The Kids Are Alright

31 Mar

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In our preparations to move to Romania, my main stress and anxiety revolved around the kids. How were they going to adapt to the move? Would it hurt Finn to be away from school for six months? Could I homeschool without wanting to strangle my children? What will they eat? Will they be okay?

Sooooo, I may have been projecting.

Turns out the kids are fine. Of course they are. They’re five and seven. They’re totally adaptable. We already knew this, but are again seeing it in practice. We pick them up from one place, drop them in another and they just continue on doing their thing.

I think Romania has been good for the kids. There have been some weepy moments, mostly from Finn because he misses his friends and his school. To tell you the truth, I do too. Anyone I’ve ever talked to knows how much I adore his school, and more so after moving abroad. They’ve made it so easy for us. Rather than pulling Finn out of school, he’s still enrolled and a part of his class. He is doing all the work that his class is doing and we keep in touch with them through his teacher. A few weeks ago, we Skyped his class and he got to show them some of the Romanian words he’s learned and they lined up to ask questions about what it was like here. It was wonderful to see everyone and the work and care that his teacher put into it. Afterwards though, he was pretty homesick. The next day we decided to skip homeschooling and have a mental health day. We went to Centru to chase pigeons and have some gelato.

(As a side note, can I just tell you about the gelato. It’s pretty good, not eating it on a street corner in Italy good, but almost. But here’s the kicker- a cone only costs about $0.75. Seriously. We may have been back a multiple times in the last week. )

So back to homeschooling. Yes. Well. Let’s just say I have soooo much more appreciation for Finn’s teacher and all teachers.

After two weeks of homeschooling, we agreed that it would be a good idea to try and find a pre-school for the twins. I was doing fine with them here at home. In fact, I’d just been teaching them the same material as Finn and was pretty impressed that they’ve been able to keep up. But I wanted to spend more one-on-one time teaching Finn, the kids had been begging for Romanian friends and I was hoping they might pick up the language. So through a friend here, we found a small kindergarten that is taught in both English and Romanian. The class is small, run by parents, and focuses mostly on art and play. Rhett and I went to visit (Lucy had to stay home because she stepped on a Lego and hurt her foot. It isn’t pleasant, kid, is it? IS IT?? Cry me a river.) and Rhett was sold the minute he saw that the class had a pet lobster. The Romanian kids think it’s a crab though, which frustrates Rhett to no end. (“It’s not a crab! It’s a LOBSTER!”) Anyways, the twins have been happy there, Finn has been happy with the one on one time, I’ve been happy because they feed the twins lunch at school, Patrick’s been happy because he’s just a happy guy.

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So it’s working out well for everyone. Homeschooling isn’t actually that bad, now that we’ve gotten into a rhythm. I do the Language Arts and Math work from Finn’s school so he can keep up with what they’re doing. What I really enjoy though are the “enrichment” classes I add to every day’s lesson. We’ve done mostly art classes, but also yoga, PE, exploration, and field trips. One recent success was teaching the kids about Rembrandt and then taking them to the Art Museum to see a special Rembrandt exhibit. They were really into it and pointed out the things we’d talked about beforehand. We looked over all the self-portraits and the kids picked their favorite expressions and posed next to the portrait making that face. The security guard was alternately stern and amused.

In a nod to the graffiti that covers the city, we did a lesson on street art last week. We learned about different kinds of street art, went for an art walk and picked out what was art and what was graffiti, then went over the the park and made our own art on the playground.

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Finn tried to make an illusion so people would think there was a hole in the ground. I was also showing the kids how to make art with things that are already there. I added a stem and leaf to bird poop and voila! a dandelion.

Lucy hard at work. She was making "art that would make people feel something."

Lucy hard at work. She was making “art that would make people feel something.”

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Rhett and I turned the side of the playground logs into Super Mario blocks.

This week we’re learning about Italy because (woo hoo!) we’re leaving next Thursday for Venice, where we’ll spend a couple of days exploring (Rhett: The STREETS are MADE from WATER??!!!”). We’re staying at a cheap place on the mainland called Camping Jolly. I’m dreading Habiba Village- Venice, but it’s just a place to lay our heads and we both feel like if our kids could survive in the hostile hostel situation the first week we were here, then an Italian trailer park shouldn’t be too bad. After that we’ll drive down to Tuscany by way of Padua where we’ll spend the next week staying in a little farmhouse on a family farm where they grow grapes and olives and have farm animals for the kids to help with. Also, the farmowner’s mother has offered to teach the kids how to make pasta while we’re there. That will be our home base to explore Florence and nearby hill towns. Ooh I’m so looking forward to this!

After finding out that not only are the streets made of water, but the main foods are pasta, pizza and gelato, the kids are counting down the days until we leave.Β  I’m trying to ensure that they’re as excited about the sights as the food, so I’m using their Amazing Race obsession (we’ve watched it every week as a family for years) and creating “The AMason Race.” I’m coming up with clues and detours, roadblocks and pit stops that will take us through the major and more hidden sites and experiences. The goal is to never be staring at amazing Renaissance art and hear “this is BORING! Can I play my tablet?” Wish us luck.

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3 Responses to “The Kids Are Alright”

  1. Nadine March 31, 2015 at 10:12 am #

    Oh! I wanna be just like you! You are amazing to be homeschooling, and I am so impressed with your enrichment activities. How ingenious! I can hardly wait to hear about Italy adventures. I LOVED Florence, and Venice was really cool (Water streets *are* awesome!) Thanks for keeping us updated on your adventures.

  2. Dorothy K. March 31, 2015 at 12:40 pm #

    Melissa you are an amazing, creative Mother. I want to go on your trip too.

  3. Mom March 31, 2015 at 8:11 pm #

    Sounds like quite the adventure. (Knowing that Rhett can’t walk a straight line, keep him out of the Venice canals!

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