While I know that Aidan and Liam make appearances in most every blog entry I have done, I realized that I haven't done an update on how they are adjusting to life in Spain in quite a while.
Last weekend we were walking with the kids. They walk so much here since we don't have a car. Back in Attleboro, I remember if Aidan had to walk three houses away he would be whining that his legs were sooooo tired. Now he walks long distances and while he will complain here and there, he toughs it out and does it. However, Josh tends to give in to his demands for a shoulder ride much more often than I do! I think he just knows how easily his dad can be manipulated ;)
We were talking with the kids about life in Spain, this coming after Josh and I had had some discussions about me possibly going home for part of the summer with them since everything closes here in August and most children will be away with their families travelling. Aidan responded to life in Spain with an "I Love Spain!". He told us that while he liked Attleboro, he likes Spain better. Why do you ask? "Well, because we don't have a car in Spain and so we are helping the environment." Hmmm... have to admit that's a well thought out answer on his part. Tell you what, I'll buy a hybrid when we go back to the States. He also told us that he wants to stay here for all of 2nd grade instead of just part of the year as originally planned. No reason was given. However, in the next breath he tells us how much he misses his friends, misses his house and misses being able to ride his bike in the street with his friends.
Aidan loves his school. He is passionate about the things he is learning in a way I've never seen from him, especially about the environment. I can't tell you how pleased I've been with it - I absolutely love his teachers and the education he is getting. However, I loved Hill Roberts as well. His teacher in Attleboro pushed Aidan in ways he needed to be pushed. And I saw the results, no doubt. At first I was concerned that he was falling behind compared to the work that he was doing at home, and while I don't know the things he would have done in the 2nd half of the year, I'm pleased to say that he was working on addition, subtraction, counting by 2s, 5s and 10s and learning how to tell time. That's not to mention learning about the environment (the school is very focused on being green), music class, art (his favorite), Spanish, and of course PE. There have been plays and musicals and festivals of all kinds. Most recent was in his class on Friday. We were having an end of the year celebration - the parents all brought snacks for everyone to share and once again we were able to see all of the cultures come together in just one room - food from all over the world. The kids put on a small show for us with a little kindergarten class end of year song. After the song, the teachers did a powerpoint slide show that showed the kids throughout the kindergarten school year. While we were only a part of this classroom for a few months, I will most definitely miss his teachers. I will admit to tearing up during the song and the powerpoint - silly I know, it's just kindergarten...but of all the things I've struggled with in the last 6 months adjusting to this new life, this has been the one constant in our lives that I am perfectly thrilled with. And to see my child happy, and he is happy in his new school, makes all of the struggles worth it.
Liam starts school with Aidan in less than 3 months now. He's been home with me since mid-December and while there are days that have definitely been a challenge, it's really been a great experience having him home with me full time. Both of the boys always did daycare part time and spent one day a week with my mother-in-law. So I've always had one or the other home at least 2 days a week with me but never full time other than their first 10 months.
And yet that time has flown by with Liam. He has adjusted to life in Spain as though we have always lived here. For him, being so young, home is truly where your family is and the location does not matter. He has not been phased by any of it and is slowly picking up some language. His favorites "no gracias" (no thank you), "no toca" (don't touch) and "how many more stops mommy, dos?" (how many more stops, 2?). He has potty trained since we have been here, a daunting task for any parent no matter where you live! I think like any parent, in hindsight, I wish I had done more with him in the last 6 months where it's just been the two of us. However, adjusting to life here, attempting to run errands efficiently (just not possible here) and the fact that I do still work and need to balance work and him, have made it difficult to do all that I would like with him. I plan to make the best of this coming week which is our last week just the two of us before Aidan finishes school for the year.
Aidan has made some great friends in his class and while it's unfortunate that very few live very close to us and that they travel a lot in the summer, I look forward to him spending time with them again in the fall and getting to know their families more now that we have become better adjusted to life here. The ease of getting together for playdates is still not as simple as it was at home and it's never going to be. Everyone I have spoken to here has said that we are so lucky to have a neighborhood like we do at home. Yeah, believe me, I know... this summer is going to most definitely be a difficult challenge for me when it comes to entertaining the boys. The good thing is that Liam is getting bigger and the boys play well overall together. However, being boys they also tend to spend a lot of time beating the crap out of each other.
My biggest challenge ahead in the next 2 1/2 months, what am I going to do with Aidan and Liam when there are no kids to play with? I would not be surprised if in 10 weeks Aidan has 3 playdates. Most definitely nothing like being at home. We have some visitors coming which is going to help as far as a support system for me, but that's not going to help as far as Aidan and Liam having friends there age. However, I think they will be so excited for their Granny and Papa to visit as well as my best friend Michelle. My in-laws will be here for almost 2 weeks and we are really looking forward to being able to show them where we live and explore the city with them. And Michelle will be here for 3 weeks. I've missed her so much and can't wait to spend time with her. She lived here for a while so one of the things I can't wait for is for her to show me things that maybe I haven't seen yet! And since I normally talk to her at least 2 times a week at home and have barely talked to her on the phone since being here, I really just can't wait to catch up.
While Michelle is here, she offered to watch the boys for a weekend so Josh and I could get away and I think we'll need it! So we're going to Paris for just a weekend and I'm so excited! We went to DisneyParis back in April but we never actually went anywhere near the city itself as Disney is on the outskirts of the city.
We'll also be taking a vacation up to Costa Brava which is where my friend Kara has an apartment we will be renting for a week on the water. This will be our first weeklong vacation since being in Spain. We've taken a lot of long weekends but it will be nice to rent a car (gulp, our first time renting a car here and both of us are a bit intimidated). I can't wait to drive up the coast and explore some of the smaller towns and see what life is truly like outside the city!
The very first weekend in August we have some friends visiting us from home. They are taking the Disney cruise out of Barcelona and are going to be here a few days before the cruise departs. We've got our itinerary set for the time they are here and the boys are so excited to see some of their friends from home. And the best part is, we'll see them again a few weeks later... because...
On a somewhat spontaneous move, this week I booked a trip home for myself and boys for 2 weeks of August. Given that most of the kids we know are not going to be around much this summer and while I can entertain the boys for month if I had to, it's not going to be fun for any of us. Aidan craves time to play with kids his age and I don't blame him. I think it will be a great chance for us to recharge our batteries and see our friends and families for in some cases the first time in 8 months. My biggest concern is Aidan having to leave friends and family again and having to readjust to life in Spain again. His first 2 months here were very rough - I don't blame him, they were rough on me too. And so I'm hoping that we can reduce that to say, maybe a week?? Here's hoping!!
Before we know it fall will be here and both my boys will be in school full time. Part of me is happy to have the time to myself again after dedicating the last 6 plus years to the boys, as well as to work more consistent hours for the first time in a long time, but I know how lonely I'm going to be without them around. For the first time in over 6 years it will be just me alone during the day - 5 days a week. Before I had Aidan, I worked in an office and then a few months before giving birth I started my company. I didn't have time to be lonely when trying to get my business off the ground and preparing for the birth of my first child. Now all of a sudden I'm faced with an empty house from 7:30-5 each day.
I think more than anything I'm sad to see Liam leaving the nest so to speak - at home I wouldn't have sent him to nursery school more than 3 days a week and now 2 years earlier than I planned he'll be going to school 5 full days. I'm sure some of you are saying, what's the big deal since many of you are working parents with kids in daycare or school full time and that's just the way it's always been for you. But I guess since I've been lucky to have my kids home with me at least part time over the years, I'm just sad to see an era end. My kids are growing up - babies no more. Liam especially has been showing me that more and more these days.
On the other hand, I'm looking forward to my newfound "freedom". Not only will I get a chance to focus on my work again which up til now has not necessarily taken a sideline, but more just has had to share my attention with the kids and now will have more of my complete focus, but I also look forward to seeing the city from an adult perspective. Not having to push the stroller thru the streets or carry it thru the metro station. Going into a store and taking my time and not working with a 3 year old's level of patience. Perhaps even going into a museum or two, having lunch with friends at least once a week, and hopefully appreciating the time I have with my boys even more since it will now be limited.
My goal of this entry was supposed to be to talk about how the kids are doing. I feel like I sidetracked a bit here. They are doing amazing. I can't explain to you how proud I am of both of them, especially Aidan. He was yanked out of his comfort zone at home, taken away from friends and family, and thrown into a new school, new culture, new friends and even a new language, and he has not only survived but he is thriving. I'm beyond proud of him! I know they don't appreciate it now, but I feel like for both he and Liam, this is only the beginning of such new and exciting experiences ahead of them and I can't wait to share those moments with them!