Thursday, September 29, 2011

"Falling" In

Usually, by the second week of September, things are adjusting to their own kind of normal. The routine gets rolling, all of the bills are paid and the necessary forms are turned in.

This year, the new normal is all chaos all of the time.

I'm on round two of a broken computer. I just fixed that thing and pumped money into it to do so. Now it is lifeless and needs some kind of repeat divine intervention from the geniuses at Apple.

I'm still living in my one bedroom, one tent abode with one husband, three kids and a big, hairy black dog. I now know why dressers and closets were invented. Everyone needs a sock and underwear drawer, if nothing else, unless you're a dog.

I hope to be back on track soon, if it's not overgrown and unrecognizable.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mommy Angst: Cut-Throat Competition for Private School Acceptance

Our kids go to the cutest, private school. O-k, I've said it and you, reader, are either cringing that I used the word "private" or you have private school in your background.

My kids did not end up at an "elitist" institution out of breeding. My husband and I went to public schools and I think we turned out pretty o-k. We kind of ended up at private school by accident. How does one make a ca trillion dollar mistake such as this? Read on...

Our first born, John, is an early September birthday boy. If you are a parent of a September boy, you know there is always one question before they enter kindergarten, "Do you send them early, or do you hold them back?"

If you are new to this debate, at the heart of it, a lot of people believe that you should give a child the "gift of time." This especially holds true for boys. I'm a Montessori preschool teacher, and when it came time for our son's third year of preschool, it was considered his "kindergarten year."

My husband and I, just figured that John would enter the public school kindergarten class with his "gift of time." He would be 6, and that would be around the age of most of the boys in his class. We went to tour the public school kindergarten and uh oh.

The tour guide said that they like the kindergartners to enter school being able to write their name and that most kids are reading by the time they enter 1st grade. John was over at Montessori school probably reading chapter books as we took our tour. This wasn't going to work out so well.

We toured 1st grade. The class sizes were small, but there were 600 kids on recess that border a public park. All we could picture was our little baby in that big class. He was quiet and shy and sweet and he was going to get lost!

Meanwhile, our Montessori teacher called us in for a conference. She told us if John entered kindergarten, it was going to be a disaster. Basically, we were told there was no way John could do kindergarten again.

She recommended that we tour a number of small private schools. We started touring, and the rest is history. We chose the sweetest school that was a cross between Montessori and traditional school. It actually was nick named the "Hippie School" a long time ago.

This was not a fancy school with a parking lot full of fancy cars. Being in Northern California, it had an eensy weensy celebrity attendance, but for the most part, you wouldn't know it was a private school, until you got the bill.

There is one class for each grade. Each class has a team of teachers, usually one male and one female. Every teacher at the school knows you and knows your kid. There is music and art and a wonderful projects lab where the kids use saws, hammers and drills. It has been a lovely place for our now 8th grader to grow and learn.

However, this school ends at 8th grade. Now, we are being catapulted out of our comfort zone and into the land of high school. Public school is large and excellent and facing big budget cuts. Private school is uber competitive and exceedingly expensive and excellent--it faces no budget crisis as the prices just keep going up.

Now we are on that age old question again, what do we do? Do we sell the farm, and maybe a couple of siblings to afford an excellent secondary education? The competition is so fierce for so few spots, you can't go anywhere around 8th grade parents from our school and not have the "High School Conversation."

Where did you apply? Do you think you'll get in? How many recommendations? Test scores? How many times did you child take the SSAT? Did you take the SSAT courses? How was the interview? What did your child write their essay about? Grades?

Calgon! Take me away! We will get letters from the schools about acceptances March 18th. Until then, oh boy. There is tension among the best of friends. There is parental angst over who will get the coveted one or two spots at the top schools.

Then the rumors fly right alongside the circus. If you give more money, you have a better chance. If you have this zip code, you have a better chance. If you play such and such sport you have a better chance. If you have siblings you have a better chance. If you're famous, if you're friends with so and so, if, if, if...

If this is high school, we are going to need Valium to get through the college application process.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Overdue Greetings from California: 9/2011

Dear Friends,

September is a high action month. We are on the go, and usually don't know where we are going. I have two calendars, one paper and one electronic. Wouldn't it be nice if there was a magic system that combined them flawlessly? Oh there is, it is called organiztion! Oops, clean out of that in my mental cupboard.

We are still in the one bedroom, one tent ark. It's all ok. Every once in a while I feel like I really have things under control. The next millisecond, things are falling on me in the closet and I know I absolutely don't have ANYTHING under control.

We actually have no furniture in our regular house. We have a big, expensive job ahead of us to try to fix that situation. Since we are all so bad at trying to choose things, it may be that way for a long while.

Kids are back at school...I think today made it the ninth consecutive day that we tried to get to school somewhat around the time it starts. We usually are a little more punctual at the beginning of the year and slide backwards to being Indiana Jones rolling under the closing stone door late. The pattern already set for this year scares me...if we are this bad now, imagine where we will be by Christmas?

I know that's not a lot of info. Add a broken computer and a smashed phone, and you get a clearer picture to why this blog is suffering.

That's all I can say for now.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Blog: Canadian Chronicles: The Turn

Every summer there is a turning point. There is a day, and suddenly, I look up from my gazillionth load of summer laundry and I’ve just had it.

I’ve had it with laundry and figuring out where the next meal is coming from out of the jumble of food in the pantry. I’ve had it with scrubbing the toilets. I’ve had it with picking wrappers up from the floor.

I’ve had it with searching for batteries that work and flashlights and towels and socks. I’ve had it with making beds and unmaking beds. I’ve had it with trying to be polite and remembering my gracious hostess (oops typed hostile) manners.

I’ve had it with trying to make brilliant conversation with strangers and smiling blankly at passers by, when I just want to lock myself in my room.

And the kids…
The kids start saying how much they miss their pets and their favorite pizza place. They are kind of done.

It’s like being on a crazy road trip, and sometimes it’s time to turn that car around and head home.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

September 1st: School and Back to the Race

We are back and back to breakneck speed. If I think of everything on the to do list individually, it seems completely sane and doable. When I stand back and look at the forest that the trees make, it is a dizzy-fying Monet painting.

I guess that you could look at something like that and say that there is beauty in the chaos.

Right now, all of see is a field of crows.

Catch up and keep up are my varsity sports. I think I'm lettering in neither right now, but I'll keep you posted.