Wednesday, August 27, 2008

And so we begin, again

Public school started here a couple of weeks ago, and despite my feelings of not readiness, we started back as well.

Moonshine lost her first two teeth this summer, and her excitement about doing some Real Work has been growing daily. She has been waiting for her turn, counting off the days with great anticipation. When our boxes finally arrived on the boat, she practically drooled while she watched me unpack her new tins of beeswax crayons, her Choroi pentatonic flute, and a stack of crisp main lesson books. She has been watching her older sister get to have "all the fun" for three years now, and as such, there aren't many secrets about what is in store for her. Rather, there is just this great longing and eagerness for what is rightfully hers.

One night as I was tucking her into bed, I mildly asked her if she wanted to start school tomorrow. No pomp, no circumstance, just one of those, "Well, shall we?"

She woke the next morning glowing with happiness. Today was the day. I hadn't planned it all out, to be quite honest, but since I had some circle songs up my sleeve and some basic forms in mind, I figured we'd make it work. After breakfast she lingered at the table looking at me with big eyes. "Shall we start?" I asked her.

She was pensive for a minute and then announced, "Well, I need a bridge. And a silk cape." Any doubts I had about her being more in this world than out of it, or her ability to pay attention, were unwarranted. She happily managed to put together her own sort of graduation ceremony, from the dreamy realm of Kindergarten into the solid earth of First Grade. A runner carpet became her makeshift bridge, and with big shining eyes, she began to walk. Sunburst, ever encouraging, joined me in song, and together we sang her across the bridge.

She was welcomed with hugs and kisses. I adorned her with a golden cape and presented her with the tools she will need on her exciting journey ahead-- one tin each of block and stick crayons. From the wide smile that spread across her face and the look of complete rapture in her eyes, this was better than Christmas and her birthday combined.

Moonshine is now a First Grader. For the past two weeks she has been jumping out of bed, regurgitating circle songs all day long, and practicing her new forms at every available opportunity. It was my birthday the other day, and for my present, she proudly presented me with one of the nicest complements any homeschooling mother could receive-- a stack of practiced form drawings, our latest form, that she had done secretly and quite obviously with great care, wrapped up gently in the golden, silk cape.

First grade. And so we begin, again.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

heard from across the room

Moonshine: What does pointless mean?

Sunburst: If you go the pet store and buy a fish, and it dies before you get home, that would be a pointless fish.

Monday, August 25, 2008


I have been struggling to get back to blogging these last few months. Obviously. I've been waiting for things to settle down, get better, seem real, seem like home. And they're not, really. Things are very up and down and my perspective is all out of whack these days.

Perspective. That's the tricky thing I've been working on over here. Because I know that the idea of moving to Europe, no matter how temporary, from an American standpoint sounds all fairytale-like. You know-- how exciting, see the world, pointy cathedrals and castles and history so thick and deep you can smell it--- kind of thing. And it's that, sure, but it also has this flip-side every day living sort of reality where it's just not all fluffy and fantastic. It's just plain hard most days.

I've been letting my perspective issues hold me back from blogging because I thought maybe I could get my head screwed on straight, but I see now that it's going to be a process that just doesn't happen overnight. Meanwhile, life and motherhood and homeschooling continue on. I mean, that IS life isn't it? We're always rolling with the punches or at least taking them and having to get back up and press onward.

So, I'm going to rant a little and try to get past this sort of awkward little bump in my reality. Okay? Good. This is how we're going to do it. The happy, idealistic, fairy-tale believer in me is going to make one fluffy statement, and then the melancholic, realistic, beaten-down part of me is going to make a counter statement. Got it? Great. Let's begin.

Europe is amazing!
Europe sucks!

How great that we have the chance to have real immersion in a foreign language.
OMG, I can't understand anything anyone says to me.

There are so many new and exciting foods to try.
Ugh, who would want to eat horses and cheese that smells like someone's old, decaying butt?

Public transportation is so accessible here.
Why does it have to take all day to get anywhere!

It's so beautiful.
Well, well... yeah, so what?!

So it's beautiful. I'm trying to concentrate on that, rather than the fact that my kids seem to be having major adjustment issues and we have no homeschooling community. I'm trying to focus on the lovely wood-grain on the staircase as I lug my groceries up several flights of stairs. I'm trying to really appreciate the ornate architecture and detailed sculptures while all hell breaks loose with my kids because things aren't just mildly different, they are over the top. And most days are just plain trials.

We have moved around a lot. And it's always hard at first. There is always this period of missing friends or old neighborhoods, favorite restaurants or stores or products. There is always this period of feeling lost or lonely or displaced... this surrealness when we wake up and don't know where we are because things are just new and not yet firmly planted in our subconsciousness. But this moving here... it's all that times a thousand.

It's not just that people speak a different language here. I mean, they do, sure, and I had no idea exactly how different Swiss German was from high German, but now I know. Worlds different. So there's that. But the food is different. The laws are different. We can't just run our dishwasher when we get around to it, I have to plan because there are noise ordinances. Same for laundry. Same for grocery shopping. It takes all day to buy groceries-- well, for us it does. And I have to remember that certain stores close for lunch, don't stay open late, and hardly anything is open on Sunday. And since we have food allergies and diet restrictions, I have to stop and try to decipher the ingredients on everything we buy. And to remember, always remember, that I can only buy as much as I can carry and still manage to keep three kids from getting sucked under the trams, trains or smashed by passing motorists.

Which is not a pretty thought, obviously. There are so many things I could just be down about if I chose to let myself, like how difficult it is to figure out new medicines, health care systems, banking systems, transportation systems... the lack of recognizable vitamin supplements, the high costs of gosh, just about everything... so much stuff I could drown in it if I wasn't careful.

So I'm working on it. It's indisputably amazingly beautiful here, but perspective is a tricky thing.
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