Tuesday, August 31, 2010

School Days

Caleb started preschool today, for the THIRD, and, thankfully, last time. His new school is a much-sought after and I'll admit, fervently prayed for, situation. It is an English/Spanish bilingual public charter school in Washington, DC. The instruction is done in both languages each day and will give Caleb a much better chance of maintaining and utilizing both languages with equal facility. We applied for this school's lottery nearly 6 months ago and were doing the dance of joy when his name was selected for one of 11 slots. There were nearly 100 children placed on the waiting list for those few spaces and we clung to his/ours desperately for months hoping nothing would go awry and that when he showed up today, he'd be expected. He was. HUZZAH!

Applying to preschool in the District of Columbia was more complicated than applying to graduate school -- I do NOT exaggerate. Even now, we have not been able to fully demonstrate our DC residency and are scheduled for a home visit from the Director to prove we are who we are, and more importantly, that we live at the address we claim as our abode. No suburbanites for these folks. If you want the benefit of the most education $$$ spent per child anywhere in the US of A, you must also prove you live in the wholly unrepresented boundaries of the District. We are home owners here, but that is insufficient. We have (or will have tomorrow) DC driver's licenses, again, not enough. Our pay-stubs show DC's exorbitant income taxes are being deducted monthly, but the address on the pay-stub and our home address don't match, so, no dice. Like I said, complicated. It's no wonder I never changed my maiden name to the married one simply to avoid one more exchange with any branch of the DC government. True story.

Caleb was in school for almost 8 hours today -- which seems stunningly long, no? But, he came home bubbling over with stories about his teachers and new friends, lunch and breakfast fare (both are provided for a small fee) and his favorite thing about the school, the day and likely the entire year, the rooftop playground. 6 stories up swinging, sliding, jumping, running, monkey barring and staring at neighboring rooftops is a 4 year-old boy's never even dreamt of dream come true. And the best part for me is, he couldn't wait to tell Isaac all about it. I can just imagine the day when he'll get to take Isaac to the playground in person...moments like that are what make parenthood pretty darn spectacular.

We ended our day with a Family Home Evening trip to the Washington, DC, LDS temple. We've been telling Caleb there was a temple in DC for months and since the moment we touched down last week he's asked over and over and over again "where's the temple?" If it seems big in the picture, that is because it is. It is the third largest temple and the tallest, at 288 feet. It is visible from far and wide, so much so that traffic reporters use it as a landmark when reporting the road conditions on the DC Beltway. It is a beautiful building any time of year and the grounds are always gorgeous, but at Christmas it is aglow with millions of lights. I am already looking forward to taking Isaac and Caleb to see that. If you can, you should see it for yourself. But, at the very least, come back here, I'll be posting pictures.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

End of Summer Round-Up

We've been busy this summer. Too busy to blog certainly, somedays, too busy even to think. But, we have arrived at our final destination, for awhile anyway and at the end of summer too. It's been a good one, this last season, but the next chapter of our real life is beckoning us to follow and we're anxious, if a little trepidatious, to acquiesce.

For me, summer has always felt like a hiatus from my "real life" story. A departure from the day to day expectations I normally find so comforting. The hot and sultry days instead representing a series of vignettes that don't quite fit the pattern of my routine, the one filled with milestones and goals, achieved or discarded. Summer is the place where dreams are realized or made or replaced with new and better versions of themselves. Where to-do lists are set aside and waistline forgotten. Where children wake-up and go to bed sticky from delicious seasonal fruits, popsicles and ice cream cones, even with regular bathing. Where every day dawns with the promise of fun and possibility. I have always felt this way, but even more so now. Summer has become my/our in between time, usually bookended by major relocations and job, school, language, friend, and everything else changes. This summer fits that mold beautifully, maybe even exemplarily. And, while I've enjoyed the mostly highs of the season, I am and we are, exhausted. Our steam meters were running dangerously low earlier this week before our FINALLY final flights. Even first class seats didn't assuage the lack of enthusiasm shared by all. But, there are no more trips by car, plane, or train on the horizon and knowing that brings indescribable peace.

I know this is the calm before the storm, but I'm ready for what's coming. We've been planning for the next phase of the real life stuff for ages, the anticipation alone has become palpable. Monday morning it begins again -- but, before that, here's a look at the pages we've added to our summer diary this time around. We wrote every entry with gusto and no regrets.

Goodbye Caracas, hello Washington, DC
1 new house
2 new cars (Americans are 2-car families right? We just want to fit in)
1 Back to school night (our first of many)
1 Grad school orientation
4 weeks of visits to grandparents
2 Dinosaur museums
3 firepit BBQs
11 hours in the car for a road-trip to Santa Fe, NM
30,000 frequent flyer miles
1 lost bag
1 found bag
8 suitcases
5 carry-ons
4 passports
6 flights (x 4 people)
1 new cousin
1 funeral
1 surgery
0 trips to the ER!!!
98 moving boxes by boat
17 moving boxes by air
1 never-ending garage sale
Countless hours playing with cousins
4 Grandparents
2 Great-grandparents
7 Aunts
2 Uncles
2 Godparents
47 Different State license plates (only TN, RI, and WV eluded us)
2 carousels
3 trains
100s of ducks and pieces of bread
Mounds of ice cream
Visits to: the Royal Gorge, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, NM, Bishop's Castle, Payson Lakes, and Kangaroo Zoo

And...too much fun to quantify or ever forget

At the bottom of the Royal Gorge

Isaac posing at Bishop's Castle
(go here and here to learn more)

Caleb feeding one of the many giraffes at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Caleb learned valuable skills this summer like building fires and making s'mores

Isaac riding another in a seemingly endless succession of carousels

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