Thursday, September 10, 2009

25 minutes to eat

The school year has started. We now have an 8th grader, 6th grader, 4th grader and 3rd grader. The girls hop on a bus that picks up in front of our house at 7:52 a.m. and I walk the boys to school at 8:45 a.m. Considering the boys were up early enough to see Ian off just after 6 a.m., they have quite the lazy morning. The only rush comes with getting Katherine at the curb on time. It's going to be interesting seeing if she learns that the bus stops at the bus stop and picks up whoever is there, the bus does not stop at the bus stop to pick up Katherine.

First day of School - SaundersMS
The school days are short in the U.S., roughly 45 minutes shorter than at AISC. Middle school runs 8:20 to 2:50, and Elementary school runs 9:00 to 3:30. The girls get home at 3:15, the boys get home at 3:40. I'm thinking this will work well if/when the kids have after school activities. I don't know if the Middle school has an activity bus, another thing to figure out.
Overall, the kids seem to have gelled just fine. There are some adjustments as in any school. The shorter school day means Middle school doesn't get any break aside from lunch, and lunch is a whopping 25 minutes with no free time to play around. The girls say that some kids are still getting food in the lunch line when the bell rings. How does that work?? I'm letting the kids buy lunch once a week, and Rebecca seems to be leaning towards bringing every day because it ensures she'll get to eat. Both boys have commented that their recess time is way too short, and yesterday Nicholas' class worked right through recess. They don't get a snack break either so basically they do school work from 9 until lunch, have 25 minutes to eat, and back to the classroom. Jonathon's class does get a snack in the morning because they have the "late" lunch at noon. Katherine has lunch at 10:30 in the morning.
With the entire school enclosed and many of the classrooms interior rooms including the gym, another adjustment is the lack of fresh air and sunshine between classes. I realize that it's already getting cooler and the kids will be in school over the winter months, but it's still a big change to go from plenty of vitamin D to none at all during the day.
First day of School - MontclairES
Nicholas has brought up that the school certainly does like lines. Line up to enter the school in the morning. Line up to go to the bathroom. Line up between classes. Line up to leave the school in the afternoon. Lines, lines, lines. No looking around, no talking, clasped hands so no touching... anything. He's unimpressed with the lines.
A lot more kids (Nicholas is #17 out of 27 in his class, Katherine says most of her classes have 30+... AISC typically had classes around 18 kids), fewer classrooms, more schools overall and a limited number of buses requiring staggered start times. With schools located within neighborhoods, there's no campus for kids to walk around freely, everything is timed and lined and locked. It's just different.
Rebecca really likes her Chorus teacher, Nicholas' teacher seems great (former military I think), Katherine has P.E. and Band every day (seems excessive to me that P.E. bit, and I think we'll need more uniforms), and Jonathon hasn't been sent to the Principal's office.
I know it sounds like I'm complaining, but really, I'm not. It's an adjustment and anyone who knows me knows I don't do change well (yeah... don't say what you're thinking, OK?). But as school gets into swing I know some great things will start happening and the weird scheduling will melt into the background. For now though, I'm missing AISC a bit, the familiar is calming.
As for me, the house is finally getting pulled together. Pictures have gone up on the walls which completely changes the feel of the place. We're down to a dozen boxes in the garage, 2 are filled with Rathna stuff, 2 more have the telescope in them. What haven't we discovered yet? Our Chinese paintings, and the knives that go in the woodblock. I have the block... no knives. The rest we should probably just burn as whatever is in them won't be missed. More shelving is called for in the basement and garage to hold tools and little used kitchen items, and more junk need to be booted to the curb. I've been ruthless with the books on the shelves (a little late? uh, yes) and I'm reading the book Clutter's Last Stand by Don Aslett as I try to find room for stuff. I'm realizing that I don't need more room (this is house so much smaller), I need less stuff. A couple pages of that book before I open another box and suddenly I don't feel bad for throwing/giving things away. My mantra at the moment: I don't want a bigger house, I want less clutter... I don't want a bigger house, I want less clutter. I think it's actually going to work. After I get a mixer, a food processor and some cookie sheets.
Today is the crossing guard's birthday. After I go to Target, pick up a book from the library and clean up the main floor, I'm going to bake something for him. I have 5 hours.

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