Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Getting There

After a day of travel, two hours of wrangling car seats, exchanging car seats, and re-wrangling car seats we were finally on our way. Needing strength for our first continental European driving experience we exited the first big roundabout to the first restaurant we spotted. Thus our first dining experience in Italy began—at the golden arches. Yep. It was McDonalds for our first Italian meal. Irony is a funny thing. Uninhibited by nostalgia Caid was none too impressed even if it did include a toy. Bridger was stoked. I pretty much felt sick before I’d even finished my last bite, but a family’s gotta do what a family’s gotta do.

Our strength revived and my navigational skills intact we headed for the hills. With no sat nav and no map it was definitely a “look how far we’ve come” sort of moment. Two years ago the directions that Gil, the owner, sent would have meant about as much to us as Egyptian Hieroglyphics. Gil is English, and English directions crack us up. “Go straight on here. “ “Go through the roundabout.” “Take the left turning there.” “After the second tunnel go left on the roundabout then past the narrow bridge with the tricky left hand turning carry on going 4 kilometres or so until you reach the Mill on your right hand side then take the sharp right hand turn and park where the road opens wider under the trees.” WHAT?!? Our American compasses were prewired for directions more like, “take University South to Arapahoe and turn left. Go six blocks and take a right. Take the second right and it’s the 4th house on the left.” American directions seem so much more specific. Where we grew up in Montana if you took one wrong turn you might end up in a whole other state! Italy was more like the English variety. We revelled in our new “we’ll get there eventually” paradigm and enjoyed what a mere 2 years ago would have certainly caused a huge fight and sent me into hyperventilating hysterics. Italy could be chalked up as a success right then and there and we hadn’t even arrived at our villa yet.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010


I ironed today. I know, right? I don’t really iron. I hate to do it, first of all. Plus anytime I make an attempt Scotty usually gives me a pained look while he snatches the iron away from me, exclaiming, “do you mind?” I guess we can assume I’m also not very good at ironing.

Once when my mother-in-law Ruth was visiting she asked Bridger, “Bridger, do you know where Mommy keeps her iron?” Bridger replied, “I don’t think Mommy has an iron, but Daddy keeps his in his closet with his ironing board.”

Today though, I ironed. What, pray tell caused this momentary lapse? Well, Scott’s out of town and the boys have Karate and their uniforms needed pressing. It was pretty hilarious, and it took me forever. Oh also, when I went in just now to bring them downstairs I realized I’d forgotten one arm on Caid’s suit. I’m thinking of switching the boys to Rugby. J

Friday, 3 September 2010

1st Day of School

I’m trying to stay hydrated. It’s sensible. Plus I need a focus and I figure it’s better than the alternative—eat lots of chocolate. With both big boys off at school I’m not sure what on earth to do with myself. So I figure I’ll drink lots and lots of water.

No seriously. It’s been a whirlwind around here. I have absolutely loved our homeschooling journey. Getting to teach the boys to read and write their letters. I love to get the math stuff out every day and hear “YES! MATH!” Homeschooling has had all kinds of bonuses. Like getting to tailor a curriculum to exactly where they’re at with appropriate helps and challenges. Like all the amazing field trips we’ve taken to museums and castles (during the school day too so it’s not wall to wall school kids!) Like tromping through the woods in our wellies several times a week and making cookies for ‘cooking class’ and Friday night parties to celebrate the theme of the week and include Daddy. And let’s be honest, getting to sleep until 8:30 every day ain’t so bad either! Yeah. It’s been pretty much awesome.

There were not so great things too though. Like being with my kiddos 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with nary a break in between. I love my boys a ton, but deliver me. That’s a lot of boy. Also I’m not trained as a teacher and I didn’t always know what to teach or how to teach it to keep them up to snuff. I struggle to remember the difference between and adjective and an adverb. So you can imagine me trying to remember every time Bridger would ask. Plus I’m a small menu kind of a gal. I prefer to frequent the restaurants with only a few specialized choices. I hate those places with a multi-paged document you feel you need about an hour just to read, let alone decide on. I have been known to hysterically throw such menus to my husband pleading, “Chicken? I don’t know? Help!” Homeschooling is a gazillion paged menu. There are millions of ‘methods’ on how to teach and a gob of curriculum choices, and I found it very hard not to get bogged down.

Another thing—I am not a great schedule/routine gal. Especially towards the end of my pregnancy I would find whole days would go by without me noticing. It would be 4:00 and I would have just showered. All of the sudden I’d panic, “Okay, boys! Math time!” They were pretty flexible, but it got a little old. Bridger, especially, craves routine and really thrives with a bit of structure in his day and this Mama was not cutting it in that department.

As we neared the end of the summer I was stoked. I had a curriculum all picked out based on the Romans through the Renaissance. I had a list of places around England we were going to visit on our “outing Thursdays” as tie-ins to what we were doing. I had a new Math book. New markers. New three-ring binders that came special delivery from the States. What I did not have was any more energy or capacity and I was starting to panic.

I started fantasizing about the big boys going to school. Whole lists of stuff I could do with just me and Ash. Whole side-fantasies about a bit of piece and quiet. Having time to go to lunch with a friend. Pooping in our house’s one bathroom without any one interrupting. Stuff like that. Then I started having dreams every single night about bizarre reasons they HAD to go to school. In one the Queen visited and said they had to. I was like, “Oh, okay your majesty, I’ll take them straight away.” I even used an English Accent when I answered her. The thing is that in each scenario no matter how crazy or convoluted the reason they had to go at the end the overwhelming feeling of the dream was one of relief. I finally admitted it to Scott and after several late nights of talking and crying and a couple of weeks of me obsessing over all the questions, “Does this make me a bad mom?” “Will they do alright?” “Will the boys be behind and the teachers think I’m a terrible teacher?” “Will they like school?” “Will this make them hate school?” “Is Caid ready?” “Am I ready?” “Will the Queen be glad I obeyed and invite me to the palace for tea to discuss how well they’re doing?”

We found out Wednesday at 11 that both boys had a place at Warlingham Village Primary School. Wednesday afternoon was a mad dash for uniforms: grey trousers, black shoes, white polos, and get this—white gym shorts. WHAT?!?! We packed backpacks and lunchboxes and laid out clothes and yesterday I took my little men to their first day of school. Dude. It was intense.

Bridger woke up a little green and was sure he would puke and was too sick for school. Caid had a whole stack of survival gear and a library’s worth of books he was trying to get into his backpack. In the end I got them out the door and to the school. Both boys found someone to line up with and they were off. I spent the day cleaning my house and obsessively watching the clock. Counting down the minutes until I could go pick them up. “Can I go yet? Now can I? Is now to early? Now?” I missed them!

They were all smiles when I picked them up. Bridger said, "Mom, I think this is going to be WONDERFUL!" Both boys had new friends by the end of the day and were full to the brim with stories about how fun it was and how much they liked their teachers. When I asked them our usual "high point/low point?" question they both reported it was all highs--"not a single low, Mom. Not ONE!" :-) I’m so glad. I do have to admit though that a tiny piece of me wanted them to declare it a disaster and beg me to teach them instead. I guess that’s not on the table now. So…what to do with myself? I better go drink some more water.