First Day Jitters

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It’s the first day of school for my kids, and I sent them off with smiles, and a swelling in my heart. Man, I love them so much it hurts, and love that they embrace the school thing, and for the most part, enjoy what comes along with it. Though the boys would have been happy to have an extension of summer, I think they were ready for the adventure of a new year. My girls were squealing with excitement at going back to school, they are social butterflies. I think we are all CRAVING some stability, and I’ll admit, I’ve felt my patience get much thinner the last few weeks with no structure and long summer days, and secretly anxious for the quiet time I will get while they are in school, and can love on them with gushing fervor when they are home. Here are my most favorite people on their first days of school 2015.
Duke kids 2015 first day of school

(first day of school signs)

They put up with my incessant picture taking quite well, gratefully. I was urging certain clothes for them to wear, and though the boys prefer “sports attire” I suggested it might be nice to wear something a little more for the first day. They picked out those clothes themselves at a store, so it’s not like I completely dressed them.

The youngest, headed to 1st grade, so overjoyed that she got the teacher that her big sister had (for 2 years).

school posing

{She’s sorta obsessed with this reverse sequin tee from JC PENNY, it’s fun to play with and swipe back and forth from gold to black. I wish I had one, too!}

That teacher, Ms. H. has a special place in my heart, and I’m equally ecstatic that “the system” worked in our favor. It’s always a big guessing game which teacher they will have, but we’ve had quite a few repeat teachers, which makes me happy. If you follow me on Instagram, you likely saw a snippet of my excitement over being assigned to this teacher.  We have a welcome walk where we find out who their teachers are, when they drive up to your door the week before. This little one was hoping and praying for Ms. H. When she pulled up to our house, my girl sprinted across the lawn, arms open wide, to this awesome teacher, with her arms outstretched with excitement, too!  We’ve actually have not had a bad experience with teachers, and I feel very fortunate for that.

joyful teacher

1st with ms h

happy girl

Walking into school today….

1st grade teacher

Ms. H. asked if I could help in the class a little this morning, so after I dropped everyone off at school, I went back to help a little, and loved spying on the kids being taught how to properly line up!

1st grade

I then walked big sister upstairs at the elementary school, where she began her 1st day of 5th grade–ruling the school! Such a delight, this girl is.  She got a teacher for 5th that BOTH of her brothers had, so I am going into this year nicely, knowing both of my girls teachers.

5th grade

Here are Ms. J. and her at the welcome walk, and then with the brothers

Ms. J.

It breaks my heart a little (ok a LOT) that this is the last year my girls will be in school together. I literally planned my first three children around this very concept–that I wanted them to experience high school together. Being just two grades apart, my first three will have that blessing. But not my girls. For reasons out of my control, they are 4 year apart, and though I see the silver lining in that at times, the school thing is a tough one for me. They adore each other, and love to wave at one another at school, and will run to sneak in a hug when they can while passing in the hallways. They don’t see each other a ton, but there is a certain security that comes with knowing your sibling is at school with you.

sisters

This awesome boy headed off to middle school without his big brother (insert mom’s partially broken heart again), but he’s a tough one, and a social one, so I don’t worry about him one bit.

7th grade

My boys rode bikes together every day last year (well except when they begged me for a ride), so it’s a bummer separation, but they’ll be in high school together in 2 years! He will play oboe in the band again, and run cross country.

My fabulous oldest headed off to his 1st day of HIGH SCHOOL!!!! He is such a positive kid, I love it. He hasn’t shared any real concerns or qualms about it, he’s chill and go with the flow.

9th grade

Luckily, we had lots of traffic on our drive into school, and got to chat (while he deleted old text messages on my phone because it was too full to receive new ones) all about everything. I told him to feel free to send me texts throughout the day updating me, and he has done just that! Found out his best buddy has lunch with him both A and B days (4 longer classes each day) which overjoyed me!

Here is him flashing a smile to me just as he jumped out the door

heading to high school

I’m not worried about him in high school (strangely). He’s very adaptable, has some great friends, and I’m hoping he will get to know other kids from church (that live in other areas) that will now be at his school.

Speaking of church, I had a BIG first day, too! I was asked last May, and have been anxiously anticipating ALL.SUMMER.LONG, teaching early morning seminary to 23 freshman! What is seminary, you may ask? Well, in our church, for high school, there is a program/class every day where the students study the scriptures for roughly an hour in a class setting to give them extra spiritual strength to wade through the crazy that is high school…because it can be a tough place! It’s a religious class they take early in the morning before school starts, and this year we are studying the Old Testament (read more about seminary here and here 390,000 enrolled in seminary worldwide).

I’ve secretly been wanting to teach this class for years, but also was petrified at the idea of it. It’s kind-of a feared assignment for a lot of people because it’s quite demanding (daily) AND EARLY (5:45 am)! In our church, we are given assignments or callings to help in lots of different ways. If you’ve been around my blog long enough, you may remember when I wrote my “I believe” post and how I was asked, and got to teach the 14/15 year old girls on Sundays, and I LOVED it! I did that for 3 years, and this past year I’ve been in the nursery on Sunday’s with the 2 year olds!  With each calling or assignment, I learn something new, and stretch myself. Sometimes, I’m asked to do something I don’t want to do, and go in grudgingly, but I believe that service–even when it’s something I don’t want to do–is an important part of growing stronger as a person, and being faithful that I need to learn something, or I’m there to bless someone. It’s not always about me. With these assignments, I don’t have much of a say in it. I can mention to our leaders what I enjoy doing, and drop hints, but generally, I just keep quiet, and plan on divine inspiration to whisper to them where they think I should be, and GO and serve wherever I’m needed.

But I’ll admit…a hint was dropped about this one. I felt this prompting to mention to someone that if it was needed, and if it were a good fit, I’ve always wanted to teach seminary. AND, knowing that my oldest would be a student, I was extra interested in teaching his class. That was last March, and though it seemed like a slim possibility that it would happen, something in my heart told me it was going to, and I started getting impressions in my mind and in my heart of things I wanted to do, and would type them into my phone. It all felt kind-of silly that I did that, until the end of May, when that call actually came.

I was THRILLED! Then scared….mostly worried about the commitment…of the early mornings…and bidding farewell to my beloved late nights. However, the excitement overshadowed that fear, and I started my Old Testament Seminary Pinterest board, and gathered ideas all summer long.  My husband taught 2 years ago, and loved it. He’s an amazing teacher (more scholarly than me) and I started to panic that I could never measure up to him. I hear from his students all the time, how much they loved him. I knew that he not only taught with love, but made it fun for them, too. I’ve got a lotta HEART, but I worry I could never been as fun as him (I’ve almost given up in our family. He’s fun, I’m heart. I force myself to be fun when I am.) LUCKY for me, I’m not teaching those same students, I’ve got a whole new bunch.

I met most of the kids on Sunday night, and came home giddy with excitement. They are a fantastic bunch, and having lived in the area for 12 years, I’m familiar with 90% of their families. Last night, I scheduled myself to go to bed at 10pm, and actually climbed into bed at 10:10pm NOT BAD! I fell asleep quickly, but didn’t sleep so well, and woke up with my stomach in knots. Excitement and anxiety all rolled into one. I wrote my outline over several times, of get-to-know-you games and intro of myself and an actual lesson all rolled into 45 minutes–not enough time! I also made some delicious Chocolate Chip muffins, with plans for a “muffin Monday” each week (I knew what I was getting myself into). I’m excited to whip up a bunch of new flavors (see my new muffin Pinterest board). My awesome 14 year old son didn’t complain one bit at leaving the house at 5:15am to get there 15 minutes early to set up, and is SO helpful when I ask him to do this or that.

Here is our class selfie at the end:

seminary class

This morning in class, I shared a bunch of pictures on the board of Old Testament stories like Noah’s Ark, The Garden of Eden, Esther, and a few others, and put them in a circle on the chalkboard. I said that we’ll be talking all about these stories, but in the center, at the heart of all of them, is that they point towards Christ, our Savior, and put a picture of Him in the middle. Each of these bible stories has a lesson that we can apply to our daily lives, and together, we will read, discuss, and grow so that we can go into the world armed with a stronger Spirt with us, that can then bless the lives of others, and bless us with strength to withstand the evil in this world.

I also shared a picture of myself in 9th grade, from 1992.

kj freshman

I had just moved from Louisiana to Texas, and that first week of high school, I really didn’t know anyone. I figured that instead of sitting alone all awkward at a lunch table, I’d go hide out in the bathroom stall until lunch was over. It wasn’t until my 10th grade year that I found a good group to sit with, and I wished someone reached out to me sooner.  I encouraged them to LOOK for each other at school, that they are a TEAM, and they need each other. I want them to be a tight knit group, like I was with my seminary friends in high school, it’s how I survived.  I grew up going to early morning seminary (in Houston) each day before high school, and I know what a blessing it is. Some of my best friends (and boyfriends) came from that group, and I honestly LOVED high school because of it.

My awesome son snapped this picture of me teaching…have I mentioned I {heart} him? (Ok, I did ask him to do so, but he remembered!) So delighted to share this year with him, and I’m happy that when I told him last May, he let out an audible cheer.

early morning seminary teacher

It was a GREAT morning, and now I’m jetting off to pick up all of my kids from school, and can’t wait to hear all the sorted details–my son in high school has been texting me during the day, so I’ve got a few details there.

first day of school pictures

Happy Back to school, everyone!

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Comments

  1. Raelene hill says:

    Wow, what great pictures and stories. I love your honesty. It is what makes you who you are and will make you a teacher like no other. Those kids are so lucky! I wish I was in your class. It would make going back to high school worth doing all over again. Love ya, bear. Dad on Mom’s Facebook page

  2. I played the oboe and ran XC in high school too!!

  3. Such a great post! Your kids are so cute and getting big! God bless you and your family!

  4. How fun! I love the welcome walk idea. I taught kindergarten for 5 before staying home with my kiddos, so I just love the whole beginning of school time of year.

  5. Is it weird that I like it when you write about your faith? You just have so much joy and enthusiasm for it. It’s wonderful to see (read?). I love the sentiment that it’s not about you and how serving others (even when the initial task at hand was not something you’d want to do or ask for) makes you a better person. I’d think if anyone can make a 5:45AM class interesting it would be you. Also, “muffin Mondays” sounds like a great idea! Seriously, what a great way to make getting up super early on Monday fun. I think “muffin Mondays” more than qualifies you a fun person.

    First day of school is so exciting (and a little heart breaking for moms. My husband may have had to comfort me more then our daughter when we dropped her off on Monday). I wish my kid’s school did a welcome walk. We have regular old open house the Friday before. I also planned to have mine close in age so they’d be in high school together at the same time. High school is such a trying time (at least it was for me) that I think having additional people in your corner would make it a little easier. Your kids are adorable and I hope they have a great school year ahead of them 🙂

    • Kristen Duke says:

      I’m glad you enjoy my “faith chatter” Nicole, that makes me happy to hear! I try to make themes for things to help me, and to create a bit more of a fun atmosphere, mostly I like to eat muffins, and my kids don’t care for them so much (weird) so I have a new audience!

      I hope all is well from the first day of school bummer. It stinks to send them off, for sure.

  6. I would love it if our school did a welcome walk. We are bound by technology and waiting for it to post to their school accounts. Then the flurry of emails and FB messages that is who has which teacher. I love the excitement a new school year brings. Good luck with your early AM teaching assignment!

  7. So much fun, love, and joy! Thanks for your incredible example of motherhood and of being excited and willing to serve in the church. It looks like you will not only have a blast but also be an extremely great influence for good in the lives of many people. Keep it up! I’ll be staying tuned for more great stories, ideas, and inspiration 🙂

  8. Jacqueline says:

    Good for you. Kids notice and appreciate when people have a heart for them – I’m sure you’ll have a great year!

  9. Raelene hill says:

    Love this post. Love the back to school pics and their eager faces. You will be n awesome teacher.and that age is so fun! Love you!

  10. So fun that your kids have gotten to share so many teachers! Seminary would be a terrifying calling for me, but I’m also a little jealous of people who do it. It just seems like the Lord really blesses seminary teachers, every one I’ve met that has taught seminary has ended up becoming so knowledgeable about the scriptures.

  11. How fun! I’m dreading the day my little ones are in school but it’s for selfish reasons and I’m sure will be great for all of us and give me time to miss them. My siblings were 2 years apart each but after elementary my brothers ended up in other schools so our paths never crossed in schools. I just realized that because of how birthdays fall my kids will be right behind each other in grades so they’ll get lots of time in the same schools. I hadn’t thought of how nice that would be until reading this. I love your dress btw! You are such a fun mom and I can feel the love pouring from you posts.

  12. Such a great post. Seminary would definitely be a daunting calling. I did my last two years of highschool in North Carolina. My brother and I were the only ones in our highschool that were LDS. It was definitely nice to go to seminary in the morning and see LDS people and hear the gospel. Love your dress for the first day of seminary.