Thursday, January 15, 2009

Week one...down

Well, we have survived our first week in a hotel. It's not so bad...but the eating out is killing us. The average cost for 4 meals (2 kid meals, 2 adult meals, no appetizers) is $25...if we eat out EVERY night, it gets COSTLY. Breakfast and lunch are easier. We have cereal and milk in the room. We can go to the continental breakfast and get rolls, muffins, and can even make belgian waffles! They have coffee, milk, orange juice. We have bread and lunch meat in the small refrigerator for our lunches, as well as fruit cups, yogurt, apples, grapes and cheese. But the evening meal...ugh. I have purchased the frozen meals...Kid Cuisine for the kiddos, and Scott and I get Weight Watcher, Healthy Choice or Lean Cuisine meals (in an effort to work off all that previous restaurant eating)...but the tiny freezer only holds 3 meals, so one has to be left in the refrigerator. In the end, I have to go shopping daily for these meals. Just can't win.

In other news, Hannah is LOVING her school, as am I. This school is SO different from Amanda Arnold. First off, they are BIG on security. At AAES, I could just walk into the office, sign a piece of paper and head to wherever I wanted. When I first got here, I was in shock that they asked me for my driver's license. They then put it into a scanner and "lifted" my photo off of it. Asked where I was headed, they entered some info into the computer, and then a "badge" printed out (Westview folks...think of the label printer used for our kids at church - same thing!) with my picture on it, my name, and where I was headed. My info is permanently entered into the computer, so in the future, I can "check" myself in. They also require you to check out - you leave your badge with the front desk as well.

The school layout is quite different. The school is shaped in an X...the center of the X is where the library and school offices are located. Each wing houses a grade or 2. One wing is K and 1st...the next has mostly 2nd and a few 3rd...the other wing houses 3rd and 4th, and a 4th wing houses the gym and more 4th. The 5th graders are in "cottages" (portables) outside. Lake Murray Elementary School's mascot is known as the Mariner. Therefore, everything is of a nautical theme. And they really play it up. Hannah's wing is called Captain's Cove! They have boats everythere, life buoys, paintings.

The kids are amazingly well-behaved. When I took Hannah for her first day, I was amazed to see all the kids in the hallways, sitting near their classrooms till the bell rang. And they were QUIET. Most were reading, a few were writing...some were talking to each other, but QUIETLY. That's how things are done here. When they arrive, they sit in the hallway.

Hannah's teacher is Mrs. Saucier. Now, for all you French-reading folks it is not pronounced the way WE Frenchies pronounce it (so-see-aye). It's SO-shur...and I have a hard time with it, lol! The French never wears out, lol! There's actually a strong French influence here in Columbia. The main "drag" in Columbia is named Gervais, pronounced jer-VASE (again, HARD for me!).

They have an amazing carpool/pickup/drop off system too! First off, all families are issued a family number. This number is used for EVERYTHING. Since I have to drive Hannah to school till we move into our house, I had to learn the "system". In the morning, it's fairly straight-forward. I walked Hannah to school the first 2 days, but after that, she said, "just drop me off and don't park." Cars pull up into the loading zone. The vice principal is out there, EVERY DAY, directing traffic and letting kids cross from the parking lots. I'm impressed. VERY hands on, here! They have 5th graders who help in the morning. They open car doors, help the littler kids out of the cars, close doors, etc. This works out well and there are no traffic problems. (At AAES, it was "do as you please" for the most part. Even though you were asked not to leave your car in the loading zone, parents got out all the time...this caused traffic flow to stop!)

The family number is on a tag that can hang from your rearview mirror. If you do "pickup" in the afternoon, you are in the carpool lanes. Two lanes, one direction during afternoon pickup, will pull up into the loading zone. They have several teachers, counselors, etc outside calling family numbers out. The kids are then loaded, and no cars move until all kids are loaded into the cars. Then all those cars move out of the zone, and more move it. It's actually quite efficient!

But...since I don't have the patience to wait in the carpool lane, I do "walk-up". The kids are all sent to a classroom based on grade (they do allow "family groups" so if you have more than one kid, they are both assigned to one room instead of having to do 2 different room pickups). Outside, by the kindergarten playground, there are big signs: K, 1, 2, 3 and 4/5. Each of these signs is in front of a door where you child will be. When the outside door opens, all the parents are standing around and they just hold their number up for the teacher to see...that teacher will call out family numbers into the room, and the kids come out. The first day, I had to walk up to the teacher and let her know that Hannah probably didn't know her family number yet, lol!

It's all really efficient, safe, and moves quite quickly.

I'm really liking this school! They even asked if Hannah had a recent school picture so she could be included in the yearbook. I thought I had her most recent picture scanned (from the fall) but I couldn't find it - guess I didn't get around to scanning it. I HAD all the school pictures with me in Pittsburgh, but guess what I did? I forgot them there. And since we don't have an address, my MIL can't mail anything out to us till we are in the house. So...I DID have the picture I took of Hannah over the summer in the studio at Ali' I emailed that. Close enough!

Hannah is really enjoying her school. Her teacher has already said that Hannah's a joy and has blended right in. I'm happy to hear that. She has already made a fast friend...a young lady named Hannah! This Hannah also has the very same initials as our girl....HLM. AND...she is a week younger than our Hannah. Should be an interesting year. My Hannah will either go by Hannah MacD or Hannah Lynn...

Hannah said that she's liking school...things are a bit different, though. First off, school time is EARLY. She'll be getting on the bus at 6:30 A.M. Yes, you read that right. Now I understand why most parents do the carpooling can bring your kid to school at 7:30 (7:40 a.m. start time) and get in extra sleep. For now, she wants to ride the bus, but if she seems to be missing sleep, she'll have to be driven, or else go to bed MUCH earlier. She was issued an agenda, which the teacher keeps notes to me in, and Hannah must write down assignments and such. She's also taking GERMAN classes. They offer language for all 2 graders and up! I'm excited, though both Scott and I think that Spanish is probably a more practical 2nd language to learn. Still, she has a few words already from when we lived there, and she told her teacher she knew some stuff.

Anyway...this has been a LONG post...hope you made it this far. We close on the it's 2 more weeks of hotel living...sigh.


De'Etta @ Choosing Joy said...

Hannah's school sounds wonderful! I always think it will be nice to "not cook" while we PCS and I'm always so sick of restaurant food and hotels by the time we arrive that I swear I won't eat out again for at least a year. LOL

Barbara said...

We're doing the whole "hotel" thing too. I get you about the dinner meals. What we did was we picked up some ready made entrees like meatloaf, a Country Crock side dish, and a frozen veggie because all we have is a microwave. And we make it a point to raid the continental breakfast every day! Jorden's school starts later than her old one so she can walk to school while I pull Chase on a sled (or a wagon, depending on snow). I think they'll like that. Glad things are going well!