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.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Relief

I got my test results today.  I won't lie--I did everything in my power to distract myself and try to keep busy, and try to avoid getting them, frankly.  You don't get your results from a doctor here.  You get them yourself, and then take them to your doctor.  It's grueling, because if you read there is a problem, or you have questions, then there is no one to talk to in the moment.  So, I thought through a million scenarios for how I could avoid getting the results, and then I put on my big girl panties and sent the email asking for them to be emailed to me.

When I first learned of the tumor, I was sitting at my desk, in my office.  It was, to be honest, traumatic.  And I wasn't sure I could do that again.  And of course, when I glanced at my inbox and saw the report had arrived, I was on my way to a meeting.  I nevertheless opened it up immediately and scanned each report for the bottom line.  But today, despite all of my worrying, the results were just fine.  One weird thing in my liver, but one I've known of for years, and which is thought to be benign. But nothing else.  I feel so lucky, so blessed, so relieved.  I keep saying that my medical Spanish isn't perfect, that maybe I am missing something, but truthfully, I feel I understand the reports well, and there is no cause for worry in this moment.  I feel relieved, for now--free of worry.  Until my next monitoring appointment, anyway.

I also talked with my boss here, and she is fine with me wrapping up whenever I need to.  So, a departure of between late April and July is in the cards.  Now I just need to sort out what works for us, as a family.

We also decided to start SB in preschool on Wednesday.  She needs it.  It will be really good for her.  The only wrinkle is that the school has just informed me they'd like me to stay with her 3 hours the first day, then decreasing amounts of time on subsequent days.  And I can't.  I'm a working mother, and I took off 1.5 days last week for my tests and an emergency with SB (she fell and hit her eye on the corner of a tablet Friday--totally fine, but for a shiner, but gave us a hell of a scare).  Repeated days of missed work, in a week my boss and coworkers are already traveling, is not in the cards.  I have such working mother's guilt.  I feel like I should be there.  On the other hand, my kid loves the nanny, and she can totally stay.  The preschool hates nannies, so I am sure they are going to freak, but I don't have a ton of options.  And at the end of the day, I'm not sure I agree that a mom staying is the best way to transition.

I feel like I have been given such a gift. More time...it's priceless.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Tomorrow

I have a lot of anxiety.  That is probably clear, because that is when I post the most.  :)

Tomorrow, SB is supposed to start preschool.  I say "supposed to," because I think I am going to call in the morning and tell them that she is going to start on Wednesday, instead.  When I set all of this up, I really wasn't thinking.  I wasn't thinking that tomorrow is the day I get my test results back.  I wasn't thinking that I'd rather have her start on a Wednesday, because that way she doesn't have to go through five days before the weekend, but only has to adjust to three.  I wasn't thinking that Miss M doesn't start school until Wednesday, and a Monday start would leave Miss M home by herself with the housekeeper/nanny, which would be kind of lonely.  I wasn't thinking that it would be this stressful to send my youngest to preschool, but after what happened last fall (which I haven't really blogged about, because it was too awful and raw and hard and I just. . .couldn't), after what happened. . .I am terrified that SB will have a bad experience.  I am scared to send her to preschool.

And oh yes, then there is the fact that we still don't know when we are moving.  And if we are moving soon, does it even make sense to put her in preschool for like 3 months?  Or is that just a ridiculous too-full-of-transitions idea?  My original thought was that we would start her in preschool when Miss M started school back up, and that would give her about 6 months of half day preschool before moving to the U.S. in June, with the idea that from June on she would be in full time "school" of some sort.

I don't know when any of this is going to get any easier.  I think that is the hardest part of all of this.  Will the test results show anything?  And if they don't, why do I have this constant, nagging pain in my side?  And just because they don't show anything now, might they some day?  Are they missing something?  And should we leave here in April, or stick it out until June?  And should we rent or try to buy?  Or rent short term and look for something longer term?  But then if we do that, what do we do with all of our stuff that is being shipped back?  And how long will it take T to get a job?  And even if he does get a job quickly, what do we do with a 3 year old and a 5 year old for the summer?  And so on.  And so on.

Normally, I manage stress reasonably well (neurotic contents of this blog notwithstanding).  But this situation is a lot, even for me.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Happy Snapshot: This Moment in Time

Right at this moment, both of my girls are sitting in a chair in our den, watching Bob the Builder (the claymation version with the British accents), while dad sits in a miniature red chair, painting their toenails pink.  It is such a nice, happy moment.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Job News

We are finally settled on the job front.  We will be heading back to to the U.S..  I am excited and relieved to have a plan in place.  But, they threw me a bit of a curve ball on start date.  We aren't scheduled to leave here until July, but they would like us to come NOW, if possible, and no later than May otherwise.  I wasn't really expecting that.

Part of me would love to go back now.  Honestly, I am weary, and it would be nice to be living in the U.S. again.  From a practical perspective, it simply doesn't make sense.  First, I have no schools lined up for the kids.  We are playing the school lottery for next year, but for now, we have nothing.  Finding care for a 5 year old and and almost 3 year old in a major city on a moment's notice is not really possible.  Especially when you factor in the compensation piece.  My compensation package isn't as healthy for this job.  We needed to go back for other reasons, honestly.  I think I didn't push hard to stay abroad because I know we need to spend some time in the U.S.  It made sense to take what is essentially a giant paycut (like, $3,000 a month, after taxes, so HUGE pay cut).  But with the ages my kids are, it's also a tough time to go back, because GOOD LORD, how are we going to pay for everything?

Of course, T has also been staying home with the kids, and the reason we have been able to afford that for the last 5 years is because we've spent most of that time overseas, where we benefited from a very nice salary on my part.  T is eager to get back to work in his field (his job here gets him out of the house, but not in his field).  In the back of my head, the plan for the budget working out was that he would be working.  But now that the reality is here, I also realize that it's not like he's going to snap his fingers and have a job.  It's going to take time.  If I knew he had a job lined up, it would be easy to head back early.  But, right now that's a big black hole.

And on top of having no schools lined up in the U.S., we have very good school options lined up here.  Miss M starts school next week (it's the start of the school year for her school, which is on the South American calendar).  We've settled on a preschool for SB, and she is supposed to start next week, also.  They'll both be in Spanish-speaking schools, which is totally to their benefit.

So it totally makes no sense for us to go back early.  Unless T gets a job, which definitely isn't going to happen during the time period that I have to make this decision about when to go back.  Sigh.  This is hard.

And also, I'm doing my followup tests today.  We did my cancer markers a few days ago, and they are slightly higher, although still in the normal range.  Of course, this totally freaks me out.  So I'm stressing about this, too, and praying that everything comes out just fine.  It's time for me to head off to the hospital for the tests, actually.

Monday, January 19, 2015

#MicroblogMonday: So Where Was I? Edition

So, it's been a while since I've blogged.  It was mostly holiday madness, with a bunch of other stuff mixed in.  In no particular order:
  • We had great holidays.  My brother visited us for Christmas.  It was the first time he's visited and stayed with us since we had kids.  He brought them a million really good presents, and it was a blast.  Plus it was fun showing him this country.
  • Miss M turned 5!  Every time I ask her not to do something dangerous, like hanging from the chandeliers, she tells me "don't worry mom--I'm big now."  
  • I almost landed a job in Africa, and it was a REALLY awesome job.  But then I didn't.
  • We move in the next 2-6 months, and we still don't know where we are going.  It feels like I have been interviewing FOREVER.  We hope to know more this week.  We are probably heading back to the U.S.
  • Because we might be out of here SOON, I have been obsessively researching neighborhoods/schools/houses.  Yikes, U.S. real estate is expensive.  
  • We are currently playing the school lottery in the city we think we are headed to.  Of course, we also might NOT be headed there.
  • I'm starting my next round of medical monitoring appointments.  I have to do bloodwork tomorrow (because the lab was closed today by the time I finished with my appointment because I waited THREE HOURS for my surgeon), and a pile of tests on Thursday. Needless to say, it stresses me out.
  • Even though we are out of here soon, I am also currently searching for a local preschool for SB.  She will be 3 in March, has a huge vocabulary, is quite bright, and desperately needs preschool.  The only reason she is not in already is because Miss M has been on summer break, and it didn't make sense to put SB in school when Miss M was home.  So, they've been keeping each other company.
  • Miss M starts school again next week.
  • I visited a preschool today with SB that was utterly NOT what we need, although I had visited once before and thought I was going to like it (it was SB's reaction to it that made it clear it wasn't a good fit).  I visited a different one on Friday that I thought I was going to love, but didn't.  It made me realize that the ridiculous process of playing the school lottery in a US city from is really a giant crapshoot under any circumstance, but an insane, unwieldy, super inconvenient crapshoot under our particular circumstances.  It's impossible to get a good sense of a place without visiting, no matter how many websites I visit.
  • I've been traveling every month for work, and during my trip last week, I realized that I am not excited about our upcoming Galapagos/Machu Picchu trip, and I want to cancel it.   I am just. . .tired.  I don't want to do complicated logistics with little girls in tow.  I want to go rent a condo in Florida again, and hang out in the pool with the kids.  But that makes me feel lazy and unappreciative of the amazing opportunities we have open to us right now--especially if we are going back to the U.S. soon.

Monday, December 8, 2014

#Microblog Monday: Summer Care?

It has been a crazy couple of weeks, with piles of out of town holiday guests, and I am thoroughly and totally exhausted.  Now I am frantically trying to get my holiday shopping done, while still looking for a new job, while planning things for the kids to do (they are on summer vacation), while also planning for moving back to the US (if we do that next summer--in addition to the US job, we have some other possibilities, including in Africa--but more on that later).

But here is what I have been wondering, amidst the other madness:  what do American parents do these days with their elementary school aged children during summer breaks, and how much does that cost?  As the possibility of returning to the US looms large, I'm pondering the logistics of being a family with two working parents, and I'm totally stumped on this one.