We have all had quite a few adjustments with this move. I cannot get past the fact that when we go out to eat, or go anywhere, everything is in English. You would think by now I would be over it, but I still find myself bemused by the fact that I can just order, pay a bill, sign the kids up for an activity and not have to worry I am probably doing it wrong. Oh, I screwed up anyway, but that was getting to the activities, a completely separate issue.
I have talked with other folks in the know and they agree that overseas to domestic transfer can often be much harder than the opposite. You may end up in the middle of a town where you know absolutely no one (wait, we knew two people...thank heavens for E & K in Walnut Creek!) and buying or renting a home is a cr*pshoot. Sorry, but can't think of a better way to say it.
Now we could have easily had an interesting time just moving from the East Coast, as some of my friends have. Instead, we get to explain, explain, and re-explain the differences between the schools here and in Iceland, the changes in curriculum, everything. It has not been terribly taxing, but despite the preparation, the review of CA educational standards, and research upon research, we ended up quite surprised at the differences between the educational systems.
I was thrown a bit when the other first graders seemed to be writing intensively on the first day of school. I was not worried because this was the first year that Kelsey would be learning in only one language. However, there was some concern as the standards are very high here and quite strict.
Naturally, I freaked. I fretted up and down, worried things beyond what is normal and wondered if she was in the right place. I was not as concerned with Caitlin, despite the fact they started an Algebra review (yes, review) two weeks ago. No, she has never had it in that sort of in-depth detail, but, thankfully, she has picked it up quickly.
Nope, I just worried about Kelsey and didn't know what to do. Would she end up way behind? Was she really that far behind to begin with? Or did she, as we should have suspected, simply need more of an adjustment period.
Ding, ding, ding. She is flying, yes, FLYING now. Her reading has excelled tremendously, her writing
has taken off (she needs no prompting), she is getting those math facts down pat, and today she colored up to purple.
Yes, I know, what on earth does that mean? It means she had a fabulous day and in her teacher's eyes really worked above and beyond today. Something clicked last week, and today was the culmination of her efforts. She was one of the star pupils and yes, she is very proud of her efforts. So, for her efforts, her name went on the highest level (purple) of their classroom achievement chart.
I had noticed her efforts over the past two weeks and this confirmed my thoughts that she has really hit her stride. Her teacher walked out of the classroom and stopped me right after Kelsey told me the news. She stopped to ask me if Kelsey had mentioned anything. I said she had and then we discussed just how much she had changed over the past week.
The end result? Kelsey is proud of her work, we are very excited about her efforts, and both of these help us feel a little more settled here. Now, if we could just have the time to get rid of those darn boxes in the living room!
The balloons you ask? We went out to dinner tonight as we had several errands to run (to include the purchase of a more water-efficient washing machine...more on that later) and would not have time to cook at home. After dinner, a balloonist stopped by...we had little cash on us (still very Icelandic in that respect), but she insisted on creating this for Kelsey and a blue one for Cait. Just a few pieces of latex, a few puffs of air, a couple of twists and turns, a snip here and there and the result? A prety creative balloon and a very happy girl.