Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Think it doesn't affect you?

Can you imagine your own elementary education without art, music, gym? Your school with no secretary, no nurse? This is the very real fate hanging in the balance for the Philadelphia School District if they are not granted necessary funding from the city and the state. If you don’t have school age kids or students in the district schools you may think this won’t affect you. You are very wrong. You and your children will share this world with uneducated children devoid of the joy of life and learning. What sort of citizens will they make? What kind of direct impact will they have on your life and the life of your kids? We don’t live in sealed boxes, we are all connected and the lives of educationally injured children will intersect with yours. Do something. Make your voice heard. We can’t stand for this. Email your senator, representative, Governor Corbett today. Your email can be short. Tell them you expect your society to properly fund education and that they personally have the fate of every single one of us in their hands. Here is my letter: June 5, 2013 To: Governor Tom Corbett, governor@pa.gov Senator Farnese, farnese@pasenate.com House Rep Thomas cthomas@pahouse.net It is said that in America education is a right and not a privilege, that no child should be left behind. I am writing to plead with you to uphold that ideal and think of all the children, the families, and futures that you personally hold in your hands as you decide the fate of the Philadelphia School District. I have two boys who attend a Philadelphia public school. I am personally very involved in their education and their school. I volunteer in the classroom, donate time and money to school fundraising, pass on books to the classrooms and even buy reams of paper for the office and teachers. And there are many more parents who go above and beyond what I can do. The success of our particular public school is due in great part to parental involvement. And in an ideal world every parent could donate time and resources to their child’s school to ensure its success. But that’s not the world we live in. Most parents hand their children over to the school system entrusting school and government officials to do right, to do their best to help them raise educated, well balanced, adults and citizens. And as a government official this is your responsibility. The doomsday budget passed by the Philadelphia School District does not allow for music, art, gym, nurses, office staff, and after school programs. Are these things EXTRA? They absolutely are not. No person reading this letter would ever want their child to attend a school without these things or to send their child to sit in a desk for hours of book work in front of a teacher with no support and no resources. The most important lesson to be taught by any school is a love of learning. Depriving children of the opportunity to make and enjoy music, to create and appreciate art, to get some exercise and learn sportsmanship is a crime. And hours spent at desks without cultural enrichment and a break in rote bookwork will lead to joyless, detached children who are unable to sit still and focus. A teacher unable to rely on a school nurse or the office staff is a teacher working with enormous, crippling disabilities. I love Philadelphia. I plan to continue to raise my boys here in its diverse neighborhoods, in close proximity to the history, the arts, the museums. And I strive every day to make their education my biggest priority. If things take a dramatic turn for the worse, we could reluctantly leave, but so many families with beautiful, growing, yearning to learn children cannot. They are at the mercy of your commitment to fund and support the Philadelphia School District. And if all the families that can leave feel as if they must, they will leave behind a deteriorating city. We must fund our schools. We must BETTER our schools, keeping more families in the city, in the state. Your focus should be on growth and improvement in the system for these children, for these families, for the city, for our world. Isn’t that why you wanted to be a governmental official? To effect positive change? You can do that right now. You must. It is in your hands. With much hope, Nicole Eggerts

Monday, July 23, 2012

Splash.

Just jumping right in. Noah’s First Grade year was marked by some disappointments and some reasons to celebrate. We got him into a good neighborhood public school at the last minute and therefore it was a fast, dramatic transition from a small Quaker private school to a much larger city public school downtown. Though Noah is socially shy by nature and only knew one child in his class, he had a good friend in one of the other first grade classes whom he spent recess with every day and that was a big help. But Noah is also extremely resilient – I was amazed at how unfazed he seemed about his change of schools. Of course his new school had a lot of new things to offer – a nice big playground, cafeteria, gym, computer lab, library, downtown location, exciting after school opportunities, wonderful involved teachers, an army of involved parents and a fantastic Principal who nears super hero status. But there was one major disappointment with Noah’s school year – his teacher. Long story short – she was a school district lifer who had never taught First Grade or reading before but ended up picking a great school because of her Union seniority. Not only was she at a loss on what she was teaching, she seemed to lack the basic classroom management skills necessary to teach effectively. The classroom was often chaotic and unguided. She had a bevy of tutors brought in to assist her, a team of other teachers helping out, an attentive Principal eager to help and regular parent volunteers. How she managed to endure all the floundering and criticism and just go to work every day boggled my mind. But she seemed unfazed in a way, not invested enough, putting her head down and waiting for retirement to come her way. But on the positive – the kids seem to like her, she wasn’t mean. And Noah because he is a creative kid, already reading at the fifth grade level, had a lot of freedom to read, to write, to day dream. So in a way it wasn’t necessarily the worst situation for him. He made two new friends – the first real friends he ever made ON HIS OWN, meaning I didn’t know their parents already. His two school best friends seem polar opposites - one a smart, serious, and overdramatic Alex P. Keaton sort and the other an energetic, long haired wild child, already girl crazy, who shares Noah’s love of music. Noah’s teacher was so short on lesson plans that Noah would often tell us stories of he and his friends performing plays and singing songs to his classmates. Any free time she’d give them, Noah was happy to perform. So it was most of all a year of social growth for Noah. He moved to a bigger pond and seemed to enjoy it. His long hair, fedora and inclination to skulls got him a most fashionable award in his class and I think though still shy one on one, that his classmates found him likeable. We are all excited for Second Grade as not only is his teacher excellent but Noah will also start a Gifted Enrichment Program that will hopefully add some challenge to a boy that effortlessly aced everything all year long. I’m even a bit worried how he’ll react to not always knowing how to do everything perfectly all the time. (I admit I hate it myself.) The other big thing going on with Noah is that he already thinks he knows better than us. As well behaved as he is for any other living soul, for us there is often a lot of sighing, eye rolling and you-don’t-understand-ing. The teen years are gonna be rough. Ray had a great year at YCCA. Still our Ray of Sunshine, he has much less problem making friends. He’d come home talking about his classmates using the word friend to describe them all. We’d go to his school events and he’d disappear into a sea of his classmates, where in the same exact situation at that age Noah had problems approaching even his best friends in a different surrounding, clinging to us and lamenting that he didn’t know if they wanted to talk to him. Ray’s biggest development this year is that by Christmas, at four and a half, he was reading. It just seemed to happen overnight. His drive to keep up with his older brother is a boon and a menace to him. Ray is SO SMART. People always remark on how smart Noah is, and he is, but in a quiet sneak up on you way Ray is even brighter. The big difference is that Noah knows he’s smart and he’s proud of it. And Ray , because he doesn’t know everything Noah knows, he doesn’t think of himself as smart. But Ray mastered reading a full two years before Noah did at the same age. And in watching him play games like Othello you can tell he’s got an amazing sense of logic and spatial understanding that can surpass Noah even now. As the middle child Ray requires extra attention – he isn’t the oldest or the baby which have special accolades inherent to their position so I work to give Ray a little extra love and affirmation. He needs it. Ray is also a caring little guy by nature. He’s apt to ask how you are feeling or want to do something for his brothers without prompting. He is empathetic. He can also be physical and rammy. Occasionally he gets in these spastic, energy overflow states where he’s just agitated and set on agitating. I remind myself often that he is a five year old boy and that he’s typically more subdued than more boys at that age – that an occasional whirring dervish mood is to be expected. Ray starts Kindergarten in the Fall at Greenfield with Noah, and in Philadelphia that’s a full day program. It will be amazing for me to have both boys be at the same place all day, five days a week. So much less running around. Now I can concentrate on Lee’s days. I’ve had a taste of that this summer as Noah and Ray are at summer camp together. In fact they are spending so much time together that I think they are really starting to drive each other insane. They get along great at camp, and on playdates, but the moment they are home with just each other at the end of the day it’s like they can’t bear to look at one another. I keep thinking I need to start sending them off on separate playdates so they get some space. Nearing two and a half, Lee is a spitfire. He talks up a storm, is the charmingest little devil and can also get so set on his idea that he won’t hear another word. I can take that boy to the zoo, show him the otters and he will argue with me for months that they are seals. At this point I’m nearly certain they are seals. He loves being read to, listening to music, seeing animals, and being with his brothers most of all. His biggest transition is on the horizon as I’m looking to ween him soon, as both Ray and Noah were weened at two and half – of course I was in my third trimester with the next one both times. But it still seems a good age to me. However Lee is far more attached to nursing at this age then the other boys were. At this age they really only wanted to nurse when they wanted to sleep, but Lee wants to nurse if he’s bored. It’s a battle to just tell him repeatedly that we don’t nurse at the store, in the restaurant, at playgroup anymore. He wants to still be an on demand nurser and I’m putting my foot down for the most part, but damn that kid is persistent. Noah adores Lee. He loves to laugh at him and constantly goes on about how cute and funny he is. He has more patience with him then he had with Ray. And though Ray can be jealous of Lee, and get in his face a lot more he is also more affectionate with Lee than Noah was with him. He often comes upstairs with me when I put Lee to sleep and he falls asleep cuddled up with him. It’s one of my favorite sights. Lee starts the 2 year old program at the Rec Center in the Fall. That’s two 2 hour days that I plan to spend at the gym. First time I’ve had regular scheduled time alone, aside from the couple of months I had super pregnant with Lee while Ray was in his 2 hour class. I’ve been good and bad about going to the gym. I aim to go for an hour, three times a week. I get on a treadmill, listen to an audiobook and walk/run four miles. It’s good for me physically and emotionally. But I have to be disciplined about making it a priority and I’m just not good at making me a priority consistently. And as soon as I fall out of the habit it snowballs and then it’s been a month since I’ve gone and I feel like I start all over again. There is a part of me that longs to have another child. I guess it’s the part that feels like I am at my best as a human when I am caring for a small child, MY small child (before you suggest daycare work.) And that as my oldest becomes 8 and starts the process of independence and pulling away, and the others are soon to follow that I’m nearing the end of my glory days. And I sometimes feel I need to give myself a few more years of this. Another chance to fall in love with another little person, with motherhood. But because of the obsessive, attachment parenting mother I am I am never able to leave my children at all until they are over 2 – and that’s a big daunting commitment to start over as I’m finally getting more me time. And now that Lee is older we are starting to imagine trips and experiences with three bigger boys, without a baby and that’s exciting too. And Mark has been pretty clear that he thinks three is plenty – so I just have my inner debate regularly that can really have no other answer but we’re done. I have to admit to dealing with a little bit of depression – just the typical stay at home loneliness, never knowing if you are doing a good job, and worrying about what comes next. Some things need work – like making Mark a priority without feeling like “I gotta take care of you too?,” just trying to find someone engaging after being with them for 15 years, and trying to really appreciate all they do for you and how much they mean to you without being mired in the details of the daily grind – but it’s nothing serious. Just normal marriage maintenance, I hope. It’s all so textbook it seems silly to mention but since I’m trying to mark this moment I feel I must. In a week me and the boys are driving to Florida with my brother and his kids to see my sister Elisha. I swore I’d never make this road trip with three small kids but I’m desperate to see Elisha. Since Dad is gone I miss her even more than I ever did, which was always a lot. More than anyone else I feel like he is with me when I am with her – and she can understand how I feel better than anyone. I look back at this post and feel bad about always comparing the boys – but it’s fascinating to me – three kids with identical genetic makeups and their similarities and differences. And I think I wrote so much about Noah and then less about Ray, and even less about Lee. Maybe when I blog again (six months, HA) I will lead with Ray and then Lee the next time so I’m not always running out of steam before I get to Lee. Any way – so much more to say but no more ideas or words.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Messages from the past

In two weeks it will have been a year since my father passed away suddenly. I miss him every day. I really thought I would feel so much better by now. But I don’t. I’m really lonely. I feel isolated in my grief. Naturally I’m too busy and preoccupied with day to day life to blog but I also can’t think about blogging without mentioning Dad and I feel like that’s self indulgent. I’ve gained and lost the same ten pounds like 4 times in the last year –I finally lose some weight and then I fall back into that feeling of wanting comfort in wine and food, of not wanting to feel better about myself and so back it comes until I’m disgusted with the way my clothes feel and I return to diet and exercise for a few weeks before deciding to say “screw it” once again.

On the anniversary of Dad’s death I am going to Florida to see my sister Elisha. I need to be with her. I often think about how there are a few people in this world that I feel effortlessly connected to, who just being with them makes me more me, and Elisha is one of them. I feel cheated she lives so far away. I’m taking Lee of course and also my 16 year old sister Jessica. It should be both a sad, healing and fun trip.

Some days it still feels unreal. Like a dream or an error. Some days it feels so cruel. I had two Grandfathers who didn’t give a damn about spending quality time with the grandkids and yet my father who literally lived to see my boys can’t be here to watch them grow. This blog is hard to return to because my father was one of it’s readers. I knew I was speaking to him when I recounted all the things Noah was doing and how Ray was growing. And now… well he’s not.

I had saved a bunch of emails Dad sent in the year after he first got on email. They are all very similar. A lot of laughter (ha ha) and love. (And a complete lack of punctuation – I added that for easier reading.)

“it is funny that I write first then check your blog and get the answers. I should check your blog first then ask questions. Ha ha. You know you can invite your friends if you want. Just thought that I would let you know. I always have a nice time with my daughter. It is one of the nicest times I have. And the little man is something special on top of it. The combination always makes it a special day. It sure it hot. I bet it’s hotter in the city. I am cooking. Love you. Talk to you later. Give the little guy a hug for me. Love Dad.”

“The lawn is under water about 6 inches. Almost good to go boating. I am glad that you had a good time. Let me know how the circus was. I would like to see Noah’s eyes light up. I remember when I took you to the small circuses. How your eyes would light up. That is the best feeling in the world. When you see them experience something new and watching their eyes light up. He will probably enjoy himself and he will be dancing around playing circus. I hope everything is well. Nothing but fighting here. Nothing new. I need a vacation. A long one. Ha ha. Love Dad.”

I could post a bunch of these but you get the idea. I look at them all the time. I took screenshots of some of them on my phone and browse through them. It’s wonderful and awful too.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Noahsspark on Tumblr

A new link to Noah's blog:

Noah's Spark

I plan on writing for myself SOON.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Because he has more time and better ideas

Noah has a blog. I will be posting some of his projects. Fromthemindofnoah

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Eggerts do Disney

I document my insanity to preserve it for my own memory, which is poor. If it helps someone else, with vacation planning or to get a good laugh at my expense, then BONUS.

When I picture my perfect vacation it’s foreign, educational and adventurous. I love to plan a vacation. I arm myself with numerous guide books and websites, looking for the best deals on the best places to stay, the things not to miss and the best places to eat. It is part of my enjoyment of my vacation – the discovery and planning phase. And I have learned that it’s just as important to me to plan for Disney World as it is Guatemala.

My Mom had been wanting to take her grandkids to Disney World before she had grandkids. And she had been asking me regularly when we could go for years. I finally told her that I’d like to go within a few months of Lee turning two. This way he was still free of charge but he could enjoy it on some level. So after Christmas we made the plans – we’d go end of September 2011. I really wanted to stay in the resort. As a kid I’d been to Disney 4 times – 4, 10, 14 and 17. It’s really the only family vacation I remember going on with my Mom – we didn’t do regular beach or mountain getaways. But Disney is pricey and my Mom was a struggling working mother so we never stayed in the park. I remember the traffic getting into the park and it seemingly taking forever to get there and I dreamed of staying within monorails reach of Magic Kingdom. So I was genuinely excited to book a week at the Polynesian after finding a good package deal on Mousesavers – which my mother more than HELPED with. I picked the Polynesian not only because I remember taking the monorail through it and thinking how lucky the people were who stayed there, though that is certainly part of it. I also had read that their rooms had been recently updated and were among the largest single rooms in Disney – which is a big deal for a family of five.

When I booked the package they told me I could make dining reservations 180 days prior to the start of our trip. This struck me as insane. It meant that in March I had to have our whole week of vacation planned out. You can’t make dining reservations when you aren’t sure which day you are going to be at which park. And now the real research began. I had to figure out which day to head to which park and most importantly what were the best places to eat. If you opt for the dining plan it means you get one table service meal a day and since I’m a bit of a foodie and obsessed with getting a good value I had to do serious dining research. I quickly decided that heading to the best buffets and family style meals was our best bet. This way the meals would be faster, which is key with a 19 month old, we’d definitely get enough to eat and my boys wouldn’t be relegated to eating chicken nuggets off the kids menu at every meal. I used the reviews in the Unofficial Guide to Disney World and made our plan, breathing a sigh of relief when everything was booked.

One of the smartest things I did was to buy the boys Birnbaum’s Kids Guide to Disney World. Noah and Ray devoured it. They read the description of every ride. They also watched Disney World promotional videos on Netflix. Their excitement was at a fever pitch. And per the guides suggestion we made lists the week prior to the trip for each park that included which rides we couldn’t miss, which were maybes and which ones we definitely could go without seeing. The boys loved this. And a few days before the trip I looked at the Unofficial Guides touring plans and made our own plan based on what we wanted to see and geographic location. I also kept track of which counter service restaurants would be decent to hit for our second meal a day based on where in the park we might be. And though in retrospect I definitely overdid the size of our order I was also pleased with ordering food from Garden Grocer and having it delivered to the resort since we didn’t have a car. Most important was the fruit we ate for breakfast and the water and juice boxes that kept us going without paying $4 at the park.

I admit even I thought I was being insane with all this planning. But damn am I glad I did it. And I’d do it again. All our sit down meals were excellent. And because we had a plan there wasn’t much standing around squabbling about what we should do next. And the time of year was perfect – the lines were short and though the heat was uncomfortable at times it also made for a perfect pool day.
There are a few things I would do differently. I thought Hollywood Studios was a major disappointment and I won’t go again. I was a bit disappointed in Animal Kingdom too, but I’m sure if we saw some shows there we’d have enjoyed it more. They told us we had to line up a half hour before a show to get in – and Lee just wasn’t in a stage where I’d wait in line half an hour and then sit through a show with him.
Some things were more awesome than I hoped. The kids enjoyed Epcot way more than I expected. The loved the rides Test Track, Soaring, Nemo and The Land. They still laugh about Turtle Talk with Crush. But they also loved the countries for two reasons, the biggest being The Kim Possible missions. Kids sign up to be on Team Possible and get a fake cell phone that then sends them on mission in one of the countries. They look around for clues and the phone triggers magical things to happen. It’s quite cool. Despite never having seen Kim Possible this was right up Noah’s alley, half his play has to do with spies. The boys did 4 missions – in Germany, Japan, France and the UK. Ray got a little frightened on the Japan mission, what with the killer robot babies, but he got over it. I also got the boys Epcot passports and it was a fun activity to have them stamped in each country.

Lee’s favorite thing about Disney World was the ducks. He’d have spent all day every day chasing ducks around every Disney constructed body of water. But I was most struck by Lee’s fearlessness, as I often am. I took him on every ride that didn’t have a height requirement. He went through the pitch black spookiness of rides like Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean seamlessly. Once or twice he’d go “MA?” as if to say “Are we okay?” I’d hold him tight and say “It’s okay. I’m right here” and he’d be fine. I think his favorite ride was Small World – he looked around and chattered as if chiming in with us trying to identify the countries represented.

Ray never wanted to leave Disney World. Last Christmas he saw a picture of my Mom in front of the Epcot geosphere and was impressed with the giant golf ball. When I told him he’d see it in person he was excited and it didn’t disappoint. He lists it among his favorite rides. Of course his list of favorite rides consists of almost everything he rode. And he rode everything he was tall enough to ride – including Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, which is his biggest coaster to date. He loved it – and rode it three times. The other thing Ray loved doing was looking for Hidden Mickeys. He is still obsessed and anywhere he sees circles he sees one.

Noah has become my thrill seeker. He went on almost every big thrill ride twice. He goes on things I break out in a sweat just considering. Space Mountain was his favorite but he also enjoyed the Rockin Roller Coaster as well as Mission Space. My sister and I went to take him on the more adult version of Mission Space after the attendant reassured me it was just two complete spins different – but after I got in that small simulator box and the head guard started pulling down I panicked and had to be let off the ride. But Noah loved it. He’s way cooler than me.

Mark was a Disney cynic. I think part of him wanted to be underwhelmed but he just couldn’t be. In fact I could tell he was a bit taken with the classic feel of Magic Kingdom. We might not be fond of huge conglomerates constructing palatable vacation experiences but we do love a theme park. And well, the food was good. He can’t argue with that.

One of my favorite things about the trip was Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party. My Mom splurged and bought the extra tickets the party required and though I knew the kids would love it I was a bit suspect of their worth. However I LOVED the parade. I watched it a second time while everyone else went on rides. I loved the grave digger and zombie dancers. So much so that we’ve been watching the parade repeatedly on Youtube. I can’t get the music out of my head.

Of course the best part of the vacation was being together. My Mom and her husband followed us around on our harried schedule – helping out with the kids, taking them on rides and keeping them busy. And that was real quality time for all of them. And watching the kids enjoyment of the parks was, dare I say it, magical. And yes, we all got over tired and over stimulated in certain moments but the lines were short, we were on a mission and mostly we just kept going.

The boys want to plan another Disney trip tomorrow. I’ve told them a day at Hershey Park will have to do next summer. But I can see us going back to Disney in 5 years – the boys at 12, 9 and 6. I picture us staying in one of the lodges in the Wilderness Lodge resort. It’s farther out and you have to get to everything by bus but you stay in a little cabin that I imagine would be fun and more appropriate for boys of that age.

Here are petty details of the dining itinerary, again these are more for my reference than for thrilling reading:

Sunday Epcot Center with my sister, her husband and son
11:30 Sunshine Station in The Land – Excellent choices, excellent quality of fast food lunch. Totally recommend. I loved my veggie noodle bowl.
4pm Germany’s Beer Garden Buffet – Not only is the food excellent but the kids really loved the German band and danced their little hearts out. I dare say our kids were entertaining the entire house.

Monday Animal Kingdom
11:30 Local Anandapur Café – Again, really fresh and flavorful fast food.
4:00 BOMA in Animal Kingdom Lodge – everyone says this flavors of Africa buffet is awesome and they aren’t exaggerating. LOVE. I was a bit put off when I realized it wasn’t in the park and we had to go a bit out of our way to get there and back, but it was worth it.

Tuesday Magic Kingdom
11:30 Character buffet lunch with Pooh and friends at Crystal Palace – The food options at this buffet are more conventional but done very well. Everything was good.
4:00 Starlight Rays – This was rated as one of the better fast food options at Magic Kingdom, which has a reputation of having lower quality food than the other parks, because it has a burger fixins bar but I was not impressed. Edible but meh.
9:00 snacks at Pecos Bill – Another fast food place with a fixins bar. Fine. But I can recommend the onion rings.

Wednesday Pool Day
12:00 lunch at Captain Cooks in Polynesian – Flat bread pizzas, sandwiches and noodle dishes were decent but once again the kids picks were just nuggets, mac and cheese and PB&J. The kids can’t even get the pizza with their meal plan. It’s a sin. I used the adult meal plans to feed them.
5:00 O’hana – Family style dinner of wings, dumplings, low mein, broccoli and grilled meats. Tasty. And fun.

Thursday Hollywood Studios
11:30 50’s Primetime Café – This was the only sit down menu meal we had and it was fantastic. The boys all devoured the chicken noodle soup and my fish dish was so tasty – mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus included. But nothing could beat my peanut butter milkshake. Awesome.
6:00 dinner for boys from Captain Cooks
7:15 Citricos- My Mom watched the boys so Mark and I could have an early anniversary celebration. I mentioned our anniversary in an offhanded way when I booked it and Disney put that info on our stay info so we were constantly being wished a “Happy Anniversary!” At dinner they took our photo and gave it to us as a souvenir. We found this sort of corny but it made us smile. This is a Disney Signature restaurant and takes 2 table meal credits per person but we decided to just pay cash. We totally splurged, getting a bottle of wine and ordering a full meal. Everything was delicious. REALLY delicious.

Friday Magic Kingdom
12:00 Columbia Harbor House – I found this a better fast food option than the burger places. I had a tasty salad and Mark enjoyed a tuna fish sandwich, though he was disappointed he couldn’t get soup with our meal plan.
4:00 Liberty Tree Tavern – A family style Thanksgiving style dinner. It’s as good as you’ll get over the holidays, probably better.

Parts of me was dreading Disney World with three small children. But it was absolutely great. If I had to do it all again - I'd worry alot less. Well... if that was possible for me.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Readin, Writin, Reflux

The beginning of the school year has been a momentous one. Big changes in these hills.

I will start with Ray because his change is much less complicated. Ray started going to Young Children’s Center for the Arts for preschool. He attends three 6 hour days to get him ready for fulltime Kindergarten next year. I was a little nervous about how he would make the change but I needn’t be. He was so excited leading up to his first day and he has loved every minute of it. And unlike Noah whom I have to drag information from, Ray comes home and tells me what songs they sang, what paintings he made, and what his teachers and classmates say. He is just itching to share. And he calls all his playmates “my friend.” He is doing great and I am so proud and excited for him.

With Ray and Noah in school I am home 3 days a week with just Lee. This is fantastic but also a bit overwhelming. I can’t remember what in hell I did with Noah at 18 months old to keep him busy all day. I’m going to start operating on more of a schedule to keep us both busy and entertained after our upcoming vacation.

And then there is Noah. When the time came to figure out where Noah was going to go to Kindergarten I was petrified by the steps and all the options. In the public school district there are 3 kinds of schools. Charter, which enrolls by lottery, Magnet, which enrolls by application and ability – and is for upper grades, and Neighborhood which enrolls by geographic area. Our neighborhood school is Moffett and I wasn’t satisfied with sending Noah there. When you don’t want to send your kid to the neighborhood school you can fill out a Neighborhood Transfer Form that says you want to go to a school in a different neighborhood. However these schools take the kids from their neighborhood first and only after that do they take kids outside if they have spots. Often they do not. How each neighborhood school handles the spots open to transfers varies. I put in Noah’s transfer form and put his name in for some charter school lotteries but really I wasn’t crushed when those didn’t yield results. The moment I went to Frankford Friends I fell in love with it. It was small, modest, and close knit. I could tell that they weren’t just going to be teaching my child the basics but also contribute to his character and his view of the world. I could see from the middle school kids who were all so individual and warm that it was a very special place. A place I wanted to be a part of. And we couldn’t have been more thrilled with Noah’s Kindergarten experience there. I will always love Frankford Friends.

But this summer I started to think about two tuitions. Three tuitions. And about the inevitability of moving our kids to public school. I came to the conclusion that even if we could struggle and make ends meet to send all the kids there – that it would cost our family other opportunities for growth and learning. I began to think that if we didn’t have to pay for school we could use even a portion of that money to supplement education with lessons, sports and educational trips – things that would be harder to do, even impossible while paying tuition. And so I realized that a change was going to have to be made eventually. But when? Which made me come to the realization that sooner was better. Better to move Noah before he became more entrenched in his Frankford Friends friendships, accustomed to the smallness. Better to move him when there was just him to move. And I realized I should have tried to transfer Noah to First Grade at Greenfield, a neighborhood public school downtown with an excellent reputation and a Gifted program that begins in Second grade. Noah had spent the summer playing with friends who went to Greenfield and whose parents were very pleased. But of course it was too late to make such a change. I should have done that paperwork last September.

I decided I’d write the Principal on the off chance they had a space for Noah. I told him about Noah, about how awesome he was and why I wanted to make the move to Greenfield. Of course he wrote back right away and said basically “No, fill out forms to transfer them both next year.” But I decided to pursue it further anyway. I asked friends whose kids went to Greenfield to mention us, and how great Noah was to the Principal. I wrote him again and I called and talked to him on the phone and he told me the same thing but also said they had a policy that if a child doesn’t show up for the first ten days they strike them from their books and then they might have a space. So I had to think whether I would have N go to FF for 2 weeks and then transfer him. I told him I’d do that – that it would be hard for him but it was for the best. That he should let me know if they had a vacancy. I also stopped into the office to meet the Principal in person and give him copies of Noah’s report cards and again said how much we wanted it. On the first day of the Philadelphia public school, after a sleepless night spent obsessing over it, I wrote the Principal an email that said PLEASE - how it would be great if he could find an opening for Noah before he started his school on Thursday – how it would be a lot less stressful for him. He didn’t respond to my email.

So I called Wednesday afternoon. The conversation went like this:
“Hi Dan, It’s Nicole Eggerts.”
(Perceived sigh.) “ Hi, Nicole. You are persistent.”
“I’m sorry. I don’t want to irritate you.”
“No. You are not. Noah starts school Thursday, right?”
“Yes.”
(To his secretary) “Sherry, what are the counts for 212?”
To me “You can bring him in and register him tomorrow morning.”
“THANK YOU!”
I signed him up the following morning satisfied that I left him in a class with one of his neighborhood friends, after seeing another one of his friends in the hall with her class.

But of course now I’m wringing my hands about whether it was the right thing. Frankford Friends was so wonderful, so small and precious. Greenfield is enormous in comparison, A REAL schooly feeling school with 3 first grades, an auditorium, cafeteria, gym, computer and science labs, gardens and new play equipment. Its such a big change. Noah seems to be doing fine with the adjustment though he said he does miss his old school. In a way I know Noah will do good any place. He is really a self motivated learner and I’m glad that during first grade he will be tested for admittance to the gifted program and that should help to challenge him. But I’d be remiss in not mentioning that I am not sold on his new teacher yet. She is new to the school but had previously been teaching middle school for 20 years. Noah says he likes her but it seems they have been doing a lot of copying off the board and uninteresting worksheets. And she’s unexpectedly out the beginning of the week and didn’t leave any lesson plans for an ancient sub. So now I’m spinning my wheels about whether I should have tried to get him into Second Grade – since he’s only 2 months past the grade cutoff mark and already reading at a Third Grade level. Always something to obsess about. The feeling of triumph is fleeting. Am I doing enough for them? Am I doing the right thing? It’s dizzying and I feel a bit ill.