It's our first week back in Washington DC, and it's been tiring (for me) but awesome. I have to admit, living in the Philippines for one year spoiled me. We had extra financial resources to hire a housekeeper and a driver, and that really helped me a lot to do things other than taking care of the children.
That being said, just like riding a bike or driving a car manually, the skills you need to be a full time homemaker comes back to you just like that. After a weekend of getting settled in - buying groceries and other necessities for our 8 week temporary stay, it felt good having everything in our apartment. As you could imagine, dragging these two kids to buy little things at the store would be quite challenging. I was determined to create a battle plan for our "homeschool" days. Tim and I opted not to put them in schools for 8 weeks, because that would again be another adjustment for them, and as it is not required by their schools in Madagascar, we chose to just enjoy the city and be together. I am structuring our days a bit, so we have a little bit of "constant" in our lives, which I think is every important for the kids' transition. After this first week, the kids have become comfortable with 3 hours total of school time a day (reviewing concepts in Math, Reading, Language Arts, Handwriting), and every day, learning something new in Science and Social studies, creating an art project a week, doing some Music and movement, and swimming and library time once a week. We are also learning French. This week we learned about counting from 1-10 and the members of the family.
Even if it is cold out, we still try to go outside at least an hour each day - whether it be a nature walk, or playing tag in the playground. It keeps us sane. I also thought it would be fun to go to a Museum or a fun place every Friday. I love that most museums are free, and we could always bring a packed lunch, and get some treats here and there. Of course, free play is still encouraged, especially when forts are created and jumping off the couch is involved.
(above) Looking for dinosaur fossils using a science kit they got for Christmas
(below) Yoga for Nina and lifting weights for Kevin, using technology to do some reading comprehension exercises and phonics.
I asked the foreign service community Moms about their recommendations of things to do with the kids in the city, and I got so many responses (another post!), I couldn't wait to take the kids. Last Friday, we went the Smithsonian National Museum of American History (http://americanhistory.si.edu/).
Spark Lab is definitely better with parent who is good in Science - in our case, that is Daddy. Unfortunately, Daddy is in language school for 8 hours a day, so the kids just had to accept the explanation that Mommy offered about sound and magnetism. It was still fun to work on the many homemade inventions each "learning center" had.
Wegman's Wonder place is a great place for toddlers and preschoolers between 2-4. I think my kids were too big for the pretend play there, but they still had fun anyway. Their favorite spot was Julia Child's kitchen, and they prepared so many lunches for me, I was so full!
Another highlight of the visit was The Price is Right game, which is part of Object Project, an exhibit about things that changed over the years. The kids learned about furniture and appliance prices in different years, and couldn't believe how everyday things have changed over the years. They laughed so hard when they saw an ad about the very first cellular phone.
We went around the other exhibits, but as expected, the kids weren't big enough yet to completely grasp the exhibits about money, the war, and the American flag. It was a worthwhile trip though, and I was fascinated with the conversations that transpired during the day including including this :
Kevin : Mommy, why did people have to fight wars in the old days? Why was there so much violence and people killing each other? They should really just talk about their problems.
Mommy : Yeah, I wish life was as simple as that.
Nina : Mommy, can we go home now?
One other thing that I think is important to instill in the kids at this time, is having responsibilities in the home. Slowly, I am teaching them little tasks (without giving them any rewards!), like making their bed in the morning, preparing meals, doing the laundry, setting the table and cleaning up. It's so nice to see them more enthusiastic now, and they do learn crucial life skills.
So that was our week! I try to learn French on my own using some online tools and textbooks, but between the kids and the chores at home, I don't even have time to brush my hair! Haha.
Anyway, bring it on, Monday!