The tenacity of life always strikes me more as awesome more than pretty but I thought this would still work nicely as "pretty." The flower and fern were both clinging to little pockets between the 1000 year old stones in the wall of a castle we visited near Belfast.
No picture, unfortunately. I thought I had one but now it seems to have disappeared into the depths vis the mystery that is my perpetual effect on technology. Happily, I married an electrical engineer who can rescue as needed. Anyway, I saw some wonderfully witty graffiti in the ladies room at a Dublin pub witten just above the bottom of the stall door.
"Beware rogue limbo dancers!"
Dubliners take their legacy of dry witticisms seriously!
The children enjoy hanging washcloths, handtowels and the like on the clothes line. This mama is happy for one less task but I may need to invest in more clothespins. :-)
We bought Megan's new backpack this week. She needed one that would fit a full size folder. Megan and Charlie will be starting school on the 30th. I'm a little nervous but much less stressed than last year. Charlie has a September birthday which meant he was just old enough to start kindergarten last fall. He had outgrown preschool academically so we decided to give it a try but it was clear he wasn't ready. He was having nightmares and crying through most of the school day. We pulled him after less than a week and put him back into preschool with me supplimenting a bit at home. But, he's pretty enthusiastic about starting school this year. Megan is less sure but that's more personality than anything.
If we were still in the US, I'm not sure what we would be doing this fall. I think Charlie is a very good candidate for home schooling and we have the needed resources to do it. I have a lot of problems in terms of educational philosophy with the US education model as well as feeling like the current practices just don't work particularly well for my children's specific needs- especially Charlie's. I think that there is something to be said for change from within but I'm not sure I'm willing to sacrifice my children's mental well-being for it. I suspect this will be something that we will look at on a yearly basis and I'm strongly leaning toward pulling the children for homeschooling in the 4th-8th grade range, if nothing else. Middle schoolers learn a lot but a fair amount of it isn't academic and directly contridicts what we would like them to be learning. But, we'll see. There is also a fair chance that we'll be looking at another sabbitacal abroad during that period or, at the least, a lot of family travel so that would also be a factor.
Since we are in Ireland, though, it's all a little different. They start children in school at age 4 with the 4 and 5 year olds referred to as "senior and junior infants." Since they are sort of lumped and this is the entry to school for most of the children and this country tends to have a more relaxed attitude towards expectations for young children anyway, the infants' curriculum tends to be more play based preschool than the US SAT prep. This is a teaching philosophy I can get behind. Academic expectations appear to be more based on what is developmentally appropriate. And, the infants have a shorter day, starting at 8:30 and ending at 1:10. Finally, the classes generally stay together, eating lunch in their classroom and changing teachers much less frequently. Some of this is because we chose (yes, it's free choice for parents with some priority restrictions- it seemed to be to somewhat similar to the NYC system) a small school but some of it is simply cultural difference. Almost all schools have a religious affiliation so there will be some basic moral and ethical education. I would have been a little worried about what, exactly, they were leaning if they were older but at the Infants level it's mostly the basics of "love one another," a Chapel every couple of weeks and Christmas and Easter are celebrated.
Now, we still have to see what actually happens when the rubber meets the road and it's not all sunshine and roses. Class sizes are big- around 30 children will be in each class. They don't go outside in rain as much as I would like. (I expected it to be like in Ithaca when teachers had the attitude that it will be cold, dress appropriately to go out and play; children need to RUN) We had to pay a book fee and there were several workbooks listed, even for Megan. But, my kids seem to really enjoy workbooks so perhaps it's for the best?
If it comes to it, we can pull them. Requirements to homeschool in Ireland are pretty simple. But, this is the main way the children will get an opportunity to experience the culture in a way very relevant to them. This is also their main opportunity to make friends and get a break from all together, all the time. We don't have the social resources we had established in the US. So, I'm really hoping this will be a positive experience.