Friday, September 20, 2013

School Update

Today wrapped up the second week of school for the kids, and we couldn't be happier with this start to the new year.

Last year, there were moments of doubt during the hard transition. There were tears, there was frustration, there was a lot of hard work.
While at the kindergarten level Derek went along with little trouble, Alex felt the changes deeply and I wondered if the end result would be worth the price.

This morning at drop-off I watched another little girl clinging to her mom in tears. I'd followed them up the stairs from the metro to the school and overheard them speaking English. I have a feeling they were experiencing their first year with a new culture and language.

It reminded me of the early weeks when Alex didn't want to let go when I hugged her goodbye at the steps to the school. Too old to cling and cry, her eyes were watery as she turned to face another day of confusion and isolation. When I turned away mine would be as well.
It's so hard to watch your child struggle, no matter if you believe it to be in their best interest. Our 6-month mantra-- We're proud of you, We love you, It will get better.

And so it is with deep thankfulness that I pick up a sparkly-eyed 8-year-old at the end of each school day, excited to tell me about everything.

We are so proud of her. We love her. And it got better!

She thinks third grade is the bee's knees because not only do they get to play the recorder in music class, but they also swim every week, and she just signed up for an extra art course twice a week. She also has an hour a week of French-- just what the poor child needs, one more language ;)

It makes this mama's heart happy to see her baby happy.

Derek, meanwhile, is probably slightly less happy than last year, because it turns out that you have to do more reading and writing in first grade. Bummer.
We also just signed him up for swimming, which he'll begin in October.

One of the things we like about their school is that extracurricular activities, like Alex's art course and swimming for Derek, are offered during the school day. That's a big bonus when the day is so long already that we couldn't possibly fit it in afterward.

Other things I appreciate:
The have all the "extras" as part of their regular schedule-- music, art, gym, computers
They get lots of recreo, or free playtime
They have a big, healthy hot lunch
The teachers make them eat it ;)
It really is the teachers that make them eat it-- they do everything with the kids, including lunch duty and even riding the bus route.

There are certainly things that are different, and a little strange to us, but overall we are pleased with the school and thrilled that Alex and Derek are speaking a second language. What an opportunity!

Monday, September 9, 2013

A list.

1) Derek had a birthday almost a month ago. He turned six. We love him.
The end.

2) You see, when I get behind on blogging I start to feel as if I can never catch up. So I just caught up.

3) The Flodge.

The other day we went to a water park, and it reminded Derek of when we went to the Great Wolf Lodge, an indoor water-park hotel chain that needs to consider raising the temperature of their water, at least in the Williamsburg, Virgina location.

Derek saw the wave pool, and commented-- "It's just like the Great Woo Flodge!"

The what, Derek?

"The Flodge! You know."

Kids are funny.

4) Today was the first day of school.

How did it go, you ask?

Well, the best part was the quiet.
The worst part was the waking up.

Oh, you meant for the children?

It went great! At least, it did for Alex. She likes her teachers and they did her favorite subject-- not math.
That's right, the absence of doing math is her favorite subject.

Her father is extremely disappointed, as his mathlete status is something he treasures.

We don't know how things went for Derek because he can never remember. He's pretty sure his teacher told him her name, but he just can't remember what it was.
He's pretty sure some of the kids from last year are in his class again, but he can't be certain.
He definitely went to the bathroom today, but doesn't recall if he pooped.

Sorry, it's true. And yes, we ask. Because if he said "yes, I pooped" then he would need a bath to decontaminate. I just don't trust him.

Or the boys bathroom.

Day 1: Success. (Unless Derek suddenly remembers something to deem it a failure, but I wouldn't hold my breath.)

5) I have a dentist appointment tomorrow.

6) Josh bought some NFL program that lets him watch every football game of the season on the iPad.
Now I don't have a husband, or an iPad.

I'm choosing to allow this, because my he missed the last two football seasons in Afghanistan and California, where we decided the cost-benefit ratio wasn't justified for the amount of time we were staying there.
Also because I love him.

7)  Life in Madrid is good. Thanks for checking in.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Mo summer

Things at which I am terrible:

being awake before 9am
being awake before 9:30am
getting out of bed at any time of day
making phone calls in Spanish
making phone calls in English
not procrastinating

Things at which I am not terrible:

choosing a husband who puts up with the list above

Now that we have that established, I will make no excuses for my half-month lapse in blogging. It's just...summer.
Everyone's posting their first-day-of-school pictures on Facebook but we still have another week to sleep in, do nothing, and stay up late. I shall enjoy every last morning in which it is technically afternoon by the time I finish my second cup of coffee.

Josh's course has begun, so our time of taking leave and exploring Spain is over for now. That's okay, because we made sure to leave lots of the nearby towns undiscovered. We'll try for weekend outings, provided Josh's workload allows for it.

Some things we've been up to since returning from our trip to Andalucia...

For Alex's birthday, way back in May, we went to the Parque de Atracciones (the amusement park). This is in keeping with my never-throw-a-birthday-party preference. She got to choose what we would do, and to make it more special we had agreed that she could do one of the "extra" activities there-- the trampoline jumper-thing-a-ma-jig.
But it was rainy that day and the trapoline jumper-thing-a-ma-jig was not open. So we promised, next time for sure.
But then Josh fell off a cliff and "next time" got pushed back. It was awhile before the four of us made it back to the park, but it finally happened.

Jumping fun ensued.

We also went back to the zoo.
The bears here are the best. In accordance with the Spanish laid-back attitude, there is no "Don't feed the animals" rule. The bears sit and beg for peanuts all day.

Also, the distance between that ledge and where we stand does not seem far enough if, perchance, the bear decided he wanted something more filling.

We have also done a lot a lot of "school" this summer. We really needed to take advantage of the time off to review the concepts that were thrown at them so quickly when they started a new school mid-year in a new language. 

Derek practicing reading in Spanish in the park. Don't ask me what the kid in the picture is doing.
I mean, I could tell you, but it's not as interesting as what you might contrive on your own.

What else?
Oh yes, we went to a water park one day. I have no pictures because I was in the water. And a bathing suit, of which we do not take photos.

We made two trips here:

About 40 minutes drive and we can be totally out of the city, surrounded by mountains and this river that is so clear you can see the fish on the bottom.
We had a picnic and enjoyed the coolness of the river as a break from the August heat.

Also, Alex does not own a black bathing suit, it was photoshopped in because that day we didn't bring suits and she was swimming in her underoos.
The little Spanish girls don't wear bathing suit tops generally, just the bottoms, so she blended in. 

So there's a bit of a review of the last couple of weeks. Parks, playgrounds, libraries, church, popsicles, summer. 

Also no shortage of:

Stop copying me!
Your feet are touching mine!
It was him!
It was her!
I'm hungry!
I'm thirsty!
I'm hot!
I'm not hot!
I'm loud!

Wait. That last one might never have actually been said. But if it had, it would have been true.

I've enjoyed this summer. And I'm not ready for them to be gone for such long days again. But I can't deny that I'm looking forward to hearing myself think.