After rolling the two kids and the camper all the way the Alaska and back, we couldn’t just stop and go home to the heat in Arizona. Instead, we continued to Pennsylvania to visit family and give the kids an opportunity to attend summer camp via Penn State University’s Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center. Zoe went to a week of their camp a long time ago and has, ever summer, asked to do it again. Finally, this year, I was able to say yes. Continue reading “No Ticks = Success!”
The kids have been attending CEIP San Fulgencio, one of the the local Spanish public schools here in Albacete, and it has really become a little hub of our community. Both kids have made amazing friends, and the daily bike ride has been something we all look forward to. Continue reading “Our San Fulgencio Family”
This post is going to be all about our two kids. It’s my prerogative as a parent to brag a bit and I feel like I haven’t done enough of it lately. These two young people I’m helping to prepare for the world impress me daily and fill me with such joy and hope for the future. We’ve been given some pretty crazy drastic news recently, and yet the kids are resilient and hopeful. It’s really the simple beautiful things that make Zoe and Avi wonderful people.
Welp, the public school asked the Americanos to participate or present in some way at the Thanksgiving fiesta. Being a bilingual school, they attempt to also include cultural events in the English-Spanish curriculum. Mostly, it seems British focused (as in Anglo day) but they were exited for turkey crafts and pilgrim hats and Indian feathers for thanksgiving. Pinterest helps, I’m sure. Continue reading “Teaching the history of thanksgiving to Spaniards. “
After a few weeks of vacation and decision making, we returned from Finland ready to pull Zoe out of CEDES – the private school she’s been attending. There have just been too many struggles there; especially the long day, and quite a list of other things. The nearby bilingual public school was too full, so she was placed at the other one in the district. It’s a bit further down the road, but still an easily bike-able distance along a lovely bike trail. In the end, I think it will be a better fit as it’s quite small with only one class per grade and there are a few other American families attending. Continue reading “Another First Day”
Zoe has run the gamut of emotions since finding out we are moving to Spain and that she will no longer be homeschooled. At first, last spring, she was adamant that she would hate it and demanded to stay homeschool. Then we visited Aunt Beppy and saw her amazing International School, so it was an unfair comparison, but still a similar environment. It changed Zoe’s mind to more open. Then we looked at the school website all spring and found out they have Chess club, and she was getting warm to the idea.
When we arrived we made new friends will another American family stationed here, who live just down the road and around the corner. Their son C also attends the Colegio CEDES; the one bilingual ‘international’ school here in Alabacete. They became fast friends and that secured Zoe’s excitement about attending; even after we visited the school and found out they have merely a play yard, no play ground equipment. BUT, they do get a lot of free time! Nearing the first day however, she has gotten quite nervous again, about meeting other kids and understanding Spanish (which they do half the day). She braved it, though.
On the first day morning, she was up early. We set her alarm for 0730 (school doesn’t start until 0900), and when it went off she appeared at my bedside fully dressed and ready. I needed to put another couple button holes in her suspenders and then I started to make pancakes only to discover our water was out! Luckily we keep some in the fridge…so life went on and included weird toothbrushing with bottled water. During pancake cooking (on my new paella pan bought for this purpose) Zoe got excited about switching out her new earring studs for the little duck earrings she got for school. Well, those things are on tight and when the back finally popped off it hurt! So, she did not want to get the second one off. The little duck went into her new earhole just fine, but she still smarted about the studs and had an emotional crying morning over pancakes, nerves, and one duck.
We biked over to the school together and her mood cheered a bit. She still held my hand as we walked into the schoolyard quite nervous until she spotted her friend C. Then it was all smiles and wandering off with him to socialize. The schoolyard was a wreck with parent and kids all over the place, and the teachers using a speaker to call out names one at a time. When her teacher called, Zoe went running and then walked inside with the class (and her best friend). I noticed about half the kids were in their workout/PE clothes and half in the formal uniform. Another parent told me they can wear whichever they like for the first month or so; some kids still didn’t even have a uniform. Must not have gotten that memo (well, I didn’t either, but asked).
Avi and I needed to bike back home and return with a snack, having brought nothing to school. I have not gotten any lists or info about supplies or anything, and specifically asked about food and was told all the food was provided (though another mom said she packs a snack). So, all the other kids had a snack packed….and I ran back with an apple and pistachios. I was also told school ended at 1300, but really it was 1500, so she was there longer. It all worked out. Though I’m really disappointed and fairly shocked at the lack of communication from the administration of the school, it gets rave reviews on actual teaching and curriculum from a lot of other parents in the TLP (so, people from other picky countries).
When I went to pick up Zoe she was all smiles and excited and declared, “this is the best school ever!” So, it was great, and I am so happy she loves it. I spoke with her teacher at pickup and was told the only materials she needs is a pencil case and daily desayuno (second breakfast, or snack)…nothing else. I even asked what to put in the case and she said, “empty! we give them supplies.” Zoe couldn’t stop talking about her day, too! She made a new friend called Carlotta, played alot outside, everyone had to get up in front of the class and say what they did that summer, they made name cards for desks, played jump rope, did coloring, and a lot of other fun intro to the school year stuff!
After school we drove down to the TLP base for a unit end-of-summer picnic. It was fancy, with glassware and real dishes and wine and catered food – hosted by the Dutch and Danish, so delicious fish and smorgasbord, complete with each set of flags and royal family hanging on the wall. Quite the change from a typical squadron pot luck with paper plates and keg. But, still there were tons of kids, more even!! Seems a lot of people from a lot of countries get an assignment here for good quality family time. Awesome to have the kids running around playing with littles from 10 other countries! We were officially welcomed to the unit, too, and got to meet quite a few folks.
UPDATE: Cats names are now Nutmeg and Ginger, not Mango and Pumpkin
One promise we made to the kids before moving the Spain was that we would get a pet. The kiddo’s have been ready for a while, and after fostering kitties in Korea they wanted their own!
So we visited El Arca de Noe shelter when Bethany was here and tried another time, but were turned away for not be pre-approved. So I spent a long afternoon translating and filling out the adoption application and questionnaire. Then, another couple weeks later, I started getting texts about potential kitties. I guess the ones at the shelter are either feral, mostly feral, new, or sick. So, not ideal for our situation…. we needed a couple cats who get along and have known temperaments. The shelter has 70% of their cats in foster, so I got lots of text options, and questions about kid interaction, etc…. we finally hit the mark with a family of cats that were born last spring and none adopted out yet.
We packed up the kids Tuesday afternoon to go see the cats at their foster house about an hour out of town. They were staying at a shelter volunteer’s mom and dad’s summer house. It was incredible: like this little mansion right in town. We walked through the gate with an “Aaaahhhhh” at their beautiful oasis courtyard. Then they let out the kitties to play and interact. We let the kids get approached by them and the one orange and white one was obviously Avi’s. This little boy, they called Mago, let Avi carry him around and play and pet. They were inseparable. Two of the 5 little ones – teens if you will – were skiddish and nervous of the kids, so that made an easy choice. The last two were both super fond of Zoe. They played and played, and it was hard to choose. She wanted to call her kitty Boom Mic, and so originally wanted the black and white one. But, then it seemed a bit wild and would not calm to let her pet him or pick him up. The other orange kitty was a gigantic purr machine, and played, and loved. So, she chose him (they called him Merlin) after a long afternoon of deciding. The family told us the two oranges also seemed to be best friends.
The family were so nice! They brought out drinks and snacks and we all sat on their veranda and chilled out while the kids picked out kitties. There were an adult daughter and son, who spoke English (and went the CEDES, the school Zoe will attend), and their parents all living out in this fancy place for the summer. After decisions were made, the dad invited us in to check out the house and his antiques; he likes British stuff and thought we were from the UK at first. His house was amazing! The foundation was built during Muslim occupation times… so about 600 years ago. In the basement there was an original tunnel opening that used to lead to the church. I guess all the town people had their own underground passage to church during that time period. His family built the current house on top of that in the 1700’s. It was amazingly ornate and formal in layout, plus his antiques and collection were awesome. Anyway, once he learned we were Americans he said he liked us better….thats a new one!
After that we were invited to take the kitties!! I did not think it would be just like that; I figured all the paperwork and stuff would have to happen first. But, this is a trial adoption period. We will meet in a few days downtown to finalize everything. I’m so excited!!! So are the kids. It has taken a couple days of having the cats around to choose names. Zoe landed on Ginger pretty quickly, though I did like Boom Mic she said it wasn’t appropriate on a non-black fuzzy cat. Avi has gone through a lot of names (Crescent Moon, Orange Peel, Tulip), but I think Pumpkin will stick…. nope, it’s now Ginger.
These two cats have been a joy to have at home. They wander around with us and love petting and purring, but they also play and hang out in the yard while we garden. So far, they have been sleeping in the big bathroom where their litter pan is. They’ve been quiet at night in there, but at bedtime are meowish and playing so thats why we put them in. Hopefully they get the hint that if they are calm they can sleep with the kiddos, though they do seem to like sleeping together so maybe its best to have them in their own space.
In the morning Nutmeg goes looking for Zoe while Ginger comes into my room where Avi has usually joined me in bed. So much love!!
Zoe has been having a great end of school year joining the rest of her class at the spring concert, a field trip to the science museum, and field day!
Her concert was nice. The second grades sang Rose Rose, Kookaburra, and Come and Let us Play and Sing. She seemed in her element on stage enjoying an audience.
She went on the school field trip to the science museum, and took our old camera, so I will post some of her pictures here. Highlights were experiencing a hurricane in a giant room with rain and wind, and a giant electricity tower that made lightening bolts!
Field day started out rainy, but it cleared out and was still awesome. There was a giant beach ball, military vehicles, and ambulance, and police car to explore, plus all the relay races and water contests imaginable.
Time is flying by too quickly. We’ve been out biking around town; there is a newly built bike trail that goes along the river just outside of town over to the Jinwi campground. It’s a wonderful little route; perfect distance for the kids.
Bryan and I even had a date night! We drove up to Everland to ride the best roller coaster ever…the T Express and enjoy some romantic lights in the rose garden.
Another Friday night found us hanging with the kids at the rock wall.
We also went to a nearby memorial museum that was just built a couple years ago. The first battle of the Korean war to include US / UN forces was just north of us in Osan city. A small memorial to mark the Task Force Smith battle was erected just after the war and a bigger one built a decade ago, but the new museum to accompany it it great. The highlight was a big topo map board that has video projectors walk you through the battle. Kids enjoyed it as well, and especially Avi who felt so emotional about the memorial section with pictures of all the troops that he wanted to put up a personal message on the thanks wall.
I have been busy cleaning out pots and prepping house stuff for our next big move. Bryan is prepping the car, and Avi enjoyed helping him out last weekend! They changed the spark plugs and brake pads.
Lastly, was the big Spring Fest at Camp Humphreys – the army base just south of us. We will miss such amazing military support and activities when we leave Korea. There were bouncy castles galore, craft tables, food booths, local Korean information, and bands playing on 3 stages. Bryan and I enjoyed sitting with a bunch of older Koreans from the local folk village to learn how to package up our hard boiled eggs in rice straw. Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan band was the highlight at the end of the evening! We ended up leaving early, while his band was still playing, because Zoe hurt her knee pretty badly in a bouncy accident. I guess she got stuck under a bent down poofy thing and another kid jumped right on her. ouch!