We arrived here 6 weeks ago yesterday and today, Thanksgiving day, I am feeling the greatness of all that has been accomplished. We have found a great place to live. We can get places without having to spend 30 minutes looking at a map and walk down the street with our eyes fixed on the map on our phone. (Hence, I can leave the house without worrying that my phone is fully charged because I know I can find my way home again.) We have insurance cards. I have visited the pharmacy for the first time and left with the right medicine. Tomorrow we go pick up our residency permits.

But I think the biggest accomplishment to me has been getting everyone into school.  It was a bit of a rough start. We weren’t entirely sure where we were going to live, but didn’t want to keep waiting before we got the boys into school, so we decided to aim for the 3rd district. I went and registered them, convincing the lady that even though we were not currently in the 3rd district we soon hoped to be and I needed them to get into school. She obliged, but the schools were not very close to each other. When I went to check Gabriel and Jack in to their school I learned it was an all day school that went at least until 3:30 every day. After thinking on it over a weekend I decided that was not the best solution and so I went back to the registration office and asked them to move them to a school closer to where Isaac and Stephen were going to go and to put them in a half day school. She was very helpful in this (though the director at the school was having a bad day when I went to pick up a paper I had left and didn’t receive the news kindly at all. But at least we didn’t have to go back.) So we checked into the new school and checked Isaac and Stephen into theirs also and everyone went for their first day. Jack’s class headed out for a field trip to the Concert House before he even stepped foot in the classroom. Gabriel and I parted with significant tears, but he had a great first day and was happy to go back. He declared he liked it better than homeschool except that he didn’t get to be with me. The schedule has taken a bit of getting used to. Some days Gabriel gets out at 12:00 and sometimes at 1:00. On the days he is out at 12, Jack goes until 1. When Jack gets out at 12, Gabriel goes until 1. After lots of running around I decided that whoever gets out first can play in the courtyard until the other one is done and I can get them both at the same time. This has worked well, though as the weather gets colder we may have to make a different plan.They are staying put in their current school for this year. Next year we will move them closer to our apartment. I am already looking forward to that.

Isaac and Stephen’s teacher was ill their first day, and the second and third and fourth. They seemed to manage okay, but there wasn’t much communication or clear idea of what they were supposed to be doing. By the time their teacher came back and I actually got to meet her, we had found a permanent apartment that ended up being not in the 3rd district, but the 6th, and after checking to make sure there was a place in a school near our new apartment, we decided to go ahead and move them.  They can walk to school in less than 10 minutes, which has proved very helpful especially since their school schedule is very bizarre and on some days they have a 2 hour break in the middle of the school day. Some days they finish at 2:40, one at 12, one at 3:30. It is very confusing, but they like the new school better than the other. Their class is very international including children from Russia, Turkey, Iraq, China, Slovakia, etc.  They were not the new boys for very long since 2 other boys have come since they started.

Sports is a favored activity among all of them, though much to Jack’s displeasure he doesn’t often get to participate because they always get him for German classes when the other kids are going to sports. He does get to go swimming on Tuesday’s though and his class has taken a number of trips out. They all have several hours a week devoted to German learning. Google translate has become a good friend in deciphering homework instructions.

Signing Sebastian up for kindergarten proved to be the most difficult school-related task, but finally he is enrolled and starts on Tuesday at a kindergarten 2 blocks from our flat. He has seen his classroom and met his teacher who seems very nice. He has told me that he thinks he’ll have fun, but that he will cry and he wishes my school was in the same building as his and that I could go to kindergarten with him so he wouldn’t cry. We have had a lot of fun mornings together playing games and talking and running errands. I will miss that too.

I managed today to get myself registered for some intensive German classes that start on Monday, so I will be going to school as well. Conveniently the classes go from 8:30 to 11:30–just enough time to drop off Gabriel and Jack and hop back on the Subway to go to class. Adam will drop Sebastian off at kindergarten after Isaac and Stephen leave to walk to school and I’ll get finished in time to pick Sebastian up at 12 and then go get Jack and Gabriel by 1:00.  I am looking forward to the day that I can spend my morning hours in a bit more leisure, but feel that I need some serious coursework to get a leg up on being able to communicate better.



About Wendy McCollum

I am a single mom to five wonderful boys. Life is an adventure, with many twists and turns. We live in hope, always, for our great God can redeem all things. There are so many funny and precious moments that slip by too fast. Perhaps here I can save them for when my own memory fails.
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