as possible. Working from home is an incredible blessing I am thankful for each and every day, but I admittedly suck at balance sometime, and don’t know how to turn work off and turn home on. From taking my youngest on playdates, something she’s missed out on in favor of all that time in therapy, to doing volunteer work with my oldest, I’ve wanted this summer to be about more than mom in the kitchen or sitting in front of the computer or checking emails on the phone. I know these moments, hours and days won’t come around again.
Sure we haven’t done as much as I wanted to (isn’t that always the case?), but we have managed to spend some great quality time together. There have been donut dates, swimming, play dates, too many trips to the McDonald’s play area, dance classes and frozen yogurt on hot afternoons. Some of my favorite hours this summer have been spent volunteering with my oldest daughter. Not only is it great to spend time with her doing something of value, but it’s been wonderful for opening dialogue to conversations and topics we probably would not have had otherwise. We’ve been fortunate to have a chance to volunteer in a variety of settings, from food banks to back to school clothing drives to helping women and children in need. We joined a mother daughter charity organization back in the spring that is a commitment through high school, and I really look forward to sharing philanthropy experiences with my daughter over the next six years. I think it will be a great way to do our little part to give back, as well as a great way to spend some quality time together during a phase in life where it’s easy to grow apart.
As we wrap up our summer break in the next few weeks (sadly AZ will still have a few months of ‘summer’), I do look forward to getting back to the kitchen and back to the blog. And maybe even getting done all of the things that have been stuck in the “someday” pile. The idea of having 5-6 hours alone each day is, well, crazy! The idea of getting my work done during the week, versus in 12 hour days on the weekend? Blissful! And there is no time of year I love more when it comes to baking and being in the kitchen than fall. Apples and pumpkin and cinnamon, OH MY! As sad as I am to see summer, especially this particular summer, come to an end, I am excited about baking up lots of new recipes to share with you. I might even venture into sharing more savory dishes, because I can’t bake treats all day ever day and then order pizza every night! But those sweets and treats have my heart, and I’ve got a great one for you here tomorrow. 🙂