Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Starting Line

It's a special day!  Ian is, at this moment, embarking on one of the most important and exciting adventures of his life: his formal education.  As long-term students and current educators, Eric and I couldn't be more delighted for him and the experiences he's going to encounter.  It almost makes us wish we could do it all over again....but then we're reminded of my 19 years and Eric's 24 years of schooling (whew!), and we're just simply happy for Ian. 

And he's so ready.  We have no doubt that he's going to take to full-day kindergarten like a fish to water.  His little brain is like a sponge right now, soaking up every bit of information and experience he can.  Exploring and questioning and retaining are second-nature to him at this stage of the game, and making new friends will be so fun. 

We wouldn't be honest if we said we weren't going to miss him, but our excitement for what he's embarking upon far outweighs any sadness over his being gone for the better part of every weekday.  It's just SO COOL that he's in school! 

So this morning was spent acting out all the school morning steps we'd been practicing all week:  up and at 'em at 6:30, hopping in the shower, getting dressed in his school uniform, having a good breakfast, packing his lunch, brushing his teeth, and walking around the corner to the bus stop.   He's already so good at the routine that we had about 15 minutes to spare, which was a good time for the quintessential first day of school photos on the doorstep.  Then, at the bus stop, he got his "game face" on, and climbed up those steps like he was an old pro, not even stopping to wave or say good-bye.  A little man, crossing the starting line for a great adventure. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Epilogue: Back Home

We've been back home for over a week now. Our trip home was a bit...interesting, but we finally made it about 7 hours later than originally planned (with our luggage another 12+ hours behind us).

Now that we're settled back in, having fought a war with some pesky ants and cleaned up the remnants of the tree that feel in our back yard, we thought that it would be a good time to share a few final thoughts. So, here we go.

1. In one sense, our month in Spain was the tip of the iceberg in regards to the work, preparation, and planning that went into the trip. In any major project I've been involved with, there has always been those moments were you quietly ask yourself whether or not what you are doing is worth it. Seeing our students thrive, forming personal connections and (for some of them) honing their teaching craft, made it all worthwhile. I chose to go down the path of being at a teaching school as opposed to a research school; watching my students grow like they did reminded me of why I made that decision. I think it is always a good thing to be reminded in the present of why you made certain choices in the past.

2. Speaking of students, it was a delight to live with a number of them for a month. As a linguist, I was able to collect all kinds of useful data on current word usages and slang. In short, it was tots (sp?) awesome.

3. Some people thought we were crazy to take a (then) 8-month-old and a 5-year-old to another country for a month while we led a group of college students on a missions trip. In response, I would have to say that yes, we were. That said, it was a very positive experience for both boys. I had the chance to spend a lot father-son time with Tobin, and Ian had his cultural and linguistic horizons broadened.

4. Delta Airlines as a company is awful.

5. However, related to #4, there are a number of Delta employees who are wonderful.

6. In regards to ministry in Alcoy, I feel confident saying that our team met one of the primary goals I had going into the trip. Namely, the students we took, through their hard work, prayer, and dedication, opened a number of doors in regards to the ongoing ministry of the Spanish church there.

7. Next up, Lithuania in 2013. Maybe.