Monday, September 10, 2012

Adam's First Day of School

This is from September 3, 2012. Today is a holiday for the U.S., but for Adam it's the first day of second grade. The boys had a hard time getting up, mainly because they didn't get to bed early enough. That will soon be fixed after a few of these long, tiring school days. School hours are 9:00 to 3:45, but they get on the bus at 8:00 and off at 4:30. Once we move closer to the school they won't have such a long bus ride. Adam seemed a little nervous, but excited too. We walked to the bus stop and were there way too early, of course. The bus finally pulled up - not a yellow school bus, these are the nice cushy charter buses - When the door opened, the bus monitor started speaking Spanish to me, which I didn't understand. Next thing I know, Adam is already on the bus and I can't even see him through the tinted windows. No kiss goodbye or anything. I guess he wasn't nervous anymore. In the afternoon, we went to the school for Jason's orientation. We got to see his classroom and meet his teachers. His classroom is about twice the size of one at Carleston, with the same number of kids. He enjoyed playing with the toys while the teachers talked to the parents. I think he's ready for tomorrow. We picked up Adam and all went home together. Adam loved school and is ready to go back tomorrow.

Moving Day

This is from September 1, 2012. We are finally out of the hotel and in our temporary apartment at Calle Doctor Fleming 30. We'll be here for one month while we look for permanent housing. It is so great to be able to unpack and have some space. The apartment has three bedrooms and two bathrooms and a WASHING MACHINE! It will take me a while to catch up on the laundry, especially considering the size of the washing machine. No dryer, though. There is a nifty clothesline on pulleys right outside the window that I'll have to use. We explored the neighborhood and found many playgrounds and restaurants and even a Starbucks! There is a Metro station very close by and the boys' bus stop is about a block away. Next step - getting ready for school for Adam on Monday and Jason on Tuesday.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Ever Been to the School Nurse Before the First Day of School?

This is from 31-August. It is Orientation Day for Adam at the American School of Madrid, where he will be a second grader startin on Monday 9/3. This was my first visit to the school, and it looks fantastic. Getting there, though, was not easy. The school is a bit out of town, so I guess not very familiar to the average taxi driver. We got one of those drivers who also spoke absolutely no English. Once we got close, Bill called the school two different times and put the taxi driver on the phone and still couldn't find it. As the clock ticked away and the beginning time for the orientation grew closer, I really started to feel like I was on The Amazing Race. After asking about three other people on the street, we finally got there about ten minutes into the Headmaster's speech, not too bad. Adam went off separately with the kids and saw the gym, library, cafeteria, etc. We met with the Headmaster and the Lower School Director and met up together later for a picnic lunch. The boys met up with their friend Henry from the US, who will be in first grade. Jason will be in Kindergarten, which starts on Tuesday - which brings me to the nurse story. The three boys were happily playing on the playground, when suddenly Jason was 'man-down'. He fell off of something and landed on his thumb and was crying hard. His thumb swelled up and didn't look right to me, so they sent us over to the nurse. She was lovely, and checked him out, iced it, said she didn't think there was any serious damage, but to monitor him for increased pain or swelling. She also gave us a dose of liquid Tylenol and the names of two hospitals just in case. We knew he was OK when we got home and he was perfectly capable of playing Wii with an injured thumb. Anyway, it's good that we got to know the school nurse. We will check in with her on Monday at Jason's orientation to let her know he's fine. Tomorrow is moving day - we have an apartment for a month while we look for a permanent place. I cannot wait to get out of this hotel and have some space!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Tenerife, Canary Islands

August 14-21: We finally made it to our holiday. We had a wonderful time in the Canary Islands. Tenerife is the largest of the seven Canary Islands, which are part of Spain, but very close to the west coast of Africa. The resort where we stayed was very nice, with a large swimming pool. Adam got very into ping pong while we were there too. Bill and I enjoyed the many restaurants and a grocery store within walking distance. We signed up for two day trips - one to Siam Park, a water park, and one to Loro Parque, an animal park. The kids loved all the water slides and seeing the dolphins, sea lions, parrots, and lots of other animals. Both trips were booked from the resort and the bus very conveniently picked us up and dropped us off. We spent lots of the week doing some much needed relaxing by the pool and playing games in our room. On the last day we hired a taxi to explore the island. We went to Parque Nacional de Teide, a national park that contains a dormant volcano that is the highest point in Spain at 3700 meters. The terrain heading up there was fascinating - very dry and desert-like - lots of cactus and not many trees. It reminded me of the Old West. Once you get to the base there is a cable car that takes you up close to the top. It was VERY cold and windy, which Jason did not appreciate at all. We stayed huddled together while Bill trekked a bit further. After the volcano, we hit the beach - Playa de las Americas, to be exact. It was packed with tourists - nearly all European - we did not run into one other American on this trip. The boys enjoyed splashing around and collecting some shells. You may be asking why I have not posted any photos of this trip. Well, you see, we left our camera in that taxi on the last day :( But thanks to the wonderful resort workers and taxi drivers of Tenerife, it was found and is being sent back to us :) I'll post the photos when I get the camera back. Now we are back in Madrid and ready to start taking care of some business, like getting us out of this hotel and getting the boys ready for school on September 3.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Day in the Park

This is from 8/13/12. Bill actually had to go to work today for one day before we leave for the Canary Islands, so the boys and I are on our own. After breakfast we started out walking to the grocery store for a few things and stumbled upon the US Embassy - good to know where that is. I was a bit intimidated at the grocery store - no English at all on any of the packages - boys pulling me in 2 different directions - better work on this again when I am alone. Anyway, I found about 75% of what I was looking for and we headed back to the hotel for lunch. Then armed with our Metro tickets we headed for the park. We found Parque Retiro, one of the largest parks in Madrid. The boys really enjoyed the playground equipment - all very different from any of the parks back home. The park has huge statues and fountains throughout. We found the puppet theater that gives free shows on Sundays starting in September - need to come back for that. Also there is a big lake where you can rent a rowboat and row around - better come back with Dad for that. Just to work on getting familiar with the Metro, we came home a different route, starting at a different station. Bill was there waiting for us. Now we need to work on packing for our vacation. We have way too much luggage for this hotel room. Can't wait to get into some kind of apartment.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Dusting off my Spanish

This is actually from 8/12/12. I'm doing my best to catch up. We arrived safely at our hotel in Madrid and slept an incredible 13 hours! I can't remember the last time I slept that many hours in a row. We went down for breakfast in the hotel and the waitress asked me 'Los ninos quieren leche?' Without even thinking about it, I was asking the kids if they wanted milk. What? I actually understood what she said! I was so excited that I didn't even remember whether they wanted milk or not. My confidence swelled even further when she asked me 'Quiere mas cafe, senora?' and I let her know I had had enough coffee. Spanish may come back to me more easily than I thought. Today we are off to ride the metro, get cell phones, and do some exploring of places Bill is already familiar with from his prior business trips. As it turned out, we got cell phones, and also found McDonalds, Starbucks and Sponge Bob in the middle of Puerta del Sol. What else do you need, really?