Alli, our third born, started Pre-K this week. We had "meet the teacher" night on Monday for parents only. I think Curt and I were the only parents who somehow missed the line in the invitation letter that said this was ALSO bring your school supplies... Her teacher seems really nice and made a big deal about going over the classroom schedule, celebrating birthdays and dress code which basically is play clothes and shoes with closed toes so the kids don't get hurt.
Day one on Tuesday was a "half day" (meaning an hour and a half) with only 1/2 the class so the teachers could get to know the kids. Alli woke up THRILLED and got her picture with her backpack and Daddy, wore her gym shoes and we swayed her a little on her outfit choice so that everything actually matched. We arrived, school supplies in tow, and she had a great time, but was bummed that Emily, the little girl she just met, wasn't in her 1/2 of the session.
Today was the first "full" day (3 hours). It was chilly this morning and Alli dressed herself and matched two days in a row - a miracle. She chose Capri's and a long-sleeved school shirt with her favorite High School Musical tank top underneath. We talked briefly about how tank tops are not for school and that she needed to keep her school shirt on etc. Drop off time approached, so I told the kids to retrieve their shoes from the garage (the new shoe location) and get in the van. I dropped Alli off and then ran Katie and Grant, who had late start today, to the bus stop. When Paige, Dusty and I showed up to retrieve Alli at pickup, I had to laugh. She had taken her nice school shirt off and was wearing her very stained (remember I said it was her favorite?) white tank top. And then I noticed the flip flops. She had left her favorite flip flops at Grandpa Don's and Grandma Marcy's and just got them back in the mail. Somehow in the mad dash for the van this morning, I didn't notice she was wearing "illegal" shoes to school. So there she was, with her trashy tank top, illegal shoes AND a "temporary" tattoo on her arm from the state fair, which we attended two weeks ago, that says, "Stop noxious weeds." We are talking HIGH CLASS for the Stilp's entry into Wee Care PreSchool!
On a totally different note, we went to a house church last night for Solid Rock (their version of small groups) and realized when we were there how starved we had been for relational depth spiritually out here. It was refreshing to our spirit. Lindsey, the woman who hosted it, sent her husband Brett to Iraq and one month later found out she was a widow. She is raising her 6 year old daughter Sydney by herself now and her husband's battered, dirty and water-logged combat Bible was laid out on the table with his wedding ring on top. It brought tears to my eyes every time I saw it and I realized how much she and her daughter gave up for MY freedom.
Grant, our perceptive and inquisitive 7-year-old, and I were talking at bedtime. His school is choosing to remember September 11th tomorrow by having a red, white and blue day, which I think is really cool. He was asking all kinds of questions about that day - which I will NEVER forget - and about the repercussions from the terrorist attacks. He was really touched by Brett's sacrifice and was feeling a little of Sydney's pain as a result. Our conversation and seeing Brett's combat Bible brought me back to a place of gratitude. A renewed sense of awe that I am a citizen of the United States of America. That the country I live in and call home is a democracy where freedom reigns. That soldiers in our country sacrifice their safety and their lives every day so that I can raise my children in peace. That people like Lindsey and Sydney relive the pain of that sacrifice every day when they wake up and realize that they won't see Brett again until heaven. And I'm proud to be an American. Let freedom reign!