Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Adopting an Older Child: preparing the house

Adoption is an interesting and confusing process. It's emotional and heartbreaking long before you ever meet your children. The confusion doesn't go away once you know who your kids are either. If anything, it gets more confusing.

I am the type of person that likes to do as much research as possible about parts of my life that have become confusing or challenging. I make lists and methodically prepare for every conceivable situation.

Unfortunately for me, there isn't a ton of information out there about the logistics of going from no children to multiple school-aged children. Tons about attachment (and if we were adopting a baby we would be totally set), but none about logistical things like how many extra towels to have on hand and how to go about setting up a welcoming temporary bedroom.

Please don't misunderstand me. Attachment is incredibly important and my husband and I are absolutely doing work to prepare for that aspect of welcoming kids into our family.

But pretending like there aren't logistical issues to consider would be almost equally as foolish as ignoring attachment. I mean... the kids will be spending the night before they move in and they will need towels and sheets and other necessities. Things they won't be able to give their opinion on until they need those things. Items my husband and I, as the adults, need to consider. Like toothpaste.

So... with all of that said, I am going to begin a series of posts chronicling what Steve and I figure out as we prepare our home for our kiddos. This first one is about general preparations and categories of things we plan to tackle before the kids spend the night for the first time.... which should happen some time in June.

1. create simple, welcoming bedrooms for kids - Closer to move-in the kids will be able to make these spaces their own, but they should be able to spend their first overnight visit in a room that reflects how excited we are to have them with us.

2. Creating a bathroom space for kids - Our guest bathroom is going through a transition along with us. What do the kids need and what can wait?

3. Prepare our fridge, pantry, and kitchen - Some of this was done for our homestudy, but some things are just logistical in nature like organizing the fridge to include a "quick snacks" section and making sure our Tupperware is kid friendly.

4. BOOKS - Adding to and sorting through our current library collection to include reading material for the kids at their reading level and within their range of interest.

5. Technology - What gadgets are we planning to use? What are we doing with our current tech items to keep the kids safe? What about social media?

6. Adoption registry for the older child - We may not be adopting a baby, but our friends and family have definitely been asking about celebrating with us and helping us stock up on essentials.

7. preparing our extended family - Discussing relevant issues with them and figuring out who and when to go about introducing everyone.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Closing one door and opening another

Today was my very last day at my school for the 2015-2016 school year.

We said goodbye to the kids yesterday (with no small amount of tears on my part) and finished packing up our classrooms and saying goodbyes to other teachers today. My room was mostly packed already since I have had a group of very helpful little firsties this year. They were ALL ABOUT helping me box things up and take them to my car. They especially liked our donation trips where I let them take left over consumable supplies like paper towels, soap, and notebook paper to other teachers' classrooms.

I finished everything before lunch time today and drove back home with a conflicted heart.

While I cherish the memories made and lessons learned about myself and my teaching style, I can't help but look forward to my next adventures at my new school with an incredible amount of enthusiasm.

And then there's the excitement about what this summer has in store for Steve and me.

We had a document review last week which went incredibly well. Now we are anxiously awaiting the formal staffing and first visit with our children!

I'm going to withhold more details about the children at least until we are further along in the visitation process, but we are beyond thrilled to have found these kids and to be able to meet them so soon.

Assuming things go well with the initial meet and greet and the formal staffing, we will be spending our summer visiting with our kids and moving them into our home.

I am so incredibly hopeful for this new journey and thankful for all the prayers which have brought us this far. I have a feeling that summer 2016 is going to be one of those life changing summers people write songs and stories about.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

that one kid

If you're a teacher you know exactly who I am talking about...

That one kid in class who can't sit still, refuses to participate, is constantly playing around instead of working, and generally just tap dances on your very last nerve.

Yup... let's talk about that kid.

Last year I had one. I've got another one this year. All of my teacher friends have one in their classrooms as well. I've had one in every classroom I've ever been in.

If I am being completely honest: I absolutely adore "that kid" each and every year. They force me to check my attitude and ego at the door and do all I can to meet each of my students where they are. There is no "phoning it in" if you want to reach them. They aren't the type to give in and do what you want just because you are the teacher and they definitely aren't the type to draw you pictures and bring you apples just to get on your good side.

They are unapologetically themselves. And it is inspiring to see such individuality even in first grade. Even if it is a bit trying.

I won't lie... it isn't all rainbows and puppies with these kids. They can be forces to be reckoned with even in the best of circumstances. And I'm no saint. I've definitely lost my cool and made a small behavior into a giant issue without meaning to. It happens.

I bring this all up today because there are exactly 10 days left in the school year.

10 days with my sweet first graders before we all leave for the break and I leave my school for a new one.

As I pack my things and plan our end-of-year activities I know who I will miss the most.

That kid.

My special snowflake who can't sit still for more than 2 seconds and begs me to let him play "cool math" or do GoNoodle dances after every center rotation.

It hit me especially hard today because of something that happened at dismissal. 

You see... this little boy does not really show affection. If he is close to you then you have a better chance of getting sand thrown at you than getting a hug.

But he hugged me today. I called him to get on his bus and, before stepping onto the bus stairs, he stopped and gave me a huge bear hug and said "I see you tomorrow, Mrs. Riecke!"

It felt like I had just been crowned Queen of England. And I promptly teared up because I'm going to miss that kid. And I only have 10 days left.