Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Things are just different...

Ok, so I know I am American, and I lived here for 26 years before going to SA, but having lived there for 13 years and it being the ONLY place I have raised my kids, it sort of feels like that is the base of my beliefs in raising kids.
Yesterday was the kids first day at their new school, and they did wonderfully!  Both teachers gave reports that they adjusted well and had a great day and neither cried at all.  Well they have been in school since they were 4 months old so it must feel normal to be in a school.  With the little one a note comes home to tell me how many times her nappie (diaper) was changed and how she ate, her mood and any notes from the teacher.  They don't have books like we used at Snuggles where I could also send info to the teacher, so I stopped in to chat to the teacher about the note she left for me on O's sheet.  It said that O would need hard soled shoes to play outside in so the pebbles didn't hurt her feet.  I asked Julian to go with me to make sure that I didn't sound hard or unreasonable because as those that know me know, I like to discuss things, I like to go through different ideas and I like to understand the thinking of the other person and take what I can and come to an agreement.  Whether it is me moving to that point of view totally, them moving to mine, or a meet in the middle kind of thing, it is all good and everyone involved in raising my children have a new outlook.  Well, I started to speak to the teacher and she was quite open to discussing, I asked if I could see the pebbles that she was concerned about and we spoke about how it's just on the cement where the pebbles get scattered that it is in an issue etc...Then the teacher over the divider - well she is the office assistant that was helping out in that class this morning.  She pipes up that it is 'state law that they have tennis shoes in the classroom in case something falls on her feet it will bruise them'  And of course this was done in that very loud very condescending voice that people have when they believe they are right and not willing to have another point of view given.  At this, my claws might have reared their ugly little heads a bit more than I wanted.  I have certain beliefs in how MY children are raised.  I am old fashioned in many respects and I do not judge other parents for how they wish to raise their kids.  We are all doing what we feel to be right and doing it the best we can.  However, these are MY kids and therefore I have a say in how they are raised.  So I slowly turned my head to this loud woman and said in quite a clear precise (as the exhubby would say I enunciated my syllables) way that it has been proven in independent studies that hard soled shoes do not allow for the proper development of their feet and that my son wore these shoes for the first two years of his life and I assured her that he never acquired bruising on his feet at his previous nursery school.
I just feel frustrated that here in the 'land of the free' the government or some office clerk wants to tell me an unsubstantiated requirement for my child.  No not here, no thank you.  I will have a look for other shoes, perhaps a very soft harder sole than the shoo shoes she has, but truly this is going to take some getting use to on my part.  I need to figure out a way to communicate with other people here as well that will not be considered offensive when I want to gain a better understanding of some rule or law.
....And ok perhaps I am a bit defensive on this too...perhaps...I am maybe feeling a bit superior to the sheep herded masses here that believe what they are told and not do their own research or question the validity behind the 'rules' given to them....perhaps I am a lot less American than I thought...and a bit more South African than I planned....
I miss Granny...and Snuggles....

Monday, February 21, 2011

The daycare, school, or preschool...

So today we enrolled the little darlings into a school.  I must tell you that this was the hardest decision I have done.  We looked at 3 VERY different schools.  This is what I narrowed it down to from phoning, one wrong word or phrase can put a mom off - yes a bit OTT! The first one sounded so great all the reviews I read raved about it and they were written by parents and they sounded like I would have described Snuggles, obviously my favorite, ever.  So we went to look and they were unable to accommodate us right away, but I would expect a good school to be full, right?  We walked through and it was nice, but it didn't feel right.  They took the kids out once a day (ha ha ha, never met mine clearly!) and it seemed nice but just something didn't feel - right.  On to the next one, the Tzu Chi Buddhist Preschool. Ok, this place was cool, however, they wore a uniform and it was duel medium - English and Mandarin!  I think Mandarin would serve the kids well but I think they have had to adjust to a TON of things already...perhaps another language is not such a good idea right now.  Oh and they didn't take O's age so it would have been just S....hmmm....nope would rather they were together.  Finally, we looked a school that is run by a mother/daughter team (hmmm...sounds a bit familiar? I even started crying when she told me...what a cry baby!) has been there 16 years, teachers have been there for 10 except for 2, fresh food cooked onsite. 15 to 1 kid teacher ratio, breakfast before 0800, lunch at 1130, nap at 1200 - 1400, play outside twice a day, disciplined lessons with play, they can do gymnastics 4 times a week (balance beam work included), secure code access....ok so how did it feel?  O wouldn't leave the classroom and S wouldn't leave the playground...ok we'll take door number 3!
So tomorrow they will attend their new school.
 *SIGH*  I hope I don't cry this time!

Catch up:

I have only started this 'into' the adventure so let me catch you up a bit.  I'm not going to go into the entire moving saga - to me that would be an entirely different animal, and frankly, I would not like to relive it.  Let's just say that I organized group travel and did large groups one over 1000 people, this surpassed that group on so many levels.  All I can say is that if you are going to move house, neigh, if you are going to decide what in your house what is worth shipping, and what price you want to sell what you can, and what you are willing to give away and to who, do it quickly, like ripping off the band aid and know that there will be that ONE thing that  you will think you did the wrong thing with no matter what.  Then, when you are done - move on!
So this is more about what it is like to go from having a settled life and all it contains to literally starting all over again.
So we arrived on the 10th of February, we flew via London, and again, I'm not going to get into the travel with small children adventure, but my suggestion is to get a good sleeping aid for them, it makes them more comfortable for the long night flight, and allows them to sleep easier and longer so they can keep as close as possible to their schedule. 
10th of February: We arrived in DC.  Now here I am going to digress a bit and go into the immigration process. When we phoned for information on how to get Pappa's immigration visa we were told that the process could take up to 6 months.  I thankfully had been collecting documents from Home Affairs such as unabridged birth certificates (for kids) unabridged marriage certificates etc.  I would suggest that for any document that you can get unabridged you get it before you need it as these can take up to 6 months themselves!  The first step is me as the US citizen to petition for him to be considered an immediate relative.  We dealt with the consulate in Johannesburg and we dealt with a man named Vinesh, seriously a painless process.  We were told exactly what we needed, why, how to supply those details and when, all with a professional and kindness that was so refreshing and really made us feel like we were doing the right thing.  This took about 2 weeks and once approved we then started the second process which is the immigration visa process. Also a well handled process, this took about 6 weeks in total and we had the visa.  So if you are thinking of this process, get all the documentation that you will require before you start, then hang on to your hats, it goes quick!
Sorry - 10 February - again.....
We arrived, tired and a bit smelly.  My mom and her man live in the area and helped us quite a bit with the visa, we stopped for a visit with them.  It was a good idea, we had a break from moving and the stress of leaving our home and starting the process of getting our lives in order.  Besides the fact that it was nice to see them both and spend time with them.  But this blog isn't about all the emotional good to be home family stuff.
We stayed with them for 5 days and then flew to our new home city Dallas.
Here my dad and step-mom live and have a house for us to rent, so I don't know the whole stress of finding a place to live etc...
So now we are here and what on Earth do we do school? furniture?  what is the thing you need to do first?  Well we quickly decided that being independent was top, closely followed by a school for the kids!
We started shopping for a car and looking for a school simultaneously....
While searching for a car we quickly discovered that me being away for 13 years basically eliminates my credit this could be a good thing, but it is also a bad thing.  No one will loan me money to buy a car nor will they lease me a car because basically for the past 13 years I haven't existed...this makes lending agencies a bit nervous, go figure!  So then we had to ask Daddy to co-sign on the 39, I had to get a co-signer.  See this is the 'back to school' part...we had a fantastic credit is SA, we were independent, we could have co-signed for other we are 0.  Sobering.
We started looking and realized that we couldn't even be reached or find one another if we got seperated on the massive car lots here.  SIDE TRACK....telephones.  Hey here we should be able to do this on our own!  Right??  NO!  In order to get a phone contract we would have had to have put down $500 per  
Ok so phones sorted we resumed the car search...found some great deals on leasing a new car (we are safety obsessed so new was the safest option) Kia - good deal...VW...good deal...we weren't in love with the cars...Chevy Traverse...loved the deals...then Pappa THE MAN found a Dodge Durango...OH YES THANK YOU!  On Friday we drove away in our Dodge sweet!  Of course since I started this blog after the fact, you have been saved from them process of shopping, dealers, me losing it on one, and the fact that we were at the Dodge dealership from 0900 - 1330 and still had to go back for the car.  AND I still have to take it back this week to have the EPP done - protection coating on the outside but more importantly the inside to protect the car seats from 'small' mishaps..
So now we focus back on the schools...