Monday, March 2, 2015

#MicroblogMonday: Decisions, Decisions. . .

We've been hemming and hawing a lot over the school decisions for next year.  We'll be heading back to the US this summer, and really want the kids to maintain the Spanish that they've developed since they've been here.  They have come so far, and I really, really want them to have the benefit of being bilingual.  I talked with Miss M's teacher at a parent-teacher conference this week, and she says that Miss M has a pretty good level, compared to the local kids.  She says her vocabulary isn't quite as large as the "native" speakers, and she sometimes makes up words, but she has a really good accent and a pretty good ability.  Sometimes I make up Spanish words, too, and I don't have the great accent she has.  :)  Her teacher thinks she'll be able to pass an entrance exam, if she needs to.

We have a number of bilingual school options in the city we are moving to, but since we are not there to actually go and visit the schools, it has taken a LOT of research and a LOT of soul-searching to figure out what was right.  Especially since we have to lottery into most of the schools we are looking at, in order to secure a place.  It was so incredibly hard to sort out what was right, and especially hard because we were doing it for both Miss M and SB.

As of today, we've finalized our lottery list.  It's submitted.  We did the best job we could.  Now, we jut have to hope it all works out in the end.

Okay, that wasn't all that short.  :0

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Progress

I think/hope/pray I have a solution to our scheduling dilemma.  I THINK we are going to be able to leave here in June.  It's not quite the April/May start date that my new job wanted, and it's not quite the July departure date that my current employer wanted, but by pleasing nobody, I think we may satisfy everybody.  It is the happy medium.

Assuming we can leave in June, this weekend I was able to work out the details of the house. . .I think.  We will start renting it in June.  Fingers crossed that June works out.  T may still have to go back to the US before the rest of the family, but there is little we can do about that at this point.  We are just taking each days as it comes, and hoping for the best.  It sounds like the PERFECT house, so I am feeling good about it.

The good thing about a June departure, too, is that the girls will get a bit more time in school.  That will get them almost to their midyear break.  I feel good about this part of things. It means that they won't have a hugely long summer in which to forget everything they know, and they won't have a long, boring summer break.

Of course, it complicates other things, but I'm dealing with those.   I may have to go back to the US for a week or two in April to get some things sorted out, since we won't be back until June.  There are some things that just can't wait until June, unfortunately.  I'm not excited about that part of things, but there is little I can do.  And, the nice thing is that if I can make a June date work out, we will be able to take a few weeks of vacation time then to get set up in the new city and to spend with friends who are going to be in town.  I am excited about that part.  It is always good to see old friends.  Of course, we would have seen them if we'd gone back in April, but I would not have been on vacation, so we would not have gotten quite so much time with them.  It's a nice silver lining.

So, hopefully, we are getting there.  It's baby steps, and it's still not guaranteed, but I am feeling a bit more confident that it is all going to work out okay.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Sigh

I feel like lately everything has been an exercise in taking one step forward, two steps back.  We FINALLY arranged a timetable for our move back to the U.S., and then found a house to rent when we move back that is actually within our price range. And then, although my old job had agreed to the timetable and my new employer had also agreed to the timetable, I found out today that the timetable has been smashed to bits.  Current employer has decided they want me to stay until July.  New employer wants me there in May.  Yes, that sound you hear is my head exploding.

And honestly, you know what I am most worried about?  The house.  We found a PERFECT house.  I put the word out to people I know that we were looking for a place to live.  A friend of a friend who had a special circumstance and needed just the right people to rent their house gave me a call, and decided that we are those people who can deal with their special circumstance.  In exchange for taking care of some things for them, they are offering us their house at a fraction of market value.  Literally, I was praying that we would find something suitable for X dollars.  They proposed that we pay X dollars--EXACTLY the amount I had been praying about.  I mean, I wasn't even looking in that neighborhood because it is well out of our price range.  And it is zoned for a great school, and it has a yard, and it has plenty of room inside for all of us plus a guest room and maybe an office, and it's in a great neighborhood.  Honestly, I don't know if you believe in fate or kismet or whatever, but this was some serious alignment of the planets.  But now, with our arrival date in question, I am worried we are going to lose it.

Then there is the school issue.  We are playing the school lottery.  You have to prove residency by May 1.  I don't know if we'll be back by then.  If we aren't, and can't figure something out, then we would lose our spots, if we get in somewhere.

So now, we have to consider whether it might be best, between the house issue and the school issue, for my husband to go back to the U.S. before me.  Needless to say, I am not enamored with this idea. It means being a single mother during the most stressful part of the next few months:  the packing up and moving part.  And flying with the kids and six pieces of luggage and three carry-ons and two car/booster seats by myself, potentially.

I felt so much peace when I thought the schedule was worked out and we had a house.  And now, I feel like I am standing at the bottom of a mountain again, and need to start climbing.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Starting Up While Preparing to Leave

It is a weird feeling to have the girls starting the school year, while simultaneously orchestrating our departure.  I am getting materials lists (a donation of a ream of paper for a 2 year old who is leaving in three months?  That seems a bit much.) and planning on what to sell, all at the same time.

So far, things are going. . .well?  Miss M doesn't seem overly happy, but I think it's because we were quite lax over break, and her school is quite strict.  She got in trouble today when she hit a girl who had kicked her three times.  We are not, for the record, in favor of hitting, but the other child wasn't punished at all, which sort of bothers me.  I know sometimes the teachers are extra-strict with the American kids, because they are seen as undisciplined/spoiled (probably true, but doesn't justify unequal application of the rules, in my book).  Anyway, she was distraught that the music teacher made her sit out music as punishment, and then on top of it all, her best friend J wouldn't speak to her because she hit the other girl, so she had to apologize to both of them.  Which, in my mind, is a good lesson.  Actions have consequences beyond just the classroom teacher's punishment.  But, I also find the teacher's lack of equal treatment a bit vexing.  Miss M isn't a tattletale, but she also will readily admit what has transpired and why she misbehaved.  She has no guilt about street justice, and is rather matter of fact about it.  I recall all too well the unfairness of unequally applied rules during my childhood.  But anyway, we talked about the fact we expect her to use words, not hit, and I think she is fine with it all.

The teacher sent a note home asking if our school account is working.  I've been checking it religiously, without a single message appearing, so apparently it is not.  I can only imagine what she wants to send me a message about.  I tried to talk to her a few days ago at a school event, and she completely walked away from me, twice. 

SB seems to be doing well in preschool.  When I ask her how her day was, she earnestly reports that she "didn't hit anyone today in my school."  Which makes her a step ahead of her older sister on days like today.  The school inquired last week if we mind if they send her home in wet diapers.  It seems she has told them that only mommy, daddy, and our nanny can change her diaper, and pitches a giant fit if anyone there tries to do it.  For some reason, I find this endearing.  She doesn't like to have her diaper changed even by us (but is still steadfastly refusing to use the potty), but the fact she trusts only us for this most disliked of tasks is a testament to her tough, independent little personality.

And now she has woken up and come toddling out, asking that I come in and sleep in her bed with her "more and more and more."  And so I am off, to get her settled.  And I haven't even gotten to the part where I was going to write about preparing to leave.  But more on that soon.

Monday, February 2, 2015

#MicroblogMonday: Dramatic Reenactment Edition

When the girls met me at the door tonight when I got home for work, SB wanted to know if I had brought her any packages.  She was quite irritated to discover that I had not.  And then she immediately launched into a story of how she had hit a kid with her "caballo" today in class (think broomsticks with horse heads--the playspace at the school has a bunch of them).  The child apparently hit her back with HIS "caballo," and then....she very dramatically threw herself on the ground, like a wounded bird with the most pathetic of expressions.  "and then I did this."  No word, though on the feedback from the teacher.  In between bits of acting it out (she went through it twice), Miss M was interjecting with pieces of the story.  She and SB were obviously talking about it earlier. I still don't know if her initial act was accidental, but it made for entertaining fodder nonetheless.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Slowly, Slowly, A Plan Emerges

I have had a lot of angst trying to sort out how to handle our next move.  On the one hand, I feel horribly guilty at the thought of making Miss M and SB leave their respective schools before the summer break.  On the other hand, leaving in Aprilish means we will be moved to our new city and established in time to claim residency by the school lottery date.  After sitting with this decision a bit, the school residency thing is the only real reason for us to leave before June.  And while I hate the idea of the girls having a four month break, in the grand scheme of things, we are talking about leaving maybe six weeks earlier than we otherwise would, and doing so in order to ensure they get a good school for the next few years is probably more important than those last weeks here.

Which is not to say I'm settled. I still have a LOT of ambivalence.  Miss M, in particular, will be very sad to leave her school, and I think it would be easier if we transitioned during a normal school break.    Sigh.  This is hard.

But right now, I worry about the residency thing.  Plus, that will give us time to look at houses as they are coming on the market this spring/early summer.  We haven't definitely decided to buy. We're going to rent a place short term for a few months, and see what we think.  And, we are going to try to work out something re: a nanny.  It won't be long term, at least at first, but it will at least get us through the summer months until school starts.  It's expensive, but seems like a happy medium between some care and no care, and gives us options if T finds a job quickly.

So now I'm working on the details:  short term housing, job for T, etc. etc.  and crossing my fingers we get into a good bilingual school.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

First Day of School

Miss M was up at 4:30 this morning, because she was so excited to go to school.  SB also happily got dressed right after waking up, because she was also excited about her first day of school.  It was the first time that we got two kids and two adults ready for work/school, and it was a bit crazy.

Miss M took the bus, and I stopped by a bit later to check in and make sure she was okay.  We learned yesterday that she had a new teacher, although of course the school hadn't told us this, or WHO.  I heard it from another mother, so I wanted to check.  Miss M was doing great when I got there.  It was circle time, and the teacher's aide was asking questions.  Miss M was patiently raising her hand and waiting her turn, and answering the questions in terrific Spanish that made my heart melt.  The teacher wasn't in class, so I waited for her outside the classroom, to have a brief conversation.  She looked none too pleased to see me, but I don't care.  The school's communication is lousy, and so I'm perfectly fine with annoying them in the course of making sure my kid is okay and I know what is going on.

SB was thrilled to be at school, too.  After being in class with her for about ten minutes, I decided I really liked the teacher.  She seemed really good at both engaging the kids, and keeping order.  Of course, only 4 of the 20 kids were there at that point, and then she kicked us out of the classroom.  It turned out that they didn't want us to stay with her.  They wanted us to stay at the school, in case she had a meltdown, but wanted us nowhere near her!  I stayed for an hour, then left.  They wanted us to take her home after about 2.5 hours, so that she didn't have to do a full day yet.  But, when the time rolled around, she was doing so well that they asked my nanny to leave her for another hour!  She painted and played outside and played with play dough and had a music class, so it seems like it was a successful day.  I called to chat with her after she got home, but in true 2 year old fashion, she refused to speak with me.

When I got home tonight, both girls met me at the door, talking excitedly all at once, and they didn't stop talking about their days until we put them to bed.  I'm thrilled that they had such great first days of school.