My husband is taking a sabbatical this semester, so we are in Utah living with my parents in my childhood home. School starts a couple weeks earlier here, so that's been a bummer for them, but I think it is so cool that each of them are attending the same schools I attended!
Because we aren't home in Michigan where school always starts the day after Labor Day, my preparation for our traditional back-to-school feast came upon me quite suddenly! Still, The Maestro and I managed to come up with something that we feel really, really good about and that the entire family needs to work on right now—not just the children.
This feast is one of the traditions we really look forward to each year as school starts. It's a way for us to really start the school year on the right foot and make a few goals for ourselves that will help us all be better at whatever we are doing. Better students, better parents, better musicians, better readers, better friends, etc.
During our feast of excellent food made by The Maestro, we talk about the theme we have chosen for the year. I am often surprised that the introduction of the theme is usually the girls' favorite part. They always have such wonderful insights and they are quick to see how it applies to them and how they can improve.
This year our family theme is simply Finish. We also included the scripture in 2 Timothy 4:7:
"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith."
Two things influenced this theme for me.
1. I went to a BYU Education Week Class last week about organization. The teacher stressed finishing as being essential to stay organized and save time. She also taught us that finishing is often not what we think it is. We are not finished eating when we have finished the food on our plate. We are finished eating when we have cleaned up the kitchen and brought it back to a state of order. The messes and disorganization in our lives are often caused by not finishing the last few steps of a task and bringing things back to a state of order.
2. The Olympics (obviously). We have loved watching The Olympics each night as a family, and it is so inspiring to see such dedication and hard work. These athletes always finish—sometimes finishing looks like crossing a literal finish line or finishing their routine, but they started long before that one race or that one balance beam routine. They finish on a daily basis, and that's what makes them great.
We are not very good finishers at our house, I fully admit. I am an excellent starter, but finishing can be overwhelming for me. I notice my kids are the same. They start things, they do what they are asked, but they often forget those last few steps that mean the task is complete.
For the feast, I tried to make it as "Olympic" as possible. I used a black tablecloth and napkins in the Olympic colors. I made a torch out of a water bottle, tin foil, and some tissue paper (you'll have to look closely to see it, I didn't think to take a good photo of it), and the theme printable I made includes the Olympic rings and a small nod to a gold medal.
Instead of the crowns I usually give the girls at the feast, I decided gold medals would be much more apropos. They were super simple to make, too! I just used small yellow paper plates, added their names and grades in glitter glue, and hot glued some grosgrain ribbon to the back so they could wear them around their necks.
I was worried they would miss the crowns too much, but they really enjoyed the medals. They did point out to me that the grades looked like they had come in 5th, 8th, and 11th place in their events—didn't think of that!
You can tell we've been watching a lot of Olympics at our house...
Bria and her Michael Phelps face.
Chloe thrilled to win gold.
Sophia biting the medal.
But for real, my girls were all super excited (and very nervous) to get going at school this year.
Bria is a freaking junior in high school. While I hate how grown up she is getting, I also love it. She's growing into a beautiful, thoughtful, talented, and poised young lady. She handled her first day in a new high school with grace—even though it literally has a thousand more kids in it than her high school back home.
Chloe is in 8th grade, also getting a little too grown up for me to handle. She is such a great girl. Fun, sweet, friendly, and hard-working. She also handled her first day at a new school well, though there were a few tears when she got home because she got signed up for the wrong band class and had to switch around her entire schedule and she'd already become attached to a couple teachers.
Sophia is in 5th grade—her last year of elementary school. She is fearless, outgoing, hilarious, and thoughtful. She loved her first day of school and already has two best friends, the best teacher in the school (according to her!), and is excited for this semester. She doesn't like that she is a "later gator" (her school has both an early and a late schedule), so I'm going to have to find something for her to do in the mornings that isn't sitting around watching TV or playing on the computer.
After school yesterday I probably asked the girls if they were finished with things about 50 times. "Are you finished?" is definitely going to be the new catch phrase around our house—and the girls are already becoming more aware of what finishing really means, whether it's breakfast, homework, practice, or something else.
We are so excited to finish out a great school year!
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